More than nothing learned from Tim Kreider’s We Learned nothing

Not sure where I dug up the reference to Tim Kreider’s We Learn Nothing, but I am sure it was a reference from a self help book.cover_welearnnothing_pb-199x300

So when I began with this book I was quite confused. It was like taking a sip coffee, expecting the bitterness of a black coffee but testing the sweet creamy flavor from the choice of you friend opposite you with your cup and a disgusted frown on his forehead after tasting yours.

So this is not a self-help book. They are essays about the strangeness in Tim Kreider’s life. Just to mention a few:

He is stabbed in the throat and escapes death.

A year-long friend passes away and is found to have lived in a slum, and have suffered from severe mental problem. Tim and his friends continue to love him, not even forgivingly, but rather naturally.

A friend has a sex operation, changes into a woman, but very much remains Tim’s old-school friend.

We learn Tim is adopted, and how he later in life finds his biological mother and two sisters.

The one theme that runs through the book is that of friendship and love, and the confusing interrelationship and differences between these two.

It came as a belated epiphany to me when I learned that the Greeks had several different words for the disparate phenomena that in English we indiscriminately lump together under the label love. Our inability to distinguish between, say, eros (sexual love) and storgé (the love that grows out of friendship) leads to more than semantic confusion. Careening through this world with such a crude taxonomical guide to human passion is as foolhardy as piloting a plane ignorant of the difference between stratus and cumulonimbus, knowing only the word cloud.


And also about the lazyness and passive character of de-friending, real-life defriending, not Facebook defriending. I found it very recognisable, and I am sure but most of my defriendings were due to this lazyness. And I am equally sure most of these friendship would have continued if the other person had reached out.

Defriending isn’t just unrecognized by some social oversight; it’s protected by its own protocol, a code of silence. Demanding an explanation wouldn’t just be undignified; it would violate the whole tacit contract on which friendship is founded. The same thing that makes friendship so valuable is what makes it so tenuous: it is purely voluntary. You enter into it freely, without the imperatives of biology or the agenda of desire.

An achievement to write about such topics and dramatic events in an undramatic but sensitive style. Humorous and nicely illustrated (though very difficult to read on Kindle).



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