June 24, 2011

"Friendship is a comic art"


Lars Iyer, author of Spurious (the first novel in a trilogy that will include Dogma and Exodus) discusses Kafka, comedy, friendship, and the apocalypse at the new literary website Full-Stop.net. Here a few highlights on the topic of friendship… thought I highly recommend the entire interview.

I wanted to capture an element of our lives that we often forget: the to-and-fro of banter and piss-taking that makes up the substance of our friendships.

‘Friendship is a comic art’, Gilles Deleuze says somewhere. ‘There are few people in the world with whom one can say insignificant things. You can only speak of trifles with very good friends’. W. and Lars certainly speak of trifles, of trivialities, of petty things that are undeserving of serious attention. But this insignificance makes up their friendship. It is part of its joy….

More generally, in an age of smugly narcissistic friendship groups, of the mutual reassurance of ‘kidults’, it is unsurprising that the friendship between W. and Lars may strike readers as unnecessarily abusive. We might enjoy being gently teased – it’s a way of receiving attention from others. But W.’s onslaught on Lars is much more than teasing; and his onslaught on himself is just as merciless. In its excessiveness, its ceaselessness, I think the humour of W. and Lars breaks them from smug self-regard which characterises the imperative to positivity that marks our culture.

‘In your friend you should possess your best enemy’, Nietzsche writes. Perhaps we need such enemies in the face of the stifling performance of happiness. Perhaps we need their cruelty to reawaken a sense in us of the commitment and seriousness that are necessary to address what matters most.