Analysis of Bacon’s Essay “Of Friendship” by Kiran.A.K.L. (The 3 Fruits of Friendship)
Kiran first explains Baconian style as following the two fundamental Renaissance principles of:
- Search for Knowledge and
- The Art of Rhetoric
Each of these are presented in an aphoristic style. But, according to the reviewer, the essay Of Friendship is different in that it contains passionate and flattering statements and profuse analogies with examples to support or explain his arguments. I find Kiran’s finding puzzling. All of Bacon’s essays contain passionate and flattering statements and profuse analogies with a plethora of examples to support and no shortage of explanations for his arguments. And then some. Kiran possibly used his prior finding as a segue to insert the fact that the essay was requested by a friend. He then quotes Aristotle again: Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god. Dog or God.
Kirin then quotes Bacon’s essay, stating that friendship is necessary for maintaining good mental health by controlling and regulating the passions of the mind. Bacon speaks of the therapeutic use of friendship through which one can lighten the heart by revealing the pent-up feelings and emotions: sorrows, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, advice. So, the first (1) and principal fruit of friendship is good mental health.
Note here that if Bacon’s assessment is taken as fact, then a relationship that degrades one’s mental health, disturbs the passions to extremes, heavies the heart, inflames feelings and emotions, is a litmus test which reveals what you all ready suspect – your companion is not a friend.
Bacon justifies friendship by pointing out that royalty makes friends by “raising” persons fit for friendship. I’m not sure exactly how this would work. He tries to glorify friendship by translating a Roman term for friendship which means ‘sharers of their cares’. Today we would say Care Bears. He gives examples of deterioration of mental faculty because of loneliness. That’s simply crazy. Bacon asserts that friendship functions in a double manner: “…it doubles joys, and cuts griefs in half”. Much like the Doublemint Twins of today who provide joyous chewing gum and grievous television commercials but also leave you something to stick under your desk at work for later.
Bacon’s second (2) fruit of friendship is clarity. A friend clarifies confusions, his counsel is “drier and purer” than the counsel of one’s self, counsel out of self love. With a friend there are two kinds of counsel: manners and business. Constructive criticism of behavior is better than that of a book of morality – but more boring than the Kama Sutra. In business, a true friend’s advice helps one avert danger – usually taking you straight into poverty.
The third (3) fruit of friendship is help. Bacon quotes “a friend is another self”, that friend can achieve unfulfilled desires and can talk to you on equal terms. Kiran concludes that Bacon concludes that a man’s life is concluded if he does not have a friend. If you have the usual procession of faux friends, the ones that never show-up when you need them, life with these “friends” is hell on earth and if this all you have then your life needs to be concluded or they need to be excluded from your life.
- mental health: modulate passions, lighten the heart
- clarity: pure insight into the confusions of behavior and business
- help: fulfill needs, desires, and tasks while communicating without deference or condescension.
The benefits of friendship are:
- Does that other person (think contemporary here, you can include females) incite destructive passion and heavy your heart?
- Does that other person cause your behavior to be confused or even amoral and lead into business bungles?
- When you need help whether it be with future goals (like keeping my head above water) or present tribulations (like a farging flood where 90% of my possessions floated south to the Gulf of Mexico) or in analyzing past personal mysteries (like why some mental case didn’t show up for an emergency as promised), does this “friend” show up with straight talk and a helping hand or do that person stand on ceremony?
If you can’t enter yes to all three questions, it’s time to exit this one relationship. There must be 50 ways.
OF FRIENDSHIP: analysis by paragraph with comments on style and other notes.
by Pat Der Sin
Friendship is the determinate as to whether a person is human or not. If you have no friends you are either a wild beast or a god. Take note all you workaholics and hustlers. Now the friendless can be distinguished by their pursuits as to whether they are beast or god. If solitude and aversion towards society is a product of higher conversion from heathen to hermit to holy father, you might be a god. If you are a practicing beast, raise you paw or claw. Without friends the world is wilderness. In between friendships the world is a journey. In found friendship, the world stops spinning out of control and waits to see how long your relations will last. I like particularly, in this first paragraph, this series:
- For a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.
This Bacon sizzles and entices the reader all the way to its period. “No Love” is the object. But how did we get there? Well, if there IS love then there must be company in that crowd, or feelings in those faces, or a resounding cymbal the spoken language. Check your crowd, faces, and talk the next time you’re out and about. Do you feel me?
Bacon’s principal fruit of friendship is analogized to the practice of medicine. He lists the cures for physical ailments then imparts that friendship is the cure for mental and emotional ailments. In today’s medical practice, my cardiologist doesn’t consider your problem her problem unless it involves making money. That means expensive surgery or dangerous drugs are the only solution, even if there is no problem. In other words, if she were your friend and you were bound and gagged and chained to a chair, she would recommend a stent and a statin which carries a number of warnings from the FDA and the dubious American Heart Association. Surgery and prescriptions is the only stuff American health insurance pays for these days. It’s not the doctor’s fault, they’re following protocol you know.
Bacon has two paragraphs on kings and princes and other Roman royalty which describes how important friends are and even how friends are raised, much like my deceased chickens. The second paragraph details a rather dense review of how the Roman cow ate the romaine cabbage, which I find of little use in my exploration of friendship for application in today’s context. Oh, if could only be 100 BC.
Bacon calls those who do not seek the counsel of friends “Cannibals of their own hearts”. Pretty neat! Lack of joy and preponderance of grief can be relieved by the joker you call friend and you can that hearty heart meal for later when you have run them off due to your own pretentiousness and condescension.
The second fruit of friendship is understanding. A friend provides clarity, order, and wisdom. Counsel that is considerate yet free of emotions comes from a friend whether it is on behavior or business. One’s faults can be acknowledged when presented by a friend. Errors and extremes can be avoided when another walks you through the perils of your personal purpose.
There are many things a man can’t do himself. There are so many of those things that can be done with, by, and because of friend. Without a friend, your life’s work is over when you die. With a friend, your life continues and things continue to get done in your name.