It's a fictional streetscape we wander, here, a metropolis whose buildings, boulevards, and back alleys are in a constant state of flux. This is every place, and yet, no place at all - a city of dreams and a dream of a city.

Here, we explore the life and work of Ivan Illich and his circle of collaborators. There's no comprehensive index to the articles published, but we invite you to use the Search box, to the left, and to explore the Archive links that appear at the bottom of each page. Comments are welcomed.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hugh on friendship

In our last post, we mentioned a radio show in which Jerry Brown, now governor of California and then mayor of Oakland, interviewed Ivan Illich and Carl Mitcham. The following is an excerpt from the transcript of that show, which is available at the site of Brown's We the People organization.

Jerry Brown: OK, this is Hugh of St. Victor, a man who lived in the 12th century, and here is what he says. He says, "Charity." Now when he says charity does he mean love?

Illich: Yes.

Brown: OK, so I'm going to use that. When he says love never ends. "To my dear brother Ronolfe from Hugh, a sinner. Love never ends. When I first heard this I knew it was true. But now, dearest brother, I have the personal experience of fully knowing that love never ends. For I was a foreigner. I met you in a strange land. But that land was not really strange for I found friends there." And it goes on. You want me to go on some more?

Illich: It's so beautiful.

Brown: "But the land was not really strange for I found friends there. I don't know whether I first made friends or was made one, but I found love there and I loved it and I could not tire of it for it was sweet to me and I filled my heart with it and was sad that my heart could hold so little. I could not take in all that there was but I took in as much as I could. I filled up all the space I had but I could not fit in all I found so I accepted what I could and weighed down with this precious gift I didn't feel any burden because my full heart sustained me. And now having made a long journey I find my heart still warmed and none of the gift has been lost for love never ends."

Illich: Isn't that a marvelous little letter?

Brown: It's wonderful.

Illich: Today we would immediately say if a man writes to a man like that he must be a gay. Why not? But anyway if he writes to a woman they would say what a marvelous sexual relationship. But do I need these alienating concepts? I want to just go back to a great rabbinical and also as you see, monastic, Christian development beyond what the Greeks like Plato or Cicero already knew about friendship. That it is from your eye that I find myself. …

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Santa Rosa, California, United States
Writer, photographer, music fan; father and husband living in northern Calif.