Mark Judge ponders the state of male friendship after reading Edward Sellner’s The Double: Male Eros, Friendship, and Mentoring – from Gilgamesh to Kerouac, a book that elucidates the concept indicated by it’s title – “an idea out of Jungian psychology … a male with whom a man can share a special kind of love and intimacy”:
Saying that you love another man has become problematic today, not because of the gay rights movement, but because of our sexually infantile culture. If one man expresses love for another, there are instant jokes and comment threads on the Internet making the usually sophomoric gay jokes. But in countries outside of America, it’s not unusual at all for men to express love for each other. In The Double, Sellner quotes a researcher who traveled to India in the 1950s, where he found it was common that a man “would be married twice in his life, first to his buddy, then to his wife.” Sellner then offers this lovely observation: “the double is manifest in a variety of ways, and there is an element of eros, that spiritual power of connection, in all male relationships of intimacy – not only those which are explicitly homosexual – or there wouldn’t be the natural attraction, warmth, or sustainability that characterizes them.”
In modern Western societies, a man’s expected relationships are laid out in a specific way. He will form male friendships in school, probably even have a double in high school and college. But then he’s supposed to get married – to his “best friend” – and spend the rest of his life going to work and watching football in his suburban man cave. If he gets into trouble financially, or with drugs and alcohol, he becomes the problem of his wife, who is instantly shifted into the position of caretaker. Of course, spouses should take care of each other. But today we have spouses who are emotionally and spiritually overburdened because they become each other’s sole support system. It’s no wonder that many crack under the pressure.