My noble frenemy, John Braley

In reading the book Existentialism for Dummies (laugh if you must —
it’s really good, and I mentioned it in Mindhacker), I came across the
following passage in Chapter 11:

‘Nietzsche thinks that a great friend really acts like an enemy. As
Zarathustra puts it, “In your friend, you should possess your best
enemy. Your heart should feel closest to him when you oppose him.”
He’s always looking for a weakness of yours to exploit, to expose you
for your own flaws and imperfections. If you’ve unknowingly succumbed
to some self-deception and weakness, the true friend will let you
know! According to Nietzsche, the noble friend is a gift-giver;
through his actions, he provides you with the ability to be great by
challenging you. Given that all true friendships are reciprocal, you
return the favor, of course!’

The person this made me think of immediately is a unique friend of
mine, John Braley. Apart from embodying the powerfully individualistic
qualities of the “noble” as delineated by Nietzsche — for example,
although three-time Washington State chess champion and a learned
student of three-dimensional geometry, John has never held a job and
didn’t wear shoes for upward of thirty years — John keeps me honest,
for which I thanked him in Mind Performance Hacks.

John constantly challenges me, making me question my own assumptions
and see things in new ways. My wife Marty (who also does these things)
has many times remarked of John that “when he says anything, you can
pretty much assume it’s sarcastic”.

John, for all these qualities and many more excellent ones besides, I
deem you my latest Short-Duration Personal Savior. I beg you to keep
breaking those teaching staves on my cranium in lovingkindness.


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