Mediated Intimacy

Intimacy a Special Issue, Lauren Berlant 

  • To intimate is to communicate with the sparest of signs and gestures, and at its root intimacy has the quality of eloquence and brevity. But intimacy also involves an aspiration for a narrative about something shared, a story about both oneself and others that will turn out in a particular way.
  • These relations between desire and therapy, which have become internal to the modern, mass-mediated sense of intimacy, tell us something else about it: intimacy builds worlds; it creates spaces and usurps places meant for other kinds of relation. Its potential failure to stabilize closeness always haunts its persistent activity, making the very attachments deemed to buttress “a life” seem in a state of constant if latent vulnerability.

  • it becomes clear that virtually no one knows how to do intimacy; that everyone feels expert about it (at least about other people’s disasters); and that mass fascination with the aggression, incoherence, vulnerability, and ambivalence at the scene of desire somehow escalates the demand for the traditional promise of intimate happiness to be fulfilled in everyone’s everyday.
  • Persons were to be prepared for their critical social function in what Habermas calls the intimate spheres of domesticity, where they would learn (say, from novels and newspapers) to experience their internal lives theatrically, as though oriented toward an audience. This is to say that liberal society was founded on the migration of intimacy expectations between the public and the domestic.
  • To rethink intimacy is to appraise how we have been and how we live and how we might imagine lives that make more sense than the ones so many are living.
  • For intimacy only rarely makes sense of things. People talk about the desire for it and the fear of it, but is the “it” simply commitment? In its instantiation as desire, it destabilizes the very things that institutions of intimacy are created to stabilize; and people are constantly surprised about this.

Who moved my conversation? Instant messaging, intertextuality and new regimes of intimacy and truth, Rosalind Gill 

  • the flirtatious conversation text is a document co-authored by up to five people or more.
  • In Goffman’s (1959) terms, IM turns the conversation with the romantic partner into a frontstage performance and introduces a backstage event – the conversation with the best friend
  • Intimacy is usually an emotional effect of discrimination in access to ‘information’ (i.e. accounts of either external events like interactions, or personal thoughts and feelings), and often strengthened by spatial seclusion (‘privacy’).
  • Psychologists define intimacy as a sense of connectedness and being understood, which is the outcome of mutual self-disclosure and empathetic responses (e.g. Laurenceau et al., 2004; Prager and Roberts, 2004), but they usually miss the fact that intimate interactions and relationships are always defined relative to the remainder of social interactions.
  • IM conversation introduces a third mode: neither dyadic interaction nor group interaction, but rather a web of dyadic simultaneous conversations, where each participant may make any of her dyadic conversations (partially) transparent to anyone else in her network, yet no one can know for sure who is being shown a conversation by one’s partner.

Resisting Left Melancholy, Wendy Brown

  • Walter Benjamin – melancholy, acedia / intellectual melancholia (Durer, Paul Klee’s Angel), melancholy as the state of the genius – left melancholy,  attached more to a particular political analysis or idea – Left melancholy, in short, is Benjamin’s name for a mournful, conservative, backward-looking attachment to a feeling, analysis, or relationship that has been rendered thinglike and frozen in the heart of the putative leftist.
  • If Freud is helpful here, then this condition presumably issues from some unaccountable loss, some unavowably crushed ideal, contemporarily signified by the terms left, socialism, Marx, or movement.
  • The irony of melancholia, of course, is that attachment to the object of one’s sorrowful loss supersedes any desire to recover from this loss, to live free of it in the present, to be unburdened by it. This is what renders melancholia a persistent condition, a state, indeed, a structure of desire, rather than a transient response to death or loss.

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