Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

fragments on intimacy in american culture  §

In our culture, a year, or years, of association does not remove or even in some cases mitigate awkward feeling surrounding social interaction. Only a few people manage to outsmart Goffman’s framework of pressures, presuppositions, threats, and defenses; we call these people “real” and extoll the (widely assumed to be rare) virtue. In truth, they are like ironic performers or mimes; we tolerate a limited number of them because they define for us, in negative space, the positive material of our social relations.

More than anything else right now in my life, I want communication. That is what I have realized today, and that is what I have been feeling for the last several days. I want companionship and communication.

I am dying for the six hour telephone chats about (to coin a phrase) Life, the Universe, and Everything, that I used to have with friends in my late teens. But good communication is, right now, difficult to come by. Apart from the obvious (that people won’t be able to eat unless they spend the majority of their waking hours working), it seems to be a lack that’s situated structurally (in the sociological sense) in our culture’s relationship schema. Intimate/communicative interaction beyond certain temporal or commonality/sharing plateaus is taboo for “well adjusted” adults; instead, we pay shrinks to fill this role. In contradistinction to the “healthy” relationships that we (or is it that capital) limit(s) ourselves to, a person can say anything and everything to a shrink, for hours on end, and they’ll listen intently, without judgment, and without feeling threatened. They’ll return emotional and temporal investment in the conversation, and do so in manifold… for a price, of course.

The commoditization and capital valuation of emotion, intimacy, and critical thought make unthreatening and neuter a social potential energy that is otherwise threatening, through its transcendence of the exchange infrastructure of larger capital, to the hegemonic status quo.

Shrinks are the surrogate friends/spouses/children/parents that we are made to tie ourselves to in capitalism (in many cases, the single most intimate relationship in our lives) if we are in danger of becoming too emotionally intimate with our friends/spouses/children/parents (an instrumental value that clearly rises from enlightenment rationality). There are a number of imposed logics to support the individual calculation, a good number of which have been discussed at length by those in Marxist theory and the Frankfurt school.

But in the pragmatic sense, it remains a cultural value: with the notable but often unseen exception of a shrink, “I should be adequate and happy in and of myself” and/or “I should maintain my individualism and independence.” To need communication, reinforcement, ideas, companionship, or any real kind of intimacy beyond the self is considered somewhat unhealthy… a state of affairs that requires the attention of, interestingly enough… a shrink, bought with capital. For external subjects to support this need is for them to violate both their own line and yours as well.

There’s an anthropology paper and a sociology paper combined in there, somewhere or other.

And in the meantime, I’m left to dream about life as a young person.

I don’t buy it. Recently again someone I know wondered aloud whether they shouldn’t be “enough” for themselves, islands of powerful praxis and identity in a sea of weak emotional temptation. I don’t think so.

I’ve had almost thirty years of myself. I’m not enough for myself. I’m bored shitless with myself. I want other people. I don’t want to be okay without them; I don’t want to be limited to the meaningless drivel that passes for grey matter and storm clouds somewhere inside my empty skull.

I need to cook up some image capability for this incarnation of my Web diary.

Perhaps I will send out New Year e-cards. Or perhaps not.

Bread and games.

“Truth **is**; we will consider this to be definition, an identity. Truth is, therefore, to approximate and cheapen a little, matter. Lies are, to become a little more promiscuous still, truth as well. One all-encompassing macroevolutionary integrative nexus characterizes truth; one gartantuan organism-anti-organism, from singularity to epoch; none are reinvented. All are the basis for the all, for new construction; all is eternal and all is life. History, not thought, but matter, incorporates but does not consist in stories and rules that are simply the lack of transcendental mastry in the face of the entirety of what **is**, their ehnacement-by-contrast merely a kludge, though also a coincident truth. There is more, but it’s beyond you, and my space-eggs are burning.”

We all do it to each other. Shame on us.

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