Wednesday, August 4, 2010

intimacy revisited

You know, within the incomprehensibly vast spectrum of possible interactions with another human being, the organizational headers "romantic" and "platonic" seem utterly pathetic. They afford precious little while precluding so much. Physical intimacy, after all, is not only a beautiful way to connect to another human being it is a biological need. Infants, for example, that are given adequate food and shelter but who are kept from intimate contact with another human being will die rather quickly.

I think it is time that we revolt against what has been supplied us in terms of possible interactions. We are just missing out on too much. Each and every one of us are singular persons non-identical to any other person that has, does, or will live. The sheer uniqueness of each person that we come into contact with, never mind the unique context within which the interaction or relationship unfolds, necessitates a certain plasticity in our ways of engaging one another, does it not?

Do we really need to limit all of our affection to only those with whom there is hope of a lifelong romantic partnering? Can we not be affectionate with anyone dear to us as a way of expressing as much?

And "romantic vs. platonic" is not the only foul tyrant oppressing our intimacy. There is the plainly stupid category of so-called identity that we refer to as sexuality. Straight or gay? That's what I'm given to make sense of my emotions, urges, actions, etc.? I may be many things, but straight is not one of them. Neither is gay. Trying to divvy people between these two is like trying to perform a surgical incision with a broad sword. I become close with a classmate who happens to be considered the same gender as I and I cannot be affectionate without being gay? Does that really make sense to anyone? And should there be any physical expression of our closeness... well that is proof positive: I must be homosexual?

When I think of all of the men that I know or have known and all of the women that I know or have know, there is such a dizzying degree of variation that I cannot imagine how psychic or physical intimacy ever came to be parsed along gender lines in the first place. Historically speaking, it has never been as extreme as it is now.

Even gender divisions don't make a lot of sense. If I enjoy the company of burly men am I gay? What if I enjoy the companionship of extremely effeminate men? What if I tend to get close to women who are so manly as to make most men look girly? Am I straight? Gay? What if I find affections with a man who lives her life as a woman?

It cannot be simply a matter of craving penises versus vaginas. Who I want to cuddle up with at night, who I want to partner with in various domestic adventures, who I want to have children with, who I want to hold hands with... these desires cannot simply be epiphenomena arising from the particular body parts that I most want to play with. These desires are irretrievably located in the persons with whom I want to share myself in this way or that. Besides, if playing with other mens' penises didn't immediately and irrevocably make a man a fag who knows how many men might engage in such pleasures irregardless of whom they want to partner with to fulfill other needs?

Isn't it time to rescue ourselves from the cages of "romantic versus platonic," "straight versus gay," "masculine versus feminine," and other such false dichotomies? The fullest expression of our selves as creatures capable of love is presently but a glimmer on a painfully distant horizon. We can start by bucking the system. Set aside the ridiculous meanings that acting intimately are supposed to be evidence of and let such actions be just what they are: a beautiful way to express a feeling of closeness. Hold hands, kiss, touch one another affectionately, say caring things, cuddle, and caress those who are deserving of such attention from you. Someday, and it could very well be soon, you will no longer have the opportunity to express such things with those you should. And then it is too late.

(see earlier posts for what are most likely better entries on this topic)

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