Thursday, June 26, 2008


Trawling the LSE's podcast section, I come across this interesting public lecture entitled "Modern Erotics and the Quest for Intimacy." If you're unafraid of looking in the dark, deep receses of your unconscious, you might want to take a listen. It is one thing to live our lives, and its another knowing how the mechanics unfold. Is all that we are and do merely motivated by a seething mass of unarticulated (maybe even suppressed) desires? It is quite freaky.

Some notes:

Henrietta Moore

New structures and character of 'femininity" - that we can 'have it all' and that its possible to 'have and be everything' - including the masculine.

New categories of young womanhood - celebrity figures. What is happening to the presentation of 'self' and of 'femininity'?

Different ways of being feminine:

1. Hyper-femininity - a way of managing and constructing oneself from consumerist sources of authority and judgment for young women - such as the fashion industry, styletto-pencil skirt wearing types

2. New version of the working girl - an educated, working woman assuming the dual set of responsibilities to the labour market and to the home.

3. The Phallic girl - involved in binge-drinking, may be involved in knifing event - aggressive and violent presentation of self and sexuality (the mean girl)

These forms of femininity are 'intensively managed' forms of femininity - in full compliance with governmentality - of policies about how women should be and their roles and duties in society.

The illusion of choice - that you can be any kind of woman you like.

What is happening to sexuality in the contemporary world? How is sexuality connected to different institutions and configurations of power - the family, the work place, the state? (INTERESTING)

Is this an era of 'Girl Power'? New forms of sexuality reforming its relationship with new patterns of consumption - of leisure.

(Glossies proliferating our magazine stands). Regulated by the language of being liberal, not being 'censorious.'

Fantasmatic relationships with social institutions.

The Phallic girl asserts her being 'equal' with men by exhibiting masculine attributes. The Phallic girl may have sexual relations with other girls - and at the same time claim she is not a lesbian. This suggests a shift in the object of choice - that sexual relations with other girls is merely leisure. Like a man, the Phallic girl can have other girls too.

Susie Orbach

The longing for intimacy is alive and well. They seek it in sexual relationships and in friendships.

Is desire in not having what you have? The arousal comes when they can't actually do it. They have the longings but not the capacity to follow through. Has desire become problematic? It gets cut off, repressed, and becomes overwhelming.

What we call 'falling in love' is intimacy - taking someone else into ourselves, a 'pyschic' connection. We expand ourselves, we change our dependencies, we change ourselves, we have a whole different relationship with ourselves and with the other.

Renata Salecl

The malaise of civilisation influences the malaise of the individual. What is the malaise of a society in the context of late capitalism?

Jacques Lacan - capitalism makes everything speed up, it creates a push to 'jouissance' or enjoyment. The proletarian is changed into the free consumer. Able to create himself as he chooses. Lacan pessimistically sees the free consumer in the end consuming himself.

The ideology of choice - that of sexuality and love. Top selling books on 'love' is focused on controlling the desire of the other. How to manipulate the other.

The idea of 'hooking up' has replaced dating (in studies of American students). Hooking up is an exercise of choice - of jouissance (enjoyment) without commitment. Hooking up allows women the illusion of equal status with men - in the sense that they can treat men as disposable objects in a similar way that they have been treated before.

Hook up is a masturbatory activity - with the other serving as a mere object for self-stimulation and enjoyment.

Researchers working in love, machines, robots and the internet - find that it is now possible for humans to have emotional relationships with their machines.

They take their machines as a life-meta. They shout at them, get angry at them etc. (INTERESTING)

Open Forum

Q: Is there a fundamental change in sexual relationships today (as compared to generations before?)

A: The only difference is that men and women are more forthcoming in their articulation of their desires.

A: Maybe sex has changed into becoming a commodity - something that must be produced and consumed, rather than an expression of emotion and intimacy.

A: A new enjoyment of prohibition - in times of the tyranny of choice (of too much choice).

Hear the rest here.

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