WHAT IS INTIMACY OPPORTUNITY?
INTIMACY OPPORTUNITY: A Study in Generous Narcissism
The titular “intimacy” that I am considering is a closeness, a “getting to know you” that queers the borders between fiction and authenticity, between public and private space. It is an intimacy that develops in virtual space, as a relentless demand for one’s own context. It is an intimacy that takes seriously one’s understanding of oneself, privileging the truth of personal fiction over a stultifying authenticity. It is an intimacy that thrives on the slips of self and other in the data stream of cyberspace.
In response to a cultural context that is at best discouraging and at worst violently suffocating of identities, genders, affections unrecognized by mainstream society, queer subjects at the fringes produce and patrol safe spaces, virtual communities of radical self-making. We demand our context. We demand to see ourselves reflected, if not in the warped glass of flesh, then by and for ourselves, online, together, holographic. Aspirational imaging in relentless pursuit of the future.
This is the project of “generous narcissism:” an obsession with the image that does not suffocate, but strengthens. A “chain of holograms” that grows stronger with each link. “Selfies as resistance:” an extreme reclamation of self-production through image. INTIMACY OPPORTUNITY is an invitation: to reframe narcissism as a tool of relational empowerment, and to consider the importance of fiction in contemporary self-production.
What was Narcissus’s cardinal sin? Did he love himself too much? No, his sin was stasis - he was frozen in his worship of himself. Generous narcissism breathes life into the dead present of Narcissus. The image is no longer still - it moves, with all the speed of data streams. Generous narcissism means touching the pond that Narcissus touched, but keeping mobile, still dissolved, and feeling someone touching back.