In The Postmodern World, Intimacy Has Become A Strange Thing

Sreedeep Bhattacharya

What are the essential ingredients of a pristine, romantic association? Introduction, anticipation, initiation, expectation, complexity, eccentricity, intimacy, reward and recognition. Not to forget the garnish of conflicts and contradictions; pathos and pleasure; tantrums and traumas; itches and aches—and, possibly, a lot more.

Whereas these elements may have remained somewhat unaltered, there seems to be a sea change in the pace, method and format of executing romantic intent. I was recently reading Rosalyn D’Mello’s A Handbook For My Lover that provides a plethora of feelings underneath the flesh and bone of contemporary lovers. While the memoir celebrates the nostalgia of togetherness, it is time to run a feeling-check in an era in which moving on has been sufficiently normalised.

In the third decade of the twenty-first century, we seem to be obsessed with the new and the now—that includes new people, new projects, new objects, new passions. Even though every ‘new’ appears somewhat old way too soon. Therefore, feelings often reside as fragmented residues, expressed in short bursts and manifest in recurring installments. In the restless game of Grab and Grab More, friends-with-benefits have back-benched the idea of ‘forever’. Open-endedness and uncertainty are the normative social principles around which we meet, mate, relate, relish and reject. It is as if our personal life is imitating the internal logic of consumption: that of desiring—consuming—exhausting—disposing; followed by a renewed craving for the new, yet again. It is a constant, relentless chase….