Two new books attempt to explain a cultural moment in which our “modes of organising experience” – of sexuality and selfhood – have failed to keep pace with the freedoms on offer. It’s a kind of feeling in the dark, a personal appraisal of life outside the “ontological monoculture” of romantic love. “At no point did it offer guidance in what to do with such a vast array of possibility.”, for which Witt wrote a couple of the pieces that she develops in her book and Dombek is the in-house agony aunt). At the same time, she wants “to picture a different future, one aligned with the freedom of my present”.
“The privilege of being middle class in America in the 21st century meant that most of the pressing questions in life were left to choice,” Emily Witt writes in . The first chapter illuminates the history of internet dating but ends in uncertainty. She tracks the progress of Lasch’s ideas – in turn derived from Havelock Ellis, Paul Näcke and Freud – as they developed to form a distinctly American phobia. After visiting San Francisco, where the “combination of computers and sexual diversity was especially concentrated”, she undergoes a transformation.
That is, her domestic life has subsumed her erotic life, and instead of sex being a release, it just feels like another obligation.
It is one thing to know how that feels – evicted from the past, uncertain of the future – and quite another to put it into words. No, I don’t think becoming potheads is a permanent solution.I’m just suggesting that casting aside your routines and responsibilities might be a way to create some new sparks.She reiterates the usefulness of narcissism as an engine of mental growth (even past childhood into adulthood).Crucially, she reminds us that when Narcissus gazed into the water, he thought he was looking at someone else.
, the American historian Christopher Lasch wrote, “Every society reproduces its culture – its underlying assumptions, its modes of organising experience – in the individual, in the form of personality.” He went on to argue that celebrity culture, the radical movements of the 1960s and the dawn of the “information age” had normalised a strain of selfishness that was once deemed pathological.