City of storytelling sex intimacy
Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you.EDITION02112013 01:49 pm ET Updated Apr 13, 2013Sex and the Cultural ZeitgeistBy Robert WeissOnce upon a time, there was no such thing as the Internet. Endless varieties and amounts of hardcore pornography were not available at the touch of a button. America had not yet been desensitized by digital smut, and sex was a taboo subject. Nowhere was this more evident than in movies and on television. For instance, the Motion Picture Production Code (commonly referred to as the Hays Code), adopted in 1934 and not abandoned until 1968, spelled out what was acceptable and what was unacceptable in U.S. motion pictures and a whole lot of stuff that seems pretty benign by todays standards was deemed unacceptable.Among the many topics banned by the Hays Code were: Licentious or suggestive nudity in fact or in silhouette along with any lecherous or licentious notice thereof by characters in the picture Any inference of sexual perversion (including homosexuality) Miscegenation (mixedrace sexual relationships) Discussion of sexual hygiene andor venereal diseases Profanity (including words like God, Jesus, etc., unless used reverently) Illegal trafficking in drugs White slavery Childbirth in fact or in silhouetteNotice that many of these proscriptions were somewhat vague. Words like suggestive, inference and perversion left things more than a little bit open to subjective interpretation. Unsurprisingly, Will Hays, who developed the MPPC, and his even more rigid successor Joseph Breen enforced the code with iron fists, refusing to allow any material onscreen that they thought might possibly offend the American public the American public apparently being comprised of overly prudish schoolmarms. In the 2012 film Hitchcock, theres a wonderfully entertaining subplot centering on Hitchs attempts to slip the sexually violent shower scene in Psycho past the censors. (His ultimate ability to do so virtually guaranteed the films success, as audiences had never seen anything like it.)Television was worse! On I Love Lucy, Lucy and Desi slept in separate beds. For all we knew, Little Ricky was an immaculate conception. On The Brady Bunch (nearly 20 years later), Mike and Carol also slept in separate beds, and yet they somehow managed to have three kids each, apparently without ever sharing more than a chaste kiss with each other or anyone else. The 1998 movie Pleasantville, about a 1950s sitcom come to life, has a great moment illustrating this cultural naivet, with William H. Macys character wondering aloud what people could possibly get up to in a double bed.Needless to say, things have changed. A lot. Only a year after the Hays code was abandoned, the Xrated film Midnight Cowboy the story of a country bumpkin trying to survive in the big city as a male prostitute won the Oscar for best picture. (The X rating was later changed to an R, and nowadays the film would barely qualify even for that, but still...)Slowly but surely, over the last 40 years or so, sex has emerged from the shadows. The initial television breakthroughs occurred in the 1980s, thanks primarily to cable television, which brought Benny Hill, burlesque and softcore porn into our homes. Later and larger breakthroughs can be attributed to the ubiquitous presence of online pornography virtually anyone whos ever surfed the Net has been exposed either intentionally or unintentionally (usually intentionally). So it shouldnt be surprising that sex is now the TV and film topic du jour.The silver screen in particular has recently witnessed a quantum sexual leap, with several sexthemed films likely to see relatively wide release in 2013 (as the critically acclaimed film about sexual addiction, Shame, received in 2011). Among the current offerings are: Lovelace the story of 1970s porn star Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried), who was used and abused by the porn industry at the behest of her coercive husband before finally taking control of her life. The Look of Love a biographical film about Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan), who can best be described as the British Hugh Hefner, eternally committed to pushing the envelope with his Men Only magazine and other sexual exploits. Don Juans Addiction the story of a young man (Joseph Gordon Levitt) whose pals call him Don Juan because of his ability to score hot women every weekend, but for whom these realworld encounters pale in comparison to time spent alone, watching porn on his computer. Kink a James Franco produced documentary about the fetish website, Kink.com. Interior. Leather Bar. a James Franco (again) directed metadocumentary about William Friedkins 1980 film, Cruising, imagining the films lost 40 minutes as a starting point for exploring sexual and creative freedom. A Teacher the story of a female high school teacher in Texas whose life begins to unravel when the affair shes been carrying on with a male student comes to an end. The Lifeguard the story of a New York reporter who quits her job, returns to her childhood home in Connecticut, takes a job as a lifeguard and embarks on a dangerous affair with a troubled teenager. Two Mothers the tale of childhood friends and neighbors (Robin Wright and Naomi Watts) who each fall in love with the others son. Concussion the story of a suburban mom (Robin Weigert) who turns to lesbian prostitution after suffering a severe concussion. Kill Your Darlings the story of a young Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), who finds himself on the receiving end of sexual acts from both men and women.Thats a whole lot of widerelease, sexthemed movies, and the list of stars involved Amanda Seyfried, Joseph Gordon Levitt, James Franco, Robin Wright, Naomi Watts, Robin Weigert and Daniel Radcliffe to name just a few reads like a Whos Who List of Hot Hollywood Stars. Its all very heady and impressive. But what does this sudden interest in sexuallythemed stories mean? Is this sexualization of the American zeitgeist a passing phase, or have we permanently discarded our puritan roots?James Franco, who seems perpetually interested in films that push the sexual envelope, has compared the current carnal onrush to the rise of onscreen graphic violence, particularly the films of Sam Peckinpah, George Romero, Sergio Leone and other groundbreaking directors. In many of those earlier movies, violence was used primarily to shock. As time passed, however, vicious acts became a sophisticated storytelling device instrumental to the plots of numerous critically acclaimed films (Fargo, Unforgiven, Reservoir Dogs, etc.) Franco feels that sex as a storytelling device is now, finally, progressing in similar ways.However you choose to analyze it, sex on TV and in films is here and here to stay much like the oncereviled depictions of graphic violence. The good news is sexuallythemed television shows and films are opening up a healthy dialogue about human sexuality, not just in the therapeutic community and among people hanging out around the water cooler at work, but among the men and women who are watching these showsfilms and their significant others. The simple fact is human beings are profoundly sexual creatures, and being able to witness our fantasies (or someone elses fantasies) on screen and then discuss what weve seen with an intimate partner afterward is a great way to not only spice up our sex lives, but to build and enhance relationship trust and emotional intimacy.Robert Weiss LCSW, CSATS is the author of three books on sexual addiction and an expert on the juxtaposition of human sexuality, intimacy, and technology. He is Founding Director of The Sexual Recovery Institute and Director of Intimacy and Sexual Disorders Services at The Ranch and Promises Treatment Centers. Mr. Weiss is a clinical psychotherapist and educator. He has provided sexual addiction treatment training internationally for psychology professionals, addiction treatment centers, and the US military. A media expert for Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times, Mr. Weiss has been featured on CNN, The Today Show, Oprah, and ESPN among many others. Rob can also be found on Twitter at RobWeissMSW.
QuizzesCelebrities Who Served Photo Quiz Check out the slideshow of some of our favorite celebrities who served in the military. Can you identify the famous face in uniform? Take The Quiz Famous Fathers Photo Quiz Think you know famous fathers and their celebrated sons and daughters? Take our Fathers Day photo quiz and test your knowledge of celebrity dads and kids. Take The Quiz The Real Jackie Kennedy Her style and grace were legendary, and her image came to define the 1960s. She captured the hearts of world leaders, fashion icons and people all over the planet, who knew her as Jackie Kennedy, Jacqueline Onassis, or simply Jackie O. But who was the real Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis? Take our quiz and find out. Take The Quiz Quiz: Archie Bunker vs. Ralph Kramden Can you tell these two classic cranks apart? Well give you a quote and you decide who said it: Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners or Archie Bunker on All in the Family? Take The Quiz
The Silent Music of the Mind: Remembering OliverSacksThe Central Paradox of Love: Esther Perel on Reconciling the Closeness Needed for Intimacy with the Psychological Distance That Fuels DesireLove rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. One does not exist without the other.By Maria PopovaThere is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love, the great humanistic philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm wrote in his 1965 classic on mastering the art of loving . One chief reason we flounder in this supreme human aspiration is our unwillingness to accept the paradoxes of love paradoxes like the necessity of frustration in romantic satisfaction and the seemingly irreconcilable notion that while love longs for closeness, desire thrives on distance.How to live with those paradoxes, rather than succumbing to the selfdefeating urge to treat them as problems to be solved, is what Belgian psychotherapist and writer Esther Perel explores in Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence ( public library ). Drawing on decades of her own work with couples and a vast body of psychological literature, Perel offers an illuminating and consolatory perspective on intimate relationships and our conflicting needs for security and freedom, warmth and wildness.Esther PerelPerel writes:Love is at once an affirmation and a transcendence of who we are.Beginnings are always ripe with possibilities, for they hold the promise of completion. Through love we imagine a new way of being.In this imaginative act, we project ourselves into a fantasy of who we can be to and with the other. But as the encounter evolves from the fantasy of an idealized romance to the reality of an actual relationship, the projection begins to dim. The trouble for many couples, Perel points out, is in sustaining the desire fueled by the initial fantasy the fantasy of what Mary Oliver so poetically called the invisible and powerful and uncontrollable and beautiful and possibly even unsuitable while settling into the comfortable intimacy of a real relationship.Illustration by Maurice Sendak from Open House for Butterflies by Ruth KraussPerel explains:If love is an act of imagination, then intimacy is an act of fruition. It waits for the high to subside so it can patiently insert itself into the relationship. The seeds of intimacy are time and repetition. We choose each other again and again, and so create a community of two.So begins the paradox of intimacy and desire: As a couple grows emotionally intimate through this repetition, which furnishes the building blocks of trust and security, desire begins to diminish. Noting that sex is not a function of emotional intimacy but a separate state of being, Perel counters a misconception central to our cultural narrative:There is a complex relationship between love and desire, and it is not a causeandeffect, linear arrangement. A couples emotional life together and their physical life together each have their ebbs and flows, their ups and downs, but these dont always correspond. They intersect, they influence each other, but theyre also distinct.Echoing Kahlil Gibrans counsel that the most satisfying relationships are between two people who have made spaces in their togetherness , she adds:It is too easily assumed that problems with sex are the result of a lack of closeness. But perhaps the way we construct closeness reduces the sense of freedom and autonomy needed for sexual pleasure. When intimacy collapses into fusion, it is not a lack of closeness but too much closeness that impedes desire.Love rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. One does not exist without the other. With too much distance, there can be no connection. But too much merging eradicates the separateness of two distinct individuals. Then there is nothing more to transcend, no bridge to walk on, no one to visit on the other side, no other internal world to enter. When people become fused when two become one connection can no longer happen. There is no one to connect with. Thus separateness is a precondition for connection: this is the essential paradox of intimacy and sex.Illustration from An ABZ of Love , Kurt Vonneguts favorite vintage Danish guide to sexualityDrawing on her work with couples, Perel writes:The intense physical and emotional fusion new lovers experience is possible only with someone we dont yet know. At this early stage merging and surrendering are relatively safe, because the boundaries between the two people are still externally defined. The lovers are new to each other. And while they are migrating into each others respective worlds, they have not yet taken full residence they are still two distinct entities. It is all the space between them that allows them to imagine no space at allIn the beginning you can focus on the connection because the psychological distance is already there its a part of the structure. Otherness is a fact. You dont need to cultivate separateness in the early stages of falling in love you still are separate. You aim to overcome that separateness.But as we bridge the separateness, we shorten and eventually annihilate the distance between two selves that makes one desirable to the other, for the springs of desire are in the very possibility of a leap across the abyss of otherness. As we settle into comfort love the kind one of Perels patients aptly likened to a flannel nightgown those springs come unwound.She sketches the common dynamic:The caring, protective elements that nurture home life can go against the rebellious spirit of carnal love. We often choose a partner who makes us feel cherished but after the initial romance we find, like Candace, that we cant sexualize him or her. We long to create closeness in our relationships, to bridge the space between our partner and ourselves, but, ironically, it is this very space between self and other that is the erotic synapse. In order to bring lust home, we need to recreate the distance that we worked so hard to bridge. Erotic intelligence is about creating distance, then bringing that space to life.Creating psychological distance within the comfort of closeness, Perel argues, is essential for sustaining desire in a loving relationship. She explains:In her landmark book The Second Sex , Simone de Beauvoir writes, Eroticism is a movement toward the Other, this is its essential character. Yet in our efforts to establish intimacy we often seek to eliminate otherness, thereby precluding the space necessary for desire to flourish. We seek intimacy to protect ourselves from feeling alone and yet creating the distance essential to eroticism means stepping back from the comfort of our partner and feeling more aloneOur ability to tolerate our separateness and the fundamental insecurity it engenders is a precondition for maintaining interest and desire in a relationship. Instead of always striving for closeness couples may be better off cultivating their separate selves There is beauty in an image that highlights a connection to oneself, rather than a distance from ones partner. In our mutual intimacy we make love, we have children, and we share physical space and interests. Indeed, we blend the essential parts of our lives. But essential does not mean all. Personal intimacy demarcates a private zone, one that requires tolerance and respect. It is a space physical, emotional, and intellectual that belongs only to me. Not everything needs to be revealed. Everyone should cultivate a secret garden.Art by Emily Hughes from The Little GardenerTending to that secret garden, Perel suggests, is an art of acquired skill. (This, perhaps, is why great artists work like gardeners .) Its acquisition begins in treating love and desire not as a dissonant opposition but as a symphonic composition of counterpoints:Love enjoys knowing everything about you desire needs mystery. Love likes to shrink the distance that exists between me and you, while desire is energized by it. If intimacy grows through repetition and familiarity, eroticism is numbed by repetition. It thrives on the mysterious, the novel, and the unexpected. Love is about having desire is about wanting. An expression of longing, desire requires ongoing elusiveness. It is less concerned with where it has already been than passionate about where it can still go. But too often, as couples settle into the comforts of love, they cease to fan the flame of desire. They forget that fire needs air.In the remainder of Mating in Captivity one of the most lucid and liberating perspectives on love written in the past century Perel goes on to explore how to integrate these paradoxical needs into the wholeness of a fully satisfying love. Complement it with philosopher Alain Badiou on how we fall and stay in love and Stendhal on why we fall out of it , then revisit Leo Tolstoy on loves paradoxical demands , John ODonohue on the enchantment of desire , and Kahlil Gibran on the difficult balance of intimacy and independence .donating lovingEach week of the past eleven years, I have poured tremendous time, thought, love, and resources into Brain Pickings, which remains free (and adfree) and is made possible by patronage. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider supporting my labor of love by becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation, between a cup of tea and a Brooklyn lunch. And if you already donate, from the bottom of my heart: THANK YOU.Monthly donation
Opt out or contact us anytimeWhen the protagonist finally makes his way to the shores of his new home, he is greeted by two giant statues, twin Statues of Liberty. He then sets up residence in a city that, though clearly fantastical (a white PacManlike creature infests his apartment instead of cockroaches), resembles New Yorks historically ethnic neighborhoods. By borrowing American imagery to communicate an otherwise universal story, Tan highlights just how central the immigrant experience is to the way America defines itself.The cover of The Arrival, made to look like old, worn leather, establishes a family photo album motif that Tan faithfully carries through the entire book. Inside, borderless sepia panels are arranged in careful grids. Creases and unidentifiable splotches elegantly blemish many of the pages. Tan completely eschews motion lines, sound effects and any other comics storytelling devices that would not be found in photographs. Even the spaces between the panels suggest a photo album: instead of the pencilthin gutters found in most graphic novels, he uses generous halfinch strips of yellowed paper.The effect is mesmerizing. Reading The Arrival feels like paging through a family treasure newly discovered up in the attic. However, the sheer beauty of Tans artwork sometimes gets in the way of his narrative. His panels, like the best photographs, capture the timelessness of particular moments, which can inadvertently endanger the illusion of time passing that a graphic novelist strives to create. The Arrival would almost rather be looked at than read.Still, that his biggest flaw is making his pictures too pretty speaks to Tans skill as a storyteller. In one especially effective scene, the protagonist opens his suitcase to find a ghostly image of his wife and daughter eating dinner. A chair sits empty at the table, reserved for him. A moment later, the suitcases actual contents replace the image. The protagonist pulls out a family portrait and nails it to the wall with his shoe. He sits back to contemplate it. A sequence of panels then carries the reader away from him and out the window, showing first his apartment building and finally his adopted city. The city teems with bubbling smoke, swirling highways and origami birds. The young father is lost, both in the quietness of his own memories and in the bustle of an alien land.Such visual eloquence can only motivate readers to seek out any future graphic novels from Shaun Tan, regardless of where they might be shelved.THE ARRIVALBy Shaun Tan.Unpaged. Arthur A. Levine BooksScholastic. 19.99. (Ages 10 and up)Gene Luen Yangs American Born Chinese was a finalist in 2006 for the National Book Award for Juvenile Fiction and winner of the Michael L. Printz Award.A version of this review appears in print on , on Page 721 of the New York edition with the headline: Stranger in a Strange Land. Todays Paper Subscribe
4,451backersIn Consentacle, you and a partner squirm your way to a mutually satisfying Human x Alien romance... with or without the benefit of verbal communication! Youll need to divine the others desires in order to build trust, play your cards right, and transform mutual trust into starry satisfaction. How tingly will your interplanetary liaison feel in the end? Will your encounter leave one party sweaty and exhausted, the other hungering for more? Its up to the two of you to find out... together!UPDATE: Check out the replay of our latest livestream of Consentacle play , featuring Frank Lantz and Eric Zimmerman. Can two senior statesmen of game design find intimacy by tangling through cards? What do they even think of this game... at the formal or narrative level?Weve blown past our first two stretch goals, described below... and much faster than anticipated! So weve been making plans and measuring feasibility for further goals that wont compromise the quality of gameplay just for an overstuffed box. (OK, we know some of you like overstuffed boxes and excess libidinal energy, but we tried to pack a lot into Consentacle in the first place!) Heres the deal:If we reach 135,000 in pledges (it can be done!) then every backer will get a free download of a 12page Consentacle comic book. On top of that, every box of Consentacle will come with the first two pages as a preview in the back of the manualthat way, youll get some nicely printed comic art as well. This comic will tell a brief story of how Kit and Dup met, and what stood in the way. Most of all, itll be full of more great artwork by James Harvey! Heres a collage of multiple comicbook pages by James from Batgirl andWe Are Robin(for DC Comics... yep, that Robin but also very different Robins than the shopworn ones):If youd like to see more of Jamess range, check out stopjamesharvey.com or heck, check out them search results ! Im likely to help some with plotting and dialogue, but Im keen on visual storytelling first without overprescribing. (If youre really curious, you can check out my speechbubbly writing work in games like Egg vs Chicken and Miss Management .Consentacle was originally produced as a showcase prototype for the No Quarter exhibition of games, with only a few sets in existence. Were bringing it to Kickstarter to fund mass production because so many people have asked if they can have a copy. To get it out to as many people as possible, Consentacle is priced to fund a single run, not additional printings! But what about a publisher? Well, given how unusual and suggestive Consentacle is, weve heard from more than one experienced source that its unlikely to be widely published without some significant changes that we wouldnt want to make. Theres always a possibility, but this may be the only time you can purchase a copy of Consentacle, ever.Were not guaranteeing that any stock will be left over!IMPORTANT: if youve played Consentacle at an event, or stared closely at photos and videos, thats the prototype version! Were making some changes in order to be able to massproduce the game, and because weve found some problems with our pretty made for a gallery opening, but not for long use prototype materials.First of all, the cards will be smaller, but easier to shuffle, deal, and hold. If we raise a little more than our base funding level, well be able to upgrade the quality to an even nicer ivorycore cardstock! UPDATE: Done! Ivorycore is in.The tokens in the box will either be chipboard (the kind you punch out from a sheet) orif this campaign gathers enough backers for it to be feasibleinjectionmolded acrylic (more similar to the tokens you see in photos and videos of Consentacle, although slightly different as those are lasercut). UPDATE: Done! Were definitely going with acrylic tokens!We know many of you whove played or seen Consentacle are big fans of the colorful acrylic tokens, so were hoping we can make them available for everyone! To make the game accessible to the maximum number of potential players, we didnt want to jack up the price to include acrylic tokens unless theres enough interest to make it less expensive for everyone! (Plastic pieces get a lot more affordable once youre making thousands of copies.)For manufacturing and shipping, were working with a number of experienced partners including Panda Game Manufacturing , whove helped produce and create many Kickstarted board and card games. Check out their showcase of successfully shipped games ! Were also pleased to be able to offer shipping included prices worldwide.OK, settle down! We have even more ways that you can enthusiastically stuff more Consentacle into your life!Love the artwork on Consentacles cards? If you back at the 58 level, youll receive a print of the artwork from Consentacles box cover (without labels) in full color on A3 photoquality paper. Right now thats the piece below (Lick), but if we exceed our base funding goal well commission a new original piece of artwork. Prints are limited to 100 backers!Lick.Were also offering very limited amounts for two higher reward levels where you can commission artwork by James Harvey. Want to envision yourself in the world of Consentacle, whether as a tentacled alien or a curious human? Backers at the 235 level can specify how they want to be portrayed in a limitedcolor portrait, while one backer at the 750 level can request details for a fullcolor commission of a scene that can potentially have multiple characters! Check out James Harveys website for more examples of what he can do. Backers at these two levels will also get a copy of James latest book, Mouth Baby, from Black Hook press, and the 750 backer will receive a copy of James outofprint comic Masterplasty, Image comics edition.Consentacle comes with what Naomis decided are the most essential cards for a balanced mix. If we reach the qualityimproving stretch goals described above, we may consider adding some optional extra cards! Stay tuned for more.Youre in luck! We have some of those left from Consentacles debut exhibition, where players were provided with rubber tentacles to wear on their fingers. If you back at the 200 level, youll not only get a signed copy of Consentacle, but two tentacles from the exhibition set.For an overview, watch the video at the top of this page! You can also download a PDF of the rules or read on for a detailed breakdown.1. To begin, youll need a partner who consents to playing with you, of course! Decide wholl play the Alien and wholl play the Human you each get a deck, tokens in your color (red for the Human, blue for the Alien) and five cards for your starting hand.Some cards are more useful than others at the start of the game! If you dont like your hand, you have one chance to redraw at the start of the game (a mulligan.)Each turn, you and your partner will choose and simultaneously reveal a card. But first, youll need to decide what difficulty mode youre playing on!In PRACTICE CONSENT mode, youre allowed to talk out loud about your cards and strategize with each other about what to play next.In CONSENT CHALLENGE mode, you cant discuss your cards at all, or make suggestions you may only communicate nonverbally about the game. (Exception: you can remind your partner to draw a card, move tokens, etc.)SOUL WINDOWSmode is similar, but you may only express yourself with your eyes: no sounds or gestures, just a telepathic gaze.AGENTS OF CONSENT involves wearing sunglasses and staring impassively at your partners blank visage.Playing cards in Consentacle lets you perform various actions with your Trust Tokens. Some cards let you earn more Trust Tokens, while others let you move some of your Trust Tokens to a central pool:Once you have some Tokens of each color in the central pool, you can effectively play cards that let you create purple Satisfaction Tokens by swapping out pairs of red and blue Trust Tokens:Each matched pair of Trust Tokens (one red, one blue) has the possibility of becoming one Satisfaction Token.Satisfaction Tokens determine the outcome of the game: was it good for you? Both of you? Play a Release card to boldly claim Satisfaction for yourself:The secret to a more satisfying intimate encounter lies in playing combos. If the card you play creates a combo with your partners card, the effect of your card may be boosted, taking you to new heights of mutual trust or satisfaction:But be careful: you cant just try to match your partners card, youve also got to think about what youre doing. Some combos are just awkward when you both try to slyly wink at each other, youll earn a little Trust, but not as much as you would have otherwise:The last turn of the game happens after you draw the final card from your deck (you wont have a chance to play every single card, time being the enemy of every dalliance). So who won? Nobodysex is only a competition if you want it to be! To find out how the encounter was, the Consentacle rules have a chart to consult for an evaluation of your intimate encounter (click the little image below to check out the chart on the last page of our rules PDF!)The full game adds a number of advanced cards as well, giving you more ways to mix it up, enhance your passionate skills, coordinate complexly with each other, and boost yourself to new heights of satisfaction!It depends on what you mean! Not safe for... weddings? Walmart? Wee little kids? Womens music festivals? Witch covens? Water? Work? The answer is yes, no, thats a parenting decision, probably not, yes, the cards are not waterproof, and depends. Consentacle and all the artwork in it are designed to be suggestive, not explicit my goal was to create a game that could be played in public without undue embarrassment and furtiveness, but with due blushing and giggling. The most explicit thing in the game is probably the fact that one card is called PENETRATE. If youre looking for more nudity and overt, sexually arousing material, we hear that consentacle as a genre has become an increasingly popular search term on some websites and forums that serve up explicit artwork!Special Thanks and Credit to: Shuangshuang Huo (video shootingediting), Melanie Bossert (prototype token fabrication), Sarah Elmaleh (video narration), Anna Anthropy, Lauren Naturale, and Zoe Harvey. Thanks to many playtesters and video stars including Ben Norskov, Mohini Dutta, Robert Yang, Eddie Cameron, Eric Zimmerman, Nathalie Pozzi, Josh DeBonis, Amanda DeBonis, Colleen Macklin, Renee Zalles, Scott Price, Toni Pizza, Bennett Foddy, Doug Wilson, Jesse Fuchs, merritt k, and many more players.Extra Special Thanks: Charles Pratt the NYU Game Center, without whose support the original game wouldnt have been made.Risks and challengesConsentacle will be Naomis second successful Kickstarter, following Sissyfight Returns in 2013: https:www.kickstarter.comprojects1805029723sissyfight2000returnsThe team on that Kickstarter started the work of porting Sissyfight to a new platform and creating new artwork as soon as the Kickstarter finished the team finished development and delivered all rewards to backers over the course of 2014.This time around, Consentacle is a nearly complete project already our team is seeking Kickstarter support to fund two things only: a completed set of illustrations for cards (80 done at time of writing, 20 to go) and the manufacturing and shipping of the actual games! New rules and cards have been tested over a period of months, and weve identified and started planning with some great, experienced manufacturing and fulfillment partners.More details about what Kickstarter funds will be used for: James Harvey will be creating over 20 new illustrations for cards, and Naomi will do layout of a new card design with those illustrations. Well be designing the box and laying out the rules again, with the new rules for the advanced game and cards in the mix. After that, its off to manufacturing and finally shipping to our backers: if we reach our funding goal, those last stages will account for almost 90 of the funds we raise!Things that could go wrong: James or Naomi could get sick or injured (cross your tentacles against that risk!) Delays in manufacturing, ocean freight, customs or shipping to backers could crop up they often do, and sometimes its beyond a Kickstarter creators control. To reduce that risk, we are working with a very experienced group of game manufacturing experts (Panda Game Manufacturing, pandagm.com) whove helped turn numerous successfullyfunded Kickstarter campaigns into real games in backers hands.Because this is our teams first nondigital Kickstarter game project, were also getting lots of advice from close friends and colleagues whove done it before, like the folks at Local No. 12 (the Metagame, https:www.kickstarter.comprojects2093152267themetagamediscuss ) and Resonym (Monarch, https:www.kickstarter.comprojectsmaryflanaganmonarchboardgamevieforthecrown and Visitor in Blackwood Grove, https:www.kickstarter.comprojectsmaryflanaganvisitorinblackwoodgrove ).Finally, weve already lined up a set of regional distributors who also have plenty of experience in shipping Kickstarter board and card games to backers, quickly and intact.Questions about this project? Check out the FAQSupportPledge 5 or more About 5Print Play version of Consentacle onlyAccess to the downloadable print play edition of Consentacle, which includes printable versions of cards, tokens, rules, and playmat. Everyone who backs Consentacle at 5 or more will get a link to download this version!Includes:
Storytelling: Its News (links to stories about storytelling, by National Storytelling Network) SpeakeasyDC (nonprofit arts organization, giving voice to peoples life experiences, in Washington DC) Voices in the Glen (a storytelling guild in Greater Washingto DC area) Worldwide Story Network (a Facebook community of story practitioners who apply storybased techniques in organizational settings)Helpful books and tips about storytelling Storytelling (Pat McNees, part 1). Tips on oral storytelling, from a couple of masters. For example, Professional oral storytellers dont memorize their stories, says Ellouise Schoettler. You want to remember beats and actions. She quoted Donald Davis as telling people to think of stories as crossing a creek you need to get six stones across the creek. You need to know whats supposed to happen what series of actions occur. You dont need to remember all the words. From Plot to Narrative by Elizabeth Ellis (stepbystep process for creating and enhancing stories) Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories by Loren Niemi and Elizabeth Ellis. A difficult story can powerfully alter not only he who tells it but also they who hear it. Telling Your Own Stories by Donald Davis (memory prompts and more) Writing as a Second Language by Donald Davis. From experience to story to prose. When we talk about language arts in our school, we focus on reading and writing instead of nourishing the whole oral and kinesthetic package that is our spoken language. Davis argues that we must step back into our familiar first languagethe spoken wordas our creative medium and learn to translate into that new foreign language called writing. He argues that talking and writing need not be mutually exclusive in language development. Storytellers tips (various storytellers, Voices in the Glen)Back to TopExcellent online examples of narrative journalism (creative nonfiction) You can find links to MANY excellent pieces of literary (narrative) journalism at the Nieman Storyboard site , many examples from which I link to below. Nieman Storyboard has also provided links to all the Notable Narratives from the Nieman Narrative Digest for the years 2006 to 2013 . The Mastermind: An Arrogant Way of Killing by Evan Ratliff (Atavist) He was a brilliant programmer and a vicious cartel boss who became a prized U.S. government asset. The Atavist Magazine presents a story of an elusive criminal kingpin, told in weekly installments. Click on Start with episode 1. The Real Heroes Are Dead (James B. Stewart, New Yorker, 21102). A love story. The story of Rick Rescorla: immigrant, war hero, husband, and head of security at Morgan StanleyDean Witter, occupant of 22 floors in the South Tower. AltWhite: How the Breitbart Machine Laundered Racist Hate (Joseph Bernstein, BuzzFeedNews, 10517) A cache of documents reveals the truth about Steve Bannons altright killing machine. How Breitbart and Milo smuggled Nazi and white nationalist ideas into the mainstream. See also The beat reporter behind BuzzFeeds blockbuster altright investigation (Matthew Kassel, CJR, 101717) ISIS and the Lonely Young American (Rukmini Callimachi, Americas, NY Times, 62715) The Lost Man (Graeme Wood, The California Sunday Magazine, 6715) In 1948, a man was found on a beach in South Australia. The mysterious circumstances of his death have captivated generations of truecrime fanatics. Today, one amateur sleuth has come close to solving the case and upended his life in the process. The MixedUp Brothers of Bogot (Susan Dominus, NY Times Magazine, 7915) After a hospital error, two pairs of Colombian identical twins were raised as two pairs of fraternal twins. This is the story of how they found one another and of what happened next. Five long reads that stand the test of time (Alyssa Rosenbergs picks, as described in the Washington Post, 81215): Children of Circumstance by Blake Nelson (the New Yorker, 21494) Unspeakable Conversations by Harriet McBryde Johnson (New York Times Magazine 21603) The Misfit by Judith Thurman (the New Yorker, 7405) Rachel Uchitel Is Not a Madam by Lisa Taddeo (New York Magazine, 4410) and Among the Settlers by Jeffrey Goldberg (the New Yorker, 53104). The Talented Mr. Khater (Francesca Mari, Texas MOnthly, July 2015) When 23yearold Callie Quinn moved from Texas to Chile, she counted on finding a beautiful country, meaningful work, and interesting friends. She had no idea shed set off a manhunt for an international con artist. The life and times of Strider Wolf (Sarah Schweitzer, Boston Globe, Nov. 2015 ) He has traveled so far, from nearfatal abuse to here, invisible among Maines poorest, in the care of grandparents who have little left to give but love and just enough of that. Yet somehow Strider is climbing. How high? How far? The 7 Greatest Stories in the History of Esquire Magazine... in Full (as chosen by the magazine, 111408, and with the magazines descriptions): The School by C.J. Chivers (June 2006) On the first day of school in 2004, a Chechen terrorist group struck the Russian town of Beslan. Targeting children, they took more than eleven hundred hostages. The attack represented a horrifying innovation in human brutality. Here, an extraordinary accounting of the experience of terror in the age of terrorism. The Falling Man by Tom Junod (Sept. 8, 2009) Do you remember this photograph? In the United States, people have taken pains to banish it from the record of September 11, 2001. The story behind it, though, and the search for the man pictured in it, are our most intimate connection to the horror of that day. What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now? by Richard Ben Cramer (June 1986) Regarded as perhaps the finest piece of sportswriting on record, the furious saga of Teddy Ballgame from boy to man and near death is an unmatchable remembrance for an American icon. Frank Sinatra Has a Cold by Gay Talese (April 1966) Frank Sinatra Has a Cold ran in April 1966 and became one of the most celebrated magazine stories ever published, a pioneering example of what came to be called New Journalism a work of rigorously faithful fact enlivened with the kind of vivid storytelling that had previously been reserved for fiction. M by John Sack (October 1966). Memorable for its famous cover line (Oh my Godwe hit a little girl.), this legendary account of one company of American soldiers in Fort Dix, New Jersey, who trained for war and who found it in South Vietnam fifty days later. The Last American Hero Is Junior Johnson. Yes! by Tom Wolfe (March 1965) Now one of Americas most legendary authors, Tom Wolfe broke out onto the national literary scene at age thirtyfour with this breathless piece an early step in the socalled New Journalism, a first reference for the term good ol boy, a deep breath into the future of the New South. Superman Comes to the Supermarket by Norman Mailer (November 1960) In November 1960, Norman Mailer first tried his hand at a genre that would come to define his career. This is Mailers debut into the world of political journalism, a sprawling classic examining John F. Kennedy. Dan Barry, Donnas Diner. This Land: Elyria, OhioAt the Corner of Hope and Worry (that first link is to video, with Donna and regulars talking in the diner) (NY Times, 101312). The story is told in five parts: 1. Donnas Diner , 2: Elyrian Landscape: New Mayor, Big ToDo List , 3. Elyria Then, Elyria Now: After a Childhood Pouring Refills, Reaching Beyond the Past , 4. NeverEnding Conversation: In the Hard Fall of a Favorite Son, a Reminder of a Citys Scars , and With a New Menu and a Makeover, a Promise to Keep GoingMoni Basu. Chaplain Turners War (8part series, Atlanta JournalConstitution, 62208). Compelled to serve where the suffering was greatest, he headed to Iraq. He has already lost 14 men. What will become of the rest of his flock?Barry Bearake, The Day the Sea Came , Part 1 of a long feature about the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, which David Hayes cites as an example, like John Herseys Hiroshima , of parallel structure: a number of characters and a single event. Go here for Part 2 .Kelley Benham. Never Let Go (threepart series, by Kelley Benham, Tampa Bay Times, 12912). Micro preemie parents decide: Fight or let go of their extremely premature baby? Part 1 Lost and Found . When a baby is born at the edge of viability, which is the greater act of love: to save her, or to say goodbye? Part 2, The Zero Zone In a neverland of sick babies, the NICU is a place where there is no future or past. Every moment is a fight for existence. and Part 3, Calculating the Value of a Life . Read about the story: Notable Narrative: What Nieman Storyboard loved about this series.John Biewen. Married to the Military (American RadioWorks, listen to hourlong radio program or read the transcript)John Branch. Snow Fall: Avalanche at Tunnel Creek (video), part of a multimedia piece (NY Times, 122112 ), a harrowing story of skiers caught in an avalanche.Ian Brown, The Boy in the Moon (Globe Mail series available online). Browns memoir about his relationship with his son, Walker, born with a rare genetic disorder that leaves him profoundly developmentally disabled. In book form, The Boy in the Moon: A Fathers Search for His Disabled Son is available at a reasonable price through Amazon Canada .Janet Burroway. Life After Tim (St. Petersburg Times, 121204). Tim shot himself dead after returning from Iraq. His mother Janet Burroway reflects on the life of a fiercely honourable boy.Janet Burroway. My son, my soldier, my sorrow (St. Petersburg Times, 61304). In three essays written over 20 years, a liberal, pacifist mother struggles to understand her conservative son, a proud soldier and member of the NRA.Roy Peter Clark. Amazing Grace in the Mens Room (Sunday Journal, St. Petersburg Times, 93007)Roy Peter Clark. Three Little Words (series that ran in the St. Petersburg Times over 29 days in 1996) . Clark worked for two years to piece together this intensely personal family history. Set in the time of AIDS, Three Little Words is a tale of trust, betrayal and redemption. The story, which unfolded here and on the pages of the St. Petersburg Times over 29 days, challenges us to reconsider our thoughts about marriage, privacy, public health and sexual identity.Dudley Clendenin. The Good Short Life (Opinion piece, Sunday Review, The New York Times 7911). Living with Lou Gehrigs disease is about life, when you know theres not much left, writes Clendenin, who plans to end his life before ALS prevents him from doing so. Nieman Storyboard has an interesting Editors Roundtable: The New York Times on facing death as well as an interview with the author: Dudley Clendinen on building stories from life and choosing grace in death: I dont quibble with fatePamela Coloff. The Innocent Man, Part One and Part Two . During the 25 years that Michael Morton spent wrongfully imprisoned for murdering his wife, he kept three things in mind: Someday he would prove his innocence to their son. Someday he would find out who had killed her. And someday he would understand how this had happened to him.Joanna Connors. Beyond Rape: A Survivors Story (The Cleveland Plain Dealer 5408). Connors investigates her own 1984 rape and reports on it in a story that is part personal essay, part longform journalism. We tell stories to connect with each other. We tell our own stories sometimes just to ourselves to make sense of the world and our experience in it, she writes in part 3. As a reader and a writer, I believe in the power of stories to bring us together and heal. I have asked so many other people to open themselves up and let me tell their stories, all the while withholding my own. I owed this to them.Andrea Curtis. Small Mercies (Toronto Life, December 2005). He was born at three and a half pounds, the length of a squirrel, with no eyelashes or toenails, and pencilthin legs poking out of a diaper that covered almost his entire torso. He was too small to eat or breath on his own. Too fragile even to be held. Discussed by Bruce Gillespie, Whys this so good? (Nieman Storyboard, 12412): a textbook example of how to pace a story for maximum reader engagement that is sure to keep you glued to the page until the very last word.Thomas Curwen. Anas Story: Isolated by her appearance, she yearned for a place in the world (twopart series in the Los Angeles Times about how facial reconstruction may change the life of Ana Rodarte, whose life has been defined by facial disfigurement caused by neurofibromatosis, 4409)Back to TopLane DeGregory and Melissa Lyttle. The Girl in the Window (St. Petersburg Times, 73108). The Plant City police found a girl lying in her roachinfested room, naked except for an overflowing diaper. The child, pale and skeletal, communicated only through grunts. She was almost 7 years old. The story of Danielle, a feral child, deprived of her humanity by a lack of nurturing. With a followup story by Lane DeGregory: Three years later, The Girl in the Window learns to connect (82111)Sheri Finks story (in two venues, with different titles): The Deadly Choices at Memorial (ProPublica, journalism in the public interest, 82409) Strained by Katrina, a Hospital Faced Deadly Choices (New York Times Magazine, 82509) and the story about the story: An extremely expensive cover story with a new way of footing the bill by Zachary M. Seward, Nieman Journalism Lab (a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age). Also of interest: The Deadly Choices at Memorial (letters in response to the Times story).David Finkels Pulitzer Prizewinning series, for explanatory journalism, Exporting Democracy (about U.S. efforts to bring democracy to Yemen).FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silvers Political Calculus (New York Times blog), the first blog Nieman Narrative selected as a Notable Narrative.Brent Foster and Poul Madsen, Nobody deserves this Hell Hole: Jharias fiery mines (The Globe and Mail, 5809, with a story that multimedia greatly improves)Jon Franklin. Mrs. Kellys Monster (Baltimore Sun, 1979) won the first Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. On Nieman Storyboards Line by Line , Franklin takes us line by line through his narrative classic, a model of pacing and detail and character.Thomas French, Angels Demons (this story in St. Petersburg Times won 1998 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, for his detailed and compassionate narrative portrait of a mother and two daughters slain on a Florida vacation, and the threeyear investigation into their murders)Thomas French, Zoo Story. Life. Death. The Paradox of Freedom. (a special, outstanding ninepart series in the St. Petersburg Times, 12207)Stephen Fried, Cradle to Grave (Part 1) and Part 2 (Philadelphia Magazine, 11708). In the 1960s, a local couple became the most famous bereaved parents in America, as their infants died one after another. This Philadelphia Magazine investigation revealed the deaths were indeed tragic, but perhaps not unexplainable.Stephen Friedman. Bret, Unbroken (Runners World, June 2013a moving story and a fine example of telling a story in second person). His brain and body shattered in a horrible accident as a young boy, Bret Dunlap thought just being able to hold down a job, keep an apartment, and survive on his own added up to a good enough life. Then he discovered running.Atul Gawande. The Score: How Childbirth Went Industrial (Annals of Medicine, The New Yorker, 10906)James Glanz. Alley Fighters (New York Times, 33008). In Shite Slums Victory Must Be Won in the Alleys an example of hard news told as firstperson explanatory essayChristopher Goffard. On the run from everything but each other (Los Angeles Times 51309), young love in flight, which Mark Johnson writes about in Whys this so good? (Nieman Storyboard 11012)Cynthia Gorney. ChickenSoup Nation (Annals of Publishing, New Yorker, 10603).David Grann. The Squid Hunter (A Reporter at Large, The New Yorker, 52404). Can Steve OShea capture the seas most elusive creature?David Grann. The Chameleon (Annals of Crime, The New Yorker, 81108). The many lives of Frdric Bourdin, a thirtyyearold Frenchman who serially impersonated children.Back to TopTom Hallman Jr. The Boy Behind the Mask (The Oregonian, 93000). Received 2001 Pulitzer for his poignant profile of a disfigured 14year old boy who elects to have lifethreatening surgery in an effort to improve his appearance)Tom Hallman Jr. Fighting for life on Level 3 (Oregonian, Sept. 2124, 2003). Hallman takes readers inside the ward where premature babies are tended. To cover this story, he had to first win over the hospital bureaucracy he then spent nine months immersion reporting. Wrote judges for a Missouri School of Journalism award for the series: The reporting is outstanding the writing is extraordinary. This is journalism at its highest level.Meredith Hindley. When Bram Met Walt (Humanities, the magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities, NovDec 2012). When Bram Stoker (who went on to write Dracula) met Walt Whitman. (Thanks, Barry Yeoman, for pointing this story out.)Jack Hitt. Radovan Karadzics NewAge Adventure (NYTimes Magazine, 72209)Ann Hull and Sue Carlton. Another wild day in the battle over lap dancing (St. Petersburg Times, 12399). Hull and Carlton bring the courtroom to life by showing the parties involved, on both sides of a controversial local issue.Michael Kruse, A Brevard woman disappeared, but never left home . How could a woman die a block from the beach, surrounded by her neighbors, and not be found for almost 16 months? Nieman Storyboard commentary: Exhuming a life (the lost history of Kathryn Norris)Thomas Lake. The Way It Should Be (Sports Illustrated, 62909, the story of an athletes singular gesture continues to inspire)
The Silent Music of the Mind: Remembering OliverSacksThe Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being AloneLoneliness is personal, and it is also political. Loneliness is collective We are in this together, this accumulation of scars What matters is kindness what matters is solidarity.By Maria PopovaYou are born alone. You die alone. The value of the space in between is trust and love, artist Louise Bourgeois wrote in her diary at the end of a long and illustrious life as she contemplated how solitude enriches creative work . Its a lovely sentiment, but as empowering as it may be to those willing to embrace solitude, it can be tremendously lonesomemaking to those for whom loneliness has contracted the space of trust and love into a suffocating penitentiary. For if in solitude, as Wendell Berry memorably wrote , ones inner voices become audible and one responds more clearly to other lives, in loneliness ones inner scream becomes deafening, deadening, severing any thread of connection to other lives.How to break free of that prison and reinhabit the space of trust and love is what Olivia Laing explores in The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone ( public library ) an extraordinary morethanmemoir a sort of memoirplusplus, partway between Helen MacDonalds H Is for Hawk and the diary of Virginia Woolf a lyrical account of wading through a period of selfexpatriation, both physical and psychological, in which Laing paints an intimate portrait of loneliness as a populated place: a city in itself.Art by Isol from Daytime VisionsAfter the sudden collapse of a romance marked by extreme elation, Laing left her native England and took her shattered heart to New York, that teeming island of gneiss and concrete and glass. The daily, bonedeep loneliness she experienced there was both paralyzing in its allconsuming potency and, paradoxically, a strange invitation to aliveness. Indeed, her choice to leave home and wander a foreign city is itself a rich metaphor for the paradoxical nature of loneliness, animated by equal parts restlessness and stupor, capable of turning one into a voluntary vagabond and a catatonic recluse all at once, yet somehow a vitalizing laboratory for selfdiscovery. The pit of loneliness, she found, could drive one to consider some of the larger questions of what it is to be alive.She writes:There were things that burned away at me, not only as a private individual, but also as a citizen of our century, our pixelated age. What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if were not intimately engaged with another human being? How do we connect with other people, particularly if we dont find speaking easy? Is sex a cure for loneliness, and if it is, what happens if our body or sexuality is considered deviant or damaged, if we are ill or unblessed with beauty? And is technology helping with these things? Does it draw us closer together, or trap us behind screens?Bedeviled by this acute emotional anguish, Laing seeks consolation in the great patron saints of loneliness in twentiethcentury creative culture. From this eclectic tribe of the lonesome including JeanMichel Basquiat, Alfred Hitchcock, Peter Hujar, Billie Holiday, and Nan Goldin Laing chooses four artists as her companions charting the terra incognita of loneliness: Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, Henry Darger, and David Wojnarowicz, who had all grappled in their lives as well as work with loneliness and its attendant issues.Olivia LaingShe considers, for instance, Warhol an artist whom Laing had always dismissed until she was submerged in loneliness herself. (Id seen the screenprinted cows and Chairman Maos a thousand times, and I thought they were vacuous and empty, disregarding them as we often do with things weve looked at but failed properly to see.) She writes:Warhols art patrols the space between people, conducting a grand philosophical investigation into closeness and distance, intimacy and estrangement. Like many lonely people, he was an inveterate hoarder, making and surrounding himself with objects, barriers against the demands of human intimacy. Terrified of physical contact, he rarely left the house without an armoury of cameras and tape recorders, using them to broker and buffer interactions: behaviour that has light to shed on how we deploy technology in our own century of socalled connectivity.Woven into the fabric of Laings personal experience are inquiries into the nature, context, and background of these four artists lives and their works most preoccupied with loneliness. But just as it would be unfair to call Laings masterpiece only a memoir, it would be unfair to call these threads art history, for they are rather the opposite, a kind of art present elegant and erudite meditations on how art is present with us, how it invites us to be present with ourselves and bears witness to that presence, alleviating our loneliness in the process.Laing examines the particular, pervasive form of loneliness in the eye of a city aswirl with humanity:Imagine standing by a window at night, on the sixth or seventeenth or fortythird floor of a building. The city reveals itself as a set of cells, a hundred thousand windows, some darkened and some flooded with green or white or golden light. Inside, strangers swim to and fro, attending to the business of their private hours. You can see them, but you cant reach them, and so this commonplace urban phenomenon, available in any city of the world on any night, conveys to even the most social a tremor of loneliness, its uneasy combination of separation and exposure.You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavour to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by millions of people. One might think this state was antithetical to urban living, to the massed presence of other human beings, and yet mere physical proximity is not enough to dispel a sense of internal isolation. Its possible easy, even to feel desolate and unfrequented in oneself while living cheek by jowl with others. Cities can be lonely places, and in admitting this we see that loneliness doesnt necessarily require physical solitude, but rather an absence or paucity of connection, closeness, kinship: an inability, for one reason or another, to find as much intimacy as is desired. Unhappy, as the dictionary has it, as a result of being without the companionship of others. Hardly any wonder, then, that it can reach its apotheosis in a crowd.As scientists are continuing to unpeel the physiological effects of loneliness , it is no surprise that this psychological state comes with an almost bodily dimension, which Laing captures vividly:What does it feel like to be lonely? It feels like being hungry: like being hungry when everyone around you is readying for a feast. It feels shameful and alarming, and over time these feelings radiate outwards, making the lonely person increasingly isolated, increasingly estranged. It hurts, in the way that feelings do, and it also has physical consequences that take place invisibly, inside the closed compartments of the body. It advances, is what Im trying to say, cold as ice and clear as glass, enclosing and engulfing.There is, of course, a universe of difference between solitude and loneliness two radically different interior orientations toward the same exterior circumstance of lacking companionship. We speak of fertile solitude as a developmental achievement essential for our creative capacity , but loneliness is barren and destructive it cottons in apathy the will to create. More than that, it seems to signal an existential failing a social stigma the nuances of which Laing addresses beautifully:Loneliness is difficult to confess difficult too to categorise. Like depression, a state with which it often intersects, it can run deep in the fabric of a person, as much a part of ones being as laughing easily or having red hair. Then again, it can be transient, lapping in and out in reaction to external circumstance, like the loneliness that follows on the heels of a bereavement, breakup or change in social circles.Like depression, like melancholy or restlessness, it is subject too to pathologisation, to being considered a disease. It has been said emphatically that loneliness serves no purpose Perhaps Im wrong, but I dont think any experience so much a part of our common shared lives can be entirely devoid of meaning, without a richness and a value of some kind.With an eye to Virginia Woolfs unforgettable diary writings on loneliness and creativity , Laing speculates:Loneliness might be taking you towards an otherwise unreachable experience of reality.Adrift and alone in the city that promises its inhabitants the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation, Laing cycles through a zoetrope of temporary homes sublets, friends apartments, and various borrowed quarters, only amplifying the sense of otherness and alienation as she is forced to make a life among someone elses things, in a home that someone else has created and long since.Art by Carson Ellis from HomeBut therein lies an inescapable metaphor for life itself we are, after all, subletting our very existence from a city and a society and a world that have been there for much longer than we have, already arranged in a way that might not be to our taste, that might not be how the building would be laid out and its interior designed were we to do it from scratch ourselves. And yet we are left to make ourselves at home in the way things are, imperfect and sometimes downright ugly. The measure of a life has to do with this subletting ability with how well we are able to settle into this borrowed, imperfect abode and how much beauty we can bring into existence with however little control over its design we may have.This, perhaps, is why Laing found her only, if temporary, respite from loneliness in an activity propelled by the very act of leaving this borrowed home: walking. In a passage that calls to mind Robert Walsers exquisite serenade to the soulnourishment of the walk , she writes:In certain circumstances, being outside, not fitting in, can be a source of satisfaction, even pleasure. There are kinds of solitude that provide a respite from loneliness, a holiday if not a cure. Sometimes as I walked, roaming under the stanchions of the Williamsburg Bridge or following the East River all the way to the silvery hulk of the U.N., I could forget my sorry self, becoming instead as porous and borderless as the mist, pleasurably adrift on the currents of the city.But whatever semblance of a more solid inner center these peripatetic escapes into solitude offered, it was a brittle solidity:I didnt get this feeling when I was in my apartment only when I was outside, either entirely alone or submerged in a crowd. In these situations I felt liberated from the persistent weight of loneliness, the sensation of wrongness, the agitation around stigma and judgement and visibility. But it didnt take much to shatter the illusion of selfforgetfulness, to bring me back not only to myself but to the familiar, excruciating sense of lack.Edward Hopper: Nighthawks (1942)It was in the lacuna between selfforgetfulness and selfdiscovery that Laing found herself drawn to the artists who became her companions in a journey both toward and away from loneliness. There is Edward Hopper with his iconic Nighthawks aglow in eerie jade, of which Laing writes:There is no colour in existence that so powerfully communicates urban alienation, the atomisation of human beings inside the edifices they create, as this noxious pallid green, which only came into being with the advent of electricity, and which is inextricably associated with the nocturnal city, the city of glass towers, of empty illuminated offices and neon signs.The diner was a place of refuge, absolutely, but there was no visible entrance, no way to get in or out. There was a cartoonish, ochrecoloured door at the back of the painting, leading perhaps into a grimy kitchen. But from the street, the room was sealed: an urban aquarium, a glass cell.Green on green, glass on glass, a mood that expanded the longer I lingered, breeding disquiet.Hopper himself had a conflicted relationship with the common interpretation that loneliness was a central theme of his work. Although he often denied that it was a deliberate creative choice, he once conceded in an interview: I probably am a lonely one. Laing, whose attention and sensitivity to even the subtlest texture of experience are what make the book so wonderful, considers how Hoppers choice of language captures the essence of loneliness:Its an unusual formulation, a lonely one not at all the same thing as admitting one is lonely. Instead, it suggests with that a, that unassuming indefinite article, a fact that loneliness by its nature resists. Though it feels entirely isolating, a private burden no one else could possibly experience or share, it is in reality a communal state, inhabited by many people. In fact, current studies suggest that more than a quarter of American adults suffers from loneliness, independent of race, education and ethnicity, while 45 per cent of British adults report feeling lonely either often or sometimes. Marriage and high income serve as mild deterrents, but the truth is that few of us are absolutely immune to feeling a greater longing for connection than we find ourselves able to satisfy. The lonely ones, a hundred million strong. Hardly any wonder Hoppers paintings remain so popular, and so endlessly reproduced.Reading his halting confession, one begins to see why his work is not just compelling but also consoling, especially when viewed en masse. Its true that he painted, not once but many times, the loneliness of a large city, where the possibilities of connection are repeatedly defeated by the dehumanising apparatus of urban life. But didnt he also paint loneliness as a large city, revealing it as a shared, democratic place, inhabited, whether willingly or not, by many souls?What Hopper captures is beautiful as well as frightening. They arent sentimental, his pictures, but there is an extraordinary attentiveness to them As if loneliness was something worth looking at. More than that, as if looking itself was an antidote, a way to defeat lonelinesss strange, estranging spell.David Wojnarowicz by Peter Hujar (Peter Hujar Archive)For the artists accompanying Laing on her journey including Henry Darger, the brilliant and mentally ill Chicago janitor whose posthumously discovered paintings made him one of the most celebrated outsider artists of the twentieth century, and the creative polymath David Wojnarowicz, still in his thirties when AIDS took his life loneliness was often twined with another profound affliction of the psyche: loss. In a passage evocative of Paul Goodmans taxonomy of the nine types of silence , Laing offers a taxonomy of lonelinesses through the lens of loss:Loss is a cousin of loneliness. They intersect and overlap, and so its not surprising that a work of mourning might invoke a feeling of aloneness, of separation. Mortality is lonely. Physical existence is lonely by its nature, stuck in a body thats moving inexorably towards decay, shrinking, wastage and fracture. Then theres the loneliness of bereavement, the loneliness of lost or damaged love, of missing one or many specific people, the loneliness of mourning.But this lonesomeness of mortality finds its antidote in the abiding consolations of immortal works of art. Art holds out the promise of inner wholeness, philosopher Alain de Botton and art historian John Armstrong wrote in their inquiry into the seven psychological functions of art , and if loneliness is, as Laing puts it, a longing for integration, for a sense of feeling whole, what better answer to that longing than art? After all, in the immortal words of James Baldwin , only an artist can tell, and only artists have told since we have heard of man, what it is like for anyone who gets to this planet to survive it.Looking back on her experience, Laing writes:There are so many things that art cant do. It cant bring the dead back to life, it cant mend arguments between friends, or cure AIDS, or halt the pace of climate change. All the same, it does have some extraordinary functions, some odd negotiating ability between people, including people who never meet and yet who infiltrate and enrich each others lives. It does have a capacity to create intimacy it does have a way of healing wounds, and better yet of making it apparent that not all wounds need healing and not all scars are ugly.If I sound adamant it is because I am speaking from personal experience. When I came to New York I was in pieces, and though it sounds perverse, the way I recovered a sense of wholeness was not by meeting someone or by falling in love, but rather by handling the things that other people had made, slowly absorbing by way of this contact the fact that loneliness, longing, does not mean one has failed, but simply that one is alive.But as profoundly personal as loneliness may feel, it is inseparable from the political dimensions of public life. In a closing passage that calls to mind Audre Lordes clarion call for breaking our silences against structural injustice , Laing adds:There is a gentrification that is happening to cities, and there is a gentrification that is happening to the emotions too, with a similarly homogenising, whitening, deadening effect. Amidst the glossiness of late capitalism, we are fed the notion that all difficult feelings depression, anxiety, loneliness, rage are simply a consequence of unsettled chemistry, a problem to be fixed, rather than a response to structural injustice or, on the other hand, to the native texture of embodiment, of doing time, as David Wojnarowicz memorably put it, in a rented body, with all the attendant grief and frustration that entails.I dont believe the cure for loneliness is meeting someone, not necessarily. I think its about two things: learning how to befriend yourself and understanding that many of the things that seem to afflict us as individuals are in fact a result of larger forces of stigma and exclusion, which can and should be resisted.Loneliness is personal, and it is also political. Loneliness is collective it is a city. As to how to inhabit it, there are no rules and nor is there any need to feel shame, only to remember that the pursuit of individual happiness does not trump or excuse our obligations to each another. We are in this together, this accumulation of scars, this world of objects, this physical and temporary heaven that so often takes on the countenance of hell. What matters is kindness what matters is solidarity. What matters is staying alert, staying open, because if we know anything from what has gone before us, it is that the time for feeling will not last.Thanks, Emilydonating lovingEach week of the past eleven years, I have poured tremendous time, thought, love, and resources into Brain Pickings, which remains free (and adfree) and is made possible by patronage. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider supporting my labor of love by becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation, between a cup of tea and a Brooklyn lunch. 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