We are so close to each other, brushing shoulders on our journeys through crowded towns, pressing ourselves together through paper and screen, sharing fragments of ourselves through texts, emails and messengers – perhaps even meeting in person. Our days are spent weaving ourselves in and out of each other’s histories. We are, it seems, so intimate. As Sherry Turkle argues in her 2012 TED talk Connect, but alone?, while technology may make it easier to experience intimacy, the propinquity it creates is mediated and indirect. One might even say that it is imagined, as in Le Nézet’s art, which Chris Townsend discusses with the artist. Am I really any more intimate with somebody whose holidays, wedding celebrations and ice-bucket challenges I have recently scrolled over? Ziyad Marar, author of the recently published Intimacy, would dis- agree: intimacy, he argues, is essentially reciprocal. If only I know about you, but you don’t care about me, there can’t be intimacy. In this respect intimacy is also di erent from love: intimacy is bi-di- rectional, like a conversation; love can be one-sided. But as Marar argues, it is better to move away from tedious dic- tionary de nitions and to search for ex- amples of what intimacy might mean in di erent contexts. is is what we have tried to do. With this issue, KR addresses concepts of intimacy in realms as diverse as animal love (Alison Greggor’s “Why Can’t We Love Like an Albatross” and Diana Patient’s photography of travel- lers with their horses), musical compo- sition (Toby Young’s “ e Art of Small ings”), and pornography (Katrina Zaat, “In Pornworld”). While Becca Voelcker explores the intimacy of lm- ing – and the lmed subject – in Steve McQueen’s recent project Ashes, it is not life but death (and the threat of it) which feature prominently in Rob Halpern’s poetry, Lauren Berlant’s “Do You In- tend to Die?” and Tobias Haeusermann’s “Careful: Do Touch”. Death and illness bring out the contours of intimacy. In an eerie way, Saiko Kanda’s images on the front and back covers give a similar im- pression: if you strip away every part of a person you can usually see and touch – even esh, muscles and skin – what are you left with?
In “Sex Education – A Wish List”, Ina Linge implores us to place the discus- sions we have with young people about sex into the broader framework of an “ethics of intimacy”. Linge argues that the values that shape, and have shaped, how we approach and experience sexual intimacy should become the subject of open conversation and re ection.
Reflection about the past is also a theme in “Scottish Tenements, English Terraces”, in which Andrew Hoolachan laments the fall from favour of intimate living in the UK. Traditional forms of urban planning, built on a foundation of tenements and terraces, provide a solution to the nation’s urgent housing problem – one that, to our benefit, calls upon us to embrace our neighbours more readily.