Volume 14: Intimacy (Spring 2018)

Spring 2018 THEME: Intimacy

Intimacy is closeness, familiarity between individuals – but intimacy can also be framed in a broader perspective. We live in a period of divisiveness, rife with political, social, and emotional isolation. In a society full of diverse and often diametrically opposed perspectives, can ideas and morals be fundamentally incompatible? If so, does this make intimacy impossible? Now more than ever, it is essential to recognize the role of intimacy in our everyday lives. At its core, intimacy is a fundamental aspect of human nature – a biological impulse and necessity needed for reproduction and cohabitation as both a society and a species. But intimacy as a concept carries a more sentimental weight – the connection of individuals on an emotional level. It is the bond between friends, family, lovers, ancestors, and cultures; it is what unites us in spite of our differences.



Sharing intimate knowledge, concepts, and experience has the power to strengthen relationships and create connections that transcend gender, sexuality, religion, and culture. This concept can be used to explore intimacy in a larger way than just the sensationalized perspective society has today. Are the relationships we create a result of intimacy between personalities, or intimacy between values and beliefs? Beyond this, intimacy can also manifest itself through spirituality: when a mind and higher force or state become connected through values, beliefs, and traditions. How is our spirituality, or lack thereof, influenced by our ability to be mentally and emotionally intimate with other people within our faith or belief system? Does intimacy enhance or inhibit our ability to understand and connect to belief systems outside of our own?



Historically, the body has been linked to intimacy through art and literature designed to showcase the allure and beauty of the human form. However, there is a large stigma towards showcasing physical intimacy in today’s society. Where is the line between art and bodily exploitation? How do our views on religion affect the way we perceive intimacy? Beyond physical attraction and scopophilia, how does personal intimacy affect our relationships with lovers, friends, and family? What does an intimate relationship with and without physical intimacy entail and how does that definition vary between social and ethnic groups? How does our level of intimacy and familiarity with another individual affect our attitude and speech towards them? How does intimacy complicate a relationship and should it be viewed as a positive, negative, or neutral entity?



Our relationship with death is as intimate and driving as our relationship with life, present in every illness, injury, and doctor’s visit, but also as a constant companion or shadow that highlights the fragility and brevity of our lives. They are intricately related through our rituals, treatment of, and beliefs surrounding death; some individuals become intimate with death when it claims a loved one, while for others death’s presence is apparent in every breath or thought. Some learn to accept death, and others don’t – because death is humanity’s ultimate vulnerability, and what is vulnerability if not intimacy? Can one truly be intimate with death, or do we each hold it at a distance out of fear and the inability to know what death truly is?



It takes time to develop an intimate relationship – be it with a close friend, a significant other, an ancestor, or a culture. How does intimacy grow and evolve from youth to adulthood? How does intimacy change within a moment – is intimacy different in times of hardship versus periods of prosperity? How does understanding our heritage connect us across different time periods? How can art or music capture a specific moment and preserve it through time, connecting us to the past? How does intimacy with a specific time period or event manifest in the form of nostalgia?



Intimacy, by definition, shuns distance. But what happens when we deny this traditional definition and broaden intimacy’s scope to encompass the spaces between people, cultures, and civilizations? Can intimacy exist between disparate entities? Can it grow between people, even when they’re far apart? How would you rewrite space into the definition of intimacy? Moreover, the proliferation of digital media has redefined intimacy into non-physical spaces already. Do you think this new definition has influenced the way we view intimacy? How will it continue to transform as further technological advancements emerge?


* denotes Sapere Aude Editor Submission

**denotes Chapman Alumni Submission

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