Leo Bersani and Adam Phillips
University of Chicago Press 2008
In Intimacies and in this interview, Leo Bersani asks “does knowledge of the Other create a foundation for intimacy?” Troubling certain psychoanalytic models that survey the analysand’s past, gathering information about the vicissitudes of childhood, dreams, and other communications, he wonders if intimacy lies elsewhere. Reflecting on Foucault’s understanding of the relationship between knowledge and power, he suggests that intimacy is in trouble unless it is reformulated as a mode of being with, rather than a mode of knowing about. He wonders what might create a new mode of relationality altogether, and as he ponders this, he takes many fascinating detours that further illuminate his thinking. Since the confrontation with difference is what most often prompts violence, and since some schools of psychoanalytic thought place a premium on the ability to recognize the other, he suggests we embrace of a bit more narcissism of an “impersonal” variety. This part of his argument is fascinating and will give many in the field and those who are near it cause to pause.