Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Democratization of Intimacy

I just watched this talk on TED and it really got me fired up about my topic.  Stefana Broadbent is a cognitive scientist at University College who studies the way "our social habits and relationships function and mutate in the digital age".   I really like the phrase she used, "democratization of intimacy", in her talk, because it seems so oxymoronic.

And isn't that what metaphysical poetry is all about?  John Donne was the master of the metaphysical conceit, or pairing together two seemingly unrelated things in a metaphor.  Pairing together the words "democratization" and "intimacy" seems impossible, but through research like Stefana Broadbent's, we know that this phenomenon is happening.

I think this even ties into my post (and thesis) about how technology has made the metaphysical become physical.  They're two ideas that seem contradictory, but upon closer study are really fundamentally linked.  And this is all thanks to technology.  Linking together John Donne and social networking might seem totally off-base, but I think his poetry presents an interesting metaphor for relationships in the digital age.  I'd like to think he'd even be proud to see such a tenuous metaphysical conceit.    

1 comment:

neal said...

In a previous post, you made an interesting insight that maybe Donne's metaphysical world had been replaced by the physical...and I think you should really run with that idea of an inversion of his paradigm. Just saying that a tenuous comparison makes Donne as a literary root justifiable may not be enough. But if Donne pined for an ideal love, one that he wished to be close to and could not, what would the inverse be? Someone pining for an earthy, worldly love? Someone pining to be separated from their love, since there seems to be no escaping them? Or maybe someone pines for the metaphysical all the more because the immediacy of contact makes the metaphysical sort of superfluous - in other words the "metaphysical" is replaced by the ease of contact we now have, even if it's not physical - it could be over Skype, cell, e-mail, whatever.