Intimacy. I love being inside folks (behave). Opened emotional worlds offer a level of trust that elevates the simplest shared experiences into things of enduring beauty. Things of human glory. Simply knowing that a person sharing themselves with you will not hurt you creates a sense of security that ripples your entire being.
Books do this. Is there anything more alchemical than seeing markings on a page or screen and, through them, knowing you are intrinsically loved? The level of intimacy books create is immediate, all-encompassing, and -- if the relationship is good -- remains in your perception of this world for long after you've completed it. Books become friends, lovers, or teachers because it is the author's job to be friend, lover, and teacher. James Baldwin, a man whose mind I'd undress for at a moment's notice, said, "The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.” Which won't always be pleasant but it will always be magnificent. Is there a more fulfilling level of intimacy than that? I love you enough to risk exposing myself (and that's the only fear there is, isn't it, fear of exposing some imagined weakness), whether it be to pain or glory, because the goal of connection is a noble and essential one. We literally create the future through intimacy (procreation); we literally create the future by bridging minds (ideas); without the warmth of your hand in mine there is no point in walking a lovely tree-lined street, a sandy beach, or even the Louvre. Art that does not seek a bond of intimacy does itself a huge disservice.
Feelings I had when I experienced certain sections of books come to me today just as clearly as remembrances of certain kisses. A lover whispered something to me so potent once that I became a god-angel in the span of two seconds. One Hundred Years of Solitude did that to me too. Mil Millington's Love and Other Near Death Experiences did it. Angry Candy by Harlan Ellison regularly touches a shoulder and causes me to wistfully smile. Octavia Butler's Kindred is my sister, and Toni Morrison has made love to my brain more times than I can count.
The intimacy of writing things that will expose the essential humanity of you, the writer, to that of we, the readers, is a gift that neither the Orisha, Olympus, nor the pantheon of Egypt, with all their power, could impart. It is a human thing born of the one need we all have the moment our souls enter and re-enter this world: to communicate. To say, "I am here" in hopes another will respond "I am too." We're here to create "we", otherwise all this beauty surrounding us, all this magnificent melange of sensation, pleasure, thought, and evolution, is an unfinished amusement park. A shell.
If I'm going to walk, write, cook, make love, sing, nap, dream, I'd much rather do it with a sense of you. Solitude is excellent, but the instant I hear you say "Is anybody out there?" I want you to hear a definitive, undeniable, unswerving "Yes."
'Cause that's me hoping your hand slides perfectly into mine.
Life, the universe, and everything creative
Towel Photo credit: EvelynGiggles via Foter.com / CC BY