The Shifting Experience of Self   /   Spring 2011   /    Thematic: The Shifting Experience of Self

From Inwardness to Intravidualism

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn


Intraviduals and the moderns who love them.

In a much earlier time of life, I recall walking back from lunch with someone I was thinking was about to become an extraordinary kind of friend—perhaps even an extraordinary kind of best friend. It seemed too good to be true. Long before that I’d somehow given up, without really knowing I had, on the idea that there could be a friendship, outside of some storybook romantic liaison, that could combine all the elements of the deepest affective relations we enjoy with a richly stimulating and everenlarging intellectual bond. Recognizing the possibility in this case and thinking the recognition mutual, I found myself transported during mere conversation. It struck me as so new, and so unlike anything I’d experienced before, that I had to invent a term for it: I called it “intellectual communion.” But this day, a jarring note disturbed my newfound state of bliss: he confided with enthusiasm rare for him that he had received the business card of an acupuncturist from a mutual acquaintance. Involuntarily, I blurted out, “Why?” When he replied defensively that acupuncture is an ancient practice supposed to enhance one’s general wellbeing, I confess to feeling my stomach drop. I was crestfallen.

To read the full article online, please login to your account or subscribe to our digital edition ($25 yearly). Prefer print? Order back issues or subscribe to our print edition ($30 yearly).