Is there such thing as a conclusion?

Well, I certainly have explored the ideas of how we perceive sex. Although I focused, or attempted to, on shattering versus non-shattering sex it looks like I was really attempting to get at the “essence” of sexual pleasure. My initial question of whether an orgasm has anything to do with shattering seems completely irrelevant now. I knew I would not answer many of the questions I posed, but here’s what I can take from it all.

The idea of shattering sex often is associated with the concept of powerlessness. I think it goes beyond this though, and another layer is added to the sense of powerlessness with self-annihilation, disintegration, and humiliation of the self. The idea of “normal sex” needs to be reconfigured, modified, or even changed completely. Anatomical conditions made it impossible not to structure sexual behavior around the idea of “master” and “subordinate,” and that the subordinate is deemed powerless. This powerlessness is seen as something to reject or be afraid of in our society. It is not the sex act itself that gives us anxiety (although it could) but the powerlessness that sex can bring produces anxious affects. If we embrace those affects, the powerlessness, then we are able to be in a state of the pre-personal; a state that has the effect of shattering our very psyches.

I have a confession to make.

I talked about “The Outs” a little bit, but I honestly was struggling with the concepts of shattering sex within the episodes. I recently watched a movie, one I am embarrassed to admit I watched, but it made me think of the ideas of sex and shattering sex. I thought it was supposed to be easier admitting or talking about things within the comfort of my own home, but I find I am still struggling to even type my confession. Here goes…

I watched “50 Shades of Grey.”

Ugh, there it is. I said it. I had heard such “Great!” reviews about the books and there was all this hype over the movie; I indulged. I hate love stories. But what I am most fascinated by is the fact that one of the major themes of the movie was sadism. What!? I shit you not, I heard from soooo many people about the books and the movies, and all anyone ever said about it was that it was a love story with a lot of sex. My boyfriend’s mom even went on about how great the shit was, never once mentioning the true tone of the narrative. Needless to say, I’m kind of weirded out now. Not about sadism, about my boyfriend’s mom digging it! Why did people feel the need to hide its true nature? I think it has a lot to do with the idea of “normativity” in our society.

So let’s talk sado-masochism! Pleasure from pain and pain from pleasure. The leading man in the movie is a sadist, and he wants to bring pain for pleasure to the leading woman in the movie (I’m so bad with names). This guy has all these rules the girl has to follow, one being that she would not touch him outside of the “play room.” The girl was a virgin (of course) before she met this guy and was seduced by him. Some people would say charmed. She tries to be affectionate with him and he gets angry. She asks him what all the rules are about, and why he has them. He tells her that he cannot stand the idea of losing control. Sounds like he’s missing out if you ask me. This does bring us to the idea of shattering sex though. He is “in control” and he is penetrating, therefore not shattered right? What about self-annihilation? It doesn’t seem as if he allows himself to do that either (except with her because she is oh so special). The girl allows her self (not a typo) to be completely undone. She removes herself from her own sense of self (that’s a lot of selves) and enters a mentality and state of being disintegrated, undone, shattered. She throws away all she thought she knew about “normal sex” and faced her sexual impulses and anxieties. This helps us to understand the ideas of shattering sex and the ideas of normativity that surround sex. It can help us to perceive sex in a different way.

 

Out and About

When I started this project I had a different idea of how it was going to play out. I watched five of the seven episodes of the web series “The Outs” (212) when I realized there doesn’t seem to be a lot of shattering sex, at first glance. It seems as if it is more about the non-shattering kind of sex. The characters, Jack and Mitchell, were partners for some time until Jack had sex with Una’s (Mitchell’s best friend) then boyfriend. After Jack and Mitchell broke up Jack went through a six month period of his “slut phase.” The first episode (State of the Union) focuses on the ideas of sex and dating over social networks, particularly Grinder. As Hannah comments on, the first episode shows Jack meeting random guys for sex via social networks, and it is completely impersonal. My question here is the impersonal the same as pre-personal? I don’t think so, but maybe I’ll get to that another time. I was initially thinking these were all instances of non-shattering sex, but if we take Bersani’s ideas about “master” and “subordinate” then we could say that whoever was being penetrated in the scene(s) were the ones deemed powerless. But was it shatter-worthy? I was questioning whether shattering could occur over or stemming from social networks such as grinder. But, since we have learned that shattering is not just the sense of powerlessness but also the disintegration of self, the pre-personal, then I believe that since social networks allow for us to be in the pre-personal the answer is yes: shattering can occur via social networking.

Beyond Sex?

I began this project thinking I was going to interpret and analyze a great deal of Berlant’s work, but as the process continues I find myself turning to Bersani more. Let’s get back to that guy.

What Bersani suggests about sex is that most people don’t like it (Is the Rectum a Grave? 197).  He distinguishes the difference between the questions of “Do you like sex?” and “Do you often feel the need to have sex?” (198). So if we don’t like sex, like he is claiming, then why do we want of have sex? As I stated previously, I do not disagree with Hannah that there is something to this powerlessness, but more than that (and Hannah suggests this also), it is about the loss of self. I think loss of self is slightly distinguishable from powerlessness, or at least it adds another layer to it. And so, another layer to shattering sex. Maybe we have sex in order to “lose ourselves.” Fuck, Hannah was right. I hate even saying those words; it’s so cliche, and it makes me think of Eminem.

Bersani analyzes some of Michel Foucault’s work and says that sexual behavior has been structured in terms of activity and passivity, “…with a correlative rejection of the so-called passive role in sex” (212). When he says “passive role” he is referring to the role of the person being penetrated; the person abdicating power. I think rejection of the passive role occurs because of the ideas that surround it. Bersani quotes Foucault when he said, “Men think that women can only experience pleasure in recognizing men as masters” (212). I mean seriously. If the passive role is considered the subordinate it makes that person feel less than, right? The first response to that kind of mentality would be to reject it then; who wants to feel like that? But that is why we need to look at sex from a different view. We must really look AT the relation. Bersani continues, “Foucault more or less openly praises sado-masochistic practices for helping homosexual men (many of whom share heterosexual men’s fear of losing their authority by “being under another man in the act of love”) to “alleviate” the “problem” of feeling “that the passive role is in some way demeaning”” (212-13). Huh? First, lets get to the fact that it must be acknowledged that “passivity” is seen as a “problem.” Bersani, with Foucault’s help, is claiming that we need to see the passive role as something other than demeaning. We need to not fear the loss of authority or power. We must face our own sexual desires. Bersani also quotes Catherine MacKinnon when she speaks of, “the male supremacist definition of female sexuality as lust for self-annihilation” (213). Now we are getting somewhere. I’m dropping the feminist vibe and going straight to this idea of self-annihilation. I this synonymous with powerlessness? No, actually, I don’t think so. Like I’ve been thinking, there’s is something more to this shattering, or sense of powerlessness. Self-annihilation seems “…a more radical disintegration and humiliation of the self” (217). It’s not just about the power struggle, it’s about the “disintegration and humiliation of the self.” This seems key to the idea of shattering. Disintegration means “The action or process of disintegrating, or the condition of being disintegrated; reduction to component particles, breaking up; destruction of cohesion or integrity” (OED). “Breaking up” and shattering certainly seem to be one in the same. If being disintegrated is to be reduced “to component particles,” then aren’t we talking about a kind of precondition; the pre-personal? So shattering is nothing personal, in fact it has everything to do with the pre-personal, losing the sense of ones identity. It seems we are losing more than just power in this “shattering,” we are losing the sense of self. Bersani says, “…that sexual pleasure occurs whenever a certain threshold of intensity is reached, when the organization of the self is momentarily disturbed by sensations or affective processes somehow “beyond” those connected with psychic organization” (217). I believe the kind of sexual pleasure he is describing is “shattering.” The word “affect” makes me think of the pre-personal (thanks Massumi). Are these “affective processes” that are “beyond” psychic organization what Berlant meant when she asks “[I]s everyone beyond sex” (Starved 433)?   

Bersani suggests that “…a shattering of the psychic structures themselves that are the precondition for the very establishment of a relation to others” (217). Hmm. Here we go with the “pre’s” again. So our bodies aren’t what is being shattered in shattering sex, but our psychic structures are. Our psychic structures are a precondition of our relations. So, can shattering only occur in this state of “pre” then?   

I feel like I’m getting off track, but then again I was on no specific track to begin with I don’t think. I have the bulk of my project “done” and not only do I feel like what the hell have I been talking about, but I also haven’t even introduced the web series “The Outs” (2012), which I said I would be looking at the ideas of shattering and/or non-shattering sex within the episodes.

Next time on…

 

Wait a minute…

In my previous post I explored the concept of depressive realism, and I did so because it lays the groundwork for how we can think of and perceive sex. To take this position is to explore the ideas surrounding sex outside of the typical heteronormative rhetoric. To allow oneself to be shattered (in the context of sex) is to face our sexual desires and embrace the anxieties that often come with that process. It is to allow ourselves to see sex, kinds of sex, or sexual desires as neither “right” nor “wrong,” but as impulses to become disorganized that can lead to pleasure, or we could say, sometimes shattering pleasure. I’m hoping the following analyses and interpretations help to make this more clear.

Berlant says, “Normativity is a vote for disavowing , drowning out, deligitimating, or distracting from all that’s ill-fitting in humans…” (435). By taking the depressive realist position, Berlant is opposing society’s views of “normal”, or what Hannah calls “normal people sex.” Normal sex, for me, is sex in which society deems acceptable.

So what’s “normal” sex?”

Okay, so for some reason I tend to feel the need to share my thoughts during the entire semester’s posts. I don’t just mean in the obvious way as in “that’s the point dumb dumb,” but I mean literally. Like I think something and I type, very little filtering or editing.

The first thing that came to mind when I thought of “normal sex” was man-woman missionary. Hannah deduces that shattering sex equates to the pleasure of powerlessness. She also likens non-shattering sex to “normal sex.” This got me thinking…about what Bersani says about power as it pertains to sex: “To be penetrated is to abdicate  power” (212). I’ll get to him in a moment, but I want to invest a little time in Hannah’s idea of “normal sex” because (sorry Hannah) I think I disagree. Yes, think because I’m still working it out. I don’t disagree with the idea that powerlessness can lead to shattering sex, but I think there is powerlessness in “normal sex” too. I think “normal sex” can also be shattering. Thank goodness for Bersani. I NEVER thought I would say that, but he’s about to make my argument for me. In “Is the Rectum a Grave?” he says,

Let’s begin with some anatomical considerations. Human bodies are constructed in such a way that it is, or at least has been, almost impossible not to associate mastery and subordination with the experience of our most intense pleasures. This is first of all a question of positioning. If the penetration necessary (until recently . . .) for the reproduction of the species has most generally been accomplished by the man’s getting on top of the woman, it is also true that being on top can never be just a question of a physical position -either for the person on top or for the one on the bottom (216).  

He’s saying that the human anatomy pretty much automatically puts us into two categories, those who are capable of penetrating and those who are only anatomically capable of being penetrated. We’re talking penises and vaginas here, and that distinction also automatically categorizes us into either “master” or “subordinate.” “Subordinate” means “Dependent upon, subservient to, or secondary to some other (chief or principal) thing (OED 1.A). Doesn’t “dependent upon” kind of reduce the dependee to a state of powerlessness? And to be “subservient” is to obey others, so that’s a state of powerlessness too. So, we could say that the “subordinate” holds the position of powerlessness. But, does that equate to shattering sex? And thank you Bersani. He too brings up the question of positioning, so it was completely “normal” for me to have initially thought of “normal sex” as man-woman missionary. See what’s going on here? And if shattering sex is pleasure in powerlessness, then the person being penetrated is always powerless and therefore “shattered?” I had asked in my intro the question of whether all parties involved in this “shattering” sexual activity experienced “shattering.” It seems the answer is no. If powerlessness equates to shattering (in the pleasurable sense), then the only person experiencing the “shattering sex” is the person being penetrated. Hmm. I don’t know about this. More to come.  

 

Now the fun stuff…

Okay, let’s get to the bulk of what this project is about. What is shattering, or shattering sex, and what or why does it matter? In my attempt to answer this I am turning to Lauren Berlant’s “Starved” and Leo Bersani’s “Is the Rectum a Grave?” to first look at how we perceive sex.

Berlant states that she is writing from a position of depressive realism. What is this? She defines it as the position in which “…the world’s hard scenes ride the wave of optimism inscribed in ambivalence, but without taking on optimism’s conventional tones” (Starved 434). Let’s break this down by first defining two key terms in the statement. “Optimism” can mean a couple different things, although closely related. First, it is “The doctrine propounded by Leibniz (1710) that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds” (OED 1.a). Also, it is “Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favourable or hopeful view” (OED 3). So, optimism takes on a philosophical meaning in which the “actual” world, the one we live in, is the best. For me, this is little too “life is great,” “no complaints” kind of positioning. It does not take into account the oppressions  that are felt by a large number of individuals  or groups of people in society. Umm, life isn’t all that great considering the economic, social, and political inequalities people face everyday. The second definition does not help this case at all. I’m supposed to be “hopeful” and “confident” that these inequalities will be repaired in the future, when our history tells us these conditions have only worsened? Okay, enough of optimism for now. The next word we have to look at is “ambivalence,” meaning “The coexistence in one person of contradictory emotions or attitudes (as love and hatred) towards a person or thing” (OED n.). So when Berlant says she comes from a place of “riding the wave of optimism inscribed in ambivalence” she is saying that depressive realism is the position that regards the notions of whether the world we live in is the best or being hopeful or confident in the future as irrelevant, and is a positioning of being “in” rather than being “beyond” something. “Ambivalence,” it seems, is an emotion of feeling that is inherent to us, a part of our psyche. We are constantly questioning our attitudes toward someone or something, and often are conflicted. This “ambivalence” then turns into concepts of “right” and “wrong,” which the optimist views the world as “right.” By “right” I mean to say normal. This idea of normativity plays a role in how we perceive sex, and Berlant taking a depressive realist position is her way of talking about sex outside of the typical heteronormative rhetoric. 

Berlant continues saying, “I do not want to move beyond a thing, as I am always still approaching it from within a scene of contact…” (Starved 434). From her positioning of depressive realism, she is looking at the relation, sex, and not around it. She is not concerned with the solutions so-to-speak, but she is instead embracing and living in the problems. At this point I need to say that there is a distinct difference between embracing the “thing” to the point of tending towards a sort of paranoid positioning and embracing the “thing” as a kind of reparative positioning. This idea comes from Eve Sedgwick in “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or, You’re so Paranoid, You Probably Think this Essay is about You.” Fucking love this title. She uses Melanie Klein’s research to kind of define depressive realism, which she uses the term “reparative” instead of “depressive.” She says

The greatest interest of Klein’s concept lies, it seems to me, in her               seeing the paranoid position always in the oscillatory context of a very different possible one: the depressive position. For Klein’s infant or adult, the paranoid position—understandably marked by hatred, envy, and anxiety—is a position of terrible alertness to the dangers posed by the hateful and envious part-objects that one defensively projects into, carves out of, and ingests from the world around one. By contrast, the depressive position is an anxiety-mitigating achievement that the infant or adult only sometimes, and often only briefly, succeeds in inhabiting: this is the position from which it is possible in turn to use one’s own resources to assemble or “repair” the murderous part-objects into something like a whole—though, I would emphasize, not necessarily like any preexisting whole. Once assembled to one’s own specifications, the more satisfying object is available both to be identified with and to offer one nourishment and comfort in turn. (Reparative Reading 128).

Okay, sorry about the long text, but it really emphasizes the distinction Sedgwick makes between paranoid reading and reparative reading (depressive). And even though she refers to these aesthetic positionings in the context of reading, it is the same concept as positioning yourself to see the world through a kind of depressive realist lens. It is important to note that the paranoid position is marked by anxiety, while the depressive position is anxiety-mitigating, what Sedgwick calls reparative. The depressive realist does not have anxiety over the “thing,” or in this case the relation (sex), but looks at the world with a more melancholic view.

I think Bersani in “Is the Rectum a Grave?” also takes a depressive realist position, although he does not say so. He says that when it comes to sex and sexual desire, people become divided into two groups. He says, “There are, you intimate, those who can’t face their sexual desires (or, correlatively, the relation between those desires and their views of sex), and those who know that such a relation exists and who are presumably unafraid of their own sexual impulses” (Bersani 199). Okay, so maybe this doesn’t point to him taking a depressive realist position (although I still believe he does), but it does acknowledge that such a position exists because doesn’t being “unafraid of their own sexual impulses” mean that the anxiety surrounding sex and sexual impulses have been mitigated. To face ones sexual desires would be to face the “thing” rather than maneuver around it, right? If there are people who cannot face their sexual desires, is it not because it quite possibly produces some sort of anxiety? But wait, can’t anxiety be good? Remember when Berlant says “Sex forces us to desire to become disorganized…” (434). Disorganization definitely can produce anxiety, but is that necessarily bad? According to Berlant, no. 

What does any of this have to do with shattering sex? Stay tuned…

Before continuing…

Before getting into any theory I want to note that in my intro I questioned whether an orgasm has anything to do with shattering. While I believe it does, I am not going to research and analyze the physiological and neural responses to sexual stimulation. I posed those questions because they are what honestly went through my mind, but in my attempt to stay focused on the theory at hand I am not going to dive into the scientific and/or psychological positions on sex and sexual stimulation.

Hey guys, sorry I’m late! Intro….

When Scott said to us in class that we could choose any topic for our final project my first reaction was “Umm…hmm…okay.” I’m an undergrad; I’m used to having more direction. Not that I haven’t done something like this before, but it proves a bit more difficult for me for some reason. Scott then said for us to think about something that has stood out to us throughout the semester, even if we had no clue where that would take us or even what our own thoughts on a subject might be. The not knowing is the key. This is where things became a bit more simple, believe it or not. There are plenty of things I still did not understand as the semester came to a close. So what stood out? I loved Lauren Berlant’s aesthetic and wit in “Starved.” To take such dense theory (affect theory) and make it so enjoyable  to read is a difficult task, in my opinion, and it was something I wanted to read again.

That being said, there was a great deal I could take from “Starved.” I did not want to stand alone in this project because I thought working with another person added an interesting element. So, Hannah was certain she wanted to do her project on shattering, particularly non-shattering sex. She also was reading Berlant, and so I too am exploring ideas about non-shattering and shattering sex. Although I will be concentrating more on the ideas of shattering sex. I also will be analyzing the concept of shattering and non-shattering sex within the web series “The Outs” (2012).

So what is shattering sex? Like Hannah questions, does good sex necessarily have to be shattering? And vice versa, is shattering sex always good sex? Is good sex not sex in which you “get off,” orgasm? Does orgasming have anything to do with shattering? And aren’t there different kinds of orgasms? So I’m just going to go for it here. I’ll leave it to anyone who is more interested in the different kinds of orgasms to research on their own because this isn’t sex-ed, but here are a few: vaginal, clitoral, anal, oral, skin, and get this, some research even claims there is such thing as a mental orgasm. Are any of these types of orgasms “shatter-worthy?” Or, is shattering something more? Don’t people experience sex, pleasure, and orgasms in different intensities and forms? Is the sex shattering for all parties involved? These are some of the questions that came to mind when I started re-reading Berlant and Bersani. I’m going to say this now, I will not be answering all of these questions. In fact, as my research progresses, I’m certain that I will have more questions instead of answering any.  Hannah also asks the question: If it’s not shattering sex, then is boring sex? Do people have sex out of boredom, to become disorganized, to get away from our own selves, or to relieve ourselves of our desires? Or is it a combination? Isn’t becoming disorganized the process by which we get away from ourselves or relieve ourselves of desires? 

I’m hopping on the I-don’t-know train, so hopefully this doesn’t become disastrous.   

We Don’t Write Conclusions.

Wrapping this up in a bow seems rather silly, since all I’ve learned this semester is that there is no definite answer to anything.  Plus, I really wanted to write more.  I wanted to talk about Mitchell’s date (he’s Jack’s ex) in the same episode, but it looks that might be overboard at this point.  At least I was able to engage with The Outs to look at impersonal and personal sexual encounters and the pleasures they afford and the interplay between personal and impersonal that happens in the first few scenes.  I think I’m barely into the first minute of the show.  Damn.  Maybe it is a good thing I’m not going to analyze the whole thing.  I’ll just watch it all once I go on break.

I’ll leave you with this quote because I like it, and because I think it embodies some of this in a lovely way.

“I can’t tell you exactly how it will end, but I can tell you this when it begins, it will feel like rain and when it ends it’ll feel like fire.  And the truth is we’re all beautifully mad enough to believe that maybe love was meant to save us from ourselves.” -R.M. Drake.  

More of The Outs

So, I’d like to examine another bit from The Outs (actually, I’d like to examine the whole fucking series, but I have another paper due….)  First, let’s talk about the after-sex scene with Jack and his ‘whatever’ lover.  What I’m interested here is the intersection, or tug-of-war between the impersonal and the personal pleasure.  There’s a moment where it seems like it might slip from one to the other, and I’d like to take a closer look at that.

After the opening encounter with Jack and his ‘whatever’ lover and the title screen “The Outs” introducing us to the show, the camera cuts to a shot of ‘whatever lover’ holding two phones, one in each hand.  Yet it’s only his naked chest that we see, with the phones held out in front of him. His face is cut out of the frame.  Impersonal.  The next shot is an an outtake, and shows ‘whatever lover’ reclining on the bed.  Immediately, Jack walks in the bedroom door getting ready to comment on last nights escapade with, “well that was…” But then he stops and says “what are you doing? Before Jack even finishes the question, the camera zooms on ‘whatever lover’ again, this time his face included.  He answers “huh?” almost before Jack even finishes his question and without actually looking up at Jack. No eye contact.  Impersonal.  Yet while ‘whatever lover’ stays impersonal, we can see  Jack’s slip to personal.  Think about Jack’s first words that were probably intended to comment on their sex the night before:  “Well, that was…”  What is happening here is that Jack is taking things to a more personal level by wanting to talk about the quality of their encounter.  Such a conversation–evaluating how good the sex was–would require looking back to compare last night’s encounter with one’s history of other sexual encounters.  Yet that is a direct departure from the delight of impersonal intimacy.  Remember how Bersani said that we leave our histories behind when we are enjoying the pleasures of distraction from self?  We can see here the slippage for Jack as he seems to be about to bring in that history and get personal.  Yet, ‘whatever lover’ yanks him back to impersonal by not engaging in conversation.  His impersonal-ness is emphasized by the camera cutting Jack out of the frame before he has even finished asking his question.  This isn’t about communication or connection remember?  It’s about the logistics of their connection.  The camera zooms in on ‘whatever lover’ as he says “huh?”  Important to note is that this is one of the only close ups of his face.  He looks up momentarily, but does not actually look at Jack.  ‘Whatever lover’ keeps things impersonal by not looking at Jack, and similarly, the camera keeps us cued into the impersonal by never having a close up of both of their faces in the same frame.

Jack finishes his question and asks, “why do you have two phones?” while the camera is still zoomed on ‘whatever lover.’  We see Jack’s hand in the background, (the only part of his body in the frame like the opening scene with his hand pressing the buzzer), motioning to the phones.  “Oh this one is just for my sluts,” says ‘whatever lover’ as he tossed one phone down on the bed.  Then without looking up, he says “What’s your last name?”  Camera shifts to Jack’s face.  His wrinkled brow, shaking his head, and his “uhh” show his bewilderment as he is being pulled from the personal realm he had entered, back into the impersonal.  ‘Whatever lover’ doesn’t know his last name.  He says his last name “Widows.”  He nods, even though ‘whatever lover’ still has not looked at him.  Camera changed back to ‘whatever lover,’ and he says “greaaaat” as he types the name into his phone for his sluts.  Camera back to Jack: “Well…” Camera back to ‘whatever lover’: “and your first name?”  Camera cut back to Jack and we see him shake his head just a bit.  With a a much longer close up of his face, the camera signals to the viewer the personal-ness he seems to be looking for.  Almost laughing at himself that he thought this could be something personal, he shakes his head again.  Of course it’s not personal–this guy doesn’t even know his first name. And with that Jack is yanked back into the impersonal-ness of this encounter. And so are we as the camera zooms out for a take of the two from a rather impersonally far distance across the room.

Here we see clearly the intersection of the personal and impersonal.  On one hand, the camera is always telling us how impersonal this is.  We never get a close up of their two faces together in the same frame, except when they met for the first time at the door.  And even that was brief.  Yet Jack tries, perhaps without being aware of it, to bring this to a personal level–a level of conversation.  He seems to be ready to bring his whole self to the table because he gives his real last name and perhaps wants to have a conversation about the quality of their sex.  By that he’s exposing his identity, and stepping out of the impersonal, because he is bringing himself with himself to this encounter.  But this is a tug-of-war, because ‘whatever lover’ keeps bringing it back to an impersonal level–never looking at Jack’s face in this after-sex scene, not knowing his name, and avoiding talk about the quality of the encounter….He never communicates with Jack.  Remember he never looks at him during this scene.  Rather it seems he is talking at Jack. And in this tug-of-war we can see the interplay of personal and impersonal pleasure as one slips into another and then is pulled back again.