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*Definition: Extimacy - a Lacanian term disrupting the space between the personal and the social.

Practicing Extimacy

© Kesha Fikes 2022. Permission required to reproduce or post this blog content

Dear Comrades:

Warm greetings. I’m wishing wellness, and, I want to be specific about the nature of the wellness I’m wishing. While media frame the current moment as unprecedented, it feels paramount to consider how and why this moment isn’t universally unusual for all. For those who reside outside of the “commons”, those for whom the rights of citizenship or “Man” have never been entitled, the “chaos” in question is business as usual. But what does feel different, in my own sense, are what feel to be convergent events: 1) greater rejection by folks of color globally (within and outside of leftist circles) of a notion of justice that looks like “inclusion” into the conventional, capitalist order of things – a colonial deadening that only puppets and polices “commons” existence; and 2) growing, cross-racially situated movements for alternative practices of sociality that support  economic sharing (not “equity” or “charity”) and ecologically-engaged communalism. These co-emergences are not coincidences. And, while they are not new as projects – originating in indigenous and Global South resistances – the opportunities these emergences pose, for what Ruth Gilmore calls “changing everything”, feels to be quickening at this very moment. This is what I’m referring to, specifically, regarding the wellness I’m wishing: may we find ways, together, to learn from this opening in transformative, life supporting ways.       

I’m interested in co-processing the kinds of interactive practices that may build sustainable socialities, particularly in cross-racial spaces; poignantly, the definitive feature within these spaces is the prolonged absence of socio-historic repair. Socio-political justice and sovereignty are logistical and material objectives, necessarily; and, we can neither take the mundanity of daily interactions for granted or presuppose that transformative political action automatically equates to knowing how to “co-be” under continuous conditions of rupture and unrepair. I’m thus holding these encounters, these essential building blocks, as opportunities for exploring sustainable forms of attuned connection that may seem obvious but actually require practice, co-practice, because the after effects of insufficient change can’t supersede seemingly isolated intimacies, friendships, or even solidarity projects. To these ends, proposed is a shared study in processing the tense relationship between transformative aspirations and the quotidian, social realities of unrepaired existence. The historic residues that impact current living are our constant, shared companions: their ghostly qualities are terrorizing and motivating, all at once. 

I write to share about a cross-racial process – ‘Practicing Extimacy’. It humbly but rigorously builds conditions to support co-processing these interactive challenges within the immediacy of their unfolding as collaborative, political engagement. Extimacy/extimité is a psychoanalytic term from Jacques Lacan; its purpose is to disrupt opposition between what is internally experienced as personal vs. social. The ‘Practicing Extimacy’ process dislodges this term from the individual psyche; it is politicized to refer to the interstitial, uncertain space between people. This process details an accountable, cross-racial practice that supports collaborative meta-awareness of raciality in (inter)action. Such may potentiate transformative socialities – unknown and unlived co-thinking, co-sensing, etc. – that interrupt the familiar, communicative practices that impede liberatory goals.

This process integrates critical, theoretical skilling with sensorial awareness. Theoretical skilling supports not only collaborative visioning of what could be, but it centers practices of co-thinking and co-expression in the service of creative, shifting meta-descriptions of daily experience under current conditions. Sensorial awareness, in this context, not only involves attunement to one’s inner experiences in relation to others, but to the implicit, unspoken violence that affectively underscores cross-racial dynamics because of the unrepaired contexts in which they are situated, more broadly. Transformative work – whether solidarity-centered or therapeutic – is thus riddled with deep, existential challenges that require collaborative attunement to the infinite ways that gendered raciality is constantly reified in the most mundane of interactions and encounters. We need tools that literally ground such attunement as shared, consensual commitments as opposed to what generally happens – where the oppressed are charged with the weight of the teaching and “pre-” awareness necessary to disrupt, name, and transform practices that pose harms with fractal effects.  

‘Practicing Extimacy’ heeds this call, where the work of re-scripting existence and its meaning is processed to support co-sensing, co-thinking, and co-being such that the work is radically held and practiced by ALL, not just those denied political, economic, and/or bodily sovereignty. AND, the process of transforming this work into something for which we are ALL accountable, is also NOT a given. The work is messy, often painful, awkward, relieving, and rewarding – all at once. There are no guarantees of success. Pauses support reflective restoration to sustain continuity, not completion. We’re co-exploring sustainably remaining on a wheel, together, that turns indefinitely.  

If you feel called to participate in this cross-racial process or inquire about it, the next online ‘Practicing Extimacy’ intensives begin in December 2022 and January 2023, respectively – exact dates can be found on this website. Courses cap at 9 participants.  Please note that this is an advanced class with experience-based pre-requisites. If you are new to processing raciality and remaining present to its inherent, relational messiness, the timing would be inappropriate for enrollment. Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding eligibility.