The Orphan has just published a story of mine that I really love. You may want to read it first before you read what I have to say about it.
I wrote it five years ago when I was preparing to teach a class about intimacy and technology. The story is a chat conversation between two lovers, a man and a woman. I had seen a novel written entirely in emails, but never at that time a story in chat. The choice of form was both an exploration of form itself, and more deeply, of the capacity of our everyday technology for containing deeply felt intimacy. There were arguments floating around, and there still are, that our everyday communication, mediated as it is by devices, has closed distances but worked against closeness, that the closing of distances opens new ones. This is an alarmist idea, conservative in the literal sense of the word, denying our finest animal quality, the propensity to adapt. Not just get used to, but expand into, that is adaptation. We do that. We have done that. We still touch fingers, and whisper, and hold tight. We still talk with our hands and flirt with our eyes. We still feel the weight of a child’s cheek on our shoulder long after they have grown. We are still physical and ever will be. And we are in the ether too, living our lives, closely.
I didn’t know the story was about any of this until long after I wrote it. I knew only two people, in rooms far apart, staying close and feeling far. Doing their best. Ghosts with keyboards.