Andrew Brown*1 “Death on the road, porn on the phone: a perfect tableau of modern loneliness”

些かショッキング且つ滑稽な話から始まる。先月下旬の話。早朝3時半頃、Clifford Ray Jonesという男がデトロイトの州間道路でトヨタスープラを飛ばしていた。スープラは衝突・転倒し、Jonesはサンルーフから投げ出され、即死した。警察が彼の携帯電話を復元したところ、死の瞬間、ポルノ・ヴィデオが流れていたことがわかった。また、彼はズボンを脱いでおり、オナニーをしながら運転していて、衝突事故を起こしたと推定される*2
ブラウン氏は、このClifford Ray Jonesの暴挙は「性欲(lust)」によるものではないという。そして、「感覚(sensation)」と「感情(emotion)」の区別を提示する。セックスは「感情」に関わるものであって、「感覚」に関わるものではない。そもそも「快楽」にせよ「痛み」にせよ、「感覚」それ自体は記憶されることはできず、残るのはその体験が喚起した感情である。では、Clifford Ray Jonesのような暴挙は如何に説明するのか。持ち出されるのは、「如何なる感情も感じないことへの渇望(a longing to feel no emotion)」という逆説的な「感情」*3。或いは「感情」からの逃走?

To suppose that he went out into the night to look for a sexual thrill*4seems to me to make a mistake that permeates the whole of our culture: to use sex as a symbol or metaphor for all sorts of things that it really isn’t.

In particular, we talk about sex as if it were about sensation, when actually what moves us is not sensations but emotions. Sexual sensations are part of all sorts of emotional experiences. Sex builds love, companionship and reassurance; and sometimes it builds all their opposites too: hatred, self-disgust and insecurity. But in all those cases, it’s the result that matters – the meaning, not the actions with which it’s expressed.

Sex is never memorable in itself. I mean that quite literally: we can no more remember how pleasure feels than we can remember real pain. The quality of the most wonderful orgasm, and of the pains of childbirth, are both impossible to recall. What persists is the emotions they arouse, and the networks of association that these form.

You may say that some people are thrill-seekers. “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man,” as Hunter S Thompson liked to quote. But even here, the point is not the sensation in itself, for any sensation will do so long as it is strong enough to annihilate all feeling. The purpose of such behaviour is to feel nothing: the emotion that drives it is a longing to feel no emotion – to get away from all memory and feeling.