Post 208 –by Gautam Shah
Distancing is instinctive way of adjusting the space around our self. The distance is created from human beings, other beings, objects and environmental affectations. Distance also means the size of intervening space, or affective extent of space. It is also perceived in terms of response to the space, intervening objects, physical reach and perceptibility.
The culture defines the acceptable or inappropriate types of intimacies. A crowded stair, elevator, bus etc. do not project an intimate atmosphere. A handshake or hug nominally has no sexual meaning in many cultures. In some cultures a veil is considered retardant of intimacy. Intimacy could be a display or an expression with physical touch, but with no apparent mental feelings.
Distancing subdues the sensorial perception of threatening, disturbing or overwhelming elements. Distancing means creating a physical distance, and of curtailing the perception by occlusion and isolation. It also includes disregarding the elements. Distancing differs for each of the involved sensorial faculties.
Distancing creates greater space to act without spatial hindrances, and also a setting for communication and expression. Distance is governed by environmental factors, social requirements, psychological make-up, time duration, experiences, and the relevance of objects and people.
Intimacy is determined by the distance one creates and perceives from other beings and objects. There is a very INTIMATE ORBIT close to the body. The spread of orbit varies depending on the cultural bearing and personal conditioning. The body odour plays very important role in influencing the intimacy. There is PERSONAL ZONE, much larger in scale, and partly overlapping the intimate orbit. This is a zone of regulated and selective participation. This is a zone where one can reach out through projection (expression, and channels of communication), physically extend the body limbs, and stretch out with gadgets (walking stick, stethoscope, etc.). Certain objects and space subsections are considered personal territories due to long term possession or intense customization. Chief guests’ chair, head chair at the end of a dining table, study table, are such personal entities.
This is a RANGE OF NEARNESS that defines the area for participation without personal involvement. The nearness is decided by the position and duration of the eye contact, sound pitch and language call, olfactory sensation and body heat perception. It is a non-committal area and continuously varying nearness, as time (duration) and space (distance), is used to compensate each other.
- As per the protocol, leaders of the two nations never share a seat, but rather occupy separate seats distanced with a small table or flower vase. Similarly deputies accompanying their leaders, are made to sit at some distance, from where they get a sense of participation but have no chance of intervention. On public platforms one intentionally uses lower sound pitch to draw attention. On very large dining table one can effectively hold conversation with members sitting on the two sides, but not across the table. In gatherings one uses differing sound pitch to reach desired distance.
The REALMS OF REACH are spaces, where tasks, activities, purposes, are predefined or recognized. Such realms are unitary spaces that offer a sense of belonging, safety, security and personalized identity. Reach is established by familiarity of the surroundings. Intimacy, derives through sense of control and participation, in the ‘homely’ setting. The reach is in visible range, shout or call, and the odour. Such public areas foster non-intimate group behaviour. Mothers allow children to play in such under surveillance spaces.
The need to be alone or be part of a group arises from factors like personal (psychological and physiological), intra-personal (communication, exchanges) and group behaviour mechanisms (sense of belonging, sharing, participation, confirmation). For an individual a space that permits one to ‘distance’ from others is a private space. For a group, a space that allows easy communication and recognition is intimate space.
Two persons or members of a group can talk in whispers and give out an impression of intimacy, in spite of the apparent distance between them. Conversely talk-discussions in high pitch could be used to present bonhomie and thereby a close-knit entity. Politicians and celebrities talk in whispers to state things that need to be made public and talk loudly things that need not be public, both ways they draw the attention. A public orator changes the pitch from normal to very low or high to draw the attention of the audience and thereby be intimate or non-committal.
Enclosing space forms (corners, cones, concave) force individuals to be closely spaced and be intimate enough to form a group. Crowded spaces force intimacy of coexistence. The coexistence may push an individual to mentally barricade own-self or open-up. Some environmental and other effects are highly focussed (illuminated spot, under the fan area, sunny patch, breezy path) and force a group to share the same zone and so breed intimacy.
Eye contact could be both intimate and non-intimate. A direct eye contact allows better non-verbal communication (empathy), but a in direct eye contact also subdues the other person and thus is less-intimate. Persons meeting in one to one setting are more intimate, than their encounter in public presence or a gaze. Audio intimacy occurs over a chat on telephone or mobile, web chatting, video-conferencing. Virtual proximity Intimacy is also achieved by entering into some one’s private domain like home, a bedroom, toilet, study area. Homes and work places of great-famous persons provide illusion of physical intimacy.