Tickle a child, and she peals with laughter. Go on too long, and her laughter is sure to turn to tears. Where is that ticklish line between pleasure and pain? Why do we risk its being crossed? Does psychoanalysis possess the language to talk about such an extraordinary ordinary thing? In a style that is writerly and audacious, Adam Phillips takes up this subject and others largely overlooked by psychoanalysis - kissing, worrying, risk, solitude, and composure. He writes about phobias as a kind of theory, a form of protection against curiosity; about analysis as a patient's way of reconstituting solitude; about "good-enough" mothering as the antithesis of "bad-enough" imperialism; about psychoanalysis as an attempt to cure idolatry through idolatry; and even about farting as it relates to worrying. Psychoanalysis began as a virtuoso improvisation within the science of medicine, but virtuosity has given way to the dream of science that only the examined life is worth living. Phillips shows that the drive to omniscience has been unfortunate both for psychoanalysis and for life. On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored is a set of meditations on underinvestigated themes in psyochoanalysis that shows how much one's psychic health depends on establishing a realm of life that successfully resists examination.
First kisses are always a little clumsy. Too hesitant, too needy, too intoxicated. All of those adjectives, and maybe some more. Defiant, challenging, with that edge of anger that has always tinted all of their interactions. Their teeth clash and their glasses clink, but the shiver is not from the spilled drink, it’s from the shock of the contact.
Most first kisses have a second of open eyes. Sometimes it’s from the person that initiated the kiss, scared that the other won’t react as they wish. Sometimes is from the person on the receiving end, surprised to see that the other has closed their eyes to gather the courage for that kiss. In their case, though, they came together with eyes open, Kurt tilting his head to the right just enough that they wouldn’t bump noses, and stared at each other during what seemed like an eternity (but was no more than three short, agitated breaths against the other’s lip, mere seconds, a billion years) before closing the infinitesimal gap between them. And, then, closed their eyes.
Inebriated kisses tend to feel timeless. If asked, they wouldn’t be able to say how much time passed from the moment they clossed their eyes and the moment they opened them, gasping and still too close to each other, the air between them kissing when they weren’t. They can, though, count things other than seconds and minutes.
Kurt will say that it can’t have been such a long kiss. He still feels the sting of teeth pressing into his lower lip, but will feel it for days and something in his mind will swear that it was just a second ago that he broke that kiss. And he will lick where his lips aches dully and still feel the taste of alcohol and smoke and Sebastian, and think if it wouldn’t be needed a kiss that lasts a hundred years to let that taste so deeply impressed on his skin.
Sebastian, on the other hand, from the beggining will swear that it was the longest kiss. Will count all the little gasps and breathy moans that he got to rip off Kurt’s mouth, and never tell about the ones that he himself let out. But, though he is sure that they were pressed in that corner, on that couch, against each other for what it felt like a hundred and one hours; he could have used a few more seconds, the chance to suck on Kurt’s tongue again and try to lick the taste of liquor out of the cavity under his tongue.
The next day, both of them wake up hungover and craving for a glass of water, for a wet and breathless kiss, for anything to calm the thirst.