"Funny how a gay man's hand resting heavily on your shoulder used to say let's fuck but now means let's not. Funny how ostensible nearness really betrays distance sometimes." -from The Nearness of Others
In this radical, genre-bending narrative, David Caron tells the story of his 2006 HIV diagnosis and its aftermath. On one level, The Nearness of Others is a personal account of his struggle as a gay, HIV-positive man with the constant issue of if, how, and when to disclose his status. But searching for various forms of contact eventually leads to a profound reassessment of tact as a way to live and a way to think, with our bodies and with the bodies of others.
In a series of brief, compulsively readable sections that are by turns moving and witty, Caron recounts his wary yet curious exploration of an unfamiliar medical universe at once hostile and protective as he embarks on a new life of treatment without end. He describes what it is like to live with a disease that is no longer a death sentence but continues to terrify many people as if it were. In particular, living with HIV provides an unexpected opportunity to reflect on an age of terror and war, when fear and suspicion have become the order of the day. Most of all, Caron reminds us that disclosing HIV-positive status is still far from easy, least of all in one of the many states-such as his own-that have criminalized nondisclosure and/or exposure.
Going well beyond Caron's personal experience, The Nearness of Others examines popular culture and politics as well as literary memoirs and film to ask deeper philosophical questions about our relationships with others. Ultimately, Caron eloquently demonstrates a form of disclosure, sharing, and contact that stands against the forces working to separate us.
David Caron is professor of French and women's studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of AIDS in French Culture: Social Ills, Literary Cures and My Father and I: The Marais and the Queerness of Community.
Contents DiagnosisI Got SlimFootnotesRB on TBAll AIDS, All the Time!It Is Tempting to ForgetNights You Can't SleepDepression Is CrazyDepression and LifeDepression and MetaphorPassingDepression and IncongruityDepressed ThinkingMaking SensePolitical DiscomfortThinking of BleedingKids Say the Darndest ThingsNegative Logic and a Positive Point of View"How Can Plain Curiosity Be Unkind?"Towel Stories (I)Diabetes? Cholesterol? Something Else?The AIDS Crisis Is Not OverSpeaking of HIVOld Friends, New FriendsFamous Last WordsTough as Nail PolishNo TherapyUnspoken KnowledgeFrom Herve Guibert's Hospital Diary (I)Hospital VisitsFrom Herve Guibert's Hospital Diary (II)Star EntranceStar ExitThe Dream SequenceI Died a Thousand Deaths (All of Them Gorgeous) OthersThe New WorldThree Thousand Deaths in One DayWaitingNearness and NeighborlinessBeckoning and AppealingIncomplete StrangersGround Zero"I'm Going to Die, Aren't I?"Happy Hour at the CoxNaked Arab BodiesS-21Shaming the TorturersThe Modernity of TortureThe E.R. EpisodeTruth and TortureDining with French PeopleEncountering the StrangeTimes Square LostIn the City and OutFrom Public Schools to Public PoolsParticular BodiesThe Falling ManTowel Stories (II)One Drop of Blood DisclosureShame and ExperienceThe Doorstep of ShameForget Your HealthDisclosures and SurfacesObama's Disclosures, Forever DeferredChat (I)Chat (II)Adventures in Online CruisingOn the Question of Barebacking, Very BrieflyCoda to the Story of K***TouchinessReason to ExcludeThe Stories of AIDSAcademic TalkA Brief History of HIV/AIDS DisclosureFounding MothersLook Back in Anger (When AIDS Was All the Rage)Uttering AIDSWhere's the Police When You Need 'Em?What I Said and How I Said ItThe Purloined LetterSo Am ISmall TalkI Know, It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, But . . .Compatible DiscordanceThe Battlefield of the BodyDysclosureTowel Stories (III) TasteIntimacy in PublicAccounting for TasteReembodiment and DiscomfortReentering the Movie TheaterMoving in Queer CirclesSpaces, People, and Actions (I)The Return of Tosca (Entr'acte)Spaces, People, and Actions (II)Again, Where's the Police? TactMy Contact in the UndergroundHostile Bodies (and the People Who Love Them)Sharing: From Disclosure to TactTact and Delicacy (I)TactlessnessTactful EncountersTact and Delicacy (II)The Shower SceneTact and Delicacy (III)Tact, Power, and the Police (I)Tact, Power, and the Police (II)Tact and ContaminationTact and SilenceTact and FailureTact and UnreasonThe Kindness of StrangersSunday in the Park with . . . ?The Yellow StarTact as Social MusicmakingA Fart Joke from ProustTouch and Other SensesImmodestyReentering the Movie Theater's RestroomTact and IntimationFound Objects (I): Tact and Bearing Witness as Forms of BricolageTactfulness to the DeadFound Objects (II): Some Beauty ContactLeaving the Door OpenThe Unexpected Coda: May 24, 2011 AcknowledgmentsNotesBibli