The Politics of Pleasure in Intimacy and Something to Tell You
Paper presented by Duygu Şenocak at the 17th METU British Novelists Conference, Middle East Technical University, Ankara

The problematization of desire remains integral in most of Kureishi's works, since desire maintains the very stimulus to his characters' search for a happier life. Particularly in his latest works, Intimacy and Something to Tell You, as personal relations constitute the core of thematic interest, the tension between duty and desire becomes even more intense. Kureishi's controversial novella Intimacy meditates on how far man is willing to go in pursuit of pleasures and concludes with sexual desire's victory over an established life. In Something to Tell You, using a psychoanalytic lens, Kureishi intends to excavate deeper into the secret lair of consciousness where desires reside. As the personal confessions become intertwined with a social scrutiny, Kureishi links metropolitics of pleasure to hedonism with which his generation grew up. Through euphoric flashbacks to the seventies with an air of nostalgia, Kureishi juxtaposes naiveté peculiar to his sex, drugs and rock n' roll youth with today's acute sense of disillusionment gained by a world-weary wisdom. This paper analyses the author's articulation of the notion of unlimited pleasure expounded in Intimacy and Something to Tell You, resonating on the wounds inflicted on individuals by the relentless clash between responsibilities and desires. It proceeds to explore how the hedonistic belief that "if people could do whatever they wanted to do, the world would be a much better place" (Kureishi interview) ended up with collapsing marriages, loneliness and depression. Reading Kureishi's storytelling as a social critique, my paper aims to reach a reassessment of the sexual libertarianism of the 1960s, hedonism and individualism prevailed through the 1970s.