Intimacy is both a problem and a pleasure that has been a feature of narrative right across history. One very early example of intimacy and its discontents is the story of Daedalus and Icarus, remarkable not least for the way Icarus has become a trope, appearing in various guises in literary and visual art over the centuries since his early appearances in works by Ovid, Virgil, Apollodorus, Pausanias and Diodorus. The relationship between this artist father and his impressionable son is predicated on an intimacy that, like other intimacies, exploits the fragile relationship between self and other. Like so many such relationships, it ends badly, in a story that never reaches its end: Daedalus is always strapping the flawed wings onto his son, and kissing him for the last time; Icarus is always joyfully flying, and then falling.
A contemporary version of this story-with-no-(good)-end is, we suggest, to be found in various narratives that have emerged since the start of the so-called war on terror. We propose to tease out the tensions between several ephemeral points: between individuals, between ideologies, and between patterns of signification. Foucault writes of 'the buried kinships between things' that poetry can rediscover; Lacan and Levinas in their different ways write of the ethical problems involved in attempting to reconcile self and other, attempting to suture the space between while retaining the fantasy of a discrete, though intimately known, self. Following these concepts, we will test the extent to which creative expression can invoke the intimacy between world and word, or self and other.