Yet English has also created a similar-sounding verb with a slightly different meaning: to “intimate” is to send out a covert message. To intimate is to share a kind of whispered message, to be intimate is to be inward-looking and private (Kingwell 268). The meanings of intimacy and intimate are a metaphor for all of human life, “this play of closeness and distance,” of communicating in whispers suggests we are trapped in our own prisons of subjectivity, and frequently misconstrue the words of others or hear false intimations, even while we seek intimate connections with fellow human beings (Kingwell 268). “We keep trying” to communicate in what Kingwell likens to a childs game of telephone, where words are often misunderstood (Kingwell 268).
From the mundane aspects of modern technology, Kingwell shifts to an abstract realm of philosophy, wondering how we can use the tools of modern life and overcome “the triumph of private life and private goods that has been wrought in these past three centuries” that shuts us out from the “public good that alone makes a society or civilization worthwhile” (Kingwell 271). How can we intimate more in the way of real meaning, and make intimacy a more widespread affair, even with those who are not part of the technological revolution?
From the intimate language at the beginning of the passage, Kingwell switches into hyperbolic language, stressing that the ability to retreat into private life by the middle classes is not an excuse to “defect from responsibility to the community” (Kingwell 271). Defining intimacy correctly clearly has a political purpose for the author.
People are choosing security and comfort over trying to make the world a “slightly better place” (Kingwell 272). Despite the urgency of his essay, Kingwell advises the reader to ignore the prophets of “boom and doom” (a play on words of doom and gloom) and instead focus on improving the mundane aspects of the community with less of a concern about what will happen to.