ASMR: Enjoyment within a Silo
I first learned about ASMR from my ex-wife, many, many years ago. She would sit alone, in her bed, and, using headphones, listen to the strange non-sensical sounds of ASMR youtube videos. I asked her to explain the significance of it. She attempted, but words failed. What words she did have frequently mentioned sensations upon the body. And, either as an act of resistance to perceived judgment or else simply to clarify what was at stake, she insisted that I wouldn’t understand.
I soon learned that each individual experiences the sensations of ASMR uniquely, and, after watching youtube videos of individuals explaining their experience, I discovered that it is probably best understood as jouissance perpetuated from within a silo. The headphones, the sensations, the community of ASMR listeners and producers, are all isolated from the rest of the world.
Silos of enjoyment, designed from within a feedback loop.
And what are the sounds? Lacan would have discussed them in terms of S1 (a non-sensical signifier) which is not necessarily detached from an S2 (a body of knowledge) but which has never had the initial opportunity of forming a link at all (from S1->S2). Thus, ASMR is about what Lacan called the “ones all alone.” They are alone in their jouissance, alone in their experience; indeed, they have retreated into the experience.
ASMR emerges at that juncture when the subject no longer believes that the Other exists. It is not cynicism or hysteria which defines the experience, since this would imply all the more the determination of the Other over the subject’s resentful discourse. Rather, it is that the Other has been foreclosed from the beginning. The subject has retreated from discourse, from the ability to form a couple with knowledge and language. Indeed, the subject retreats entirely from the social link.
For the ones-all-alone the sexual relation exists too much. For ASMR there is nothing missing, nothing left to be desired. How to make love with the one who closes her eyes, to the one who opens her ears only to the echos of non-sensical sounds produced from the same machine that endlessly propels and compels her?