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The science is ""philemics"" -- the ways and means by which people in Gesellschaft draw close, or stay away, from one another. Davis' basic metaphor is two people sitting at opposing switchboards; when we ascend from being utter strangers to acquaintanceship and finally a state of intimacy, we turn our switches -- or ""philemes,"" which are the smallest ""distinguishable units of behavior"" -- upward from their down position. (When all our lights are flashing our relationships --usually an affair -- are blazing; the death of love is quite literally a shutting off and down.) Davis observes that intimacy passes through three distinct stages -- exclusiveness, the acquisition of common living space and the planning of a common future; traditionally we've seen Stage Three as a prerequisite for Stage Two -- and that ""love me or leave me,"" ""love me, love my dog,"" ""out of sight, out of mind"" and similar banalities contain basic human truths. There are observations on making up and breaking up (we leave after giving a ""Farewell Address""), secrets, favors, flirting and jealousy, rejection and loneliness, second honeymoons, anniversaries and similar ""revival cereminies"" -- there are reasons why it's easier to confess and argue with a stranger than with an acquaintance who will never be a friend. Davis, an adherent of the Goffman school of mundane sociology, is descriptive rather than critical (he doesn't follow his statement that ""sex is likely waiting at the top of the stairwell"" with any mention of alternative possibilities); his only advice to the lovelorn is to choose their intimates more carefully. A sometimes intriguing study -- the grotesques in this hall of mirrors are very often us -- but limited by the Goffmanesque style.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1973
Publisher: Free Press