the “I” of the self was always a “we,” located within a largernweb of intimate human ties and those responsibilities that,nfor her, flowed from such ties. She can no more think ofnherself out of the tissue of unsere Leute than she can fly.nThese ties of community were much eroded and altered bynthe forces of liberalism and capitalism that emerged historicallynin tandem and that realized, in practice, awesomenpossibilities for good and ill unthinkable in older socialnworlds.nWhat was forgotten was that social bonds of particularnand intimate kinds structure human lives; that true humanncommunication, and therefore human wit and warmth andnintelligence, develops only where there are these longstandingndeep relationships, only where there are homes fornthe heart. This is the basis of community; this is communityn— commitment, over time, in settings that include (thoughnthey may not be defined exclusively by) intimate relations,ncommitments, possibilities, responsibilities. There is no waynto derive a true home — either in the particular or the morengeneral sense of a community — through rational individualismnand the image of totally self-reliant, totally independentnhuman beings that emerged with the rise of capitalismnand modern relations of exchange. There is what politicalntheorists have called a “possessive” quality in the conceptionnof the individual as it emerged in the West in the past threenhundred years. The individual, stripped of his or hernintimate ties (and thereby, it turns out, of both home addnculture), was viewed as the owner of himself and, in our day,nherself. This individual is free only insofar as he or she is thensole “proprietor” of self, free from dependence upon others,nfree to do or become anything so long as no externalnconstraint forbids it. Society got construed as the aggregatenof such free individuals engaging in relations of mutuallynbeneficial exchange through utilitarian calculations andnpower strategies. The social contract, which cannot allow fornthe particular commitments of intimacy, supplanted thenolder notion of the social compact, which created places andnspaces for intimacy.nThe social compact is a very different notion from that ofncontract and it is a vision that has a lingering hold, innAmerica, on working-class, religious, and rural culture. Ancompact is not a contingent agreement having instrumentalnaims (intimacy cannot be reduced to stratagems, tricks,nmanipulations, and wiles), but a solemn commitment toncreate something “new.” This “new” group gets forged onnthe heart of a presumed and lived intimacy out of disparatenelements — a family, a community, a polity—whose individualnmembers could not remain “as before” once theynbecame part of an exquisitely social mode of existence. Thennotion of the social compact is of a community whosenmembers share purposes and values that are enforced bynmoral suasion, not by coercion or manipulation. The idea ofnthe compact, suffused with possibilities and requirements fornintimate relations, challenges contractual images that dominatenin our day and propel us into the world on a search fornintimacy that, by definition, cannot take root in the soil ofnmodern dislocation. The compact locates the human beingnwithin a historic and communal framework bounded bynbirth and death.nUnlike the picture of reality of social contract theorists,nthe compact ideal takes account of the varying needs ofnhuman beings over a lifetime. Contract theory and possessivenindividualism, however, are static views; they revolvenaround consenting, choosing, rational adults who, in principle,ncould love everybody equally (or not) and could lead anlife having no preference among them. Such beings “maynbe in a sense conceivable to us, but they are certainly notnimaginable.” That is why the form of intimacy dissolvesnwhen we grab books that tell us how to “get it” or “do it” orn”have it.” For intimacy cannot, simply, be had. It isn’t angood on a shelf ready for the plucking and the buying. Itnemerges in and through our culture or it emerges not at all.nHaving a culture and feeling intimate with it, however,ndoes not mean feeling at “one”; that is, one can feel atnhome (I am an American), yet not fully share the prevailingnsocial identity, perhaps because one fears that total absorptionninto the dominant culture will erode the terms on whichnone defines oneself in a particular subculture or set of socialnrelation (families, ethnic groups, unsere Leute, for example).nOr perhaps because the culture no longer sustains powerfulnself-definitions. Having shaped and formed a certain socialnidentity, so that one feels “at home” in it, suddenly thenterms shift. We awaken to the shock that either our selves arenno longer on the same intimate terms with the culture thatninitially spawned us, or that we can no longer feel at homenwith those selves given shifts in cultural trajectory, force, andnimpetus. <§>nnnEmily DickinsonnLeaves a Message to the World,nNow That Her Homestead in AmherstnHas an Answering Machinenby X.J. KennedynBecause I could not stop for BreathnPast Altitudes—of Earth —nUpon a reel of Tape I leavenDirections to my Hearth —nFor All who will not let Me lienUnruffled in escape —nSpeak quickly — or I’ll interceptnYour Message with — a Beep.nThough often I had dialed and rungnThe Bastion of the Bee —nThe Answer I had hungered fornWas seldom Home—to Me —nMARCH 1989/19n