Befriending the Other: Community and Male Camaraderie in Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting

  • Ángela Rivera Izquierdo University of Granada
Keywords: inoperative community, alterity, masculinity, homosociality, camaraderie

Abstract

Set in post-Thatcherite Scotland, critics generally agree that Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting (1993) mirrors the emergence of rampant individualism and the disintegration of working-class communities in the UK. To support this view, they consider the lack of a sense of fraternity in the group and the characters’ fear of intimacy as indicative of individualism. However, it is possible to see Welsh’s ‘trainspotters’ not as atomised individuals, but as members of an alternative communitarian assemblage, as theorised in continental, post-phenomenological philosophy. Using a masculinities approach, this paper proves that the characters’ emotional detachment is representative of homosocial interactions among men trying to adhere to idealised types of masculinity and that, therefore, cannot be restricted to their alleged individualistic character. Contrarily, the kind of male friendship that Welsh describes can be considered as a paradigmatic example of Jean-Luc Nancy’s conception of the inoperative community, characterized by transcendence and exposure to alterity.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Abbott, Diane. “Britain’s Crisis of Masculinity: A Demos Twentieth Birthday Lecture by Diana Abbott MP.” 13 May 2013. Demos. 25/09/2016. URL: https://www.demos.co.uk/files/DianeAbbottspeech16May2013.pdf
Bank, Barbara J., and Suzanne L. Hansford. “Gender and Friendship: Why Are Men’s Best Same-sex Friendships Less Intimate and Supportive?” Personal Relationships 7 (2000): 63‒78.
Bauman, Zygmunt. Intimations of Postmodernity. London and New York: Routledge, 1992.
Bird, Sharon R. “Welcome to the Men’s Club: Homosociality and the Maintenance of Hegemonic Masculinity.” Gender & Society 10.2 (1996): 120‒132.
Blanchot, Maurice. The Unavowable Community. Trans. Pierre Joris. Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1998.
Burke, Lucy. “Consuming Subjects: Choice, Ethics and Individualism in Trainspotting.” Consuming for Pleasure: Selected Essays on Popular Fiction. Eds. Nickianne Moody and Julia Hallam. Liverpool: Liverpool John Moores, 2000: 62‒76.
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge, 1990.
Clare, Anthony. On Men. Masculinity in Crisis. London: Chatto & Windus, 2000.
Connell, Raewyn W. Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995.
Connell, Raewyn W., and James W. Messerschmidt. “Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept.” Gender and Society 19.6 (2005): 829‒859.
Corber, Robert J., and Stephen Valocchi. “Introduction.” Queer Studies: An Interdisciplinary Reader. Eds. Robert J. Corber and Stephen Valocchi. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003: 1‒19.
Cova, Bernard. “Community and Consumption: Towards a Definition of the ‘Linking Value’ of Product or Services.” European Journal of Marketing 31.3/4 (1997): 297‒316.
Craig, Cairns. The Modern Scottish Novel: Narrative and the National Imagination. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999.
Derrida, Jacques. The Politics of Friendship. Trans. Collins George. London: Verso, 1997.
Esposito, Roberto. Immunitas: The Protection and Negation of Life. Trans. Hanafi Zakiya. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011.
Hagemann, Susanne. Studies in Scottish Fiction: 1945 to the Present. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1996.
Haywood, Ian. Working-Class Fiction: From Chartism to Trainspotting. Plymouth, UK: Northcote House, 1997.
Herbrechter, Stefan. “From Trainspotting to Filth: Masculinity and Cultural Politics in Irvine Welsh’s Writings.” Subverting Masculinity: Hegemonic and Alternative Versions of Masculinity in Contemporary Culture. Eds. Russell West and Frank Lay. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000: 109‒127.
Hillis Miller, Joseph. The Conflagration of Community: Fiction Before and After Auschwitz. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2011.
Hinote, Brian P., and Gretchen R. Webber. “Drinking Toward Manhood: Masculinity and Alcohol in the Former USSR.” Men and Masculinities 15.3 (2012): 292‒310.
Iglesias Díaz, Guillermo. “What is Left in Between: Trainspotting, from Novel to Film.” Spinning Scotland: Exploring Literary and Cultural Perspectives Special Issue. eSharp (2009): 34‒50.
Jones, Carole. “Welsh and Gender.” The Edinburgh Companion to Irvine Welsh. Ed. Berthold Schoene. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010: 54‒64.
Jourard, Sidney M. The Transparent Self. New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1971.
Kaplan, Danny. “Public Intimacy: Dynamics of Seduction in Male Homosocial Interactions.” Symbolic Interaction 28.4 (2005): 571‒595.
Kaplan, Danny, and Amir Rosenmann. “Toward an Empirical Model of Male Homosocial Relatedness: An Investigation of Friendship in Uniform and Beyond.” Psychology of Men & Masculinity 15 (2014): 12‒21.
Kelly, Aaron. Irvine Welsh. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005.
Kim, Soo Y. Ethical Desire: Betrayal in Contemporary British Fiction. Unp. PhD dissertation, Texas A&M University, 2010.
Kimmel, Michael S. “Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame, and Silence in the Construction of Gender Identity.” Theorizing Masculinities. Eds. Harry Brod and Michael Kaufman. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1994: 119‒141.
Kimmel, Michael S. Manhood in America: A Cultural History. New York: Free Press, 1995.
Lewis, Robert A. “Emotional Intimacy among Men.” The Gender Gap in Psychotherapy: Social Realities and Psychological Processes. Eds. Elaine C. Hilberman et al. New York: Plenum Press, 1984: 181‒193.
MacLeod, Lewis. “Life among the Leith Plebs: Of Arseholes, Wankers and Tourists in Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 41.1 (2008): 89‒106.
Maffesoli, Michel. The Time of the Tribes: The Declines of Individualism in Mass Society. London: Sage, 1996.
Meuser, Michael. “Research on Masculinities in German Speaking Countries: Developments, Discussions and Research Themes.” Culture, Society & Masculinities 1.1 (2009): 33‒58.
Meuser, Michael. Geschlecht und Männlichkeit. Soziologische Theorie und Kulturelle Deu‐ tungsmuster. Gender and Masculinity. Sociological Theory and Cultural Patterns. Wiesbaden: VS‐Verlag, 2006.
Meuser, Michael. “Serious Games. Competition and the Homosocial Construction of Masculinity.” Nordic Journal for Masculinity Studies 2 (2007): 38‒51.
Morace, Robert A. Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting: A Reader’s Guide. New York: Continuum Contemporaries, 2001.
Morace, Robert A. Irvine Welsh. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
Morgan, David. “You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine: Reflections on the Male Body and Masculinities.” Body Matters: Essays on the Sociology of the Body. Eds. Sue Scott and David Morgan. London: The Falmer Press, 1993: 70‒89.
Morman, Mark T., and Kory Floyd. “‘I Love You, Man:’ Overt Expression of Affection in Male-male Interaction.” Sex Roles: A Journal of Research 38 (1998): 871‒911.
Nancy, Jean-Luc. The Inoperative Community. Trans. Peter Connor et al. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991.
Nardi, Peter M. “‘Seamless Souls’: An Introduction to Men’s Friendships.” Men’s Friendships. Ed. Peter M. Nardi. London: Sage Publications, 1992: 1‒14.
Rodríguez Salas, Gerardo. “‘Two Grinning Puppets Jigging Away in Nothingness:’ Symbolism and the Community of Lovers in Katherine Mansfield’s Short Fiction.” Community in Twentieth-Century Fiction. Eds. Paula Martín Salván, Gerardo Rodríguez Salas and Julián Jiménez Heffernan. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013: 67‒83.
Ryan, Conor, Damien McLoughlin, and Andrew Keating. “Tribespotting: A Semiotic Analysis of the Role of Consumption in the Tribes of Trainspotting.” Journal of Consumer Behaviour 5 (2006): 431‒441.
Schoene, Berthold. “The Union and Jack: British Masculinities, Homophobia, and the Post-nation.” Across the Margins: Cultural Identity and Change in the Atlantic Archipelago. Eds. Glenda Norquayand and Gerry Smith. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002: 83‒98.
Schoene, Berthold. “Welsh, Drugs and Subculture.” The Edinburgh Companion to Irvine Welsh. Ed. B. Schoene. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010: 65‒76.
Sedgwick, Eve K. Between Men: English Literature and Homosocial Desire. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.
Swain, Scott. “Covert Intimacy: Closeness in Men’s Friendships.” Gender in Intimate Relationships: A Microstructural Approach. Eds. Barbara Risman and Pepper Schwartz. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1989.
Welsh, Irvine. Trainspotting. London: Minerva, 1994.
Welsh, Irvine. Porno. London: Vintage, 2003.
Whyte, Christopher. “Masculinities in Contemporary Scottish Fiction.” Forum for Modern Language Studies 34.3 (1998): 274‒285.
Young, Hilary. “Hard Man/New Can: Re/composing Masculinities in Glasgow c.1950–2000”. Oral History 35.1 (2007): 71‒81.

FILMOGRAPHY

Trainspotting, 1996. Dir. Danny Boyle. [DVD] Universal, 1997.
Published
18/12/2017
Section
Artículos