ASMR Mania, Trigger-Chasing, and the Anxiety of Digital Repletion
Performers in YouTube autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos speak directly into the camera, very close, in sibilant whispers, consonant repetitions, and with an attitude of oversolicitous caregiving that verges on the robotic. The goal is to trigger tingling sensations in the beholder’s head, neck, and spine. Whereas ASMR enthusiasts appear to seek a formula for tingly satisfaction, this chapter argues that ASMR is symptomatic of broader digital–millennial trends in its repudiation of the ‘lack of lack itself’ Lacan identifies as anxiety. ASMR’s empty verbal patter and sounds of extreme proximity mobilize the orifical locus of the drive. The beholder is not emotionally invested, but instead ‘triggered’ like a binary switch. Such millennial investments in trigger pleasure represent a drive-centered, anxiety-busting response to the oversaturation endemic to digital culture.
- Connor, Michael. 2013. Notes on ASMR, Massumi and the Joy of Digital Painting. Rhizome (blog), May 8. http://rhizome.org/editorial/2013/may/08/notes-asmr-massumi-and-joy-digital-painting/
- Dolar, Mladen. 2006. A Voice and Nothing More. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Edelman, Lee. 2016. Stop Thinking About Tomorrow: Queerness, Ideology, and Anticipatory Democracy. Lecture, Higgins School of Humanities Dialogue Symposium. Clark University, Worcester, March 3.Google Scholar
- Freud, Sigmund. 2003. The Uncanny. Trans. David McLintock. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
- Gallagher, Rob. 2016. Eliciting Euphoria Online: The Aesthetics of ‘ASMR’ Video Culture. Film Criticism 40(4): 1–15, http://dx.doi.org/ 10.3998/fc.13761232.0040.202. Accessed 15 Feb 2017.
- Harari, Roberto. 2001. Lacan’s Seminar on Anxiety: An Introduction. Trans. Jane C. Lamb-Ruiz. New York: Other Press.Google Scholar
- Lacan, Jacques. 2014. Anxiety: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book X, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. A. R. Price. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
- Maslen, Hannah, and Rebecca Roache. 2015. ASMR and Absurdity. Practical Ethics (blog). University of Oxford, July 29, http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2015/07/asmr-and-absurdity/
- Miller, Jacques-Alain. 2006. Commentary on Lacan’s Text. In Reading Seminars I and II, ed. Richard Feldstein, Bruce Fink, and Maire Jaanus. Albany: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
- Novella, Steven. 2012. ASMR. SkepticBlog (blog). The Skeptics Society, March 12. http://www.skepticblog.org/2012/03/12/asmr/
- Salecl, Renata. 1997. Umbr(a) 1. Buffalo: The Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis & Culture.Google Scholar
- Žižek, Slavoj. 1999. The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology. New York: Verso.Google Scholar