I’ve had this thought kicking around for a while. In The Arcane of Reproduction as I recall it anyway there’s a discussion of different household members having relationships with various social processes in capitalism and other household members mediating that relationship. I think this is captured well in a monologue by Franca Rame (the title escapes me just now but it’s in the Orgasmo Adulto Escapes From The Zoo) in which a woman who works at a Fiat factory is taking care of her baby while her husband sleeps and she points at her husband, who also works at Fiat, and tells the baby something like ‘I take care of him after work and that’s how he can go back to work, so even when I get home from work I’m still working for Fiat, and when you grow up you’ll work in the factory too so I’m working for Fiat right now caring for you.’ It’s better put than that because Rame’s a better writer than I am.
I was thinking of this because it’s end of term time so students and colleagues are all struggling, and me too of course, so no one’s at their best. Faculty mediate student relationships with all kinds of stuff, and vice versa. That shapes the relationship. I think there’s also a way in which the relationship with person who serves as the directly present mediating term for a social relationship is where dissatisfaction with that social relationship shows up, not only in the other person’s immediate behavior but more generally. Hence faculty’s unfortunate tendency to punch down.
This is all vague and I don’t mean to be reductive or overly totalizing or whatever the word is (I’m so tired), I just mean to say I think there are a lot of relationships where there’s interactions where something’s going on and it’s not about what it’s about immediately so much as it’s about what’s mediated -- dissatisfactions with a whole world of stuff is coming out because that person is at least in part a conduit for that whole world and so they can also stand in for it. And of course it’s almost never the right people getting the world of stuff unloaded on them. I don’t mean to be flippant, I just lack better terms and am in a hurry, want to get this thought at least partially down while I have a moment (and the fucking M and U keys on my keyboard keep sticking and that is insufferable - crystallizes a whole world, ugh). I think this is a real source of unhappiness and worse and also helps keep us all disorganized, misdirected.