By removing the body from relationships, electronic communication makes romantic love less animal.The lovers’ discourse becomes simultaneously more childlike and more intellectual, more spiritual.When Ms. Heffernan brings up the removal of the body, I can't help but think of Augustine or even modern anorexia - the idea that you can control the body enough to eventually nullify its power on you and clarify your thoughts. Recently the British journalist Liz Jones shared her thoughts on her 40 years of anorexia as she tried "eating normally" for 3 weeks. (Side note: it was not normal eating -- it was fatty, carby eating that couldn't have made anyone feel good.) At one point in the article she talks about how not eating clarifies her thoughts and makes it easier to write - "I never eat when I'm writing, it slows my brain" she says and probably honestly means it. There is some kind of connection between taking power from the body and gaining power in the mind. Many famous authors had or have eating issues; Louise Gluck comes to mind in the poetry genre.
But back to the article. The mind/body seesaw makes the idea of bodiless love somehow more divine or at least more philosophical. The body itself is obscene and to remove it from the act of love leaves nothing but the spiritual - Sanford's "soulmate" connection. The lover becomes an avatar, and the other adjusts accordingly. I think that's not entirely accurate, but there's something fascinating about the icon that represents the lover in place of the lover him- or herself.
I'm also interested in the part in the article in which the author says she doesn't like holding the BlackBerry that her friend, who's having an affair, has been consistently texting on throughout their lunch date. It feels weird to her - it feels hot, and even slightly damp. All electronics get hot after awhile of use, and I wonder if they become a sort of substitute body, quietly metabolizing, heating and then overheating, aptly reflective of the body consciousness that the e-mail or text-exhanges perhaps provoke. E-mail has already largely replaced the paper epistolary, and although in some ways e-mail is less personal (no objects, no lipstick prints, no perfume), e-mail gives us the physical gadget in exchange. We hear it softly exhaling as it cools itself and maybe it's a reasonable substitute for the other person.