4.09.2011

Magnetism, Lust, Kairos, Gunfights


Since I was young, I've been attracted to that invisible nub that emerges when you put two magnets near each other, that push and pull (depending on polarity): one the one hand, that palpable attraction between two supposedly inanimate objects. On the other hand, that palpable repulsion between two supposedly inanimate objects.

Magnetism is a sensual introduction to the power of objective forces, a testimony to the undeniable reality of the world's primal desires.

But it's that moment in which the magnets neither push nor pull, both push and pull, that I love. Once the magnets either connect or leave their zone of repulsion, the fun is over. It's the power, the energy, in the moment just before that is nothing less than erotic.

This is an exquisite erotics — riding that tension without ever quite consummating. Oh, it's not easy to maintain. Bodies want to go together or not — attraction and repulsion: they want to fuck or be gone. Of course, there's an ambivalence between human bodies that is more nuanced than between magnets. Still, to exist in and on and with that nub where attraction and repulsion have begun to show themselves, when bodies ache for each other but don't surrender: this is a kind of jouissance, an edging towards that release but never coming, as it were, to a conclusion.

In order to maintain, it involves a very intimate and secret compact between you, an endless negotiation that says "yes I want you" and, in the same breath, "but, no, I'm not gonna fuck you." This takes confidence by all parties involved, a surrender to possibility without making that possibility real — heavy petting without fucking. Sometimes, it is much harder to not fuck than to fuck. It demands an incredible, impossible intimacy, a conspiracy of desire: both parties must say yes, let's ride this wave of surging power, extend it even though its very condition is to annihilate itself, even though it's telling us to go all the way, even though this is what the universe seems to demand. What a strange and beautiful pact!

This is not the only erotics. There is, needless to say, a beauty and power and frenzy and delight and merriment and madness in consummation, in riding that wave of attraction that exceeds you and dominates you and becomes you all the way to the sweaty, sticky end.

But it is that tension, that palpable push and pull, that attracts me in many ways. It's the time just before kairos, the very possibility of kairos, the groundwork of kairos, the conditions of kairos. It is the moment in a gunfight before they pull their guns, the dribbling and passing and movement before the drive to the basket, the tension and swell before you undress.

There must be a word for this.

10 comments:

dustygravel said...

I think of buoyancy, It resists through its lightness, its spirited good humor.
But that doesn't seem to work because where as buoyancy has it easy (rising above the pressure) the force you're speaking of maintains its vitality as it sinks into the midst of pressure.

Then I think of orbit, wail it's not a force in and of its self, it is a way of making use of a force—gravity.
Planets, rather then crashing into the stars, dance among them.

and of course as I've stated in a previous comment, dancing is a form of flirtation, it holds the tension.

Daniel Coffeen said...

Buoyancy is a great figure but you're right — it doesn't capture the intensity. Orbit is nice but, again, is more an effect of the force I speak of rather than the force itself. And dancing might involve this tension but surely there is dancing that does not meet this condition. The search continues; I assume the answer will come from Greek. Where are the classicists?

Pierre said...
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Pierre said...

The feeling of pure repulsion or pure attraction are feeling 'en soi', like all french say in their mandatory philosophy class. But what if the motion is not all the question ? What if a balance is trying to find itself where pure attraction and pure repulsion are only a part of.

What if the smile of a wife is meaningfull only because the sun is rising, what if the memory of the dead man is important because he is forgotten since long by most ? What's happening with desire is just a promise. A fragile, tiny promise that nothing objective makes mandatory. Pure evanescence. And may be pure attraction, pure repulsion and 50/50 (all the same way) are part of something greater we have no power on.

And having no power on something is a grate relief. ( the wise indian say )

Daniel Coffeen said...

@ Pierre: Yes yes — I like this: desire is itself enmeshed in a network of other effects, other affects. No doubt, the either/or of attraction and repulsion is false and infinitely nuanced and qualified.

And, yes, I think the "not in our control" is part of my point: these are forces that exceed us. This is what I find so fascinating about not giving in: it affirms independence AT THE EXACT SAME TIME that it surrenders independence.

dustygravel said...
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dustygravel said...
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dustygravel said...

OH Look at this. The greek word μακροθυμία makrothymía, often translated to patients actually means long-passion, as in staying cool among the turmoil of passion.
Now that would make it the perfect word for what you speak of only unfortunately the passion that makrothymia refers to turns out to be anger and not love—shit. But then I noticed one of the words that makrothymia is often translated to, forbearance.

One thesaurus gives; abstinence, endurance, fortitude, going easy on, living with, as synonyms for forbearance. Now thats a match!

I like that, forbearance, an easy going fortitude.


As a side note in my search I noticed another word with some interesting resonance, indulgence.
For roman catholics the word indulgence can be both the gratification of desire and a payment for sin.

69959e5a-57e2-11e0-a3a5-000bcdcb2996 said...

Your writing style is very vivid..I see you producing an erotic thriller in the near future (with a smidgen of philosophical ideals of course)

Daniel Coffeen said...

@ Dusty: you get HUGE kudos for the smartass thinking. I fucking love makrothymia and its association with abstinence. I'm thinking of Nietzsche's use of asceticism by the strong: it furthers their vitality.

My good friend, a scholar of rhetorical history, says "krisis" might be the proper term. It is a change of state, a point of judgement (as the word would suggest).

But I think makrothymia works better. I'm sticking to it! Thanks a million times over.

@ Anoynmous: thanks for the kind words, truly. I tried writing a pornographic screed but it turned out, well, sucky. I prefer the erotics of thought, whatever that means.