I've always loved magnets: to feel their pull is to experience the palpability of a profound truth.  Things are drawn to each other for no other reason than they just are; it's not a matter of will — they don't choose it — but a matter of constitution. But not everything is drawn to anything. No, there have to be very particular conditions, the make up of the bodies needs to be just right. But then, oh then, there is an inescapable attraction.

This kind of attraction and its counterpoint, repulsion, run through all kinds of encounters. We are attracted to certain foods, certain booze, certain drugs, certain colors, certain weather, certain speed, certain emotional intensity and, yes, certain people.

It's a great way to read the world and your place in it: which things draw your body in? At times, we call this taste. I know people — usually men and usually men with unruly beards — who really, really like beer.  They make and drink all kinds of beers. Not me. I find the yeastiness repulsive. I may enjoy a cold pilsner or, from time to time, a bitter porter or stout. But, for the most part, beer doesn't agree with me and I, in turn, am not drawn to it.  It's as if beer and I repel each other.

I love when I'm attracted to something, when there is that spark that exceeds my desire and seeks to draw me closer, to bring me into its orbit. I especially love when this happens with another person. It's a moment in which the universe speaks loudly and clearly.

It's rare — at least it is for me.  I find plenty of people attractive; that is to say, I find them capable of attracting others. I see and understand the appeal of their allure. But that doesn't mean I'm attracted to them. No, attraction is something other than being attractive. It is a force that exists between two bodies.

Now, this force may not be in equal proportion. I may be more drawn to you than you to me. I mean, when I have a little magnet near my fridge, it lurches out of my hands towards that plastic clad metal frame. But the fridge doesn't budge at all.

And yet the fridge is not indifferent.  On the contrary, it calls that little magnet to it, beckons it, seduces it with its iron siren song.  Attraction is always mutual but not necessarily in equal proportion.

And attraction need not be sexual. I am attracted to my good male friends; I want to be around them, to move in their orbit, to enjoy their sense in its many forms. No doubt, much of attraction is sensual even if not sexual. I like looking at my male friends; I think, usually, they smell nice. And sometimes I meet men who are pleasant and smart and funny and yet, for whatever reason, I am not attracted to them.

But attraction is never just physical because, well, nothing is just physical. All bodies are run through with ideas and concepts, with affect and memories, with invisible traces of images and experiences and knowledge. And all bodies enjoy a style, a mode of moving through the world, a rhythm and speed and intensity.

Attraction, of course, happens in ever differing intensity.  Sometimes, you are kinda drawn to another. And other times, it's as if the sun itself were pulling you into its fiery embrace.

Those are rare and beautiful events — you meet someone at a party or behind a counter or wherever and there is this incredible, palpable, clear energy reverberating between you. Your body and everything else quivers, even if just a bit. I believe this power deserves to be honored. After all, it's the literal pull of cosmos so it seems silly to turn away from it, even if you can.

This doesn't mean the attraction will yield only goodness. There is no assurance of that whatsoever. In fact, I might say that most intense attractions will end badly, like being proverbially pulled into the sun. It seems people often maintain miserable relationships because the power of attraction is so strong. Then again, the power of the attraction may just fizzle of its own accord.

But so it goes. The will of the universe is the very way different bodies interact with each other, attract and repel each other. To me, that pull is such a beautiful thing, is erotic in and of itself — even if the nature of the attraction is not erotic. Just sitting there feeling the magnets pull and repel makes my heart throb. 


Lindsay Meisel said...

What about attraction that commingles with repulsion? Sometimes I can't for the life of me tell which one is winning.

Daniel Coffeen said...

Ah, well, there's always that — which is inevitable. Flip a magnet around and the relationship turns from undeniable attraction to insurmountable repulsion. As we're human, we have both ends — as it were — exposed at the same time. Or am I extending the magnet figure beyond its limit?

There's always the uber test: does this or that relationship — to a person, food, place — bring you health?

Anonymous said...

I think the greatest part of this is what Faraday gives us: that moving magnets literally create electricity — the energy we feel, I think, is often from that give and take, the rush of attraction, the burn of repulsion, of knowing there will be another...as you say, it's the "feeling the magnets pull and repel," not just the that they stick.

Daniel Coffeen said...

Beautiful way to put it — it's not the sticking, it's the force itself that's amazing, that's erotic, that's vital. It is productive, as you say...

Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered publishing a book, Daniel? The first thing I did when I discovered your blog was to type your name into Amazon in hopes of discovering something. I'd be very surprised if a collection of essays, some "academic" text on philosophy/rhetoric/&c. wasn't very successful. I was just thinking today that even a collection of your blog entries would make for a nice book, simply arranged thematically or whatever. Not trying to be pushy or suggestive or anything, but if you ever end up deciding to, please let us know on your blog or something when it's available.

Daniel Coffeen said...

Umpolung: You're kind. And the fact is I used to write books all the time — just never published them. I love the extended format of the book, living inside an idea for a while. I get too used to the idea so then don't care anymore; or else the hassle of publication exceeds the rewards. But with the ease of self-publication these days, I'm rethinking all that. Thank you and thank you.

Behold This Non-Fungible Vagina (NFV), or The Multiple Event of Emergent Particularity in the Digital Age

 Check out this nutty essay on this NFT/NFV that I wrote on Medium