Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Michael spotted a breakout session at the Reality Formation Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It was called "Attraction: A Comprehensive Model of Reality Formation." It featured five panelists: a physicist, an astrophysicist, a psychologist, a neurologist, and the host/convener, a young man from MIT's Learning Lab.

"Anything attracted to something else usually follows a similar pattern," he began. "First comes awareness, if consciousness is involved, which is not a requirement. Second, the beginnings of movement toward the attractor, followed by an often irresistible fall into its embrace."

The audience tittered a bit, then fell silent, as Todd, the leader, brought up an image of a planet circling a sun.

"There are many examples of this procession, which we'll call Attention, Mild Attraction, and Fatal Attraction. I could use more technical terms, but what I hope to demonstrate is a general theory of attraction, best expressed in general terms." Todd flipped on a laser pointer and pointed to the planet on the screen.

"We're all familiar with at least two examples of Attraction. This one, of course, is gravity. As two objects approach each other, the force of gravity will begin to affect their trajectory. Let's say that when a change in trajectory due to gravitation can be detected, the two objects are in a state of Mild Attraction. As the force of gravitation increases by the square root of the distance between objects, the closer the objects come to each other, the stronger the pull, or Attraction. Assuming gravitational attraction isn't sufficiently counteracted by, say, centrifigal force, at some point the pull of gravity will overcome the inertia of the two objects, and they will fall into each other. That point of no return, we can call the point of Fatal Attraction.

"We know the same forces apply to magnetism. The mathematics are the same. What other examples of Attraction do we know about?" A hand shot up.

"What about sexual attraction?" said an attractive woman. The audience laughed.

"What's that? Sexual attraction? I wouldn't laugh. Our work leads us to believe it works the same, though it's much harder to measure, and it's complicated by the various dynamics of psychology, physiology, and cultural and social pressures. The extent to which sexual relations between unmarried couples is condoned. Or maybe when was the last time each person bathed." More laughter.

"Surely you've set up studies to try to measure that at MIT?" added the woman.

"We'd certainly like to," said Todd. "We just need sufficient numbers of scientifically minded volunteers like yourself to help us get started," he said, winking and smiling at the woman.

(excerpt from work in progress)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Still Pool

A god and a goddess sat on a park bench. In front of them, on another bench, sat a man, facing away from them. He watched his lover, who played with their child in the field beyond.

The god and goddess whispered to each other. Each watched the man: the god watched his head and saw his thoughts. Though fleeting and coiling in among themselves, as thoughts tend to do, they were tinged with hope, respect, curiosity, even wonderment, tempered by thoughts of how he might improve the lives of his loved ones. The god saw, too, worry and concern appear and then dissipate like sudden bursts of steam leaking from the valves and joints of a mighty engine.

The goddess watched the man's heart and saw his feelings. She saw the gentle pull of physical attraction, deep calm love, not just for his mate but for the child and all the other people around them. She saw compassion and grace, all tempered by a sense of humility. Around the edges hovered flickers of fear, like tiny flames unable to find sufficient tinder.

The god and goddess, lovers themselves, giggled and whispered and seemed to come to an agreement. Each pointed to the man, the god to the man's head, the goddess to the man's heart, and slowly drew their fingers toward each other until they touched.

At that moment, the man's thoughts merged with his feelings and a great sense of focused contentment and acceptance replaced the wildness of his thoughts and feelings. All fear, all disappointment, all concern left him. He felt unified and capable of facing any challenge. He sat very still, the better to contemplate this moment, which seemed to him like a deep pool grown calm in the aftermath of a life-long storm.

With this, the two gods rose, linked arms, and wandered off in search of new adventures.