A Kahuna on Why We Suck

This was a journal note from 2003:

I am increasingly drawn to the analogy (or, possibly, correspondence) between the realm of affects and the realm of physics.  Particularly, “Affects are modulations in the density of biophysical locations and that the ‘spaces’ surrounding the effects of affect are warped (shaped) in a way analogous to Einsteinian gravimetric effects.  Like the light ray whose otherwise straight travel is curved by the gravitational effect (affect) of a star, our inner flow gets warped by the effects of affect.

The other aspect of looking through this lens that interests me is seeing how this warpage affects our interactions with others.  When we interact, if the amplitude of my presence within any of the spaces of our interactions is below a certain threshold I fall into the gravitational vortexes of the other’s affective effects in that space.

This is interesting to me. Why? This past weekend at the conference I had a chance to talk to Kahu (the kahuna I’d met before) about affect. I was describing my gravitational analogy when all of a sudden both he and his wife said in unison  “Oh you mean SUCK!” Initially, I had to struggle to listen through the various pejorative connotations of “SUCK” and take their meaning as ‘relatively negative pressure’.  Once I did, I knew what they meant.  I was delighted and surprised to find that this was a common frame of reference for them – they were used to seeing people as exhibiting various degrees and patterns of suck. We had now opened a door to exploring a range of human phenomena that, though we had a different language for it and I was just beginning to see the pervasiveness of it, they were long ago tuned to.

So, does ‘suck’, as a description, provide the same access to perceiving the phenomena as ‘gravity’? I find myself liking gravity better because 1) it seems a more technically accurate (not as gross) analogy 2) it doesn’t lend itself to attributing the phenomena to the person. This is connected to the difference between ‘objects attracting one another’ as in Newtonian gravity and ‘falling into the space of one another’ in Einsteinian gravity.


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