Geometry of Desire

I alluded to a kind of geometry of desire in my last entry on Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood. I’ve been thinking about this more, so I’d like to riff off this idea in a separate post. Eve Sedgwick discusses the love triangle in Between Men that is often comprised of two men and one woman; I like to imagine this as men at the base and a single, nodal woman at the top of the triangle, which indicates the channeling of homosocial/homoerotic energies upwards into a female proxy. But why do we even turn to the geometric analogy in discussions of love and desire? I did this very thing in my blog post on Nightwood. Why must desire be mapped and conceived an intersection of lines?

In Queer Phenomenology, Sara Ahmed usefully charts the relationship between geometry, spatial orientation, and object choice: to express one’s sexual orientation is to express one’s relationship to an same-sexed objects. I think her analysis is dead on. We take for granted what it means to express a sexual orientation; Ahmed rightly unpacks the metaphor and explores its implications.

More generally, I think it might be useful to look at the intersection between physics and geometry and desire. This is obviously really drafty and speculative but I’m wondering how Michael Faraday’s lines of force have and continue to inform desire. Newton, Mesmer, Faraday—the whole lot of them—were interested in explaining how bodies at a distance could relate to one another. It’s not really surprising that these theorizations would be picked up in the popular imaginative as useful ways of thinking through attraction. How do bodies signal arousal at a distance? We talk of chemistry, of eyes that speak to each other, of electric sparks to explain such mysterious phenomena. This really just a question of affect and its biological underpinnings. I’ll be keeping this all in mind as  I construct my Queer Science list….I should probably include some affect theory too. I also realize I’m conceptually slipping between “love” and “desire” here. I’m not sure if theorizing the distinctions are necessary but I’ve got some theoretical texts on love that will help me think this through.


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