Monday, June 6, 2011

The Magnetic Mind

The human brain is a magnet. But imagine it as a magnet that works on multiple charges rather than the binary poles we know of: negative and positive. Imagine that there are innumerable types of charges in existence.

Imagine, then, that our brains are each a magnet and that there are myriad other magnets on the plane that is the world in which we live. These other magnets are ideas, concepts and perspectives on life. We cruise around atop this plane (see it as a tabletop with magnets lying everywhere) and, at a certain point, we pass by a magnet with a particular charge and -- click -- in snaps over to us and becomes part of our minds' concepts.

This happens without conscious reasoning. We are simply attracted to a concept and we attach to it instantly; for instance, the teenager who adopts a "look" (maybe low-slung skinny jeans with the boxers hanging out and jet black hair over ebony eye-makeup) doesn't necessarily reason through his targeted look. He is simply sees it on someone else, is attracted to it, and he aligns with it.

Or, consider the artist. The artist is moved by art, of course, but the concept of what it means to be an artist as a person is any one of innumerable concept magnets to which he can be attracted: bohemian, self-destructive, or "normal" person who just makes art -- or other variations. His mind's magnet has any number of things to gather based on biographies he knows about and movies he has seen and, at one point -- click -- it happens. It's what makes the Madonnas versus the Bruce Springsteens versus the Barry Manilows versus the Keith Urbans of the world; the Rockwells versus the Picassos versus the Gauguins, at least in terms of who our mind's magnet chicks onto as a model.

This happens to all of us in regular life, too. We have a crowd of friends and -- clickclickclickclick -- aspects of their personalities snap tightly to our magnetic minds. We act like them in certain ways. No conscious choices were ever made; no reasoning process followed. It just happened.

Some of us wear earth-tones (click) and some of us wear neon pink (click). Why? A man is more attracted to women with dark hair than light-haired. Why? Why do we like the way one hamburger tastes over another? The magnets line up, that's why. Sure, we can look back and say: "That burger has a more oniony flavor than that other one," but the fact remains that, upon a bite, one burger clicked before another.

With that in mind, I know psychologists delve to find origins for these magnetic alignments (You mother had brown hair!), but the point is, the attractions are involuntary on our parts.

That said, I make yet another argument for the sanctity of reason.

As a young, emerging composer, I saw the film Amadeus. I remember the magnetic click I felt toward Tom Hulce's Mozart. His off-centerdness and his self-destructive natural isolation -- even his social dysfunctions -- seemed Romantic to me. This, I thought, is what a musical genius is like. But -- and thank God -- at one point or other in my development, I reasoned out the idea that, though that kind of a musical genius makes for a riveting movie, it would make for a miserable life. And, perhaps most importantly, choosing not to act in these Hulcean ways ways does not preclude the possibility of the creation of great art. Sounds obvious, but, alas . . .

Sadly, many magnetically influenced kids never use their reason to break the damaging attractions.

Like every writer, I would love to be able to spend a day in the minds of everyone else in the world -- just to see how other brains work, but I am willing to bet my paperclip collection that I'd find a whole lot of magnetic concepts collecting dust in the "to be sorted out" box.

No comments:

Post a Comment