Spectral Gradations and Political Disappointment

For reasons that remain unclear to me, gradations sometimes fascinate me. Depending on my mood at the time I write about them, I may refer to them as points along a spectrum. I have written about spectra on more than one occasion. And here I am again, writing about and comparing gradations along completely different spectra: precipitation and emotional attachment.

The idea of comparing precipitation and emotional attachment came to me this morning while I lay in bed, wishing I could get back to sleep but knowing my wish was an exercise in futility. The cat had just jumped up on the bed, no doubt sensing that I had been awake for a while and assuming I was ready to respond to her demand for food—which she would reject as inadequate and insulting. She was wrong about my readiness to respond to her expectations. But her presence prompted me to accept the fact that I would not get back to sleep. It was 4:30, anyway, so it was probably time for me to investigate what the pre-dawn hours might hold for me.

Before I swung my legs over the side of the bed, the thought occurred to me: precipitation and emotional attachment share certain attributes. Both exist along what I perceive as a spectrum that has points that seem to me to reflect parallels. The gradations of precipitation—fog, mist, showers, steady rain, driving rain, downpours, deluges, floods, and what have you—can be compared to the degrees of emotional attachment people have for one another.  How do we describe the way we feel about another person? We might say we are attracted to them. Then, perhaps, we like them. We might then feel budding affection that grows into a deeper emotional attachment. And perhaps we then feel adoration; love; passion. Depending on a host of factors, lust may crop up along the way.

While mulling over the comparison between precipitation and emotional attachment, another comparison came to mind: the effects of different atmospheric pressures. A gentle breeze, a stronger breeze, a light wind, a stronger wind, a powerful wind, a gale, hurricane force winds, etc. There may be more descriptive and more precise terms, but for my purposes, the terminology is not important. What is more important is the possibility that wind and rain and affection are comparable to one another with respect to the way they can be perceived and interpreted. The spectra of ways in which affection can be demonstrated can be included in the comparisons, as well. A handshake, a hug, a short embrace, a longer and more intense embrace, a peck on the cheek, a short and cursory kiss, a longer mouth-to-mouth interaction, a full-on open-mouthed engagement, and so on.

Weather is a metaphor for love. Or vice versa. Or, perhaps, attempting to understand the universe can lead to questionable observations. But, before dismissing such observations and conclusions out of hand, I think they deserve consideration. Because even if the connections between spectra may be tenuous, those tenuous connections may trigger ideas that might lead to creative ways of seeing the world around us. Everything in our experience can be informative; if only we let it lead us where we are willing to go.


Is it possible, I wonder, that an intelligent, articulate, attractive, charismatic Democratic alternative to Joe Biden might burst on the national scene in time to change the party’s dynamics before the next convention? And might an alternative to the existing muddle of right-wing fascist thugs, someone whose conservatism is fueled by reasonable intellectual philosophies and real compassion, take center stage at the Republican convention? Either one, I am beginning to believe, would be preferable to the options that now appear to be coalescing. I hate the idea that the only reason to vote for a candidate is that he or she is a Democrat or a Republican, regardless of abilities, intentions, or suitability for the job. My distaste for party politics—attaching relevance to either party—has been a burning ember for years. That distaste is becoming hotter. It has been flaring on occasion for at least the last few elections. At the moment, it is a raging flame. This morning, I loathe both parties. Both are driven by slogans and irrational emotional fervor, not by intelligence and reason and passionate commitment to a better world. I feel a combustible mixture of distrust and rage growing inside me. Would that a nonpartisan “savior” might appear to protect us from dangerous dimwits.


Time to leave these thoughts to settle, while I go about my day.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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