Disruptions of Proximity

Thermoaesthetics
7 min readJan 28, 2022

The proximity disruption effect is defined as the increased use of references to relatively exciting perceptual qualities between individuals as we approach each other more closely.

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz’s “Fantastic Composition.” Photo from WikiArt. Public domain.

“By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks!”

— Shakespeare, Macbeth (Open Source Shakespeare 2021)

Contents

Inwardness and Mating Behavior
Aesthetic Complexity
Brain Heat
Dance and Proximity
Proximity Bias in Language Using “In,” “Get,” “Take,” “Close” and “Touch”
Cultural Proximity Bias
Works Cited

Inwardness and Mating Behavior

Animals tend to interact using references to exciting qualities such as fluidity, motion, brightness, disorder, upwardness, outwardness, multiplicity, high-pitch, spikiness and length. These can be increased, decreased or replaced with their opposites, and arranged overall in various perceptual combinations to convey different levels and types of excitement. We make subtle, constant references to the directions outward and inward and think of approaching each other as a type of inwardness needing to be offset or compensated for with expressions of the given exciting qualities.

Proximity disruption appears to be both universal and unnecessary. Mating dances, songs and sex-related anatomical transformations are elaborate well beyond what’s necessary to accomplish our supposedly primary task of reproduction. Interested animals could more easily get together and transfer genes in simple ways instead of performing dances, changing color, changing shape, expanding, lengthening, singing, joking, kissing, licking, sucking, caressing, making high-pitched sounds or otherwise being amusing or complicated.

Sex, probably the most proximal or inward consensual animal activity, is structured such that many of the given more exciting qualities are prominent, if not maximized. The display of the peacock seems to exhibit all the given higher-excitement qualities, for example. It has fluidity in the form of long, thin feathers hanging down and waving around multiple, bright…

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Thermoaesthetics

A concept of aesthetic complexity based on universal animal preferences for mixtures of simple, more and less exciting physical and psychological opposites.