Sunday, April 18, 2010

Why Am I Attracted to This?

A little while ago the trailer for An Education came across my desk, probably because it was nominated for three Academy Awards.

The film, starring Carey Mulligan, tells the story of a British school girl who runs off to Paris. I watched the trailer once, then again a few days later, and then a time or two more. The question that kept floating in the back of my mind was, Why am I attracted to this?

I am a traditionalist in my ideology and a conservative by temperament. I favor old stuffy schools and extensive planning; I oppose both extramarital affairs and spontaneous trips to Paris. So why am I so intrigued? Am I simply that big of a sucker for love stories? Is it the British accents that do me in? Or, as a friend suggested, do I simply "crave a little spontaneity in [my] very busy, structured and cerebral life"?

In addition to my own personal questions, there are larger ones in the background: Why are we ever attracted to things that are different from us? Simply a break from monotony? The glamor of evil? The light of truth? Perhaps even deeper than that, what is attraction? I don't mean that in a definitional sense, but an anthropological one. What is going on inside a person when he becomes attracted to something? Clearly this is different from attachment, and yet, there is something of that here, when we can't seem to look away. In a world full of stimuli, why do some things, even relatively unimportant things, catch our eye?
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