10 February 2012


Propinquity. WikiDictionary defines the word as a noun denoting nearness or closeness; propinquity means to be in close proximity. The Oxford English Dictionary offers more specificity to the word’s sense: propinquity in space refers to a neighborhood; in blood relationship it indicates near or close relationship; in belief; in association to one’s nature or disposition propinquity refers to similarity or affinity; and in time propinquity signifies a nearness or near approach. Of course, all definitions of the term refer to a physical, temporal or emotional attachment. Of course, psychologists have defined propinquity as a principle, and described the propinquity effect as the tendency for people to form friendships or romantic relationships with those whom they encounter often, thus forming a bond between any two in regular close proximity. I’m afraid this seems rather obvious to me: how, indeed, form any relationship with someone whom one rarely encounters? My early memory of watching The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis is probably where I first heard the word: Wikipedia reminds me that in an episode Zelda Gilroy assures Dobie Gillis that they will soon fall in love because they will always be seated next to each other in school as a result of their last names. I loved that show, though it was Maynard G. Kreps with whom I had greatest affinity. “Work??!” Alas, despite propinquity, Zelda and Dobie never became a pair.
Of course, these definitions turn propinquity into something beyond an effect: propinquity becomes a force that demands presence. In Austen’s Mansfield Park poor Fanny Price desires merely to be in the company of Mr. Edmund Bertram, whom she loves though has no hope of attracting; and Mary Crawford is distressed that the absence of this same Edmund Bertram whom she loves though with some hope of success, might lead to a transfer of his affections to another young lady whose company he now enjoys. I guess propinquity demands lovers’ constant company: it requires that they never part. And propinquity thus inspires distress and discomfort, for in absence, propinquity suggests, the heart must grow colder. Doubt fills the space between lovers. And so there must be no space permitted.
Propinquity as a force requires discipline. 


Blogger mmilesg said...

Thank you for this. Wiki had no entrance on what they were explaining and jumped around a lot in the paragraphs. No real sentence structure and run on sentences.

06 November, 2012 21:31  

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