This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Theory of attraction based on Plato’s complementarism

We have said that there is a polarizing force that permits us to speak of a yin and a yang and that man and woman represent the sexual predominance of one of these two principles, although both principles must necessarily be at work on every being at any time. This means that every being will possess qualities of both maleness and femaleness, but more of one and less of another depending on the strength of the polarization. We have also said that in the embryonic states this polarization has hardly begun and so it is true to speak of the being in this state as physiologically hermaphroditic. This means that, if we take the male as an example, we can say that a given man becomes more and more man throughout his development, although the guiding force behind this development was always ‘pure man.’ Depending on the unique development of the individual, he will express to varying degrees the different male qualities, and will in this sense be more or less the expression of an Absolute Man, although no individual could actually manifest this archetype in its purity.

This allows us to adopt a different starting point, which is that of Absolute Man and Absolute Woman, and in this way we begin in the principle rather than in its manifestation, which is to say we start from the cause and not the effect.

By starting with these two archetypes, we can develop a way of understanding the nature of attraction between individuals, and more specifically how the strength of that attraction is determined. This theory is known to have been enunciated by Plato who said that the basis of sexual attraction was the need for a complement. He used the image of the symbolon, which is to say an object broken into two parts, not equally but in a unique and unrepeatable manner so that the two parts (not necessarily halves) will only fit properly into one another. Plato said that each being seeks “the corresponding half of himself which bears the same distinctive sign,” which is to say, he seeks that part of him which he lacks in order to be made whole. In other words, he seeks a mate that will complete him. The reader will notice in the language just employed that although the imagery is purely geometrical, it is identical to the romantic language employed by lovers all the time, and in this they instinctively affirm the metaphysical theory of magnetic complementarism.

Translated into the terms of sexuality, this means that a given man, in whom the qualities of masculinity are uniquely developed to varying degrees, more or less complete in comparison to the other members of his sex, will require a woman whose feminine qualities are developed in just such a way so as to complement his masculinity. When two members of the opposite sex come into contact, the strength of the attraction is stronger in proportion to their complementary sexual development.

To explain it in terms of the Absolute Man and the Absolute Woman, we can say that every man has something of the Absolute Woman in him, although he is nonetheless still a man. A particular man might, for the purposes of illustration, be nine-tenths man (yang) and one-tenth woman (ying). According to Plato, in order to satisfy his yearning for a complement, he requires a woman who will complete his lack, which means that he yearns for a woman who is nine-tenths woman and one-tenth man. The result of their union would be a perfect complementary whole: Absolute Man and Absolute Woman. He completes her; she completes him.

When two beings who ‘complete one another’ come into contact, the attraction is at its strongest. On the other hand, when beings come into contact who are not complementary, the strength of the attraction would naturally be much diminished. This explains why we often find somewhat effeminate men who are married to somewhat masculine women, and why men who tend to display the highest degree of masculinity tend to unite with women who display the highest degree of femininity.

I will end here by adding an important point, which is that the imagery used here would seem to suggest that a man desires a woman for the sake of the masculinity she possesses. Here the imagery falls short, and it would perhaps be better to say that man desires woman and woman desires man because the final complement they produce: Absolute Man-Woman is really a primordial whole wherein balance is finally achieved and perfection is found. So again, it is most correct to say that man desires in woman her femininity, and this because the union she is capable of providing offers a wholeness and a completion.

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