I live in a world of circuits and currents, electrons and wires, where the only flow is charge and the only ebb is time. My name is Lazlo Kor. I am thirty-eight years old. I am an electrical engineer at the Integrated Dynamics Corporation. My job is to design the electronic control boards for washing machines, intricate mazes of copper that trace geometric paths across FR-4 glass-reinforced epoxy laminate planes, bouncing from component to component. It is a good job. Straight, predictable.
But I’ve been thinking a lot about magnets recently. I’ve been thinking about invisible lines and eddy currents, hidden lines that guide and push, wide sweeping lines that arc across the universe to end up right across from where they started. I’ve been thinking about dipoles that cannot bear to be apart yet hold each other at a distance, like a couple married thirty years teetering on the edge of divorce. A push, a break, and the magnet is gone, replaced with two smaller, lesser magnets, with their own invisible lines, their own paths looping out into the void until they circle back in on themselves. The two magnets are never really separate. They tug on each other, maybe imperceptibly, but always there, a whisper in the dark.
The earth has a magnetic field. Compasses and pigeons and all that. It is a field that guides people home. It is a good field. Do I have a field now that will guide me home?
These lines, these looping invisible lines that shepherd and shove — I am starting to see them when I close my eyes. I see them when I dream, long arcs of inevitability bending back in on themselves, slouching towards their beginnings. I wonder if the Greeks who dreamed up the Fates knew about magnets. Those three women, spinning and measuring and cutting the invisible threads of life, weaving intersecting webs of life and death — they created lines that created lives, they made courses that made corpses. And they drew arcs that drew us closer and closer and closer, tighter and tighter and tighter, indiscernible hands pushing at our backs, sliding us along the thread like beads of dew in the morning light.
Magnets always come in pairs: north and south, positive and negative, yin and yang. They cannot exist in isolation, or the lines would have nowhere to go. Those lines only exist together, and only together do they have an end point, a destination. It is a balance. It is a dance. It is, and nothing more. But yet — the pairs are lonely things, never truly able to unite, never truly able to be one. No matter how close they get there will always be more space between them.
Maybe this is why I like the electronic control boards of the washing machines made by the Integrated Dynamics Corporation. The copper traces have direction on their own. Their paths are known and clear. They do not sulk or lurk or loop or venture off, radiating to infinity. They know themselves. They do not have to find themselves in other traces’ eyes and arms. The work is good. It is straight, predictable. There are no invisible loops. And the copper paths can meet. They can merge. They can become one path, one flow, with no unbridgeable space between them.
But we are magnetism, orthogonal potential walls dividing us. I don’t know why we are not copper traces. It would be easier that way. It would be straight, predictable. I am thirty-eight years old. My name is Lazlo Kor. I live in a world of hidden circuits and invisible currents, where the only ebb is time.
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