A Landscape of Pressure


Humans experience the environment as a landscape of pressure. In the thermodynamics of emotion we call the pressure differentials predatory and preyful aspects.

For the most part we are attracted to preyful aspects and repelled from predatory ones. Preyful aspects pull on us, predatory aspects push us away.

Managers, performance reviews, metrics, code reviews, all have predatory aspects. Gaze and who gets to look at whom plays a big role in our experience of feeling under pressure, under the Gaze.

(This is perhaps why traditional cultures the world over have protections against “the evil eye” – it’s a wise understanding that gaze is real)

Think about the “male gaze” and how it changes women’s representations in media. The “colonial gaze” changes how we represent indigenous people and people of color in our media.

Who gets to look at whom, and the feeling they are allowed to generate in doing so, can destroy or uplift.


Preyful aspects are quite literally pleasing on a gut level. We want to “eat them up”: pets, babies, good words.

predatory_aspect_cardPredatory aspects are overwhelming, too intense, our gut doesn’t like them. We tell them: “get out of my face”, “felt wrong in my gut”.

thermodynamics_of_flow_systemsIt’s no coincidence that predatory aspect echoes the rapid, branching, forking currents of flow systems, while preyful aspects echo the waves of slow laminar flows.

If all we did was purely seek the preyful, energy absorbing, low aspects, then all our energy would run down to zero in an entropic spiral.

resistance_increases_attractionAs we all know, however, challenges are compelling and invigorating. A little bit of predatory aspect excites and allures.

potential_energy_more_valuable_cardThis is the pump that prevents energy spiraling down to zero.


It is like an emotional water cycle.


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