Sunday, May 4, 2008


Friction is one of the great, generating forces in drama, an observation that also recognizes the experience as an integral part of the human genome. Understanding the application and consequences of friction is a basic tool of the writer.

Friction is indeed the rubbing of one's heel against the back of an unwieldy shoe, bound under those circumstances to produce a blister. Friction is the rubbing of one individual against another, equally bound under some circumstances to produce a blister of attitude if not of actual dermal irritation. On other occasions the rubbing of one individual against another may produce a condition known variously as frottage, humping, serious arousal, or for the elderly, funny arousal.

Friction may be the rubbing of agendas as well as body parts. It may be consensual or the result of intransigence allowed to stew and simmer; it may manifest itself within one individual using as a template all the permutations I have already noted.

We create friction when we rub out palms together in anticipation of merely to warm our hands.

We create friction when we rub the back of our neck while working toward a decision.

We create friction when we rub our thumb over the second and index fingers of a hand, a sign universally interpreted to mean send money. Now.

We create friction when we act on an agenda of our own devising, to the exclusion of or a deliberate ignorance of the agenda of one or more others.

We feel the effects of friction when a relationship, job, social experience, or social taboo closes in, cutting off escape paths.

We feel the effects of friction when we attempt to be the social or literary equivalent of a blister pad, using ourself as a buffer between two frictional forces, with the frequent result of experiencing a blister on both sides.

There are numerous things we may do to ameliorate or remove friction, sometimes by using a balm or lubricant, other times by using the balm or lubricant of tact, other times yet by processing information from our antenna that warns us of forthcoming rubbing.

Such is the nature of human participation: friction when applied with the proper intent may produce the tingle of sensual pleasure, the crackle of inspiration, the reverberation of intellectual stimulus. Even the, time enters as a factor. Too much tingle can actually produce irritation. When improperly applied over a span of time, friction may produce blister or callous, one the traces of irritation, the latter an armor against the agent of cause.

We must exercise great care as humans who write to rub up against the things that produce tingles and to avoid contact with those that produce armor.

The moral is that we want to tingle, not to be callous.


R.L. Bourges said...

Tact. as in tactile, yes?

Lori Witzel said...

Kick-a** metaphors -- this post may be a metafive on the role of friction.

And for dessert?
How about some fricatives (etymology, fricare, Latin "to rub"):