Monthly Archives: December 2007

BDSM as M/s Praxis

“Any form of skillful coping in which you can become an expert, in which you get into a kind of flow in which you don’t have to think at all, your mind is out of it and the skills in your body are doing it, we’ve done all of that and we’ve done it taking a risk too, that when you do that: you end up lost or you may end up saying things you regret having said, and if you aren’t ready to take that risk you’ll never become an expert in that. So, I could predict that you have taken the risk and done it and felt bad about it, and you’ve done it and felt good about it, and when you’ve got that, you’ve got a kind of mastery. “ – Hubert Dreyfus.

Merleau-Ponty had an important insight. When we look at certain types of expertise (and I’m betraying less philosophical interests of mine, lol) such as the expertise of an athlete, we see embodied expertise, the expertise that is not simply “unthinking” in its operation but is required to be unthinking, such that the athlete wouldn’t be able to do what he/she in fact does if he/she had to think about it while doing it. In this context we have to look at such things as “muscle memory” etc. where the brain simply doesn’t contain the whole representation of what is going on. Merleau-Ponty recognized, in his idea of intercorporeality, that our usual and normal interactions with the World were bodily in nature, that we don’t in fact keep a mental representation of the World, the World is immediate to us through our bodying forth into it. The skill of an athlete is an extension of our normal bodying forth, not an unusual or fundamentally different manner of relating to the World, or meaning-context, in which we exist.

The “play” aspect of bdsm is related to this, as part of the praxis of M/s relationships. Most M/s relationships do in fact incorporate aspects of bdsm play, and this is not an accidental relation. Dominating someone is not, fundamentally, simply a mental thing, and as a result purely psychological or psychosocial theories of M/s fall down when it comes to praxis. The physical aspects, bodily aspects of domination and submission come to the fore in bdsm “play”, and the scare quotes are there because in an M/s context “play” is in fact very serious and very much a part of the real dynamic between the people involved. That bdsm involves skilled play, mastery of technique in a more limited sense of the word mastery than I usually use it, is part of the way that M/s is embodied and brought to a fullness beyond its psychological expression.

When mitda and I first became involved it was in both a romantic (in the old fashioned sense) and practical manner. We were not an M/s couple in any sense, in fact neither of us understood the M/s dynamic as a real possibility. But the combination of a psychological bond together with a penchant for bdsm play resulted in a very tight relationship with one another, and an unplanned but powerful tendency towards M/s within the relationship. After getting together in a physical sense, living together as a couple, and engaging in such play our relationship dynamic inevitably tended not just to M/s, but M/s in its absolute form. Without having any conceptual transparency, we lived together, played together, and developed a total power transfer dynamic. As we became more aware of the tendencies that were expressing themselves within the dynamic and attempted to achieve some sort of conceptual transparency for what we were in fact doing, ideas such as TPE/IE suddenly made sense to two people who had run across and essentially written off such ideas. One of the things this made me aware of as a person who writes on the subject, is that while I can provide a framework for thinking about such relationships, I can’t justify its existence or prove anything of what I am saying, and viewing it as a framework for my reality is something that could be accepted or rejected by the reader, but probably not really understood by the reader unless they themselves had experienced a similar dynamic. And this dynamic cannot be experienced purely mentally, it requires a bodily expression, it requires the bdsm practice aspect that from a conceptual point of view seems extrinsic.

In the relationship that developed with emmie that this praxis was intrinsic came more to the fore, in that she was not, is not a masochist in the conventional sense. She doesn’t engage in bdsm praxis for the sake of the physical pleasure that a conventional masochist derives from it. She engages in it, and it has felt and become necessary to both of us to engage in such practices, from a purely dominance/submission aspect. As a result it is impossible to make the error of viewing the bodily aspect as essentially separate and different from the psychological. Her enjoyment of s & m play is purely the enjoyment a submissive derives from being submissive, palpably, physically. It is the bodying forth of her submission and the bodying forth of my mastery. Our play doesn’t, as a result, have the comfortable and easy feel that mitda and I attain, where mastery and submission is bodied forth in concert with deep mutual pleasure and satisfaction. Instead it results in a tension of necessity, an expression of dominance and submission with our bodies that we cannot choose to forego simply because it isn’t a fundamentally pleasurable activity.

A Slave’s Situation

I’ve had various thoughts today surrounding absolute enslavement as a limit-situation, something I’ve blogged on previously, and the idea of situation in general and how it relates to consensual slavery. Situation in general is my term for the human condition, a condition of possibilities proffered and decisions required. Even the most brutal poverty, for example, remains a situation, no matter how limted the possibilities or how painful the decisions. Whereas total destitution, were it possible (without termination of life) would no longer be a situation. In total or absolute destitution there are no longer any options and no decisions to be made, and this non-situation is essentially inhuman.

So an absolute enslavement viewed as an actuality, rather than a vector of possibility, would by the same token be inhuman. Not simply in some sense of inhumane, which would be to reposit a priori human rights and the rest of the metaphysical baggage, but inhuman in the sense that the human condition always contains possibilities and always requires decision.

So what then could absolute enslavement mean or look like? It means that the options put before the slave are those of his/her Master’s choosing, and the decisions made are made, to the highest degree attainable, as the decisions that his/her Master would take. This in its turn is made available to the slave through the shared world, or meaning-context, that the Master gives the slave. It looks almost like a normal relationship to the outside world, because the slave is seemingly free to make decisions and choose from given possibilities just as any other human being is. That the slave will in all probability choose the Master’s will is inherent, but not necessarily apparent.

A limit-situation is defined as a situation in which the absolute, in some way, irrupts into the world of finite beings, mortals, humans. Being mortal itself is the fundamental limit situation, because death is a limit that we can never outstrip or breach, and that we are always in some way, dimly, aware of. Absolute enslavement is a more specific and determined limit-situation where the limit is, quite literally, that of being human and in a situation at all. As an absolute enslavement relationship progresses along a vector that approaches the limit, the slave’s meaning-context becomes more and more aligned with that of the Master until the it approaches a probability of one that the slave will, in any specific situation, act as his/her Master would have them act. As a vector it never quite reaches a probability of one, because in remaining a human situation the slave never has 100% of the information required to be perfectly aligned, and thus is never perfectly sure that the Master’s wishes are in fact being carried out until after the decision is made and enacted. And in never reaching it the slave’s humanity is never lessened, nor his/her ethical responsibilities removed. The ethic involved here, a slave ethic, is the inherent rightness for the slave of doing what his/her Master would will, and it remains an ethical problem and not a moral imperative because what the Master wills cannot be predetermined in an always changing and new situation.

A Daedalus Christmas

Realizing I neglected to post over the holidays, I decided to wrap up what went on at House Daedalus. With mitda having put in a ton of effort to Christmas we had a pile of wrapped presents under the tree, the four usual adults, mitda’s mother (also technically an adult 🙂 ), kid-who-is-18 and the kidlet (9) all here to open them on Christmas Day. The presents were really quite good all round, me probably doing the best overall because mitda managed to score the last 5 Terry’s Dark Chocolate Oranges available in Austin Texas. And I do love the Terry’s Oranges. So I have enough of them to both share and be selfish with them. I also received a new copy of Sein und Zeit, my old one having oddly disappeared during the period when we lived with the MIL, and an apropos t-shirt emblazoned “If I’m not happy, nobody’s happy”. For all the gift recipients mitda had put together a bunch of cool stocking stuffers last minute on a very slim budget, and opening them was one of the highlights of the day.

Generally mitda herself doesn’t celebrate Christmas and so she had the slimmest pickings of the bunch (she remonstrated to everyone not to buy her presents in the weeks leading up), which didn’t feel so good when she worked so hard to make it a good holiday, even though she will always do well on her holiday of choice for gifts, Valentine’s Day. She and I had exchanged new rings in stainless steel, which appears to be the only metal she can wear these days without a reaction. And I have not-so-subtly brought her over to the ‘dark side’ of logic and set theory, and the two books she got on those subjects were a bigger prize for her than I expected.

Aside from trifles emmie’s presents were a bit, ahem, virtual. She is in line for some big gifts this year but it simply was impossible to make the giving of them coincide with Christmas, so she received pictures of the items in question and the family’s promise that the pictures would eventually have a material aspect to go with them. Materially she did get a wireless remote control for her digital SLR which will come in handy for getting herself in her photos. E received a bluetooth earbud from the family, which he seems to really get off on, and various and sundry smaller gifts from his birth family et al. Both kids did pretty well, although kidlet was disappointed to not get a new video game for his DS and made such known. With his recent grades (a number of F’s, although most were in spelling and spelling has always been a bane), it might be better that neither of his parents saw new video games as a necessity. And the MIL also had a few nice gifts, including some from mitda’s twin brother who lives some distance from here and couldn’t be here in person. He was sweet enough to include gift cards for mitda and I as well. The family received a gift card from the MIL that she really shouldn’t have budgeted herself to purchase, so every dollar on the card feels like twenty would have from anyone else. She has worked very hard this year to get herself back on track after a financially disastrous move a few years ago from California (occasioned by the very real need to take care of mitda’s grandmother during her last years) and shown incredible toughness of spirit and resiliency in handling very difficult circumstances.

Holiday Job Realization

The holidays made me realize how burned out I’ve been with work, not merely due to the 2 hour each way commute, but due to the lack of direction and progress during the 8 hours in between, while I’m there, which is made palpably worse by the restrictions and rules on me while I am there. As a result I gave notice yesterday, something made rather easier by the fact that I was offered a position at equivalent salary at a place without such restrictions that happens to be 10 minutes from home : ). Given that I live in the middle of nowhere, the chances of getting something 10 minutes from here are slim to none, and slim usually left town, but there just happens to be an engineering site in a little town 10 minutes away from this little town, and they were looking for just such a developer as me.

So today I go back to my old job after the holiday and get to piss around until they get sick of me being there and tell me not to finish up my notice, or like everything else there nobody pays any attention and I put in the few days I have to give and then quietly disappear. Either way it’s much better than the stress I was under, and I’m looking forward to a better milieu beginning January 7.

A Lazy Day before Christmas

The family is at a coffee shop, me included, today. E and emmie are sitting inside while mitda and I are outside enjoying a cool but sunny Texas winter day. We spent a quiet evening last night after the solstice celebrations, mitda studying symbolic logic while I messed around on the net and spent some time with emmie – E watching a movie on his laptop. It was nice, settled, after getting so much out on solstice. This morning I was up early to watch the Man U. game, which they pulled out in the last five minutes : ). Generally it feels like a good weekend, getting the last few weeks of job hell out of my system and preparing for something new, and just feeling a bit more capable of unwinding and enjoying myself.

My Little Girl

Today emmie and I went probably the furthest into age play that we have so far allowed ourselves. She coloured in a colouring book while wearing a cute little girl dress, then pleasured her daddy in multiple ways. It’s a fantasy I’ve never really gone to before – having a personal history there it was something very odd to think of doing at first. But it is working out rather well with emmie being my little girl and she seems to really enjoy having a daddy. E and mitda have been very encouraging as well as far as this aspect of our relationship goes, even as far as to prod us to actively go further in exploring it. I adore emmie and want to do everything I can to ensure it’s safe for her to explore this fantasy, and I adore all of my family for being open to what can seem like a very strange kink at first to non-initiates.

The Ontological Fallacy of Science

Realism is not a conclusion that can be proved logically either by science or in any other way.  But all persons are experientially aware of reality from the awakening of consciousness.  That awareness is a primordial prejudice .  One is reminded of Bertrand Russell’s “proof” for realism: after announcing his intent he simply raised his hands.  Nothing spoken, but enough said.  This awareness grows in sophistication with the acquisition of language including in due course the acquisition of the language of science.  The advancement of science is the increasing adequacy of human knowledge of the real world.  For the empirical scientist the consciousness of reality becomes astute when theory reveals reality, and acute when reality refutes theory.  A falsifying test outcome is no time for Cartesian doubt that the first object of human knowledge is the recalcitrant real world.  Such is the basis for scientific realism .  Scientific realism is the thesis that the most critically empirically tested and currently nonfalsified theory, i.e. a scientific law, in science is the most adequate available description of reality.”

Here is what I refer to as the “ ontological fallacy” of Scientific Realism enacted in a single paragraph. While “awareness” of reality may indeed come with the awakening of consciousness, the in-itself nature of reality does not thereby become transparent. A “test outcome” qualifies the predictive validity of a given theory about the way reality behaves, giving a model of what may underlie the realities we experience, but it remains a model that has no intrinsic connection with the in-itself it models other than behavioral symmetry. If “ for the empirical scientist the consciousness of reality becomes astute when theory reveals reality”, for the astute philosopher the empirical scientist has modelled the behaviour of reality more or less accurately, but cannot “reveal” reality, since his only access to reality remains the same presentation in its representation in consciousness that was there to begin with. That there is a reality is a posit that science simply has to accept in order to function as the science that it is, that the in-itself of reality has anything fundamentally to do with scientific theories other than behavioral symmetry is a prejudice unsupported by experience and rendered observably unlikely in the history of changes of particular theories of the particular sciences.

Solstice and Fuckery

I survived the Solstice celebrations, actually survived them quite well :). We all declared the things we were going to let go of this year, and the things we are grateful for, and it brought us very much back to why we are all together in the first place.

Afterwards we had fuckery and a great time. It was the first day (by happenstance) that mitda was cleared by her doctor for fuckery after the surgery and it seemed like it had been forever since she was able to fully indulge in the pleasure. Needless to say having been very missed it was absolutely great to have her back. If last night is any indication her libido wasn’t a casualty of the surgery, and in fact is stronger than it has been in a long time, because she isn’t dispossessed of her joy by constant pain.

Solstice Time Again

During Babylonian and Persian solstice celebrations masters and slaves exchanged places. In each household, one slave was picked to be the master. In the palace, a mock king ruled in place of the true king.”

Tonight is Winter Solstice, and House Daedalus will be celebrating Persian style, with mitda reigning as Master for 12 hours from sundown to sunup. Wish me luck – I’ll need it : ).

One job, two jobs, three jobs Oh My!

So now I do have two jobs to choose from, one offer is more verbal the other more concrete, but they’re both pretty much 100%, and so I have to decide. Ah the joy of being the one in control! For the moment I’m just letting things settle in my mind and working out the full advantages and disadvantages of each. It’s a much nicer place to be to have a job and be offered two new ones than to not have one and be in the market.