Monthly Archives: January 2009

M/s and Responsibility

In uncanniness Dasein stands together with itself primordially [ In der Unheimlich-keit steht das Dasein ursprünglich mit sich selbst zusammen ]. Uncanniness brings this entity face to face with its undisguised nullity, which belongs to the possibility of its ownmost potentiality-for-Being. To the extent that for Dasein, as care, its Being is an issue, it summons itself as a “they” which is factically falling, and summons itself from its uncanniness towards its potentiality-for-Being. The appeal calls back by calling forth: it calls Dasein forth to the possibility of taking over, in existing, even that thrown entity which it is; it calls Dasein back to its thrownness so as to understand this thrownness as the null basis which it has to take up into existence. This calling-back in which conscience calls forth, gives Dasein to understand that Dasein itself – the null basis for its null projection, standing in the possibility of its Being – is to bring itself back to itself from its lostness in the “they””

Responsibility and indebtedness, then, are possible because Dasein is ready for conscience, and is ready to be made anxious by its own uncanniness. This attitude of readiness Heidegger calls ‘resoluteness’ [ Entschlossenheit ]. Resoluteness is, in turn, “that truth of Dasein which is most primordial because it is authentic ” (1998: 343). It is in being resolute that Dasein devotes itself to its authentic Self, in the face of uncanniness, and

upon the basis of Being-guilty. As such, if the call of conscience risks detaching Dasein from its Being-in-the-world, it is resoluteness that places Dasein, as authentic Being-

one’s-Self , back in the world. “Resoluteness,” writes Heidegger, “is authentically nothing else than Being-in-the-world … Resoluteness brings the Self right into its current concernful Being-alongside what is ready-to-hand, and pushes it into solicitous Being with Oth-


«Dasein and the Philosopher: Responsibility in Heidegger and Mamardashvili»

by Andrew Padgett

Resoluteness allows Dasein to meet its responsibilities to others, but how does responsibility manifest differently in an absolute M/s relationship? The flipside of absolute enslavement is unlimited responsibility on the part of the Master for the slave. This unlimited responsibility is not horizontally applied, in such a way that the Master, by virtue of his/her responsibilities for his/her own slave(s) is thereby responsible for the fate of all slaves. However within the purview of his/her own slave(s) the Master is wholly responsible through the reality of mastery itself.

Any “discourse of mastery”, however decried in postmodern circles, implies a full responsibility by its author. In the development of an enslavement the Master engages in such a discourse through both speech and action.

Derrida’s disconcerting law of dissemination invokes a shifting of interpretive spaces or contexts. The result is a shifting interpretive topology where philosophical, political, ethical, or religious positions no longer remain protected by the exclusionary policy of a restricted

analytic economy.

The Unlimited Responsibility of Spilling Ink

Marko Zlomislic

Dissemination, however disconcerting, is at the heart of the Master’s enslavement of the slave. The Master shifts the “interpretive space” of the slave in order to bring the slave’s context in line with his/her own. The topology of the slave’s being or will, or topography even, is thereby modified along an axis that leads to the Master’s being and will.

Mastery implies resoluteness, in that someone lost in the they-self is engaged in evading responsibilities. This evasion results in a lostness in the they-self and a flattening of differences, a flattening incompatible with either mastery or enslavement. Resolute dissemination is unprotected in every way, flouting law and custom, and every morality that has been propagated through civilization’s history, yet it thereby founds itself within the realm of situational ethics and unlimited responsibility. This flouting is an-archic, in that common goals or the telos of society is not accepted. The anxiety that comes with flouting law and custom is part and parcel of the total anxiety required by the wanting-to-have-a-conscience.

Derrida proposes the unreserved tension of competing paradigms that take place in a

chiasmic communication. Such a position destroys in a constructive sense the claim to

unequivocal hegemony of one tradition over other traditions. Such a stance gives an

ethical account of the intolerance displayed by various interpretive communities,

The Unlimited Responsibility of Spilling Ink

Marko Zlomislic

Even within the BDSM community there are a host of interpretive communities that range from top/bottom play communities to Master/slave communities with no possible relative judgements between any of the myriad types of relationships possible. It could be argued that the interpretive community valid for any relationship consists of the members of that relationship itself, as there is no external method of normalization for the ethos of each relationship. The range of views and visions of one’s life implies unlimited responsibility for one’s own ethos, as one cannot refer one’s ethos to any authority but one’s own. Moving from within to without the BDSM community any attempted normalization could only be antithetical to the ethos of the individual consensual Master/slave relationship. The best a community such as the BDSM community can do is to try to protect the freedom to explore one’s own ethos and consummate one’s own responsibility, whatever that may be, and however antithetical it may be to other members of the community.

Absolute Enslavement – the Meaning of the Absolute

Complete M/s relationships have been characterized as a “Total Power Exchange” and also as “Absolute Power Exchange”. Notwithstanding the difficulties involved in exchanging power, I mean to look at the differences between “Total” and “Absolute” and thereby reveal part of the reason I have chosen the term “Absolute Enslavement” for complete, consensual M/s relationships.

Hegel talks about absolute knowledge, that represents the journeys end. In order to achieve this Absolute knowledge, “Spirit attains to a knowledge of itself not only as it is in itself or as possessing an absolute content, nor only as it is for itself as a form devoid of content, or as the aspect of self-consciousness, but as it is both in essence and in actually, or in and for itself.” Hegel believes that the human spirit is related to the Absolute Spirit in the beginning, but only achieves knowledge of it in the end.

He criticizes the Kantian notion that knowledge is an “instrument” that should be examined before used, “But the examination of knowledge can only be carried out by an act of knowledge. To examine this so-called instrument is the same thing as to know it. But to seek to know before we know is as absurd as the wise resolution of Scholasticus, not to venture into the water until he had learned to swim.” “

– Hegel’s Thoughts on Knowledge, The Philosopher’s Lighthouse

Relationships in the context of consensual M/s have for a number of years eschewed the notion that the enslavement of the consensual slave is “partial” or not totalizing. This is so despite the fact that it has been pointed out by numerous observers that a “total” enslavement is not, in itself, possible, that every person has limits, however much they can be pushed, for example. In using the term “absolute” rather than “total” I mean the term in the sense intended by Hegel in his discussions on absolute knowledge, where knowledge knows itself as such. This reflexivity of the absolute does not imply a totalizing of knowledge – the person with absolute knowledge may know only one thing rather than everything in the universe, but knows that one thing absolutely. By the same token the consensual slave “knows” his/her enslavement as such in a way that was not possible for the non-consensual slave of western history or the non-consensual slaves that still exist in other parts of the world.

While a necessary a priori however knowing one’s enslavement is only part of the issue, as it does not really introduce the proper reflexivity into enslavement that is required for an enslavement to become absolute. A term introduced originally to replace TPE, “Internal Enslavement”, can point the way out of this bind. In the sense of internal enslavement, where the slave internalizes or has internalized his/her enslavement the slave essentially becomes “enslaved” to enslavement, where his/her enslavement becomes a necessary part of his/her being who he/she is. This internalization is not wholly an act of the slave but is a consequence of the actions of the slave and the Master in consummating the dynamic of the relationship. It is also not something that happens “all at once” or even “once” at all, but is a tangential progression towards a particular goal, a path along which one gets ever closer to the absolute without ever actually touching it. This type of tangent is in mathematics “equivalent” to the point it is tangential to and it is in this sense that the path of absolute enslavement can be said to be “equivalent” to an actualized absolute enslavement.

Of Boards and Borderlines

Of Boards and Borderlines

Over the last while mitda and I spent some time on the board of a local group, being finally driven away by a narcissistic president and borderline board member. That particular board member is still driving us up the wall emailing and phoning friends of ours with all kinds of bogus allegations. If it were fiction it would be mildly amusing, unfortunately it isn’t.

The Where of the Being-The-There-WIth

Between the Proper and the Improper

Between the two, it is nothing less than the Being-the-there-with which finds itself passed over. Indeed, the Mitdasein must determine the with as the proximity (contiguity and distinction) of multiple theres, thereby giving us the following to consider: multiplicity is not an attribute extrinsic to Dasein, since the concept of the there implies the impossibility of a unique and exclusive there. A there can only be exclusive—w hich it also inevitably is insofar as it is ‘‘mine’’—if it equally includes a

multiplicity of other theres. The analogical model here could be taken from Leibniz’s monadology or from one of those topological schemes inaugurated by Moebius’ strip whose concept of ‘‘neighborhood,’’ present in topology, proposes a suggestive metaphorical proximity between mathematics and the ontology of the with. The interweaving of the limit and continuity between the theres must determine the proximity not as sheer juxtaposition, but as composition in a very precise sense which must rely on a rigorous construction of the com-. In sum, this is nothing other than that which is demanded by Heidegger’s own emphasis on the character of a with irreducible to exteriority. For a Being-with-the-there to happen, there must be a contact, therefore a contagion and encroachment, even if minimal, even if only as an infinitesimal drift of the tangent between the concerned openings. A relative indistinction of the edges of the openings must occur and their lines of sight or horizons must at least tend to intersect one another. I can only open myself there by opening at the same time onto other theres, as we say of a door that it opens onto a garden. The with must constitute the nature of the ‘‘ on,’’ of the ‘‘against,’’ (as in ‘‘plywood’’ [contrecolle and of the ‘‘trans’’ (as in ‘‘transsexual’’). (And this means too, to note in passing, that the with itself has a complex nature, com-posed and inter-laced.)

If that is the case, however, then neither the simple Anyone nor the simple people can fulfill this condition. Yet this condition is exactly the existential condition of a being-with of being-there which would not be secondary in the constitution of existence, but truly and essentially equiprimordial in the existent. ”

– The being-with of being-there

Jean-Luc Nancy

This composition of a multiplicitous Event, a shared interweaving of theres can therefore neither be individualistic nor communal, though it partakes of both. It is also neither fully proper in the sense of a destined propriety nor improper in the sense of the anonymity and flatness of the “anyone” who is also “noone”.

Within the Lord / bondsman relational dynamic then there is an aligning of the multiplicitous theres into a more proper (note:, not “proper” in the sense of a people’s destiny, the mistake of the communitarian) set of relations. This alignment results out of appropriation in the Event into co-propriation of the Event of Being itself. The Lord’s “there” does not preexist as something extrinsic to him/her that the bondsman then partakes of, nor is there a preexisting “there” in which they both happen to be. Rather there is an interweaving intersection of the “there” that each produces, and in this non-egalitarian relationship the alignment is with the perspective of the Lord of the relationship as primary.

At this point, a question that comes up with regard to Lord / bondsman relationships has to be explicitly brought out and engaged with, that is, whether ‘love’ is necessary or even beneficial to the relationship. Co-propriation brings out the answer to this question in the arising of the alignment of the shared theres. Love is brought to its most explicit formulation in the “volu ut sis” borrowed from Augustine.

volo ut sis: ‘‘I want that you be what you are.’’ Thus, love is a mitglauben, a shared faith in the ‘‘ story of the other’’ and a mitergreifen, a shared grasp of the ‘‘ potential of the other,’’

The Anonymous Referential Contexture

A brief while ago, we recalled both the invisibility and the totality of the tool,

traits that emerged from Heidegger’s own account of equipment. These features

described the character of entities in themselves, their primary mode of being, and not just the primary way in which people encounter them. Obviously, if entities were

invisible and total in the strict sense, we would not encounter individual beings at all.

All objects would fade away into an instantaneous, global action— a system without

organs. But experience shows that we do encounter singular entities; life is absorbed in nothing but such specific beings: sun, melons, puppets. How does Heidegger account for this duality? The most famous place is in the discusion of the ‘broken tool’. The working piece of equipment is unobtrusive; in contrast, the malfunctioning instrument thrusts itself rudely into view. In this new, “broken” situation, we gain a view of what was previously taken for granted. Equipment is no longer a silent laborer; it has surfaced as a visible power. It is a tool which has suddenly reversed into tool ‘as’ tool. The visible world is the world of the ‘as’, a tangible and volatile surface that has been derived from a more primary dimension of being.

The realm of the broken tool is the realm of the ‘as’. But just as the term “equipment” could not be limited to tools in the narrow sense, so the broken tool quickly reaches beyond the strict boundaries suggested by its name. Even a rough examination will show that Heidegger begins to define virtually everything in the same way as his concept of the broken tool. Space, for example, comes to be defined as nothing other than the freeing of entities from the anonymous referential contexture, in such a way that they take on a specific unique location of their own;”

Phenomenology and the Theory of


By Graham Harman

© 1997

If it is merely the “malfunctioning” piece of equipment that primordially reveals the as-structure that we call “ world”, the sum total of meanings both shared and private that we hold, and that this type of revelation also applies to things such as location in space, concept in theory, and a host of other things, then in some way the undifferentiated primordial “da” must also be shared in order for a being-there-with to be at all possible. How do we at all share an “anonymous referential contexture” except by virtue that thrownness into the world is an equiprimordial structure of Dasein’s being, along with Being-in-the-world, Being-the-there, Being-there-with and the other existentials analysed in Being and Time (Heidegger, 1929).

In this sense the Master and slave are equivalent, both finding themselves thrown into a world in which they can only make sense, meaning, by isolating specific things as those specific things from out of the anonymous referential contexture. What is different in the dominant vs submissive mindset is the ownership of those islands of sense.

Ready-to-handedness and mitdasein

… the fact that Dasein’s essence is that it exists. Never meant to be sized up as a ‘rational animal’, or as the ‘fusion of body and soul’, Dasein can only be understood in the very act of its existence. Any claim to define Dasein via some representation or by way of any external properties is incapable of living up to the task. But this irreducibility of Dasein to a representation is also shared by hammers, and even by sand and rocks. We have already seen that none of these entities can be understood as if they were simply vorhanden. Readiness-to-hand does not mean “usable by people”, but rather “sheer performance of an effect”. Thus, Dasein in the second sense is the absolute equivalent of the tool, however counterintuitive this might seem. Thus, the distinctiveness of human Dasein has to be sought elsewhere”

it is the great merit of his analysis of equipment to have exploded any possible notion of present-at-hand categories. Strictly speaking, categories are an illusion.”

So what of the notion of something that one merely observes and takes in, rather than perceiving it in its performance of an effect? My girl mitda discussed this with some friends who noted that they enjoy their unique record player just as it is observed, without using it. Art, as well, is enjoyed in its perusal rather than its direct effect, if Art has any direct effect whatsoever.

When a hammer no longer functions to produce an effect, for instance it has been broken, its readiness to hand is damaged in such a way as to create the illusion of present-at-handness. In this case it is relatively easy to see that the damage to the hammer results in a relational damage to it’s perceivedness. However in the case of the record player its working or not is irrelevant to the enjoyment of it by the people involved. In this case the record player performs an effect, one of producing a certain nostalgia for the past, that was not its original intention. It “brings back” the era in which it was current and recreates, to a degree, a world that no longer exists. Thus the existintiels of the record player lie in the memory of the era in which it was created and had its primary usefulness, or ready-to-handedness.

The “artificial” mode of seeing things as present-at-hand, which is necessary for the practice of science while limiting at the same time, is a pretense of dispassionate observation that does not affect the observed. As quantum mechanics shows this pretense is untenable. Observations always affect the observed, no matter how tenuously this effect is in any given observation.

How does all this affect the M/s relationship? First, and only In a sense, tools and equipment are equivalent in certain ways to human Dasein, meaning that a slave can be utilized in a ready-to-hand manner “without thinking” about it. However there is a distinctiveness about human Dasein, in that human Dasein shares an understanding of Being, however transparent or not it has made this understanding, and as a result takes part in mitdasein, or being-there-with other Dasein in a shared world. In an M/s relationship the slave gives up ownership of that world and shares the world and being of the Master. It is not an accident that Being and Will were commutative terms for many years in the history of metaphysics. The slave’s aligning of his/her will with that of the Master accomplishes this sharing of Being and world.

Mitdasein and Enslavement

“Mitsein and Mitdasein are posited as co-essential to Dasein’s essence,that is,to its property as an existent for which Being is not its ontological foundation but rather the bringing into play of its own sense of Being as well as of the sense of Being itself. Therefore, Being-with, and more precisely Being-there-with,constitutes an essential condition for Dasein’s essence.”

“This is a property of Dasein as da-sein, as Being-the there:it is,or rather,it has to be the ‘‘there’’of an opening, that is,of its own(or in each case its own) way of letting itself be or of deciding to be according to this exposition which is also its Being-in-the-world.

.(Let/decide:two faces,two possibilities or two aspects of the same exposition.)

Dasein has to be the singular ‘‘there’’ of an ownmost way of wording that is of making and/or opening onto a totality of sense. In sum, the da of sein is its exposition. Therefore,one can say Dasein is a singular, unique possibility of making/letting an ownmost sense of the world and/or the world of an ownmost sense open itself. This sense has as an essential property; its ultimate sense in its own suppression. Death,or the cessation of this da, means as well that the da does not open onto anything but its own opening. To assume this horizon, which is precisely not a horizon, to assume the finite

horos of an infinite apeiron , is exactly what is at stake in Dasein’s Being at stake.In sum,is it the making mine of that which cannot be mine,or the letting myself be disappropriated at and from the fullest point of mineness(an inverted version of the Hegelian death).”

– Nancy, Jean-Luc – The being-with of being-there

Moreover, Dasein is essentially Mitdasein. This means that Mitsein is essential to Dasein : it is a Being-with unlike the putting together of things, but an essential with , intrinsic to Dasein’s own Being..

That Dasein is also and essentially Mitdasein ensconces the relationship between Master and slave with the there of the Master’s da. Since the Master opens that world and invites the slave to be an integral part of it, joining their own da, their being, or in Nietszche’s term, their will, to that of the Master, Mitdasein provides the shared space, meaning, and equipmental totality that allows both the Master and slave to “be” in an appropriate place and manner.

Overt vs Inconspicuous Enslavement

A friend of mitda’s wondered aloud the other day as to whether her and her Master’s lack of overt protocol meant they were “less” an M/s couple than others with more overt protocol. While I don’t intend to imply the opposite – that those with an overt protocol are “less” M/s, it does seem to me that the use of a slave as part of the Master’s equipmental context, in other words his/her world, is a less conspicuous but no less fundamental type of enslavement than the high protocol type of M/s relationship where the enslavement has to be reiterated constantly by demonstration.

every conceivable entity is nothing less than an item of equipment. No being can be reduced to its presence-at-hand. The most useless flake of stone does not escape the system of tools; the tiniest grain of sand still is what it is, surging into existence, where it throws its weight around. No matter how negligible these entities are, they are not without their significance— even if for most humans this meaning is that of “triviality”. Beneath its indifferent surface, every entity occupies a highly determinate position in the system of significance that forms the world. In short, the analysis of tools is concered only incidentally with the human use of tools. Its real subject matter is the stance of entities themselves in the midst of reality. The bridge is not a bridge due to the fact that Dasein uses it; the reverse is the case. A tool isn’t “used”; it “is”.”

Phenomenology and the Theory of


By Graham Harman

© 1997

demonstrating this thesis in terms of M/s the slave “ is” in the Master’s world, whether noticed or not, whether overt or not. The slave “is” in a more essential and immediate sense than any other part of the Master’s world, since it is the slave’s enslavement and corresponding enownment of the Master that makes the Master who he/she is and defines that Master’s world. The Master is a Master due to the fact that he/she uses the slave, who on his/her part simply “is” and is by virtue of his/her appropriate place in the Master’s world.

Theory of Equipment, slavery and protocol

When the tool is most a tool, it recedes into a reliable background of subterranean machinery. Equipment is invisible. Furthermore, tools do not occur in isolation. Their meaning is determined by their definitive role in a referential contexture, their position in this reality. A single hammer can be magnificent against soft wood, useless against metallic surfaces, and a lethal horror to many insects. In this way, the tool is what it is only with respect to the system it inhabits; there is no such thing as ‘an’ equipment. Equipment is total, or contextural. What this tells us is that equipment, insofar as it is currently in use, is never something merely present-at-hand. Some part of the physical tool may stay in view, but its action necessarily withdraws into a totality that in principle can never become visible. The tool is the execution of a reality or effect that necessarily retreats behind the presence of any surface. But this reality is not merely negative, as though self-concealment were its most striking feature. The tool is a force that exists rather than not existing, a reality that has emerged into the world and set up shop. Of course, in the strict sense we should not speak here of tools, but rather of a single unitary world in action.”

– from Phenomenology and the Theory of


By Graham Harman

© 1997

How does this passage relate to M/s? In a sense the slave is part of the equipmental totality of the Master’s world. As part of that sense the slave is a force that exists predominantly in self-concealment as part of the equipmental context. The slave, like the tool, is the execution of a reality that necessarily retreats.

What does this say about high vs low protocol M/s relationships? Indirectly the retiring nature of the slave as tool would tend to point to a more subtle enslavement that requires no overt protocol in order to maintain its sense of being.

Pissoffs and a Great Party

Rumour has it that the President of the aforementioned local BDSM group and his slut on the board want to ban myself and my family from the group due to the fact that I criticized them on an “unofficial” online group. This after the same President is allowing someone back who committed a felony against another member on an official group <sigh>. People are unbelievable. Not that I particularly care as I’m not planning to return anytime during his presidency anyway and no board not stacked with his friends would uphold the ruling, if it happens, which I still doubt.

We went to a great private party on Saturday at a friend’s place, mitda and I played quite hard and long and I was sore afterwards, not to mention her <grin>. One girl who had a birthday around that time was decorated as a cake and we all ate icing off her. Everyone that is except emmie who ‘doesn’t know these people like that” lol,

I’m pruning my list of “friends” on Fetlife, too many people I’m not altogether fond of befriended me and to be nice I accepted their friendship at first, now that I’ve been fucked over by a few of them they can go fuck themselves with a chainsaw. Elvis fucking Christ people can piss me off.