Category Archives: power

Definitions

Mastery (of someone):  to appropriate, own and give a disposition, a state of being, to that person.

Domination: to make available to oneself as appropriate.

To submit: to be revealed or exhibited as available and proper.

Submission: available to hear and simultaneously obey.

Submissive: acquiesce to obedience through devotion.


Mastery / slavery ? Digressions in Terminology

How the more extreme forms of domination and submission oriented dynamics acquired the terminology “Master/slave” is an odd question at first glance, and one related to another form of terminology, that of “Owner/property”.
A slave, defined by being-owned, would by definition have an owner.  One who owned a human being would by definition have a slave, owning simple “property” would not distinguish one from any other in our current society.  Masters in various areas of endeavour might have servants, novices, acolytes, initiates, apprentices, etc.  But in the specific area of consensual slavery the slave’s owner appropriates the designation “Master”.  Seemingly in reaction to the ability and responsibility mastery requires, some in domination/submission dynamics opt out of the issue of what mastery entails, preferring to return to simple ownership, but the simulaneous reduction of human property (“slave”) to just “property” signals a felt lack, as if owning a human being without mastery is somehow inappropriate.
Consensual slavery has multiple defining features, but one of the principle features is a vow of obedience that overrules further need for consent, in most cases perpetual, at least in intention.  Perpetual vows of obedience are found in a number of other areas of human endeavour, but are most associated with the religious life.  Within many religious orders a vow of obedience to the order is prescribed.  While it is unusual today, vows of obedience to a particular person were at one time also common within Christianity as in other religions.
The justification for vows of obedience within specifically Christian theology stemmed from the limited perspective available to any given individual, together with the notion that community ameliorated that limitation and provided a brake on unconstrained and potentially mistaken willing by the individual.
Will as Will to Power, in the consummation of metaphysics and therefore Christianity itself, however, is the term for the essence of being itself, rather than a specific faculty of a specific being.  As the essence of being itself the slave’s being is as fully Will to Power as the Owner’s.  Rather than ameliorating the expression of Will to Power, the being of the community, religious or otherwise, is also Will to Power.  A vow of obedience could not in post Nietzschean terms accomplish any constraining of the Will to Power but would simply make the perspective panoramic, and as panoramic all the more perspectival.
A vow of obedience, as central to the slave’s being-a-slave, and hence the slave’s expression of Will to Power, serves two other purposes.  First the vow is a shield against the tempting, in particular the most tempting itself.  Second it is the focus for the more understanding and creative expression of that will demanded by its continuing alignment with the will of the Master.

It is in the radicality of the demand of obedience that it functions as a shield against the tempting.  “The most tempting itself” is an odd phrase at first –  temptation is often conflated with desire, yet in a sense it opposes and frustrates the pursuit of that which is most desired itself.  Temptation diverts from the pursuit of desire as much as from the pursuit of perfection, or any other particular pursuit.  As the “most” tempting fundamental temptation is something we always find ourselves in in advance.  Radical obedience, in either expectation or fulfillment, opposes the most tempting in an essential way because it is an extraordinary expectation, and an extraordinary thing to attempt.  “The most tempting”, the founding temptation in which we always find ourselves immersed is essentially the temptation of the mediocre, the averageness of everyday understanding and levelling off any distinctions that might threaten that tranquillizing mediocrity of everydayness itself.

Expecting this kind of vow implictly requires a sense of one’s own unique abilities, a sense that develops with mastery of those abilities itself, a sense that breaks and continually re-breaks the temptation towards a tranquilizing common mediocrity.  Consenting to such a vow requires an honouring of the uniqueness of the Master’s abilities that accomplishes the same severing from the temptation to mediocrity.


Direction and Directives

Is it enough for Mastery that a slave obey his / her Master’s directives, while his / her thoughts, desires and will remain free? Or does the act of directing implicitly require that the directed align those thoughts, desires and will with that of the Master?

In directing the Master points in a direction and sets the slave moving in that direction. This of course requires that the Master have a perspective from which to direct. The perspective itself comes from the positing of viewpoints inherent in mastery, power itself is perspectival in the sense that it is always an empowering of overpowering, a will towards a horizon, enacted through the slave, that comes back to itself in the slave’s obedience and the Master’s self obedience.

The slave’s obedience in merely accomplishing the activity is never sufficient in itself to satisfy power. At best it can allow power to be maintained, but power is always overpowering as mastery – mastery of the slave and self mastery. If it is only maintained as measure it dwindles temporally.  Mastery must empower its own overpowering and for this it requires the overpowering of its perspective itself via the merging of the slave’s will with its own, the merging of viewpoints into one panoramic perspective.

Directives are obeyed by the slave in the sense of moving in that direction, but they empower the will of the Master when the directive’s viewpoint and perspective are adopted, such that the slave’s obedience returns and empowers the Master’s self obedience. In this the directive reaches its panoramic completion, empowering further perspectives, viewpoints, and directives.


Refusal Or … ?

Between my post on refusal and now I’ve had a very odd change in my manner of being.

I had what used to be called, in the conceptual world, a “divine revelation”.  Since I live in the post conceptual (post religious-metaphysical-scientific)  world it was no long divine in any sense.   However it was reflexive in a way that no epiphany could be.  It was a revelation of the nature of revelation itself.

The reflexivity made me suddenly understand Hegel’s Absolute Knowing, Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence of the Same, and Heidegger’s vom Ereignis (from Enowning) simultaneously as attempts to provoke the experience.  Not that they do, but they do at least prepare one for it in a similar way to mystic practice preparing one for divine revelation.  Understanding understanding, as it were, doesn’t give you an understanding of anything in particular.  It gives you a different sense of things where understanding precedes self-conscious interpretation.

More on this later …


Dasein, Mineness, Authenticity and Authority – the Origin of Existential Decisionism


Dasein is not of the mode of vorhanden because it is not something that we ‘come across’ as we go about (BT, 69), but rather it is close to us, and is well known because it is inseparable from ourselves, but it is little understood in everyday experience because it is very close to us (BT, 69). In addition, Dasein is not zuhanden because it exists but is not for the purpose of effecting something.”

Heidegger introduces the idea of ‘mineness’ as a quality that belongs to Dasein, as being that which is the true nature of Dasein”

Mineness, indeed replaces “an entity’ as the mode of Dasein’s authentic encounterability. However Dasein in fact is encounterable in an ‘inauthentic’ but primordial’ manner through the idea of ‘das Man’, or the “they”, the “one”.

Authenticity and inauthenticity = decisionism – the “they” as consensus, liberalism, against authenticity/authority, the “discourse of Mastery” as per Derrida. Authenticity in Heidegger’s early sense only comes with en-ownment of the Master by the en-slaved. The early sense hence not primordial. The ‘Lord’ is master by virtue of en-ownment by the en-slaved bondsman, therefore reducible. The en-slaved as not reducible. ‘Lord’ is Master only in a relative sense, in relation to the specifically en-slaved. En-slavement by en-framing (technology as techne) as ultimate reductio ad absurdum of Lordship to the en-grasping of the con-cept (Be-griff … “griff” grip or handle, old German). Origin of Heidegger’s transgression – the crucial philosophical mistake of favouring the Lord over the bondsman. C.f. the re-estimation of Being as Ereignis in terms of the mastery of the last god in “vom Ereignis.” Dasein is only encounterable as “mineness” by the Lord after a dialectical sublation, “not-mineness” is primordial.

The possibility of seeing Dasein as either vorhanden or zuhanden results from the fact that in ‘being-in-the-world’ Dasein is constructed of stuff like the world and could be mistaken. Such a mistaking of Dasein for one of the other kinds of being would result in inappropriate relations and behaviour because it would reduce people to being either equipment or mere objects.”

Inappropriate relations or appropriative relations? c.f. the “event of appropriation”. Appropriating as the bringing into what is most proper, das eigen., “own”, ownhood, en-owning.

Previous western views of humanity regarded people as either bipartite, body and soul, or tripartite, body, soul and spirit, and lead to the assumption that a person is a synthesis of the parts, but in Heidegger’s view Dasein is existence, not a synthesis of separately existing parts (BT, 153). Thus, Heidegger argues for regarding Dasein as a complete and indivisible being that enters into relations and intrinsically is a complete, unified, entity. There are multiple Dasein, which necessarily have some kind of relation to each other, whether warm and friendly or hermitic or otherwise, and these relations are characterized by Heidegger as ‘Being-with’ (BT, 160).”

Dasein is not the knowing Subject of Descartes but the unitary facticity of existence as disclosed. “Disclosedness” also involves “being-with” and allows truth to appear and be known as shared truth. “Eternal truth” depends on eternity, something we are entirely unsure about in a finite universe. “Objective” truth depends on the separation of subject/object, but the implicit intent of these notions – shared truth, or truth outside the individual existing human, is validated by Heidegger in the concept of disclosedness. “Truth” may only be disclosed to Dasein, but it “is” disclosed to, not determined by, the particular Dasein. Without requiring the basis in absolute knowledge of Hegel (only valid for beings within metaphysics) Heidegger offers support for the idea of shared truth about facticity.


Discipline and Punishment

In one of my earliest posts to this blog I talked about the conundrum of how to punish a masochist.  As it happens this worked itself out over the period during which I didn’t post much to the blog, and I never got around to explicating any of it.


There’s a “mode” one has to get into in order to punish, it’s a mode
that involves “knowing” that you know better than the person you’re
punishing, people find that easier with children, obviously, than with
adults   If you look at Tanos’ site, the focus on “Internal
Enslavement” seems to focus on the slave’s mindset, which is of course
important.  When mitda or emmie are being punished they are in a
different headspace than when they’re being played.  But my
introduction of the term “Absolute” or “Total” Subjugation is important
because it deals with the mindset and headspace of the Master.  (Tanos does include this of course, it’s only the term that seems to focus on the slave’s doing, not the site or his thoughts on the matter)  In
order for the slave to get into her mindset, the Master has to be in
his, and it’s a difficult thing at first to accomplish.  If you look at
my earliest blog entries there was the conundrum of how to punish a
masochist, and it took time to solve, but it has to do with getting
into a certain zone and making that felt to the slave.

First, as I said, you have to “know” that you’re right, or that you
know better, than the slave.  This is difficult to do with someone that
you love and respect as an adult on the same level as your own.  You
have to know you know better because, simply, you are the Master in the
situation and it is your world and your set of meanings that are the
crucial ones.  The slave, in her enslavement, has given up the set of
meanings she had, what she accepted previously as her truth, and
accepted your reality as hers.  As a result, although she might be as
intelligent and capable as you are, she doesn’t know the terrain as
well as you do, and within the dynamic in any disagreement she is
always in the wrong, because you are the arbiter of what is right and
wrong to begin with.  She needs this grounding by you as much as you
need to ground things in this way.  


Second, you need to get this world, this set of meanings, across to her
and put her in the situation where she knows that no matter what she
believed prior to her enslavement, she is now completely in the wrong
and needs to be punished to set her straight and remind her of where
her ground and truth are.  Partly I talk to emmie and mitda constantly
about the way I view things and the way things are for me, and must be
for them.  But truth lies in manifestation, and having things manifest
to the slave in the way they manifest to you is the key.  Human beings
share a world and share the way things manifest to a greater or lesser
degree depending on how close they are – and this phenomenon is what
people mean when they refer to “relating” to someone.  Physical contact
I’ve found is a key – standing at a distance and touching the slave
only when you hit them doesn’t bring them into your space, you need to
break the slave’s personal space by being as close to them as possible,
touching them with your free hand, and letting them feel the punishment
implement prior to and between hits, so that they know it’s an
extension of your hand and your will.


Discipline and Punishment

In one of my earliest posts to this blog I talked about the conundrum of how to punish a masochist.  As it happens this worked itself out over the period during which I didn’t post much to the blog, and I never got around to explicating any of it.


There’s a “mode” one has to get into in order to punish, it’s a mode
that involves “knowing” that you know better than the person you’re
punishing, people find that easier with children, obviously, than with
adults   If you look at Tanos’ site, the focus on “Internal
Enslavement” seems to focus on the slave’s mindset, which is of course
important.  When mitda or emmie are being punished they are in a
different headspace than when they’re being played.  But my
introduction of the term “Absolute” or “Total” Subjugation is important
because it deals with the mindset and headspace of the Master.  (Tanos does include this of course, it’s only the term that seems to focus on the slave’s doing, not the site or his thoughts on the matter)  In
order for the slave to get into her mindset, the Master has to be in
his, and it’s a difficult thing at first to accomplish.  If you look at
my earliest blog entries there was the conundrum of how to punish a
masochist, and it took time to solve, but it has to do with getting
into a certain zone and making that felt to the slave.

First, as I said, you have to “know” that you’re right, or that you
know better, than the slave.  This is difficult to do with someone that
you love and respect as an adult on the same level as your own.  You
have to know you know better because, simply, you are the Master in the
situation and it is your world and your set of meanings that are the
crucial ones.  The slave, in her enslavement, has given up the set of
meanings she had, what she accepted previously as her truth, and
accepted your reality as hers.  As a result, although she might be as
intelligent and capable as you are, she doesn’t know the terrain as
well as you do, and within the dynamic in any disagreement she is
always in the wrong, because you are the arbiter of what is right and
wrong to begin with.  She needs this grounding by you as much as you
need to ground things in this way.  


Second, you need to get this world, this set of meanings, across to her
and put her in the situation where she knows that no matter what she
believed prior to her enslavement, she is now completely in the wrong
and needs to be punished to set her straight and remind her of where
her ground and truth are.  Partly I talk to emmie and mitda constantly
about the way I view things and the way things are for me, and must be
for them.  But truth lies in manifestation, and having things manifest
to the slave in the way they manifest to you is the key.  Human beings
share a world and share the way things manifest to a greater or lesser
degree depending on how close they are – and this phenomenon is what
people mean when they refer to “relating” to someone.  Physical contact
I’ve found is a key – standing at a distance and touching the slave
only when you hit them doesn’t bring them into your space, you need to
break the slave’s personal space by being as close to them as possible,
touching them with your free hand, and letting them feel the punishment
implement prior to and between hits, so that they know it’s an
extension of your hand and your will.


Total Power Exchange and the Limit Situation – 1

An oddity, but one that often surfaces when pro and con arguments are vetted out, is that they take the same form, and essentially become two moments of one argument. This is the root of the form of thought known as dialectic, particularly the way that Hegel uses the term.

This turns out to be the case in the pro and con TPE argument, so let’s take it apart a little. I will provide one of the original formulations of the argument for TPE and talk a little about the argument con, just to set the stage.
“When you “submit” to or “dominate” someone in a situation where safe words are used and when limitations are negotiated, you are not actually submitting or dominating at all – you are playing at it.” – Jon Jacobs

The con argument also talks about limits. (In TPE) “The relationship is subject to the physical and the emotional limitations of the participants and therefore cannot genuinely be total or absolute.” – From TPE, Wikipedia.

Odd isn’t it that the arguments are so similar. What is it about TPE that immediately points towards limits as the crux of its own possibility? Karl Jaspers, in “The Psychology of Worldviews”, a book unfortunately difficult to obtain, originated the idea of the “limit-situation”, a peculiar existential condition where something unconditioned obtrudes and causes the self to come before itself in a unique way.

“…Jaspers claims that the self-disclosure of the possibilities of human existence depends on the capacity of the individual human life to open itself to the experience of the unconditioned (das Unbedingte). When it experiences the unconditioned, human life’s knows itself drawn by a motive (idea), which extends it beyond the forms, both subjective and objective, in which it customarily exists.”

On a personal level, then, the limit situation unique discloses our possibilities, which gives us a better ground for actualizing them. On a philosophical level, if the limit is something unconditioned, and the unconditioned results in transcendence beyond the human’s customary existence, being in a limit situation is an especially valuable situation for understanding what that customary existence is grounded upon, as well as experiencing a transcendence from it. And in fact the two things are the same, the subject-object split turns out to be based on an originary transcendence. What does transcendence mean here then? “Beyond” the customary, beyond the subject-object split, is in any case not a very well defined location, as far as we can immediately see. Before we can understand transcendence though, we need a horizon against which to view this new location, which does not admit of either subjectivity or objectivity.

So in order to develop a sense of what this horizon might be I’m going to look closer at the limit situation in general, and the limit situation I believe the TPE relationship to be in particular. In any limit situation Jaspers says that “existence directs itself from its own origin against and beyond its experience of normal subjective and objective reality”. Direction then is important, and direction seems promising for understanding something like horizon. But what specifically happens in TPE? In the TPE situation there is an unconditioned demand, that the slave surrender all will, all freedoms, to the Master. Does this surrender equal surrendering all possibilities for the slave? By no means, but the slave’s possibilities now all involve those inherent in enslavement, a situation where rather than being an “existence for itself”, self consciousness becomes an “existence for another”. Of course this act simultaneously creates the Master, who for his part was merely an undeveloped self consciousness as well. This part is well documented by Hegel in his lord/bondsman dialectic, so I will not further pursue it here, though a link might be useful to those not familiar with the argument.

So in the master/slave relationship there involves a complex dialectical process at work, at least according to Hegel. In TPE we attempt to make the enslavement total, or absolute. What does this do to the resolution?

Obviously the easy happy resolution of Hegel’s “cooperation” isn’t what we have here. We have in lieu of that a permanent tension, a permanent dialectic without resolution, unless you consider the passing of the participants a kind of resolution. It isn’t a resolution as far as my thinking goes because the participants are precisely no longer there, but mortality is its own limit situation.

This post has become long and rather than lose the thread I will end for now and bring up the next element in the argument in a further post.


Total Power Exchange and the Limit Situation – 1

An oddity, but one that often surfaces when pro and con arguments are vetted out, is that they take the same form, and essentially become two moments of one argument. This is the root of the form of thought known as dialectic, particularly the way that Hegel uses the term.

This turns out to be the case in the pro and con TPE argument, so let’s take it apart a little. I will provide one of the original formulations of the argument for TPE and talk a little about the argument con, just to set the stage.
“When you “submit” to or “dominate” someone in a situation where safe words are used and when limitations are negotiated, you are not actually submitting or dominating at all – you are playing at it.” – Jon Jacobs

The con argument also talks about limits. (In TPE) “The relationship is subject to the physical and the emotional limitations of the participants and therefore cannot genuinely be total or absolute.” – From TPE, Wikipedia.

Odd isn’t it that the arguments are so similar. What is it about TPE that immediately points towards limits as the crux of its own possibility? Karl Jaspers, in “The Psychology of Worldviews”, a book unfortunately difficult to obtain, originated the idea of the “limit-situation”, a peculiar existential condition where something unconditioned obtrudes and causes the self to come before itself in a unique way.

“…Jaspers claims that the self-disclosure of the possibilities of human existence depends on the capacity of the individual human life to open itself to the experience of the unconditioned (das Unbedingte). When it experiences the unconditioned, human life’s knows itself drawn by a motive (idea), which extends it beyond the forms, both subjective and objective, in which it customarily exists.”

On a personal level, then, the limit situation unique discloses our possibilities, which gives us a better ground for actualizing them. On a philosophical level, if the limit is something unconditioned, and the unconditioned results in transcendence beyond the human’s customary existence, being in a limit situation is an especially valuable situation for understanding what that customary existence is grounded upon, as well as experiencing a transcendence from it. And in fact the two things are the same, the subject-object split turns out to be based on an originary transcendence. What does transcendence mean here then? “Beyond” the customary, beyond the subject-object split, is in any case not a very well defined location, as far as we can immediately see. Before we can understand transcendence though, we need a horizon against which to view this new location, which does not admit of either subjectivity or objectivity.

So in order to develop a sense of what this horizon might be I’m going to look closer at the limit situation in general, and the limit situation I believe the TPE relationship to be in particular. In any limit situation Jaspers says that “existence directs itself from its own origin against and beyond its experience of normal subjective and objective reality”. Direction then is important, and direction seems promising for understanding something like horizon. But what specifically happens in TPE? In the TPE situation there is an unconditioned demand, that the slave surrender all will, all freedoms, to the Master. Does this surrender equal surrendering all possibilities for the slave? By no means, but the slave’s possibilities now all involve those inherent in enslavement, a situation where rather than being an “existence for itself”, self consciousness becomes an “existence for another”. Of course this act simultaneously creates the Master, who for his part was merely an undeveloped self consciousness as well. This part is well documented by Hegel in his lord/bondsman dialectic, so I will not further pursue it here, though a link might be useful to those not familiar with the argument.

So in the master/slave relationship there involves a complex dialectical process at work, at least according to Hegel. In TPE we attempt to make the enslavement total, or absolute. What does this do to the resolution?

Obviously the easy happy resolution of Hegel’s “cooperation” isn’t what we have here. We have in lieu of that a permanent tension, a permanent dialectic without resolution, unless you consider the passing of the participants a kind of resolution. It isn’t a resolution as far as my thinking goes because the participants are precisely no longer there, but mortality is its own limit situation.

This post has become long and rather than lose the thread I will end for now and bring up the next element in the argument in a further post.


TPE, Poly and other Alt. Marriages, less coercive or more?

If the outcome of coercive power is the reduction of the human to human resources, and the reduction of the tradition to resource
allocations, we can begin to take a closer look at the various options open in the field of relationships. Quickly we can note the alignment of marriage with tax structures, religious power centres and family-values style politicking. 

At first glance TPE, total power exchange, a.k.a. internal enslavement, is the most forceful of the marriage options open. Polyamory possibly the least forceful. Traditional marriage falls somewhere in between. But glances are dissembling here as in many areas. There are also the areas of gay and transgender marriages.

So how about polyamory? Poised as it is against the traditional marriage and the upholding of “family values”, and convoluted as it makes marriage from an ownership and taxation point of view, polyamory is in many ways the most radical option for a newly relationshipped adult. The many flavours of polyamory, whether the poly group is in a V, W, quad or other, leads to a delay between expectations and realizations from the moment the group sets foot in society. There are no easy societal labels within the group – husband, lover, partner etc. all seem equally inappropriate. This facet poly shares with gay and transgender marriage. As a result polyamory as well as gay/transgender marriage finds a common element with the proponents of traditional marriage

But since the seat of coercive power in the home is usually occupied by the heterosexual male, doesn’t all this argue the more that TPE is the most outrageously coercive form of relationship dreamt up in the west so far?

The missing element here, is mastery. Were TPE simply a matter of domination, and were the domination available in an exterior form, it would be nothing more than a 24/7 form of the imposed drudgery of Hegel’s bondsman. A marxist BDSM’er might argue that since the relationship is at least explicit, there is the possibility of reclamation, which seems impossible for the wage slave in his battle with the amorphous and mostly unempowered bourgeois. More than this, however, is the internal form of the “slavery” envisioned, where the slave gladly enters the relationship and would not leave it for a moment. And the willing acceptance of that gift by the Master, returning a solid sense of responsibility that traditional marriage and traditional divorce simply leave to the courts. Mastery is not coercion, it in fact abhors coercion, and will only admit of its own existence if that mastery is provided to it by those it masters. Coercion looks for the weak and the subduable, Mastery only finds value in the mastery of equals.

Mitdasein