Category Archives: Topology

Style as Mastery

I’m going to talk about style and mastery, not simply the style of mastery, something that varies from person to person, something optional, but style as mastery, style as the necessary manner of doing things that changes their fundamental meaning from simple acts to dominating acts.

I was reading an article about dominance in a different sphere, specifically English football, or soccer.  The article was focused on a former Manchester United player, now manager of the nascent New York Cosmos, Eric Cantona.

Cantona puts paid to the idea of moneyball.  While statistically he was a good player, he scored plenty of goals but not the numbers recorded by van Nistelrooy, Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney; he assisted on plenty but not with the numbers of a Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs or David Beckham; as far as defending, United fans put their hands over their eyes whenever Cantona went in for a tackle, fearing he’d be sent off again for another badly timed lunge.   On top of that he only played for United for 5 years, retiring young even by footballing standards.  However in fan voting Cantona was picked as the top United player of all time, eclipsing Rooney, Ronaldo, Scholes, Beckham, George Best and Sir Bobby Charlton among many other greats.

The article made the point that after years of mediocrity (United hadn’t won the title for 25 years before Cantona joined, they won 4 out of 5 in the years he was there) Cantona not only taught United how to win, but how to win with authority.  Not the authority of quantity, outscoring opponents massively on a regular basis, but the authority of style.   Cantona’s style was dominating in that it said to the opposition “try this … you can’t?  That’s why you’ll never be at the level I am …”

Looking at a specific instance, with United up one goal in an away game Giggs sent a cross field pass to Cantona with plenty of space around him and one defender plus the goalkeeper between him and the goal.  The obvious possibilities as a striker are to either hit the ball quickly, low and hard, trying to catch the defender and goalkeeper before they’re able to set themselves to block it, or to knock the ball past the defender, run onto it and therefore have a shot available with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Cantona, instead, controls the ball and comes to a dead stop, facing the defender and goalkeeper.  Then he stabs his foot downward under the ball, causing it to float into the air, catch the cold Lancashire breeze and drift over the helpless goalkeeper into the net.   Rather than an ecstatic goal celebration, Cantona then stands there looking at the other team with a disdainful expression.  Not only has he put United 2 up, a difficult score to come back from, the other team is completely intimidated by the style with which he scored it.  I could give plenty of other instances of Cantona’s style, such as the pole dance celebration after a goal against Liverpool, but you get the idea. During his time at United Cantona was referred to, not just by the fans, but by the rest of the team, as “King Cantona” or simply “Dieu” (God).

In another game, Cantona starts from close to the corner flag, skips past a couple of defenders, stops in front of the goal while the defenders and goalkeeper slide across to try to block the coming shot, then casually chips the ball over them into the net.  Cantona’s composure to the point of casualness, his nerve in front of goal and the apparent ease with which he does what he does, is a big part of his domination of the other team.  Showing strain lets the other know about the difficulty involved, restoring some sense of power to them, whether another team or another person in an M/s relationship.  Cantona, like any good master, makes his dominance look easy and natural.

Within M/s dynamics initially there’s a focus on the what, rather than the how.  Once the what is decided and to some degree achieved, however, there is often a sense of “what next?”.  Any specific what’s, whether rules, protocol, etc. can become either habitual, tedious or both, yet dropping them comes with the fear of “vanilla death” creeping into the relationship.  What seems to be missing in terms of understanding how to further and deepen the relationship is an understanding of style as mastery.  Mastery never consists in what is done but in the way that it is done, the specific style of domination required to dominate the specific slave in the relationship.  At best, though, style is often seen as something optional, an accoutrement to what is done.  Someone like Cantona demonstrates that the style changes the act itself.  Conceding a goal can be recovered by simply scoring one yourself at the other end, but Cantona didn’t just score a goal, in a topological sense he removed the level playing field that had existed by putting the other team in its place, and its place was to be dominated by United.  From that there’s no easy recovery.

Of course style remains something personal, the style with which one does things is, in total, how you are as a person to others.  As a result there’s no manual available on how to use your specific style to further an M/s context, and people seem to be constantly looking for manuals or guides on how to make their relationship work.  Having a sensitivity to how the way you do things affects the person you’re with, though, rather than simply looking at how what you do affects them, can lead to a better understanding of what it is about your particular style that is effective, eventually leading to an understanding of the best manner in which to accomplish something specific while simultaneously enhancing the dominant position you enjoy in the relationship and maintaining the appropriate places you and your  slave dwell in.


Freedom, freedom and Waffling

I’ve been reading Master Obsidian’s House blog site some more and a paragraph in another post caught my eye as something I’ve also been concerned with. Part of the reason expressing oneself as a part of the M/s subculture is that our language betrays what we in fact do and how we structure meaning within the world. Speaking of a tendency within the community Master Obsidian makes the following observation on a common and becoming more common attitude:

freedom in its purest sense embraced is the freedom to do anything and to be anything at all. And if we truly are inclusive, if we truly are seekers of truth then we must conclude as often as possible that every man and every woman has the ability and the right to pursue what ever strikes their particular fancy. And perhaps even more importantly than that notion, is the notion that whatever a person comes up in their pursuit of getting their particular fancy struck as it were – is great and wonderful and not to be denied.

Freedom, for me, comes in two flavors. There is the a priori freedom that every human being possesses no matter what their life circumstances. Without this freedom we would be unable to comport ourselves towards anything whatsoever. It is a necessity of being-in-the-world itself. This is properly called ‘ontological freedom’, which can be explained as the freedom of being itself. The other sense of freedom is the practical freedom that one possesses within-the-world. This is a matter of circumstances, and is also a matter of degrees. The proper term for this is ‘ontic freedom’, which can be made clearer as the freedom to dispose of beings as one wishes.

Enhancing the ability, if the individual chooses, to exercise ontic freedom is a noble pursuit. The as-one-wishes is crucial though, as not everyone wishes to exercise every possible ontic freedom. As well, circumstances being what they are, no one can exercise every freedom they may wish. We are all constrained by law, by custom, by societal opinion, and by our own ethical sense.

Choosing to not exercise freedoms may be due to ethics or societal norms, or it may be a more personal choice in that an individual may simply not feel comfortable exercising a good number of freedoms. If this number is great enough they may choose to enter into a D/s or M/s relationship, depending on the degree of unfreedom they feel most comfortable with. In an M/s relationship, once the choice is made it is made in a permanent sense, unless one is willing to break one’s word in an important manner.

Whatever that person, who is now a slave where continued consent is not required, may suddenly feel the urge to express may now only be expressed accordng to the will of the Master . The slave has given up the freedom to “get their particular fancy struck” unless it happens to coincide with the Master’s particular fancy at that moment. That ontological freedom is still present cannot undermine ontical slavery.


The Situation and State of Absolute Enslavement

The situation in Absolute Enslavement is that of a limit-situation, but in a sense every situation is a limit-situation, though this is not always transparent to those within the situation. In a transparent limit-situation something of the Absolute comes to the fore. It is my contention that the Absolute is that which partakes of the always excessive-to the-situation, or the Void.

Firstly the Void is not the classical physics notion of “Space”. Unformed matter, as Aristotle pointed out correctly, would be indistinguishable from such a concept of Void. Matter is formed space, as the fundamental particles of matter have no mass, and space has a “fabric” that can be distorted into form.

The Void, then, is punctual (there is a proof of this in the ZF system of set theory but I’ll leave that alone for now). This point is, in itself, the point of Being, that is always in excess of any given situation. This is the Void, the unpresentable, the unnatural, the source of terror to any given Situation, that is hidden away by the situation’s reduplication in the State.

The Site of the Situation is the proper place for some “thing”. Each situation has a “point of Being” that in a hidden way structures the Situation and makes it appropriate or proper for that particular being, yet always remains excessive to the Situation and therefore the point of that Situations finitude and destructibility.

Site and Situation come from the Latin Sitere, which also means to let, permit. “What is permitted” is what is appropriate to the situation. The State of the situation then is what is expressly permitted, while the Situation is the extent of the real possibilities inherent in it. In the M/s situation what is expressly permitted is up to the Master, and is made explicit in the slave’s ongoing training. In this sense the Master is the State. In large part, then, the slave has to follow the Master’s directions, however there are always things extant in the situation that are excrescent or singular to the State.


Ontology and Mathematics

It occurred to me lately (not much wonder since my background is in symbolic logic and philosophy) that mathematics is actually the true language of Ontology, the language that specifically speaks about non-objects, things that are not things, that don’t take part in being, because it is a topology of Being itself, which is never a being. While many things have followed on from that thought I am still working out the most basic of them – the poietic descriptions of Being have been followed by philosophy from Plato to Heidegger, and are therefore far more developed than conclusions that might be able to be drawn from mathematics, but the mathematical conclusions have a much better chance of being communicated to a population no longer in love with or trusting in poetic license.