I’m a big guy, 6’4” or so, and I still press my high school weights. I don’t concern myself overly much with physical threats, which may sound like my ego speaking but I don’t think it is. I’ve not been in a lot of fights in my adult life simply because I don’t look like a good bet to lose. As I was growing to manhood, however, there was always one thing that could reduce me to a quivering blob of spineless gristle, and that was feminine verbal rejection. No matter what subtle erotic machinations I would deploy, a careless word could be the final word in confidence subversion.
I’ve already noted that I was a bit slow on the uptake of bondage porn, so I was equally slow to learn that there could be such a thing as an effective gag. Even when I made the move to rope I thought gags were kind of ornamental, something to enhance a bottom’s feeling of helplessness rather than actually keep her from impugning my swagger and technique. When finally I became competent in the area I realized that enforcing silence was a consummation of the power granted me, and my poor ego was safe from the kind of withering indictment only woman’s lips could utter (just for the record, the disciplinarian in my family was my father – my mother was rather a cipher in the behavior modification department, and not the chatty sort. Thus do I part company with Dr. Freud).
What I thought I’d figured out was not merely my attraction to a well-constructed and applied gag, but what must account for its popularity as bondage bijou. If she’s gagged I am fully protected.
(It’s interesting to think of bondage as a means and a metaphor for protecting one’s self, and in that light it’s curious (and paradoxical), really, that among tops there appear to be comparatively few women attracted to doing bondage. One of them, my dear friend Suze, has written an authoritative compendium on gagging (and blindfolding) from the perspective of one who loves applying them and having them applied.)
There is, of course, more than one way of conveying disapproval, and after verbal condescension the eyes are the most verbose organ of communication. The principle above applies to the eyes and their quieter furies in the form of a blindfold. Thus did I for years make a case to myself for completely obscuring the faces of women I loved and in whose eyes and voices I’d otherwise be blissfully content to lose time and any thought of visiting upon them the sorts of privations lurking in the more lawless precincts of my consciousness.
That’s what I thought I knew.In recent years, through more concerted and intense play, I’ve come to a different view of things having more to do with the way in which I’m relating when I am fully in control. And relating is a weak word – merging is what I’m talking about here.
There is a line of reasoning regarding erotic objectification which I towed for a while in my right-on and callow youth which stridently opposed the transformation of woman from an individual and distinct personality into an object of gratification (of any sort). I did labor under this doctrine and others with respect to my kink, but have thankfully attained some equanimity with the advance of my years and consigned such cant to the wasteful pleasures of immaturity. The truth was and is that I do make out of my loving partners objects for my enjoyment, and in no way is this more clear than when I remove from my own view the betokenings of their character and personality as revealed in their physiognomy.
I might take up the matter of conceptually individuated self at some point in the future, but suffice it here to say that I don't set much stock by it as a point of physics or philosophy. Philosophy especially has spent a disproportionate share of its creative energy attempting accounts of self-hood with generally unsatisfactory results. A concept of self may indeed be required to elaborate an intelligible meaning to our lives, but intelligibility is not (to me at least) the end all and be all of existential legitimacy, nor would I argue for the necessity of my own existence because I've figured out how to be intelligible to myself (I haven't - with all due respect to Descartes, I am, therefore I think, not the other way around). Intuitively, I feel more aligned with the possibility that distinction and individuation are useful intellectual canards, that all is one solid block of reality, and that the world view of humble neutrino has much to recommend it.
When I look into a lover's eyes I see capital H Her. When I hear her voice, I hear Her. I sense the person to whom I have an attachment, whom I love, upon whom I visit my depredations and deep musings. When I remove from my senses who she is as separate from me I loose track readily of Her as individuated from me (or Me) and the boundaries between us soften that much more. In the most perfect of instantiations I fall fully into her and she for her part takes full receipt of me. There ceases, however momently, to be a her and me and I see that essential facet to intimacy wherein self is absent and the two of us cease to exist.
I glimpse something powerful and normally remote in this. Fully compromising all of who she appears to be is not necessary, but it is close to sufficient to engender the shift out of my own ego (what my dear Besu calls the "racket") and into a higher order of experience. In sacrificing individuation and becoming a gateway she absorbs me more completely than is possible when I cling to notions of my self and her self.
If the point of love is something other than to merge, to shuffle off the constructed facade of Me and be completely vulnerable, I cannot imagine what that might be. The trappings of SM, bondage, gagging, blindfolding, and such, just accelerate this. When I am most in love I am precisely that, in love, lost, really, to who I am, to where I begin and end.
(Cartoon courtesy of Dave Annis at rope-bondage.com)