Violence and Involvement – The Electric Dionysus – (Part 3)

BDSM: Violence and Involvement – Some Tendencies of Electric Love

Frank Booth: “You receive a love-letter from me, you’re fucked forever! You understand, fuck?!” – the speeding car, the sucking on amyl nitrite, the constancy of the rage, mixing roles between Daddy, Mummy, the child and the adult, Frank Booth is an upsurge out of reason into pure unbridled excess; an upsurge that culminates in a finalising violence – homo-erotic, hetero-erotic; sex short-circuiting with love short-circuiting with hate short-circuiting with rape short-circuiting with brutality, over-spilling in tears and anguish and violence. Frank Booth, in this scene, becomes the apex limit of the Electric Dionysus, the whole culmination of human experience all contained and unified in the same impact, exploding to the theme of Roy Orbison’s In Dreams. The limit of impulse, the absolute for which we ache, is drawn clearly in Booth – like the image on the TV screen, he is there at once, all things at once, and like the image on the TV screen or the promises of the shopping centre, he is very much in our dreams.

The BDSM lifestyle may then serve as a codified and ethical environment in which to explore this sort of desire; a space to experiment with this aching exile from the limits of impulse and explore the violence and transgression that Bataille felt would allow us to leave the discontinuous world of separate individualities and enter a continuous world of totalising subjective experience. BDSM then contains within it the possible blueprint for electric love and indeed offers itself in structure to the tendencies of the electric environment.

  1. A Sexuality of Images

    The BDSM scene possesses the potential to make good use of roles and scenes, images and narratives as well as ‘the human element’ which may be seen as a shortfall from ‘the image’, ‘the look’ or ‘the character’ one tries to project. In our fictionalised, narratised, overly advertised age, ‘the image’ of a person, ‘their look’, transcends the person themselves. One may say that a person gives themselves a Spectacular Appearance, an Image Appearance which amplifies the mundane quality of their actual, habitual and familiar human life. Something like this is what Houellebecq is getting at in the following passage:

    “It’s not weariness that puts an end to love, or rather it’s a weariness… born of… the impatience of bodies who … want to live, who want, in the lapse of time granted them, to not pass up any chance, … who want to use to the utmost that limited, declining and mediocre lifetime that is theirs, and who consequently cannot love anyone, as all others appear limited, declining and mediocre to them.” (Houellebecq, The Possibility of an Island,pg216-217)

    It is the conditions of our environment that have intensified this feeling of mediocrity when regarding ourselves and others and in doing so it has emphasised ‘the possible’ – which is itself only a dream, an image, a look.

    BDSM, by contrast, may serve as a sexuality of images, making use of objectification, self-narratisation and the assertion of one’s sex as an image or through a story or scene. The mundane ‘human element’ may be necessary as it may be deliberately obscured, debased and violated, its inconsistencies serving to make images more present and more solid. There is the image of the Dom and the image of the sub; the image of the torturer or the victim; the rapist or the monster or whatever. The Dom provides rules and a context by which some story or event can take place; the sub becomes the physical location and catalyst of that story or event. Cruelty may serve to identify a short-fall and bring a person back to their image or their role; that, or the human element may serve as the location of cruelty through humiliation or debasement. Such games serve to stimulate interest within the relationship. A relational erotics made up of events, transgressions and failures over one derived from mundane human interaction.

  2. Suspension and Involvement

    Through BDSM, power exchange, exploitative or debasing scenarios, there can be a profound involvement of communicating nervous systems that strive to encompass all the faculties of human experience. Through such encounters, one generates fear, power, shame, limits, punishment, rewards, tenderness, love, trust, abuse and exploitation. In cruelty, morality appears in the limits applied to that cruelty and the conditions for its cessation. ‘Love’ is not conditioned by the positive alone, but involves the negative and all things are allowed to appear in the same event. It is akin to McLuhan’s example of the airline executive who, understanding the diminishing distance between things in the electric mind, asked corresponding executives in other parts of the world to send him a pebble from their respective countries. When asked why, he replied that he would be able to create one spot where you could touch every part of the world (McLuhan, Understanding Media,pg. 251). BDSM may stand as love’s codified, ethical equivalent – a place you can touch all parts of human experience at the same time.

    Besides this aspect, BDSM and negativity in love allows a contact with experience our hyper-positive and Spectacular environment doesn’t cater for. In the electric age, media simulates a perpetual contact between ourselves and each other and it simulates the consequences of this contact; there is a pressure to be self-aware, but self-aware in relation to simulated outcomes; we are involved with ourselves, but mostly through our various screens – electronic, textual, discursive; we are hyper-aware of our pre-interpreted desires, presented with the desires of others and then angst over and deter the pre-assumed effects of those desires on others. Lust, which was chaotic and free, which knew nothing of language, egalitarian negotiation or reasonable pleasure, now aches in the neurotic anxiety of its own imprisonment – as if in a psychiatric panopticon governed by an artificial, collective consciousness imposed by media.

    Lust then yearns to speak its negative aspect and may find ways of doing so inside BDSM communities. In doing so, either as the transmitter of this negativity or as its receiver, there is a realising effect in that one escapes and suspends their Spectacular, artificial reality and reconnects with relational experience. This experience may be extreme, but it is this extremity which gives it its realising power, providing to a relationship the authority of actual stakes. BDSM relationships take account of the collective cultural neuroses that surround relational negativity – psychology, sociology, egalitarian idealism – and codifies the conditions by which we may ethically rid ourselves of this whole artificial, de-relational edifice.

  3. A New Relational Eros

    “You’ll see your woman hanging upside down, her features covered by her fallen gown.” – (Leonard Cohen, The Future,, The Future)

    In the past, love was founded on scarcity, necessity, social limits on sex and decency, marriage and religious ritual, a structure of meaningful seduction, say, where there were ‘real men’ and ‘real women’ with their actual social functions contra the information age’s ‘illusion of seduction’ where we have to, to some extent, pretend there is a ‘woman’ or a ‘man’ – gender roles and relationships in the information age being fluid and having no structural constancy. The former love is a love of a literate and mechanical age – a love that emphasized protocol, courtship, a certain appreciation of details and particulars. With electric love however, there are no such pressures of continuation or appreciation and as such we see the disintegration of the family at the spousal level which is gradually seeping down into the parent-child relationship. In the mechanical or literate age of ordered fragmentation, bodies resisted one another, seduced one another. Today, there is no resistance. The following from Possibility of an Island is bitterly hilarious. The narrator is speaking of his lover’s sleeping with her ex and one of his friends:

    “She had met her ex by chance in a bar, he was with one of his friends, one thing led to another, and so, in short, the three of them ended up in the same bed.” (Houellebecq, The Possibility of an Island,pg. 234)

    The colloquial, commonplace nature of the expression ‘one thing led to another’ is the essence of this humour and well expresses the disappearance of sexual resistance.

    BDSM relationships however – perhaps surprisingly given the widespread promiscuity and emphasis on sex – provides a different rule-set for relational appreciation and continuance. The love in a BDSM set-up in the first place restores a certain scarcity – desires can be quite particular. Moreover, they place emphasis on scenes, roles, images and narratives, rather, say, than features and details. There is an exchange of dreams and imagination as well as a sense of actual contact and relational reality – through say fear or force or emotional disturbance. If modern sexuality requires we produce our image and our role, a BDSM relationship may produce the necessary force to secure that role or image. If you escape your submissive role, you will be, by necessity, put back there. Likewise, it allows a space in which to explore both negative and positive love and the dissolution of constancy and identity in the act of sex, power or violence. We produce then a relational erotics of scenarios, rules and dissolution over one of detail and courtship. The value shifts from praise, beauty and ritual to what can be exchanged between imagination and desire.

At the beginning of this essay, we opened with Dionysus cursing us with an exile from reason, that delirium and madness would ensue as we lost our contact with reason. This is the nature of the Electric Age: by mechanical reason’s standards, it is already delirious and mad. McLuhan refers to this state of affairs via Humpty Dumpty and his fall from the uniform, fragmentary and self-repeating wall. He says ‘The integral and unified egg has no business being on a wall anyway… They are the deadly enemies of integral beings like eggs. Humpty Dumpty met the challenge of the wall with a spectacular collapse.’ (McLuhan, Understanding Media,pg. 249). We too are integral beings facing the challenge of the wall – we inherited little but walls – and as such are surrounded by spectacular collapse. Though the King’s horses and his men couldn’t repair Humpty, McLuhan concludes this does not mean electromagnetic automation can’t repair him. Above is an analysis of collapse and an endeavour to find a structure to repair it, live in it, escape it. An integral relational sexuality rather than a fragmented and structural one. The hope is that love and relationships are sustainable through different means – through the exchange of dreams and integration which, when harmonious, may bestow a preservatory value on the relationship itself.

Part One
Part Two

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    • Mr. Divine
    • April 30th, 2011

    Hi what do you think of this piece of writing?
    Not only did the two princes look as if they’ve come to a circus performance both of them were stoned off their faces.

    Prince Harry had been bonging it away just before the car trip.

    A lot of sober people think that these people are nice when in fact they were nice because they’re stoned out of their minds .. Prince William and Prince Harry were suppressing their stone headed giggles throughout the ceremony.

    The Queen too is on a form anti-psychotic that enables her to get a good night’s rest.

    Prince Charles takes ‘lifters’, organic concoctions of herbal medicines designed to give your body a speed like high with a opiumatic backdrop.

    Look at the eyes of Princess Breatice, big black eyes of a heroin addict .. addicted since she was 14. Notice how pissed off Andrew was with his daughters, urging them to get their arses into gear? Andrew, the man who likes his sexual partners young.. what’s he on? Whiskey By the Ton.

    Need I go with this circus performance? A women who in her twenties spends all the time in the mirror preening her wave and smile. That same wave and smile that all little girls do. Except this woman has had ten years practice. Was she good or was she good? I suppose you would be if that’s all you’ve been doing it for 10 years.

    • Mr. Divine
    • May 4th, 2011

    So psychology major what do you think?

  1. Its relationship with the royal wedding sent me off into an indifference spiral.

    • Mr. Divine
    • May 5th, 2011

    You and your indifferent spirals.

    • Mr. Divine
    • May 6th, 2011

    You’re a mysterious being. Even your name is like a black cat. Mysterious.

    I had an eventful week. Got some lambs butchered. Got into an ‘argument’ with the mobile butcher about the size of my lambs. Anyway it was really difficult with this guy because he talks to you while he’s holding a knife. It’s a very sharp knife and he’s dead experienced in cutting with… that’s his job. He’s also evil. No I mean evil on the end of the ‘mean’ side. He kills thousands of animals every year and his eyes are like black piss pots in the snow. His casual assistant told me that he was a mean bastard and that I shouldn’t listen to what he says and that I shouldn’t sell any of my sheep. The guy plays evil tricks on people and he’s been divorced twice.

    What about your week? Ms. Mysteriously Psychologically

    • Mr. Divine
    • May 6th, 2011

    You writing takes ages to read! I have to keep on reading it.

    • Mr. Divine
    • May 6th, 2011

    I just watched that video you posted. It’s a bit ugly at the end .. but nothing worse than UCL Unleashed ( I watch that) . It’s a bit dark most of the way through. I hope you have plenty of colourful moments as well .. or are you a darksided complusive post-modernist man?

    It’s funny being here on acres and seeing a bit more life and death than usual; it sorts of ‘changes’ you. That and the fact that you’ve had a good run,

    • Mr. Divine
    • May 6th, 2011

    It’s funny how people think ‘madness’ is dark and violent when in fact it isn’t the vast majority of the time.

  2. The above isn’t so much about madness as it is an explanation for the increasingly untenable nature of reason. Impulse and emotion speak more to us. Reasonableness feels like a pretty meagre last resort.

    I’d imagine coutry life keeps you attached to life in a way the city or virutal life doesn’t.

    You’d probably fair better assuming this: “or are you a darksided complusive post-modernist man?” than the Ms. line.

    • Mr. Divine
    • May 7th, 2011

    I’m not sure if there isn’t just one ‘real’ life. Country life is now four years old for me. Living on acres is different. You see life and death on a daily basis and if you’re lucky you can move with the ‘rhythm’.

    Lambs are born and they grow and we eat them. Chooks lay eggs and I eat them for breakfast. Chooks die. Cats kill mice. There’s lots of mice at the moment. Lucky we have two ace cats killing the mice.

    I have four kids and 24 sheep and 15 huge 200 year old gum trees. These are some of the fruits of my loins!

    I see the grass that is grown and the lambs that eat it and I eat those lambs. I’ve been having liver, hearts, balls for breakfast with two eggs for the past week from my own sheep. And I’ve been getting stoned from my own prganic weed.

    I bleed a bit from the fencing I am doing. Have you ever thought about fences? They break the land into different climatic ‘regions’. They create shade and wind break and soil ‘collection’. If you water them they become like an oasis. Ditches are like that as well. Put the three (fences, ditches and water) together and you’ve got fertility. Add the right amount of sunshine and you’ve got growth.

    You really see land when you have sheep.

    Will you ever tell me about you ..and what sort of gender neutral/work that one out if you can’t message was that of yours? Why don’t you just tell me straight, you black cat you.

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