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Sexual servitude and enlightenment--Part I
Sexual servitude and enlightenment--Part I
I have been exploring the worlds of explosive sexuality for many years now. I suppose you could place individual attitudes and beliefs about the sexual experience along a continuum running from perverse chastity (which is in itself a perversion of the natural order) to absolute sexual servitude. At the extremes of the spectrum a curious overlap can occur in regards to the individual, subjective experience. The chaste individual who seeks truth in this life can, if their sensitivity has been developed, experience moments of ecstatic glory, spiritual orgasms and visions like those described by Theresa of Avilla and Augustine. That particular path to “enlightenment” is one of denial, asceticism and for the most part misery. On the other hand there are those individuals who at some point in their lives embrace their sexuality, seek to experience all that it can provide for them and they embark in some cases on an altogether different path. The path of excess.
Both types embark on a journey of discovery that leads to a similar psychological/spiritual state. The state of deindividuation, they both stare into the void and their responses to the experience are individual, though masked in the guise of their cultural expectations. To individuate in this world means to make a distinction between who you are and who you are supposed to be. Culture plays a vital role in this process, as do innate qualities of intelligence and creativity. Most people simply accept what they are told and identify themselves as a member of a particular culture. The tormented saint identifies herself with the role of her calling, but within that role is driven to become one with her god, to both distinguish herself within the order and to achieve a sacred union with the divine. The slave to pleasure is no less dedicated. She seeks likewise to achieve that sense of surrender, of total immersion in the experience of sexual abandon through individuating herself apart from the bulk of humanity. Hers is the path of darkness we could say in that through her journey she will become more and more identified with that part of her that is animal, bestial and truly human. In Freudian terms the saint seeks to subsume herself in the Super-Ego and the sinner in the Id.
The primary difference for the two paths lies in the necessity of the latter to have a guide, a confidant, a trusted friend to fill the role of Master/Mistress and to help to ensure the physical well being of the slave/submissive. The extreme forms of this relationship have progressed through many stages of, for want of a better term, voluntary dehumanization. Beyond the more easily understood dynamic of losing oneself in an alternating rhythm of pleasure and pain the dehumanization aspect, especially of D/s (dominant/submissive) relationships, involves the submissive assuming the role of an animal, an automaton, a piece of furniture etc. In some circles there is a real art form to this process and the subjective experience can be one of overpowering, and paradoxical freedom.
There are hazards, of course, to the development of a D/s relationship. Eileen Zurbriggen of UC Santa Cruz has spent some time doing really excellent research, from a feminist perspective, on the costs and outcomes of BD/SM, D/s relationships. The concern, of course, is that those who engage in these practices are, in fact, mentally ill. Fortunately the research has shown that sexual practice between consenting adults is not a reliable indicator of any disorder (the lack of sexual practice however is another story). Nevertheless the world of submissives has its fair share of addicts and schizotypal personalities, the world of Doms and Dommes have a few narcissists and fragile egos, but for the most part people are just people, neither good or bad, just looking for their own individual thrill, their own personal path. Research has shown that there is a slightly higher instance of pathology within those males who have only strictly identified themselves as “dominant”, but with the submissive roles there is no increase in pathology over the general population.
In my own experience I have sought out both roles. In the end my particular sensitivity and natural inclination as a teacher and guide have led me to embrace the role of a loving dominant. I am not alone, though it is somewhat rare, in my focus on the spiritual path. In point of fact I am not personally a sadist, I have no qualms about using needles, or any other devise to bring my masochistic playmates into “the light’, but I personally do not have any erotic connection to the causing of pain itself. In fact my biggest turn on occurs when my partner has been transported, transformed and her (in some cases his) body is racked with animal undulations and moans.
This world of play is not for the inexperienced. The unique desires of each individual playmate must be taken into consideration; role-playing for instance provides a powerful backdrop (as in Gestalt therapy) within which we can enact otherwise impossible and tabooed scenes. For instance each time Daddy his little girl, or the Priest performs sacrilegious acts on the body of his parishioner, or Satan whispers into the ear of the little Christian woman or any of the thousands of other possibilities are employed both partners push back their boundaries a little, both experience an intoxicating flood of pleasure, pain, fear, guilt and shame and from this heady emotional stew ecstasy and a unique bond between the two develops.
These types of activities can be found in the guise of any of the standard relationships that develop in the BD/SM, polyamory world. The path of the slave however leads through this territory and into the land of total and absolute surrender. That path I will address next time more fully. In the meantime you may want to check out the material culture of this world, Michael Manning is a renowned freak and an amazing artist whose work is well known in the community. The “Other World Kingdom” is an alternative community in Czechoslovakia run entirely by Fem-Dommes. The standard list of literature and film includes movies such as “The Secretary” and “Caligula”, literature abounds with “Venus in Furs”, “The Story of O” and the more scholarly work of Georges Bataille. Till next time-