I’m the King of Jubilee Jumbles

artist Nayland Blake natters on about art and other things

Posts Tagged ‘bdsm

Innies and outies…

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I’ve been stewing about the CHC flap. But when I think of what I want to write about it, there isn’t much for me to say. I’m not a member of CHC. I have no standing in the organized leather community. I identify as a freak, not as a leatherman. In part this is because whenever I encountered the leather community in my early years, I could see that it wasn’t going to meet my needs, especially my need to socialize with and be intimate with many different types of people. So I didn’t join in. It is much more my way to try to make something new than to try to change an existing thing. To form rather than to reform. I understand that that is not everyone else’s way. And so people want to reform CHC. Both people inside and outside of the organization. It seems to me that attempts to do that through the courts are a longshot at best.

But I think that bringing the discussion of the issue out into the open is all to the good. So while CHC is a private institution, their activities and policies are fair game for public discussion. The more people can talk about these issues, the more possibility for progressive action. Asking people to give an accounting of their actions is the best way to find connection and common ground. Change begins when people ask why they should accept the status quo. Even though you may not get the desired outcome (transmen at Inferno, say), you find your allies by speaking up. And when people have to defend their predjudices in an ongoing way, they tend to hold them less tightly.

To me the similarities between the CHC discussion and that surrounding the policies of the Michigan Women’s Music Festival are evident. Both speak to the mindset of a generation who had to struggle mightily to wrest cultural space from an environment that was unremittingly hostile. That is not something that can just be waved aside. From the inside that space probably looks fragile and besieged. From the outside it looks like a fortress of security, the only game in town. It is the cultivated mystique of Inferno as the ne plus ultra of the leather experience that also makes it into such a sought after forum for acceptance. You can’t make something exclusive and then be surprised when people want in.

My tendency is to honor the spirit of that struggle by attempting to find or found spaces that do meet my needs, and to avoid, rather than enter institutions that don’t share my values. There is a deeper discussion to be had here about the ways in which my various social privileges allow me to even contemplate this course as an option. I’m glad to have that discussion should people wish to.

Written by naylandblake

May 29, 2007 at 3:23 pm

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The oracle speaks…

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If you want to be free, get to know your real self.
It has no form, no appearance, no root,
No basis, no abode, but is lively and buoyant.
It responds with versatile facility, but its function
Cannot be located; when you look for it you become
Further from it. When you seek it
You turn away from it all the more.

– Rinzai ( d.867?)

The above quote comes courtesy of daily_zen. The above picture comes courtesy of the Manhattan Bridge. The emotions below them come courtesy of nothing in particular.

All at once a number of people I know are confronting the “real self” phenomena: which is my real self? what makes a “master”? when do I start or stop being gay? Many of us in so called marginalized communities have a complex relationship with the notion of identity. For people told that their way of being is wrong, it is natural to take refuge in the positive assertion of a singular identity. But any assertion of identity as somehow true, a true thing, leads one down a path where one ultimately ends up subservient to that identity. These days I try to think of identity as a tool, a tactic rather than as a possession. Many times I hear kinky people talk about “my dog, my little girl, my Dom, my slave” when they are talking about themselves, as if there were a cluster of separate individuals living inside of them. It may work for them but it doesnt work for me. It might help if each of those terms were followed by the word “way”: my slave-way, my puppy-way, etc. Then at least they would seem “lively and buoyant” as is stated above.

In a friend’s journal they asked the question “what makes someone a master?” One response is they are a master when someone calls them “master”. “I am I because my little dog knows me” wrote Gertrude Stein. I disagree (so did Stein as you’ll see below). Naming someone as a thing doesn’t make them that thing, even if they may wish it to be so, because people aren’t things. That is to say that a thing as a mental category is unchanging, and people continually run into trouble when they attempt to treat mutable experience as if it were unchanging. I say a person is a master when their actions are masterful. When they are moving “the master way”. At any moment that can stop or change. All day long I train people to become “Masters of the Fine Arts”. They don’t just become one when they are handed their diploma at graduation. So then what am I doing? Helping them to recognise the opportunities for masterful action in what ever situation they find themselves. I help them to move with “versatile facility”. I don’t believe that you do that by declaring one true path and belittling those who stray. (I guess that’s one more reason I’m not old guard)

I can see the argument that without stable identification it’s hard to trust a partner. But I would counter that between intimates, the ways in which mastery or submission are expressed are infinitely subtler than flagging right or left. Those broad semaphore signals may get you across the threshold with a stranger, but they aren’t much use when you need to take action.

I’ve always had a shape shifting way about me: changes in hair and weight, racial passing and confusion, blurred sexuality. It’s very common for people who knew me at one point in my life to not recognize me a few years on. I hope to remember that that’s an asset.

and now, since it’s so fun to read here is Stein’s Identity A Poem

Written by naylandblake

January 10, 2007 at 3:49 pm

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