Friday, 2 October 2015
Where do stories come from? What inspires a story? Whether it is Romance or Erotica, Horror or Adventure; any genre that you can think of, they all have a beginning; the germ of an idea. Anything can be a source of inspiration for the creative writer. Our night time dreams; our waking dreams. Newspaper articles, childhood, other writer’s stories. Jealousy, fear, loathing, desire, love, hate, death, grief, greed and of course sex: every emotion that you can think of can spark a story.
My favourite writer of plays for television, Denis Potter talked about his own torment about the creative writer's calling, a word with religious significance to Denis. He weaves together his only partially assimilated realization that God and sex, guilt and anger, longings and frustration are inescapable aspects of his creativity.
I wonder about a writer like Edgar Allan Poe. I wonder what he thought about his feverish writings in the cold light of day; those hallucinatory worlds; those bloody visions.
Psychoanalytical theory is interesting. Freud talked about “the return of the repressed”. Our dirty thoughts, our bad thoughts will find a way out, whether in our dreams, or for writers, through our stories. Jung talked about “the Shadow”. We must acknowledge our dark desires; again, perhaps as writers, we face stuff we’d rather not face in reality, in our stories.
If it is absolutely impossible to give our fantasies a voice then the old Mythologies are there to help us; to teach us that there is nothing that we can dream up that the Myths have not already confronted.
The Mythologist, Joseph Campbell (“follow your bliss”) felt that Americans, both the general public and professionals who worked and studied overseas, were uninformed with regard to the world's myths and cultures. The Myths have a wisdom that is relevant to us, even today, in modern society.
My writer friend, Jan Vander Laenen and I have talked about the roots of our stories on numerous occasions. Jan and I both write Erotica; the sort of Erotica that some would describe as Pornograhic. Neither of us can reach a conclusion that satisfies us both. Here are Jan’s thoughts.
Unusual associations – this is something I read in a book about creativity – are frequently made in the nebulous zone between falling asleep and waking up. During an afternoon nap, I suddenly wake up with a start and with a complete story in my mind. It seems a repulsive story to me. Nevertheless, I hope to develop it into a novella one day – not with the title “The Foundling”, which gives away the point, but, rather, “Sabrina”.
Sabrina “works” as a shemale in the pine forests around Torre del Lago. On a porn website, her profile has the name “assbirth” on account of her being able to dilate her anus in an incredible way using all sorts of objects and her greatest fantasy being the ability to bear a child at any time. Her movies are almost surreal: after some investigation in the area of the average head for a baby, she should indeed be able to do this.
One day, she finds a newborn baby boy in the forest, a foundling. She takes him home with her straightaway and rubs Lubrifist all over the baby. And then she manages to have him reborn out of her arse - the renaissance! The baby suffocates, of course.
She hides the child’s body under a bush in the woods. The corpse is found and the police soon arrest the real mother, who is prosecuted and brought before the court. They don’t know what to do about the anal mucus and traces of Lubrifist at the time.
Sabrina sells her movie as a “nasty”. She has no sense of guilt whatsoever. And perhaps she will never get caught. Her deed becomes an urban legend.
Before writing it out in full, I will have to ask for counsel from the ghost of Pasolini during the night. Maybe have a chat with a shemale. Preferably not a viado from Brazil but, rather, a real Italian – I feel I understand the way they think. Fate will help me run into the right person to make this tale into a long story.
It is 1968 and I am 8 years old, sitting in the third class of the boys’ school in Tongerlo. Master Verboven is giving a history lesson, relating all the gory details of the plague epidemic in 1348, how people suddenly get a sore throat and lumps and languish under the most excruciating pain for a day and a half, how the streets are strewn with rotting corpses, and how nobody knows what to do to escape the horrors of the Black Death.
I feel scared. My throat contracts. I start sweating and run out of the classroom in panic, from Abbey Street, past the parish church, towards Trannoy Square and to my GP, Doctor Caers. He consoles me, gives me a tablet to calm my anxiety attack and tells me I have indigestion.
“Now go home,” says the doctor in a fatherly manner - we live a little further on. “But it’s only half past three, they expect me to be at school. Can I stay here till four o’clock? If I get home earlier, my parents will be really angry and maybe even hit me.” “Ok”, says the doctor. From that day, his wife will only talk bad about my parents.
When my elder brother lays in a coma for two weeks in 1978 and eventually dies from injuries suffered in a road accident, this Mrs. Caers tells everyone it is a concealed suicide and that my parents do everything to make life a misery for their children. My dead brother. I am seventeen. And I do not go and pay my respects to his body, nor that of my grandfather when he wastes away with grief six months later. In fact, I don’t see my first dead person until I am thirty-seven years old.
Strangely enough, I develop an unhealthy predilection for horror from childhood. “Godfather Death” is my favourite fairy tale. As an adolescent, I discover Edgar Allan Poe. And Dracula. And Frankenstein. And Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
My first book, “A Spark of Genius”, appears in 1988. Stories about suicide, crushed phalanxes, abused children, corpses and skulls. In an Italian and Brussels atmosphere – in Brussels, everyone drinks the famous “half & half”, a mixture of sparkling wine and white wine in a champagne flute. Mrs. Caers rings the doorbell. She has come to congratulate me on my first book and presents me with a gift of a bottle of sparkling wine and white wine. For a “half & half”.
So I don’t see my first corpse until the age of thirty-seven. My 89 year-old grandmother. I go to see her at the funeral home. I speak timidly to her: “Grandma, I’m here.” I make the sign of a cross on her forehead with my left index finger. And my legs feel they will give way. “Zet aa ressekes”, “Sit down,” says the funeral director in Lebbeeks dialect as she pushes a chair towards me.
I come out confused. And go for a cup of coffee in the café on the other side of the street. I have to go to the toilet. So, at the urinal I take my member out of my pants with my left hand. I haven’t washed my hands. “There are now dead skin cells from my dear old grandma stuck to my penis”, I think.
That evening, my Albanian lover, Fittim, owner of the Fritland take-away restaurant opposite the Brussels Stock Exchange, calls by unexpectedly. Our romp is a relief for me. And when he takes my member in his mouth, I get outrageously worked up. “Now he has dead skin cells from my dear old grandma in his mouth”, I think.
2012. In the meantime, I have become very well-read in the genre of horror. And I am even a member of the World Horror Association. It is dusk and I am playing with the idea of visiting St. John’s Hospital as well as the mortuary. You know, as a horror writer I have to brace myself and dare to stand face to face with everything I write about: corpses, diseases and murders.
I push the idea away and walk towards the Coal Market. Fittim has since died and his sons have taken over the business. The take-away is also a meeting place for many homeless people, as well as drunks and beggars.
On the footpath in front of Fritland, I witness a scary scene. A drunk has bitten off his tongue during an epileptic fit. It gets stuck in his throat. He is choking to death. Bystanders look on. A drunken mate phones for an ambulance: “Je crois que c’est grave,” – I think it’s serious -, he stammers.
That evening, not only do I see my second corpse, I also see someone in the throes of death. The drunk has turned as blue as a ‘smurf’, his eyes are bulging and blood is coming from his mouth. He is lying on his back and continues to convulse and shake uncontrollably for another ten seconds, upon which his soul departs from his body. I carry on walking and think about how fragile life is.
Crime of passion
I would almost want to start this alienating tale with the beginning of Poe’s “The Black Cat”: “For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief.”
My story is set a few years back. I literally immerse myself in everything that
has to do with horror: books, movies and theoretical works. The English translation of my horror story entitled “The Sleeping Beauty” receives nothing less than a Bram Stoker Award in America. I am also invited to attend a congress on the aforementioned Edgar Allan Poe, and a New York horror publishing house is issuing my recent story entitled “Lise”, which is a cross between “The Night Porter” and “Flatliners”, in a compilation. So yes, of course I am proud of myself!
My love life is also doing ok. A year earlier, I run into an ex-lover, Mimoun from Algeria, and we start to develop a relationship. We are in love with each other, which means, of course, that the devil known as jealousy also rears its ugly head. Using his own key, Mimoun drops into my apartment at the most unexpected time, fearing to catch me in bed with someone else.
I don’t ask him any questions. Very early in our affair, I think I can smell a different perfume on his stomach. Right at the beginning of our affair, I find a single louse in my pubic hair. A French fortune-teller tells me our love is pure and that a happy future lays in store for us.
She also tells me that Mimoun knows another man somewhere in the city: he wants to finish with this fellow as quickly as possible but the person concerned does not shrink from employing dirty practices in order to keep the Algerian for himself – such as threatening to disclose Mimoun’s homosexuality to the members of his family.
A few nights before Halloween. I have seen Mimoun the evening before. I am at home alone and reach the conclusion that I, as a horror writer, have never seen a corpse apart from that of my grandmother or have first-hand experience of people dying, let alone attending a bloody operation such as a leg being amputated. I am a bit tipsy. I walk resolutely to St. John’s hospital and go a step further. I want them to let me into the mortuary.
The person I encounter there is Evert. He is the night nurse in the emergency department. He earns a bit more by also working as a waiter in the gay bar, “Le Duquesnoy”, where he served Mimoun and myself our drinks at the time - a Duvel beer for Mimoun and a small lager for me.
Evert looks at me aghast and takes me in his arms. “Mimoun’s family has to be informed, quickly; I will let you pay your respects before they get here.” He then leads me into the morgue. And shows me a lifeless Mimoun, with fatal stab wounds to his chest. Evert takes me by the arm and leads me outside. A group of North Africans come running up, relatives of my forbidden lover.
A crime of passion, my lord! The nasty guy somewhere in the city does not want to let Mimoun go alive. Is the rest a coincidence? Synchronicity? Mimoun’s soul giving me a sign? Why, in God’s name, do I run to the mortuary at St. John’s Hospital the moment Mimoun’s dead body arrives there?
My thoughts at the beginning of this post are partially my own, but are also influenced by sources from the Web and my dear friend Jan Vander Laenen
Thanks to Mister Mojo for reminding me of Joseph Campbell. You can follow Mister Mojo at Twitter; @FunkedUpRadio
Jan Vander Laenen loves to hear from his readers, his email is; email@example.com
Friday, 25 September 2015
The beacon fires in the British towns and villages smouldered. They had smouldered since 1815 and the threat of French invasion. All through Napoleon’s incarceration on the British island of Saint Helena they smouldered and even with the death of Napoleon in 1821 the beacon fires never quite went out. The British are nervous and protective of their little island.
But invaders come in many guises and they find a variety of ways to break down resistance. It only took a tiny crack in a sturdy oak door and our popular culture was set ablaze and the beacon fires flared once more.
In 1897, Bram Stoker breathed on the smouldering kindling when he published his horror novel “Dracula”. The kindling had been stacked up for centuries, in the form of mythologies, rumours and stories; those creepy tales whispered about Vampires. Creatures of the night; the undead, seeking you out, to sink their fangs into your tender jugular and drink your blood; draining you. The stories go back thousands of years. Now, in 2013, the beacons have crossed oceans; the fires flame fiercely, proclaiming that the old stories are still being told and new tales are being written.
Stoker could have had no idea, that his short novel would precipitate a whole genre of writing that would hold sway on our collective imagination for decades.
Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, the novel's influence on the popularity of vampires has been singularly responsible for many theatrical, film and television interpretations throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
From the beginning of history, vampire-like spirits and beings have been recorded. The Akhkharu were blood-sucking demons, written about back in the time of Sumer. We’re talking about 5,000 years BC. The ancient Chinese wrote about "hopping corpses" which would go around and consume a victim’s life essence (commonly known as chi). Even ancient Egyptian lore had a story where the goddess Sakhmet was consumed with bloodlust. From the earliest of times, vampire like beings have been prominent in folklore from several different cultures.
The most well-known versions of vampire myth are those of the Slavic and Romanian cultures, which, due to their proximity, are similar. And it is from Eastern Europe, that Stoker’s Count Dracula originates.
There are several reasons that a person may become a vampire, such as unnatural death, birth defects, or conception on certain days. Romanian legend gave rise to the belief that being bitten by a vampire would doom one to become a vampire after death. Both Slavic and Romanian myths hold the belief that, with the advent of a vampire, there would be deaths of livestock and family members of the vampire. The favoured way to kill a vampire in these two myths is by driving a stake through the heart, decapitation, and if necessary, dismemberment. Slavic and Romanian vampire myths have given rise to the most popular world-view of vampires.
But what’s the fascination? Why the endless retelling of this old story? Are we playing with danger from the safety of fiction? The horror of vampires is very real; I should know. I spent my adolescence terrified of them; especially Dracula. I invented bizarre little rituals to ward him off and keep me safe. Positioning on my left side as I lay in my bed, was paramount -- as was a convoluted prayer; a mantra that I would recite over and over again. Sleep would be a long time coming.
The success of “Dracula” spawned a distinctive vampire genre. The vampire is such a dominant figure in the horror genre that literary historian Susan Sellers places the current vampire myth in the "comparative safety of nightmare fantasy".
We relinquish control to the vampire. He swirls his cloak around his victim and bites. His teeth penetrate us. It’s a reconstructed image of the sexual act; in fact actual copulation seems tame, compared with what the vampire can do. The victim has no control over his ghastly lover. The victim flirts with death.
But it’s not just the Count we have to fear. He is scary, but his entourage of female vampires more so. Female vampires are predatory and take their pleasure where they will. Women who take control of the sex act itself! Victorian men -- beware! The ideal Victorian woman was chaste, innocent, a good mother. She definitely wasn’t sexually aggressive; a predator.
The three beautiful vampires, Jonathan Harker, Stoker’s narrator, encounters in Dracula’s castle, are both his dream and his nightmare—indeed, they embody both the dream and the nightmare of the Victorian male imagination in general. The weird sisters represent what the Victorian ideal stipulates women should not be—voluptuous and sexually aggressive—thus making their beauty both a promise of sexual fulfilment and a curse. These women offer Harker more sexual gratification in two paragraphs than his fiancée Mina does during the course of the entire novel. However, this sexual proficiency threatens to undermine the foundations of a male-dominated society by compromising men’s ability to reason and maintain control. For this reason, the sexually aggressive women in the novel must be destroyed.
In a passage highly charged with erotic symbolism, Jonathan Harker, writes in his journal;
“I was afraid to raise my eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck -- she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight, the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed to fasten on my throat. Then she paused, and I could hear the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth and lips, and I could feel the hot breath on my neck. Then the skin of my throat began to tingle as one's flesh does when the hand that is to tickle it approaches nearer, nearer. I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the super sensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in languorous ecstasy and waited, waited with beating heart.”
The vampire lover is erotica personified. You relinquish control; you do nothing, other than give yourself up to the seduction.
Janine Ashbless suggests; “We don't fantasise about controlling vampires - we fantasise about how we have NO control over them. They are stand-ins for Death itself.”
Stoker’s narrator, flirts with the promise of an intercourse so erotic, that he will give up his life.
Later in the novel, Count Dracula has made his way to England, and sets about possessing the upper-middle class Lucy.
Once infected by Dracula, Lucy becomes sexually overt and aggressive, and is portrayed as a monster and a social outcast. She feeds on children making her the maternal antithesis as well as a child molester. In order to rectify Lucy’s condition she is sexually overpowered by her fiancée, Holmwood; the scene is witnessed by Jonathan Harker and Van Helsing. Holmwood penetrates her to death with a stake through the chest, a staking which is openly sexual in interpretation;
“the thing in the coffin writhed; and a hideous, blood-curdling screech came from the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions; the sharp white teeth champed together till the lips were cut, and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam.........He (Holmwood) looked like a figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper and deeper”
The killing of Lucy is a sort of legitimised gang rape, legitimised because the Victorian balance of sexual penetration from the female domain is back in its accepted station within the male domain.
The reasons for our fear of, and fascination with vampires change with the times we live in. To Stoker’s contemporaries, Count Dracula posed many threats to Victorian social, moral and political values: he changes virtuous women into beasts with ravenous sexual appetites; he is a foreigner who invades England and threatens English superiority; he is the embodiment of evil that can only be destroyed by reasserting the beliefs of traditional Christianity in an increasingly sceptical and secular age; he represents the fear of regression, a reversal of evolution, a return to our more primal animal state.
Think of the wealth of literature, film and television dramas that we wouldn’t have if Bram Stoker hadn’t written “Dracula.”
Perhaps they leave you cold -- I love them! I’m over my teenage angst about them. There’d be no exotic Lestat, from Ann Rice. No Hammer house of Horror. No vampires with a conscience; M.Christian wouldn’t have written his vampire novel; “Running Dry.” Neither would Janine Ashbless have written; "The Blood of the Martyrs" All wonderful stuff; my favourite writers digging around in my agonised psyche.
And then there’s those TV shows; “Buffy,” “True Blood,” “The Vampire Diaries.” A bloodletting, tinged with magic. I lose myself in a world, of exotic, erotic fantasy. A strange world of death and immortality. Stories that speak to us once again of an ancient, horrid rite and fear. And through the re-telling of the tale we absolve ourselves; we flirt with sex and death safely and sanely.
Friday, 18 September 2015
We’ve forgotten about the old gods, the gods of the wind and oceans; the forests and rivers. But if we’ve forgotten about them, they haven’t forgotten about us. They just choose to ignore us; but they are watchful in their slumber. Sometimes, perhaps, the old gods dream of us.
The problem with the old gods, is that when they decide to take their drowsy action, they are not at all discerning. They don’t really care who gets in the way; and why should they? As far as they are concerned, we’re none of us innocent. They don’t answer questions, those old gods; the judgement is final and if the little people get in the way, it’s too bad.
An atrocity is occurring and as usual, mankind is at the bottom of it. Mankind is damming the beautiful Cahulawassee River. Mankind, in the form of the power company, is going to turn the beautiful river, with its rapids, woodlands and panoramic views, into a dull, flat lake.
It will be a rape; a desecration. It is sacrilegious.
“Deliverance”, really is one of the great suspense films. And without being too fanciful, I do have that chilling sensation that something else is at work here. Whether that something else, is a manifestation of those old, primitive gods taking vengeance, or simply a group of city guys totally out of their depth, in the face of a world where the normal rules of civilisation don’t apply, I don’t know. But you do get the feeling that you need to keep looking over your shoulder. Maybe it’s the camera angles, maybe it’s the use of light and shade. But the hair stands up on the back of your neck; a primal reaction to the something that is creeping up behind you.
It’s been a while since I first saw it, but I watched John Boorman’s 1972 film, of James Dickey’s novel, “Deliverance”, last week. I hadn’t forgotten how good it is, but I had sort of forgotten about some memorable performances and stunning direction. I needed to remind myself of the chilling impact that the film had on me when I first saw it.
We join “Deliverance” at the point where four friends plan on a canoe trip down the Cahulawassee River. The four are in high spirits; there is a sadness that the beauty that they see before them, will soon disappear, but apart from Lewis, a weekend “survivalist”, played by Burt Reynolds, they bow to the inevitable.
In his review of “Deliverance”, Steve Rhodes informs;
“The movie opens disarmingly as Drew, played by Ronnie Cox, plays a good-spirited, impromptu duet with a young, backwoods, mountain boy playing his banjo. This hauntingly tranquil banjo music will reappear periodically during the film, as will scenes of the placid sections of the river. And there will be peaceful shots of roaring campfires and of the river at twilight, all to provide sharp contrast to the horror of their journey.
Different rules apply, out in the wilds of Georgia; they are far away from the tame influence of modern civilisation. Ironically that's exactly the quality that attracts the four urban businessmen of James Dickey's novel, the chance to pit themselves against Nature. Of course what they want is not actual risk but its semblance, a taster sharp enough to remind them that they're alive”.
Anything could happen -- and does.
Steve Rhodes continues;
“It's a palpable sensation, a horror so intense you want to curl into a foetal ball. The cast really does a superb job of communicating their terror, the certainty that they're mixed up in something beyond their comprehension. Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight, as Ed, take the ultimate honours in this, modulating themselves through the full gamut of emotion, moving from excitement to happiness to panic to grim desperation. Yet at the same time “Deliverance” never loses sight of their roots, the cultural decency that becomes something of a liability in this sort of situation. Ned Beatty, as Bobby Trippe and Ronnie Cox very nearly attain the same heights, with the former, central to one of the most harrowing scenes in any '70s film. Several times Boorman leaves you open-mouthed in shock, stunned at the enormity of what you're witnessing, yet the actors are good enough to make the material hit home without numbing. This is a world turned upside-down and they're living through it.
In his review, Damian Cannon tells us;
“Dickey's narrative is carefully structured for maximum impact, an effect enhanced in Deliverance by Tom Priestley's well-judged editing. The pace picks up with the film's memorable banjo duel and never lets up, not once. The characters are supremely ordinary and the cast, in a fine acting style, makes them believably naive. Thrust into the real-life Tallulah Gorge, the peril that they're in, barely seems fictional, thanks to the awesome camerawork of Vilmos Zsigmond. In his hands the river springs to life, toying with these unwise canoeists, pondering whether it should be merciful or merciless. Around these four there is scenery of intense hue and shade, a backdrop mighty enough to awe a brave man into weeping; yet they don't see it, so consumed are they by the desire to survive. It seems as though the hellish ordeal will never end, and in some ways it never does.
From start to finish, “Deliverance” is a film of rare power, focused towards a single end. It throbs with tension and fear, a reaction to the forces arrayed against our weekend paddlers. As the drama unfolds, Dickey skilfully guides you into contact with the characters, understanding their motivations. The four, Lewis and Ed leading, are well balanced, providing everything that the film requires. Merely watching them paddle, gaining confidence from their rapid-shooting success, is a delight. When the hillbilly conflict arrives, from the merest bad timing, it propels the film onto another level; yet the battle is mostly psychological, there's barely any contact between the two sides. This is where John Boorman's direction astonishes, in his conjuring of menace from thin air. He doesn't need to show us the danger, only the suggestion”.
1972 is a long time ago, but “Deliverance” is still an important, iconic film. Its indictment is profound and powerful. The accusation makes us tremble, because we know that we are all guilty.
“In 2008, “Deliverance” was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.” WIKI
This review was put together using sources from the Web.
Friday, 11 September 2015
“Six of the best for you!”
“On your knees!”
“How DARE you look at me!”
What was I doing? Exactly what they wanted. Needed. I dressed in a formal dress, high heels, pearls, sometimes an academic cape, and these men had come to see me for discipline and domination. Not the high boots, stockings and suspenders, hooker-with-a-whip type; they needed an older woman to understand them; to listen to their stories, and reenact events in their lives that they couldn’t move on from. Did their wives know? Some did. Most didn’t. Was it sexual? Some would say yes, others would deny the sexuality. In 10 years of being an English Disciplinarian… Dominatrix… Professional Mistress… (all these terms are used), my clients never once saw my underwear… maybe a cleavage, nothing more.
On the other hand, 90% of my clients were naked. Others wore appropriate clothing for their “scene”.
I had my own private rooms. I worked alone, 10:00 am to 5 pm. Strictly business hours, no weekends. The sort of men I saw were paramedics, surgeons, company directors, politicians (lots), barristers, AFL players, F1 race drivers (always busy during Grand Prix in Melbourne), and a couple of very famous group members when they were playing at the Palais in St. Kilda. School headmasters, teachers, taxi drivers, soldiers, a priest, a rabbi… Oh, I even saw a heavily tattooed bikie, bearded, cross dress! Oh yes, I had a wardrobe full of clothing just for my delightful cross dressers. Most were in the older age range. They were able to relate to me, rather than a twenty-something with no life experience.
I’m talking about the 90s, before the internet was popular. So my first advert – and I was pretty much a novice at that time – read “English disciplinarian, just arrived in Melbourne. Australian men need a damn good thrashing and I’m the one to give it to them!” In the first week I received 180 letters (which I still have!) addressed to my PO Box number. I could then pick out those that seemed genuine and respond. We met in a neutral place. One of those from that first week is still in contact with me. He’s nearly 80, and we occasionally meet up for lunch.
Initially I only saw “naughty adult schoolboys”. These were the men who had been to Catholic schools. Some had crooked fingers from the canings they’d had on their hands; some needed a good telling-off before a very formal caning. Many couldn’t function at all without a regular caning; a legacy from their schooldays. I should add that this need is not required as much these days, since the days of regular canings in schools have been over for many years. I saw myself, and still do, as a facilitator; a therapist. They arrived stressed and uptight, and left relaxed and able to get on with life.
It was theatre. “Scenes”. To be good at the job, you cannot hate men. You need empathy, and not laugh at some of the odd requests. For instance, one of my regular clients used to arrive with a bag of food, sometimes fruit, sometimes Maccas, cakes, pies. I had a rubber floor. He would lay down on the floor, fully clothed, and the food was strewn around him, and for 10 minutes I walked over him, and squashed the food, telling him I was squashing him. He would then jump up, say he’s OK now, and leave. He was well known to others in my field, so he didn’t just come to me.
One client came for severe torture. I won’t go into detail, but for two years that man had a very high pain threshold. Then one day he arrived, and he couldn’t handle any pain. He said in explanation: “my daughter has been battling cancer for two years; she is now in remission”.
One wife would phone me when her husband needed to see me. He was an adult baby, and I would put him in a baby blue romper suit, and a baby bottle. I did refuse to do any nappy changing! Another wife still asks me to see her husband and give him a good caning; she has MD and is no longer able to discipline him herself. We have become good friends, and I no longer charge. It keeps my hand in!
I could continue: so many interesting men (and some women), all highly intelligent, hard working, comfortable with their “need”, and generally men who had to be in control in their day to day lives. What they needed was, just for an hour, maybe two, to give up control to another; to get some balance.
Although I am approaching 70, I miss the interaction, the theatre, the therapy. Some of my peers are still, at over seventy, seeing the occasional client. But I am enjoying my life too much to be at the beck and call of others any more.
This blog post has been put together using sources from the Web.
Friday, 4 September 2015
Sometimes, something snaps inside our heads. We become disconnected; we can’t find our way. We are lost. We may be confused, babble, see visions. Sometimes, people take us away. The world whispers about us; around us. People say that we are mad.
And it is madness that inhabits the world of Ken Kesey’s novel, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. Not just madness, fear inhabits that world too.
I can’t claim, by a long way, to have read every novel written in the twentieth century, but I’ve read a helluva lot, and I really do believe that Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, published in 1962, is one of the finest. It’s startling in its originality; Kesey’s use of language is stunning in his poetic prose. He twists metaphor until it strains like tortured metal, and threatens to snap, and all the while, instantly, the reader knows exactly what Kesey is talking about. His novel deserves its reputation as a classic work of literature.
The narrative takes place in “the Big Nurse’s” ward in a mental institution. It sounds as if you are in for a tough read, but you’re not. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is funny, Kesey’s sharp sense of humour rescues the book from bleakness.
The novel is also poignant and ultimately heartbreaking.
The two main players in Kesey’s novel are McMurphy and “the Big Nurse;” Nurse Ratched.
Kesey has gravitas. His writing has dignity. Our emotions may be miniscule, set against the great profundities that human beings have to pit themselves against, but any writer who can make us think; “yes, I have felt like that too,” is worthy indeed.
Kesey demonstrates this understanding after McMurphy observes in the group therapy session, how the residents turn against Harding. “Pecking at him, like he was a wounded chicken”, all under the eye of Nurse Ratched and the doctor. McMurphy says that Nurse Ratched is a “Ball breaker” -- she sits with a small smile on her face as Harding is emotionally castrated.
The Chief describes Nurse Ratched;
“Her face is smooth, calculated, and precision made, like an expensive baby doll, skin like flesh coloured enamel, blend of white and cream and baby blue eyes, small nose, pink little nostrils -- everything working together except the colour on her lips and fingernails, and the size of her bosom. A mistake was made somehow in manufacturing, putting those big womanly breasts on what would otherwise been a perfect work, and you can see how bitter she is about it.”
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is told in the first person, by Chief Bromden. The Chief is a patient on the Big Nurse’s ward. He has been there the longest of all the patients, and despite being considered a hopeless case, he has learnt to carve out a life for himself. He knows how to survive. The staff and patients all think that the Chief is mute; deaf and dumb. He isn’t; he can hear as well as anyone, and if he chose to, he could speak. Through the Chief, readers are treated to a cynical look at society and its rules. He refers to the authority figures in the book as “The Combine”, in reference to the mechanical way they manipulate individuals. The story is really a modern day parable about the abuse of power.
The Chief introduces us to the ward. We immediately understand that this is a domain of lost souls. People with no power, who at some time in their lives have had their grip on sanity slip, never to regain their footing.
Enter, Randle P. McMurphy.
Faking insanity to get out of prison for a battery charge, McMurphy immediately begins upsetting Nurse Ratched’s routines, embroiling the two in a power struggle. As an upbeat character, McMurphy easily convinces the other patients—including the stuttering Billy Bibbit, the effeminate Dale Harding and the germaphobic George Sorenson—to gamble, to vote to watch the World Series on TV, to take a fishing trip and to start questioning the demands of the hospital staff. McMurphy is a strong, but flawed character; one who, at times, struggles with the expectations he has manipulated and the consequences he has brought about.
McMurphy represents the freedom that the patients have voluntarily given up – and it is McMurphy who shows them how to find the courage to reclaim their place in the world.
When McMurphy first enters the ward, the thing that immediately distinguishes him, aside from his lack of fear, are his jokes. He laughs out loud at everything, and makes fun of everyone. Laughter is very rarely heard in the ward, and by not taking anything too seriously, McMurphy is able to exert power over it. He manages to avoid any sort of insult or invasion by making a joke of it. And laughter is something that men do. McMurphy’s gut wrenching belly laugh is absolutely male. The Chief notices McMurphy’s calloused hands; his sunburnt skin. McMurphy is a man; a concept that the men in the ward have forgotten. Even through the pervasive odour of hospital smells, the stench of incontinence, the Chief scents on McMurphy;
“…the man smell of dust and dirt from the open fields, and sweat, and work.”
McMurphy, having bet the rest of the men that he can get the Big Nurse to crack within a week, makes his first step by the use of a long joke. The Big Nurse is unable to fight back because it takes her by surprise. By making fun of her, he subverts her authority, and eliminates any power she might have over him.
McMurphy tells the other men jokes in an attempt to get them to laugh, but such an act smacks of rebellion, and the other men are unable to accomplish it. Laughter is equated with strength and an ability to not take everything seriously. It also means having an emotional reaction to something that isn't fear, an idea of which the men of the ward are terrified.
When for the first time, the men take part in the joke, pretending to be dangerous mental patients, they frighten the people around them into treating them with respect, giving the men a feeling of power. They become a team against the world, which they always were, but a team with an ability to actively fight back. For the first time, the joke is at the expense of the society that has terrorized them.
McMurphy laughs at seeing the men the way they are, both laughing at them and with them. He is able to survive for so long against the world that has destroyed the rest of them because he can laugh at it. He takes everything seriously by taking nothing seriously. He doesn't deny that there is pain and hardship, but he refuses to let that define and ruin him.
But McMurphy misunderstands the enormity of what he has taken on. He is playing a dangerous game. These men, really are people who are very ill. They are emotionally frail and while McMurphy reminds them of what it is like to have fun, there is danger ahead. And Nurse Ratched is a formidable foe.
The Chief muses;
"I thought for a minute there I saw her whipped. Maybe I did. But I see now that it don't make any difference.... To beat her you don't have to whip her two out of three or three out of five, but every time you meet. As soon as you let down your guard, as soon as you lose once, she's won for good. And eventually we all got to lose. Nobody can help that."
McMurphy slips up and shows the danger of constant jokes. The Big Nurse warns him of the possibility of a lobotomy, but instead of taking it seriously, he turns it into a joke about his testicles. McMurphy has no intention of backing down at this point, but by turning the warning into the joke, he increases the chances of it being acted upon.
Friday is the day that the men go to the X-Ray room to get checked up. While they wait, McMurphy notices another door and asks where it leads. Harding tells him that it goes to the Shock Shop, and explains the theory behind electro-shock therapy. Once again, it is revealed that the Big Nurse has the power to order such treatment as well as lobotomies. McMurphy realizes that it's the system that's behind everything, and tries to explain this to the rest of them; how even if they got rid of the Big Nurse, things wouldn't change, really. The men don't understand, and Harding finally admits that they've noticed that he's stopped fighting against the Nurse. McMurphy agrees, and tells them he realised he had as much to lose as the rest of them. Harding tells him no, McMurphy has more to lose, since all the Acutes are there voluntarily. McMurphy can't believe this, and he starts accosting all of them, until Billy Bibbit breaks down.
"'You think I wuh-wuh-wuh-want to stay in here? You think I wouldn't like a con-con-vertible and a guh-guh-girl friend? But did you ever have people l-l-laughing at you? No, because you're so b-big and so tough! Well, I'm not big and tough.'"
It’s the beginning of a downward spiralling tragedy, that for the Chief culminates in triumphant liberation, and ends in disaster for others.
McMurphy gets the doctor on his side, and they organise a fishing trip. It’s a chance to remind the men of who they are, outside the confines of the hospital. On the fishing expedition the patients laugh and feel complete humans again. This happens with McMurphy's guidance, his laughter booming in the face of chaos.
But later, all the men who went on the boat trip have to take a special shower, because Nurse Ratched thinks they might have caught some sort of bug. While they're in the shower, the black aides attack George, trying to get him to put on salve. George refuses, because of his neatness obsession and pathological fear of germs. McMurphy steps in to defend him, and he gets in a fight with the aides. The Chief helps throw them off, and the two of them get strapped down and sent up to “Disturbed”.
Things are dangerously out of control for McMurphy. This passage, where they are driving home from the fishing trip, stands out for me. The Chief narrates;
“Then -- as he was talking -- a set of tail-lights going past lit up McMurphy’s face, and the windshield reflected an expression that was only allowed because he figured it’d be too dark for anybody in the car to see, dreadfully tired and strained and frantic, like there wasn’t enough time left for something he had to do…While his relaxed, good natured voice doled out his life for us to live, a rollicking past full of kid fun and drinking buddies and loving women and barroom battles over meagre honours -- for all of us to dream ourselves into.”
This is a story of sacrifice. While the Chief and McMurphy are waiting for Electric Shock Treatment, Kesey sprinkles his prose with Christ images.
McMurphy arranges himself willingly on the table in a crucifix; arms outstretched, his ankles clamped together, he’s clamped down at the wrists.
“They put graphite salve on his temples. ‘What is it?’ he says. ‘Conductant.’ the technician says. ‘Anointest my head with conductant. Do I get a crown of thorns?’”
Electro Shock Treatment is an obscene ritual and Kesey tells it so casually and that’s what makes it so horrifying. It is only when the Chief describes McMurphy’s body arcing, as the volts slam through him, that the reader offers up a silent scream.
“…light arcs across, stiffens him, bridges him up off the table till nothing is down but his wrists and ankles…”
The Chief is brought back to the ward, and the rest of the men greet him like a hero. They ask him all sorts of questions about what's going on with McMurphy, and when he responds, no one thinks it odd that the Chief is talking now.
The Big Nurse sees that McMurphy's legend is growing, and while he's away he's just getting bigger and bigger, so she starts making plans to bring him back down. The men anticipate this, and work out a plan to get McMurphy out of the ward that Saturday, forgetting it's the day that McMurphy has set up for Billy's date with Candy. They tell their plans to McMurphy when he returns to the ward, but he refuses to leave until after that night. He says to consider it his going away party.
McMurphy bribes the night aide, Mr. Turkle, with the promise of “booze and broads“, in order to get him to open up a window that night. Candy is late, but when she arrives, she's got a friend with her, the woman, Sandy, who was supposed to be with her earlier at the boat trip. The group hides from the night supervisor, and proceeds to get drunk on the liquor the women brought with them, along with whatever medication Harding can get out of the cabinet. Billy and Candy eventually sneak off for some privacy, and Harding tries to get McMurphy to leave. McMurphy asks why the others don't come with him, but all of them need a little more time. He asks Harding what made them so scared. Harding isn't able to say, exactly, just that they were beaten down by the rest of the world for the things they did, and who they were, and that they didn't have the strength to fight back. McMurphy says that he's always had people bugging him, and it's never brought him down that much. Harding admits that this is true, but that he's figured out who drives strong people like McMurphy to weakness.
"'Yeah? Not that I'm admitting I'm down that road, but what is this something else?'
'It is us.' He swept his hand about him in a soft white circle and repeated, 'Us.'"
It's five am, and McMurphy decides to get some sleep before leaving. He says goodbye to Harding and the Chief, then settles into bed. All of them fall asleep and don't wake up till the black aides come on the ward at six-thirty.
Harding tries to get McMurphy to leave in the morning, but he claims that he's too drunk too move. When roll call shows that Billy is missing, the aides and the Big Nurse do a room check. They find him and Candy in bed in one of the rooms. Nurse Ratched is shocked, and keeps telling Billy how ashamed she is for him, but Billy doesn't seem to notice, just gets his clothes together and comes out into the hall. He responds to her questions without a stutter. However, the Big Nurse knows what buttons to push in the end. "'What worries me, Billy,' she said- I could hear the change in her voice- 'is how your mother is going to take this.'" Billy immediately panics. He begs Nurse Ratched not to call his mother, and when the nurse refuses, he starts to blame the fact that he was in bed with a woman on everyone else in the room, saying they made him do it. He is taken away to wait alone in the doctor's office.
All the men sit down in the day room, and they tell McMurphy that they don't blame him at all, they know it wasn't his fault. He just relaxes and looks like he's waiting for something. The doctor yells for the nurse from his office, and she and the aides go running. She comes back alone, and speaks directly to McMurphy. She tells him that Billy cut his throat with some instruments in the doctor's desk.
"'First Charles Cheswick and now William Bibbit! I hope you're finally satisfied. Playing with human lives- gambling with human lives- as if you thought yourself to be a God!'"
She goes back into her office. The Chief knows that McMurphy is going to do something, and at first he thinks to try and stop it; but then he realises that he can't stop it, because he and the rest of the men of the ward are forcing McMurphy to do it. They force him to get out of his chair and go over to nurses' station. He rips open the Big Nurse's shirt, revealing those too large breasts, and tries to strangle her.
When the doctors and aides rip him off her, he cries out. The Chief describes it as;
“A sound of cornered-animal fear and hate and surrender and defiance, that if you ever trailed coon or cougar or lynx is like the last sound the treed and shot and falling animal makes as the dogs get him, when he finally doesn't care any more about anything but himself and his dying.”
McMurphy’s fate is sealed. When he is returned to the ward, he has had a lobotomy. The mythology of McMurphy lives on. The men on the ward discuss whether this ruined spectacle is really him.
“After a minute of silence, Scanlon turned and spat on the floor. ‘Ah what’s the old bitch tryin’ to put over on us anyhow, for craps sake. That ain’t him.’”
“‘Nothing like him,’ Martini said.”
“‘How stupid she think we are?’”
The chief knows it is McMurphy and he tries to think of what McMurphy would have done.
“I was sure of only one thing: he wouldn’t have left something like that sit there in the day room with his name tacked on it for twenty or thirty years so the Big Nurse could use it as an example of what can happen if you buck the system. I was sure of that.”
Nurse Ratched may think that she has won the game, but the Chief’s final actions before he leaves the ward, make it a hollow victory.
The title of the book is a line from a nursery rhyme.
Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn,
Apple seed and apple thorn,
Wire, briar, limber lock
Three geese in a flock
One flew East
One flew West
And one flew over the cuckoo's nest.
Chief Bromden's grandmother sang this song to him when he was young, and they had a game about it.
The inspiration for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest came while working on the night shift (with Gordon Lish) at the Menlo Park Veterans' Hospital. There, Kesey often spent time talking to the patients, sometimes under the influence of the hallucinogenic drugs, with which he had volunteered to experiment. Kesey did not believe that these patients were insane, rather that society had pushed them out because they did not fit the conventional ideas of how people were supposed to act and behave. Published in 1962, it was an immediate success; in 1963, it was adapted into a successful stage play by Dale Wasserman; in 1975, Miloš Forman directed a screen adaptation, which won the "Big Five" Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher), Best Director (Forman) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben, Bo Goldman).
Kesey was originally involved in creating the film, but left two weeks into production. He claimed never to have seen the movie because of a dispute over the $20,000 he was initially paid for the film rights. Kesey loathed the fact that, unlike the book, the film was not narrated by the Chief Bromden character, and he disagreed with Jack Nicholson being cast as Randle McMurphy (he wanted Gene Hackman). Despite this, Faye Kesey has stated that Ken was generally supportive of the film and was pleased that it was made.
Thanks to Jan Vander Laenen, for suggesting Gustave Courbet's Le Désespéré to head this post.
Friday, 28 August 2015
I’m talking about BDSM; Bondage and Sadomasochism, particularly, BDSM and the law.
Like all fetishes BDSM has a long history and for some people, sexual arousal is achieved through humiliation and pain.
It’s not just about inflicting and receiving pain and humiliating the submissive. It’s a negotiation, between adults, capable of making their own decisions in a simple and loving way. It’s a two way compliment and commitment from one to another. It’s a relinquishing of power, an exchange of power.
An online friend tells me:
“The person who gets a thrill from having someone else control him/her is simply enjoying an aspect of themselves not everyone has. A spanking can be the most sensuous act between two people who enjoy it. The feeling/shock of being spanked at the instant of orgasm is amazing. Having someone offer up their bodies for you to play with is such a rush.”
So why am I bringing the law into the mix? Why does the law have to have an opinion on what people do in the privacy of their own homes or in a private member’s club? The law states quite clearly, that you cannot consent to your own assault.
But we have the right to do as we wish to our own bodies; don’t we? And surely we have the right to give consent to someone else to do things to our own bodies?
Well, apparently not.
As far as I can see, the only way the law can begin a prosecution is if you end up in the Emergency Room, or A&E as it is referred to in the UK. So if you are going to Brand your partner for example and the session goes horribly wrong, the authorities at the hospital will call the police.
But there is an irony in that I can visit a tattooist and have tattoos all over my body. I can have my clitoris, my nipples, or any other part of my body pierced. Of course I can. Even if the procedures go horribly wrong and I have to go the hospital, no one is going to call the police on me.
In 1990, the news in the UK was all about the infamous Spanner case.
In December, 1990, in the UK, 16 Gay men were brought to trial and given prison sentences of up to four and a half years for engaging in consensual S&M activity. This followed an investigation, by the police called “Operation Spanner” prompted by the chance finding of video tapes of S&M activities.
During a raid in 1987 the police seized a videotape which showed a number of identifiable men engaging in heavy SM activities including beatings, genital abrasions and lacerations. The police claim that they immediately started a murder investigation because they were convinced that the men were being killed. This investigation is rumoured to have cost £4 million. Dozens of gay men were interviewed. The police learned that none of the men in the video had been murdered, or even suffered injuries which required medical attention. However the police may well have felt that they had to bring some prosecutions to justify their expensive investigation.
The convictions have now been upheld by both the Court of Appeal, the Law Lords in the UK and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
1987 is quite a long time ago, but the Spanner case has set a precedent; I don’t think that the laws have been challenged since then. If the police discover that you have engaged in S&M activities which have caused injury, you and your partner could be prosecuted for assault.
So why, if I have a piercing in my mouth, it becomes infected and my tongue starts rotting away, why will I not be prosecuted? And why again, if my new tattoo begins weeping revolting pus will the doctors not report me to the police? But if a guy, in a relationship, that just happens to involve S&M, why, if his partner brands his right buttock and they have to seek medical help, why are the police called and the matter goes to Court?
Let’s not be shy about this – in the 1987 Spanner investigation, a guy had his penis nailed to a plank of wood. Some men have a desire to be castrated – I’m talking about castration as a sexual fetish, not as Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Could it be because sex is involved – well, it’s just something that the authorities cannot cope with? It’s easier to be shocked and disgusted than have a mature, grown up discussion. Fifty, or so years ago, the law was shocked and disgusted by Homosexuality – reasoned argument, and some high profile prosecutions changed forever the way people think – thank God.
I don’t get why S&M is anyone else’s business.
A submissive guy I know from Social Media has been discussing with his Dominant partner about having her Brand him. They will do it – their resolution is solid.
“I fail to see how the law can intervene in something that consenting adults agree to? I always understood that there has to be a complainant, and if there isn’t one what does the case rest on?? Curious!!”
“The historical origins of BDSM are obscure. During the ninth century BC, ritual flagellations were performed in Artemis Orthia one of the most important religious areas of ancient Sparta, where the Cult of Orthia a pre-Olympic religion, was practiced. Here ritual flagellation called diamastigosis took place on a regular basis. One of the oldest graphical proofs of sadomasochistic activities is found in an Etruscan burial site in Tarquinia. Inside the Tomba della Fustigazione, (Flogging grave), in the latter sixth century b.c., two men are portrayed flagellating a woman with a cane and a hand during an erotic situation. Another reference related to flagellation is to be found in the sixth book of the Satires of the ancient Roman Poet Juvenal (1st–2nd century A.D.), further reference can be found in Petronius’ Satyricon, where a delinquent is whipped for sexual arousal. Anecdotal narratives related to humans who have had themselves voluntary bound, flagellated or whipped as a substitute for sex or as part of foreplay reach back to the third and fourth century.” Wiki.
If you want to investigate further about bdsm and the law click here.
For information about Branding click here.
This blog post has been compiled using sources from the Web.
Friday, 21 August 2015
An excerpt from "Good Pussy Bad Pussy in Captivity"
We were sitting on his couch in front of the crackling fire and Anton was explaining to me, “According to Buddhist philosophy, there are three moments when it is particularly easy to attain, or at least get a glimpse of, the enlightened mind – and that is when we sneeze, have an orgasm, and at the moment of death.”
“Really!” I exclaimed, surprised that orgasm could have anything to do with enlightenment. “When we have orgasm?”
“Yes,” he replied, “or at least that’s what the Buddhists say. They say it is because when we have an orgasm, we experience the complete release of all thought processes, at least for a moment. And this gives us a chance to experience what they call the Clear Light of Rigpa, which is our original nature.
“Yes, and by that they mean the field of pure consciousness, which is our true nature… The highly trained practitioner is able to consciously experience this when he or she goes beyond the thought processes, beyond thought or thinking… “
He paused and the fire crackled and leaped before us.
“And the connection to orgasm?” I asked.
“Well, just think about what happens when you have a really good orgasm…” he replied softly. “It’s like everything is gone – just blown away… forgotten… and all you feel is this incredible bliss. There is nothing else… the whole world has disappeared… everything… every thought, every worry, every care is completely gone… at least for a moment or two… or maybe even three… if you’re lucky.”
He was so right.
Everything disappears when you have a good orgasm…
I sighed and giggled softly at his words… and when I did, he said gently, “Rachel, will you let me tie you up and make love to you?”
His words really caught me by surprise, considering what we were just talking about.
“What?” I gasped, feeling chills run up and down my spine.
“Will you let me tie you up and make love to you?”
His voice was husky in that special way and even though he wasn’t looking at me, I felt the intensity of his desire.
Tie me up and make love to me?
I felt my whole system reacting with shock.
The restful calm was broken; I just couldn’t get my head around what he just said.
His hands had already found my breasts and I was sighing softly at his touch.
“May I,” he said again, insisting that I answer. “I need to know because I need to see you like that, Rachel.”
I trembled at the intensity of his words. There was just something about the way he said it that made me shiver all over. It was like we were suddenly entering another realm, another energy field. I had the feeling that if I let him, he would take me to a place I’d never been to before – that was how intense he was.
“You know you can trust me. I would never do anything to hurt you.”
I trembled at the thought of being wholly in his power, at his mercy.
He had unfastened my bra and was pinching my nipples with just enough pressure to make me want more… much, much more.
“Will you let me, Rachel? Will you?”
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