In recent months, I saw myself confronted with two interesting problems, or rather gaps in my approach and I believe I can fill them and by doing that not only shed (more) light on a deeper understanding of what we are doing when we tie with each other but also answer an unsolved question. Here is one of those problems*.
Considering every human being a cultural product unintelligible anywhere outside the space of language, we are led to the assumption that any interaction with each other is also always and foremost an archaeology of the individual’s personality**. Instead of imagining an archaeological site with all its shovels and the mud, I want to point at another place that is the working station of an archaeologist – the archive. The most interesting hints and artefacts can be found there, forgotten of their existence and lost in the processes of change, development, and renewal of the archive. The work to be done by the archaeologist nevertheless remains the same – Digging, acknowledging, interpreting, and then digging again. Nothing changes except, maybe, the weather conditions.
When we were speaking of tying with someone can be seen as an archaeology of their personality, it does not matter, if we locate the archaeologist in some ruins on Crete or the basement of Austrian National library. But switching over to the latter one, it allows us to develop our metaphor even further and, by doing that, getting answers we might not even have thought about and this awareness shall be nothing but beneficial for an even deeper rope scene.
One could say the human being is an archive themselves filled with all the notes, the artefacts, the evidences and stories of their past. Of course, all those things are nonetheless constitutional for the personality and it is interesting to go through them, read and watch them piece by piece, sometimes in order but mostly not. This is, if we want, the interview metaphor 1.0 but is that it?
Is the rigger just there to read the archive of the person in ropes? Is the tying person condemned to be a Laplacian demon***? The French art historian and philosopher George Didi-Huberman writes about the archive:
The essence of any archive is its gaps, its perforated being. […] The archaeological undertaking must inevitably risk to juxtaposition shreds of faded objects which always remain heterogeneous and anachronistic because they come from different times and spaces and those are separated by gaps. This risk carries the name montage or faculty of imagination.
(G. Didi-Huberman. The archive burns)
What is in my eyes so interesting about this approach is that for Huberman it is not the content of any archive what makes it worth studying, but rather what is not in that archive, what made it vanish from the archive and how are those gaps constituted, i.e. how to read what is not there. These questions become, in the context of rope bondage, even more interesting by projecting them onto a human being.
Any person is an archive; the archaeological work is needed to get to know them, that is one of the major points in developing the interview metaphor. Many more experiences with ropes and reflections about the archaeology of personalities as well as about the nature of the archive led me to the interview metaphor 2.0, if you like. I rather like to call it a literary criticism of the personal narrative for the moment. At this point, there must be a disclaimer that can’t be overrated. Criticism in this case means interpretation. It does not mean criticizing! This must be clear.
If we try to project Didi-Huberman’s claim onto a person, the following can be said:
Any person is and archive and because of that there are, consciously or not, gaps in them. Those gaps are the ones of their personal history, of who they are****. Following Didi-Huberman, those gaps are the essence of the person and as such they are the most interesting entities of a person. That is why I am so interested in those gaps these days when I tie with someone. My desire, from which I draw my pleasure as well, is to get to know a person and to find out what moves them, what touches them. Whether I find that by the simplest rope technique or the most elaborate, it doesn’t matter. Who are you?
And here lies the difficulty that I believe to be able to overcome with the idea of a literary criticism. Who someone is, is not just the sum of their reactions to a set of questions. The who is in my experience with ropes rather hidden in between those reactions. What is it that the person does not answer to several questions. What has been thrown out of the archive of a personal (hi-)story, actively or passively? Since it is not present (in the double meaning of the word, which I understand to be a present as for now and a present as for here) one cannot just look closer and closer or even force something. But what one can do is undergo the risk which name is imagination.
As someone tying with the aim of getting to know someone and seeing the scene as an interview, one has to fill those gaps with their imagination – a beautiful parallel again to Kintsugi, isn’t it? – in other words, to interpret the story that is told by the tied person. This story is filled with gaps, a cultural construction of the self. Everyone does that and I claim this to be constitutional for every being within the realm of language. The interpretation of this story, the dialogue with the book written by the person in ropes, cannot be random or it risks breaking the connection between the people tying with each other. The fillings must make sense to both, they must be consistent in order to work. It is, and that is the reason why I called it a literary criticism, like interpreting a work of literary, a work of art, or, as we said the story of an archive when you ask yourself why certain things are not there and what is its meaning – “who are you?”. Why? Because, and I believe that to be true for everyone, every individual wants to be listened to by its environment. By being listened to, I mean a profound and deep engagement with that individuals personality and not a meaningless “how are you – fine”.
Taking a closer look at the rope scene itself, the above means that there is more, much more than just the reactions one sees but rather what are the reactions that don’t occur? What is the meaning for this or that reaction of the tied person and how does it fit into the greater picture? “The archaeological undertaking must risk of juxtaposition faded objects…” and this risk is called “imagination”.
The interpretation comes from nothing but the imagination and here lies the source of a poetics of the artful language that is called Kinbaku. A language that is to tell the story of the person in ropes and read by the person tying*****.
*Problem as understood more in the mathematical sense. A challenge, an interesting, somewhat mystical situation: an epistemic thing.
**Archaeology of personalities – A linguistic approach to erotic rope bondage. 2017.
***What is a Laplacian demon? It is the originally the intellectual creation, the Gedankenexperiment of P.S. Laplace and this creature is gifted or condemned to know the position and momentum of each and every single particle in the universe at a given time. Equipped with that knowledge, it can according to classical mechanics calculate a “complete” history of the universe.
**** Before this idea gets opposed, I can calm the critics by comparing those gaps with the Japanese concept of Kintsugi where cracks in pottery are considered beautiful and are “repaired” with noble materials, so not to hide them.
***** This implicit direction will be subject of my next partial study. Stay tuned.