A few years ago, I participated in a music video for a contemporary com-poser of classical music, Hèctor Parra, and the Berlin based Zafraan en-semble. The piece is called “Palimpsesto”.
A few weeks ago, when I tied with my wonderful partner Addie, I untied some parts and retied and when I put ropes on already existing rope marks, the idea of a palimpsest stroke my mind. Here are some elaborations of this idea.
So far, my thoughts around tying, expressed in the interview metaphor and more recently in the poetics and reciprocity of Kinbaku, were circling around a single scene. We went deep into possible meanings of what happens throughout that one scene, but the more I practice rope bondage the more it comes to light for me that there is a gap in these thoughts. Nothing (yet) to overthrow them, nothing to worry about but rather an extension, or a connection to the established, so to say, that is needed to further deepen the understanding.
I want to understand the historiality of rope scenes and with it that of the persons involved in a rope scene not only, as I stated in ‘archaeology of personalities’, by means of their past in general, but rather how one rope scene influences another rope scene. This question has more than just a purely academic motivation, it is also rooted in two actual topics.
First, a regular question I get asked is regarding the advantages/disadvantages of tying with someone unknown and with someone very familiar. Often it is stated (not very tactful) by just asking what is ‘better’, as if this was a polar question in terms of better and worse. There is a difference but surely not a judgement.
Second, I think this question can add positive inputs to the discourse about the fluidity of the perception of rope scenes, i.e. what happens, if a scene had been perceived in a certain way but this view changed by adding information or the; a development that is reported in large numbers.
As always, I need to state at this point that I only speak from my frame of experiences and I am not able to make a claim of truth here. Also, I learned from previous publications, that it seems unclear for some that I am originating my thoughts in an utopian world, where technical problems don’t occur.
In ‘archaeology of personalities’, I was asking when a scene ends and the only answer I was and still am able to give is that a scene doesn’t end but transforms and (possibly) fades. Some scenes fade quicker than others and some don’t fade at all.
Let us restate the question from above: How do rope scenes interact with each other? Suffice to say that they do. It is as if they had their own agency and want to be remembered, forgotten, repeated, emended, … . (For a deeper elaboration of this thought, I refer the reader to Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory and the possibility therein for non-human entities to have their own agency.) What the rope scene seems to want is to provide something memorable for all participants, and therefore inscribes itself into both, the tying person(s) as well as the tied person(s). Furthermore, this yet to be determined interaction of two rope scenes, which are distinct in time, goes in both directions regarding the chronicity of events, as it is clear that with every experience one makes, the look on previous experiences becomes somewhat fragile and subject to possible changes. In other words, not only do the rope scenes from the past influence those to come, but also those happening in the presence and even those to come, are influencing the ones which happened in the past. The idea that the past is also a function of the present time is known as the historiality of events.*
Consider a scene happens; it takes place. This scene is an experience in the very meaning of the word and it leaves its marks in the persons’ (all of the involved!) minds. As such it inscribes a representation of its events into the memories. But this memory is by no means a tabula rasa, a clean slate; no, many other scenes from before have managed to inscribe pictures of their events into the minds. Even the scenes to come have, vaguely, also inscribed themselves through the pen of expectations. But right now, the only one inscribing, is the scene that happens at the moment and as such it is doing something with the inscriptions that are already there. It overwrites them without deleting them. It can’t erase what has been written before. It rather writes between the lines, between the letters, within the letters, until only those inscriptions are still readable that have been carved into the memory deeper and larger than others. Some inscriptions get scraped to use that specific space again or more likely to never read that inscription again (“Verdrängung”/suppression). Not only bad memories get scraped – also those who just refer to bad ones and sometimes also good ones. But just like the inscriptions on a palimpsest, those inscriptions are not gone and can come to the surface again. They keep being influential. They keep being visible through various methods. There is a palimpsest known in archaeology – what a beautiful parallel this is? – that is called a cumulative palimpsest.
“A cumulative palimpsest is one in which the successive episodes of deposi-tion, or layers of activity, remain superimposed one upon the other without loss of evidence, but are so re-worked and mixed together that it is difficult or impossible to separate them out into their original constitu-ents.”**
If every rope scene, or parts of it, leaves its marks in the minds of all the participants, and I believe they do, all these marks are not just separate, distinct layers. Every new mark is placed within the artwork that is one’s personality. It adds to it not only by itself but by the new light it sheds on the marks that are already there and by the marks it replaces or those it is made of. I would like to bring an example but I feel that every example I could bring is insufficient for the reader because everything I can think of is embedded into my own personality and doesn’t mean anything without pre-senting all context. Try to find yours. What rope scene, or part of it, interact-ed with another one you have experienced or dreamed of and how did they influence each other?
I want to add a little postscriptum: This writing, as well as the others I pub-lished recently, is a work in progress. It is my inner urge to throw them out into the world once I have the idea and that this enables me to think about them in a more connected way. So, please take my apologies if they seem somewhat unfished or filled with gaps. Those gaps are also interesting for me.
*Rheinberger. Towards a history of epistemic things. 1997. 197ff (based on Derrida. Grammatology)
** Bailey, Geoff. “Time Perspectives, Palimpsests and the Archaeology of Time.”