Reveries about Kinbaku as a Sprachraum – Or the usefulness of Foucault’s heterotopology for rope bondage

One scientist seems to curiously accompany every archaeological endeavour.* Whenever some past lies in the dirt and dust and is eager to be read, a geographer makes sure to map the exact location of it. This work is important for many reasons, like finding it in the first place or building streets somewhere else but first and foremost it is important for reading the finding. Sometimes the geographer and the archaeologist are one and the same person, sometimes they are a team member.
Anyhow, the past is located; it has a place; it is in a space.
And so is the human as one being intrinsically linked to their past.
This does of course not change at all when we are tying with each other.
Consciously or not, one is located in a space and one is further constantly negotiating that space or shall we rather say, those spaces, because there is not one space when we tie. When we tie, there is the space that enfolds the distance between the tying and tied person. We have the location in the space we are tying in but we are also in the headspace for a certain tie or not. A while back, @FelixRuckert said to participants of EURIX to mind their space when tying and that includes a volume space that does not stop at the geographical borders of a rope space.

What are these spaces in rope bondage and is rope bondage itself a space?
In 1966 Michel Foucault asked for the foundation of a science that he called heterotopology – the science of totally other or different spaces.** These other spaces are those, each and every culture and time creates as counter spaces to those we live in every day. They are for example cemeteries, gardens, facilities for mental ill, brothels, etc. What is interesting here is that all of these spaces have their own very specific spatiality and temporality. An example that is brought forward by Foucault is the parent’s bed for a child when they are not at home. That bed becomes the sea for one can swim in it. It becomes the forest for one can hide in it and it becomes lust because the parents will come home and punish the child for jumping in their bed. That bed becomes as far as the world and it becomes as long as the age of the earth.
How does rope bondage fit into this or, the other way around, how does a heterotopological study benefit rope bondage?

In recent workshops, when people asked me how they can read their partner in ropes, I have two answers for them. One is that they shall not confuse reading with understanding, shall not search for evidence but for interpretation. The other answer I have is that they could start seeing the body as a landscape of social meaning. What are the parts of our body saying when they speak? Where(!) does it come from when they speak? And where are they in relation to each other and others?
To make it clear, I am not only talking about the rope scene in a vacuum. The above answer about the speaking body parts expands to the body itself as well as to the location of the body in a landscape or a topos of social meaning. Where are the bodies located, what are they facing? What is the space they are tying in facing? Is it a dungeon or an artist loft? Is it trying to be diverse or does it believe it can be apolitical?

We have this overwhelming amount of spaces that are interacting with each other. The headspace with the sound-space of the facility; the space between the tying partners with the space to the pair next to them; the toes with the eyes; the pattern with the annoying comment of the super domly guy checker, a conservative upbringing with human rights and the belief in good with restricting someone; the financial space of the partner with their fantasies; the naturalist’s study about endorphins with the sensationalist***; etc. etc. All these spaces and creatures of different spaces are constantly negotiating with each other.
This negotiation of spaces happens if we want or not but there is one thing about kink and ropes especially that I think makes it a perfect field to study heterotopology. Kink and especially ropes**** is a space that we create consciously as that totally different space. We treat it almost in the same way as the child above treats their parent’s bed when they are not at home. We seek to avoid our normal, daily space with all our available force when we dress up for a kink event and when we enter a rope venue. The space where we practice kink and especially ropes is the totally other space. It must be, it has to be different from our daily space. And like a garden with its fences and gates, it must be defended against those who seek to enter it without the credentials or the respect which we deem so necessary.

Rope bondage is the totally other space. But it also contains those totally other spaces that can be discovered and explored and mapped. Not by scientists with triangulation and evidence but by everyone every time one is in that other space by interpretation. In what physical space am I at this moment? In what political space? In what cultural, head- or language space? How are distances between me and my partner behave in this space at this moment? How does time behave? How many dimensions does my rope have available?*****
The tying person as well as the tied person, both can become cartographers of their archaeology project. We can become heterotopologists in order to create unforgettable scenes.


  • The use of archaeology refers to my book and the metaphor of ropes as a medium to explore each other’s personalities.

G. Barkas. Archaeology of personalities. A linguiostic approach to erotic rope bondage. 2016
**M. Foucault. Les Hétérotopies. Le corps utopique. 1966
***I want to point here in the direction of a highly valuable writing of @Apikoros with the title “Against Nature”.
****Why especially ropes? Because of its specific spatiality and because I treat other kinks as pleasurable fantasies or hobbies with no specific expertise and unlike others I want to remain a bit quieter in fields I know little about.
*****One heterotopologist, if I may say so, must be named here since it was partly she who made that idea possible: @Pilar_ who, in my interpretation, constantly questions the one-dimensionality of ropes.

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