Recently I wrote a note about a metaphor of tying. This metaphor consists of the picture of an interview which combines two of the main discourses of bondage. It combines the power relation with communication, whereas the latter should stay on an equal level even within a certain power relationship. Herein the power relationship as well as the term communication were understood in a much more abstract way than it was read by some of the critiques. Communication here is understood in the sense of the N. Luhmann and his theory of social systems. Power relationships are understood in the sense of M. Foucault.
I exhumed some of my ideas about language. Those were about a so-called grammatology of action, which is able to provide a set of rules how to act in certain situations. Grammar and therefore a set of rules for communication is the only “thing” which is specific for homo sapiens sapiens. It enables a person to create a right and understandable and at the same time “new” sentence, i.e. a sentence that is grammatically right and was not told before to the person or even to any other person. At this point I should probably admit that I’m much aware of my inability to write many grammatically right sentences in English ;). All this person needs is the knowledge of the set of rules and a more or less big vocabulary. (What I don’t have in English…)
Language, no matter which, always consists of the combination of a set of rules with a vocabulary. Different languages have different vocabularies and different rules to deal with its vocabulary.
Let’s consider a social environment that consists of two individuals and a common language, i.e. a sufficient knowledge of the set of rules and a vocabulary. This language is by no means just the spoken language. I talk about language as any kind of eligible communication, which means that also the so-called etiquette and the not less socially constructed body language or anything else is understood as language. So, the two individuals are able to understand each other and are, in principle able to understand most of the conversation at least unconsciously. A language is needed for any kind of communication. I feel confident that so far everybody agrees with this picture of communication, language, vocabulary and grammar.
Now let’s skip the vocabulary and take a look at the set of rules. An analysis or theory of this set of grammatical rules in spoken languages was provided by J. Derrida in his book “Grammatology”. He deals with the role of grammar in linguistics. It is also about the historiality of grammar. In my initial idea I deal with a grammatology of actions in general and now I want to limit myself for a moment to a grammatology of tying. As a legitimation of the following, this is possible because of my picture of bondage as a certain communication, i.e. there is always a certain language and therefore a certain grammar as an intrinsic element of each bondage scene.
In my text about meta-aspects of kinbaku I wrote about tying as an interview. Each interview consists of questions and answers. So, the first two rules are quite obvious. They describe how to ask and how to answer. But, as one can imagine, I’m not much interested in the obviousnesses. In my view, tying itself is staging a certain power relationship combined with aesthetics and enabled through communication. The communication is often limited to a nonverbal kind of communication. When I started thinking about this, I entered a one way when I imagined a tying scene as an enclosed or “out of everything” break from every day’s life. It is definitely connected to every day’s life and therefore must be seen as a continuation of it as it includes a huge amount of opinions, views and pictures from every day’s life and of course, it provides a huge amount of all that for every day’s life. Hence, if I want to elaborate a grammatology of tying, I have to implement the grammatology of actions that leads to a scene and the grammatology of actions that follows a scene.
The language, consisting of vocabulary and grammar is not the same for the time before, within or after a rope scene. A grammatology therefore must be able to discuss different sets of rules. Let’s go through them.
Phase 1: Two people meet. There is a set of rules or a grammar for the verbal interaction between them and there is at the same time a grammar for the etiquette and one for the body language. All three parts of the communication consist of actions (also and especially the spoken language can be seen as a set of actions!) and all of those actions together could be seen as a certain treatment of each other. Every single action, think for example of the way one is sitting in front of another person, creates something. It can create just vague and unconscious feelings or it can create a genuine and conscious and especially a causal re-action. It is obvious that spoken language is extremely efficacious.
I now want to add another term, negotiation, which turns out to be crucial for my thoughts. Within this first phase of communication it is negotiated if and how the two individuals are going to tie with each other. Let’s focus just for a moment on that negotiation. Considered, the two already decided to tie with each other the negotiation then deals with the content of the following scene. I’m not able to offer a neither complete nor right or true list what that negotiation should contain. The reason is quite simple. Each person and not only each person but also each situation is slightly different to other people and other situations. Hence the negotiation can never be the same and that’s already a point. It’s clear that there should always be a negotiation of some kind and it should be clear that it’s a dynamical process. I strongly emphasise on the term dynamical process, because, as we will see below, this negotiation cannot be completed in principle.
The next phase is the bondage scene itself. I want to limit my thoughts to scenes without spoken language, although I am aware of the possibility of that. So, the two individuals have a bondage scene with each other. One person leads the ropes and the other person is getting tied. As I already mentioned in my last writing, I see this as an interview, within which the tying person gets all the information by the tied person. One doesn’t necessarily need the picture of an interview to admit that each scene is a kind of a communication with a certain set of rules and a vocabulary. Actions lead to re-actions and so on and so forth. As erotic rope bondage doesn’t have thousands of years of evolution, no common grammar has been established yet. Nevertheless, one goal can be seen as the goal for everybody. I’m talking about a so-called “good time” for both. Although it happens accidentally, I can hardly imagine someone who wants to tie with the goal of feeling bad afterwards. What does it mean, to have a good time with ropes? Well, I would say, that it is an experience which creates positive feelings and which adds something positive to a personal development.
Most of the actions that lead to such kind of experiences are socially tabu for good reasons by society if committed outside of a staged scene. This change of expressing moral fundaments have to be communicated to make sure, that everybody has a good time. In other words, the ideas of how to change this expression of moral fundament have to be negotiated. Why? Every expression of a common moral fundament is nothing less than a set of actions that is appreciated commonly and every set of social actions (one individual doesn’t need any moral grounds until this person meets another person, therefore “social actions”) must consist of a certain grammar. Hence, a change of this set of actions for any reason has to be done consciously in order to minimize the risk of different ideas and therefore the risk of misunderstandings. As I said before, the negotiation of the first phase cannot be completed simply because the situation is dynamical and the ideas are changing. It must be continued in the second phase. It must be said that the mentioned negotiation is not about changing the results of the negotiation of phase 1. It is understood that this negotiation is about how to express those results. Of course, the way of communication is different within the scene but it stays a communication with a certain language and therefore with a certain grammar.
Let’s go to the phase after the scene. Again, there is no discontinuity of communication eligible. It stays a communication between the two although it is a change of the languages. Within the picture of communication it can be seen as a debriefing, where both change their set of rules again to a state close to the initial one. It again comes to a setup where certain power relationships are no longer staged consciously like within the scene. Nevertheless the experience of the scene reaches into the life after it and therefore it influences the content of the communication between the two individuals, no matter if the scene became a good time for both or not. There is no chance not to communicate. The question is, if this communication is a negotiation and hence consciously or it is just any kind of communication.
To make my point clear, I don’t talk about the negotiation itself, but rather about the fact that there is always a certain kind of communication and with the change of languages a change of the grammar of that communication. I use the term negotiation in this context because it ensures the consciousness of the communication as a set of certain actions. Pure communication is always there if more than one individual is involved, but the awareness of the continuous but changing characteristics of the grammar from one phase to another provides a conscious way of communication. This awareness is what I suggest to call negotiation.