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Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in The Wheel of Masks' LiveJournal:

Monday, June 7th, 2004
7:47 pm
"The greater is the beauty
The profounder is the stain
Significant of the forbidden
Transgressed in eroticism"

--Stereolab, "Pack Yr Erotic Mind"

I give up. My lot is cast with the freaks, and I was a fool to think it could ever be any different. :)

I was only kidding about being disturbed by the David Gonterman comics to the point of "switching sides" anyhow, of course. It was a little unsettling to see my kinks paraded around in such a naive and self-indulgent manner, sure. But I'm pretty secure that my friends and I at least don't come off as eccentric as poor David -- and if we do, we keep it out of the public eye, and use a little more literary sophistication.

It is frustrating, though, confronting the fact that David and I are part of the same phenomenon. There's no denying it, parts of "Foxfire" did move me. Even if their means of expression did nothing for me, the themes were right in tune with my skewed concept of romance: rapture into another's mind, egoless servitude, transmission and sharing of thoughts, symbiosis, "possession by costume," metamorphosis into other species and genders, having face and body decorated, sharing traits with machines and objects... I don't want the little shiver that "Foxfire" gave me, but I got it all the same, and I'm not sure how I should feel about that.

It's hard enough as it is, to come by art and fiction that presses these buttons. And so much of it presses them in the same clumsy way that David does -- with none of the witty self-analysis, cultural savvy, vivid symbolism, or emotional delicacy that make this stuff more than just brain candy for me. Prettiness -- both aesthetic and emotional -- is so vital to my concept of the erotic, and most of the kinky transformative erotica out there just doesn't do it.

My first impulse is to think of it as a gender thing. I'm not really so sure whether that's true or not. But so much transformation and mind-control erotica is as nakedly exploitative as mainstream porn. The fetish, decontextualized and stripped of all intimacy, is to be hit as hard and as often as possible; all characters -- especially the objects of desire! -- are nothing more than means to that end, and their own feelings are never to be modeled except in the simplest and most selfishly presumptuous terms. This is how you get lines like "She pulled the 0.05 mm gauge black rubber stockings up over her legs, eyes fixated on the label that said they were two sizes too small, because she couldn't help thinking how just a cruelly tight pair of Cuban-heeled stockings would make her feel like a sexy maid slut already." (That's a hypothetical example of my own invention, thank god.)

You get writing like that all the time in people's +info on ShangrilaMUSH and Tapestries, for instance, where the fantasy's spelled out in such obsessive detail in the character notes, you might as well skip the roleplaying part. :p Even in these people's full-length stories, it just feels like... someone thought all that messy novelty and intimacy would've just gotten in the way, if they even realized it was an option in the first place. You certainly get that in David Gonterman's work, with characters just obliquely spelling out what the author wants, leaving absolutely nothing to imagination or indirection -- which are the entire freakin' basis of sensuality, IMHO. (Not to mention the fact that the way he treats his female characters as wish-fulfillment objects is rather sexist.) I don't know if that makes it inherently masculine or not, but either way, it's subtle as a hammer and I don't like that. :)

I wish I knew offhand how to bring the sensual and spiritual aspects of a fantasy world like Gonterman's to the forefront, and perhaps take away some of the disturbing sordid aspects of it in the process. I hope I've had some success with that on Puzzlebox, but that's really more up to my players than to me. People have suggested that I could try writing my own equivalent of "Foxfire" to show him (and his POE "fans") how sexy transformation is really done, but I know I don't have the follow-through or the consistent fever of the imagination. That's the one thing I admit David Gonterman has over me, hands down, and I envy him a little for that.

Sometimes I feel like these kinks are sexual for me only because our society doesn't offer many other categories of pleasure. The feelings I get when I'm suited, sense-deprived, and in some friendly alien's headspace could just as easily be classified as "ecstatic state" or "devotional rapture." But those classifications are nearly invisible in modern society and it's so damn hard not to absorb the semiotic default from my surroundings. Outside the countercultures, there isn't much of a model for shamanistic experience left, and I haven't had nearly enough exposure to it in my (admittedly very isolated) social life.

Yet still, these fantasies of otherworldliness -- the foundation of the "fluorescent" experience which it's so hard for me to lose sight of -- were part of my life long before I discovered biological sex. By the time I was 18, I was dreaming more than once a week about finding pink and blue hairdye. By age 16, I was clipping pictures from Omni magazine of bald alien women with skullcaps -- and pictures from National Geographic World of Halloween make-up of furries and Martians. By age 13, I was painting my face to look like a cheetah girl while my parents were asleep. By age 10, I was getting regular lectures on mysticism by an imaginary lynx who I considered my life partner -- and writing myself as an RPG character who was a pink plastic female pegasus. By age 8, I was daydreaming about being put into transformation chambers by felinoids from outer space. By age 5, I was fascinated by stories in my Weekly Reader about aliens who projected thoughts into people minds with their antennae.

So whether I like it or not, David Gonterman and I are kindred spirits. Except for, you know, the pro wrestling and the law-and-order fantasies. -.- It's very, very comforting to know he's not the only company I have here. But I still really wish I had more exposure to people like me, more opportunity to transmute these fantasies into reality, more hope that these moments of the unreal might someday be treated as something profound rather than silly. Whatever strange thing is calling for us, I wish I could've served it -- or even heard it -- better.

Current Mood: pensive
Sunday, May 23rd, 2004
4:53 pm
There was an entry here about a major interpersonal crisis on Puzzlebox. I took it down because I don't want to get caught up in he-said-she-said, and AFAIK the situation is now stable. If anybody wants my side of the story, use my gmail address. It's postvixen at, et cetera. As far as I'm concerned, the administrative matter is clear. A wizard abused their privileges against somebody who, whatever the details of their personal pasts, had done absolutely nothing that justified the use of administrative power against them. We're going to deal with that harshly and fix the problem. People can make their own minds up about the details, most of you won't even need to be bothered with them because they shouldn't really affect the game very much, and I really don't have much interest in prolonging this.
Wednesday, April 7th, 2004
4:31 pm
Removed a large number of people, my apologies. I'm thinking of making some changes in the way I use my journals.
Monday, March 22nd, 2004
10:59 pm
pbxes within them
I think this quote should be somewhere prominent on PuzzleboxMUCK:

"Everyone now knows how to find the meaning of life within himself. But mankind wasn't always so lucky. Less than a century ago, men and women did not have easy access to the puzzle boxes within them. They could not name even one of the fifty-three portals to the soul. Gimcrack religions were big business. Mankind, ignorant of the truths that lie within every human being, looked outward-- pushed ever outward. What mankind hoped to learn in all its outward push was who was actually in charge of creation and what all creation was all about. [...] It flung them like stones. [...] The bounties of space, of infinite outwardness, were three: empty heroics, low comedy, and pointless death. Outwardness lost, at least, its imagined attractions. Only inwardness remained to be explored. Only the human soul remained terra incognita. This was the beginning of goodness and wisdom. What were people like in olden times, with their souls as yet unexplored?" -- Kurt Vonnegut, Sirens of Titan

And before you asked, the use of the phrase "puzzle box" is, unless Sebkha had it in mind somehow long before we thought of making Puzzlebox into an "ecstatic realist" MUCK, totally coincidental. Spooky, huh?

Current Mood: weird
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2004
10:43 am
Militant Agnosticism: "I Don't Know and Neither Do You!"
I made a couple edits to that last post about Christianity. I realized, after a little further reflection and criticism, that I needed to clarify to what extent I'm willing to tolerate Christianity: Pretty far, actually.

I realized I am not so much up in arms against Christianity as I am against absolutism. I am staunchly morally opposed to philosophies that insist their adherents believe everything about them with any sort of certainty or finality. I don't think anybody's experience, spiritual or otherwise, gives them that right. I believe Christianity is factually wrong, but that is not the source of my antagonism -- there are plenty of worldviews I disagree with that I don't feel moved to oppose. I oppose Christianity only when and where it is practiced as an absolutist, normative religion that even presumes to regulate the behavior of people who don't subscribe to it; unfortunately, this is most of the time.

Given the choice, I'd much rather co-exist with Christianity. I just don't think this is a possibility now. I don't think making the traditional Christian worldview obsolete is an absolute necessity; I just think the situation has conspired to make it potentially beneficial. What I really want is for Christianity to have no impact or authority over my life, ever again. What I want is to not have to deal with people who think they have all the answers, when they don't.

I still think that mainstream Christianity a) is utterly factually incorrect about the nature of God and humanity and b) advances social ideals which are not good for humanity's long-term health. But I'm willing to tolerate that error, if others will tolerate my own. (Believe me, I'm quite aware of the weaknesses of postmodernism, materialist skepticism, and anarchosocialism.) But that's exactly what I'm complaining about! My active opposition to Christianity exists only to the extent that many Christians will not tolerate what they see as my "error," not even provisionally, for the sake of legal compromise. One people insist their values be treated as the default, and show no willingness to accept that my own values may be based on something more than ignorance and self-indulgence... war is inevitable.

I think there is a real difference between people who can find doubt in their own belief systems and those who can't. I think I am in the first category. I think many, but certainly not all, Christians are in the second category, and that this is a specific result of the all-or-nothing nature of Christian beliefs. I think that does make me better equipped to live in a modern, democratic society than these people who are memetically insulated against doubt. But I'm not sure about that. :>

Other people may think my beliefs are in error. And I'm fine with that, as long as they recognize that other people can (and inevitably will) believe they are in error, and no consensus will ever be reached. And therefore, in the interests of civility and peace, nobody may assume their position on a controversial position is self-evident. This is why, for all the "PC Whiners Are Destroying Rational Thought" crowd has tried to taint the term, "tolerance" is a respectable ideal. Because these questions can not be resolved. And I resent people who act as if their own best guesses are good enough to assert as eternal and unshakeable ideals. That is the closest I have to an absolute belief: if you think your system of belief is absolute, you are crazy.

I am declaring war against Christianity... but only to the extent that it is a religion that assures its followers that they are Absolutely Correct. I think that I have the right to err, and to think that other people err. I think people who say "it's like this and onyone who says otherwise is crazy or lying" are just spitting in the melting pot. They have put themselves in a position where it is not possible to co-exist with them, and I refuse to try. I can't imagine why I should be asked to.

And for right now, anybody who's been privy to the details of my daily life with Postrodent, and still insists gay relationships are destructive and immoral, is getting the boot. That isn't even a philosophical position -- I just choose to avoid the company of any such person. Why should I associate with anyone who thinks so little of me?

Oof, and I should retract one other nasty thing I shouldn't have said: I shouldn't have let it sound like I thought everybody Christian was just expressing a neurosis. I've read a fair amount of Christian theology and I definitely don't think being Christian is in any way incompatible with being a thinking, independent person. I do think Christian belief is generally an expression of psychological needs and personal upbringing -- but I think this is true of most belief systems. I didn't end up a hippie by accident. ;)
Monday, March 1st, 2004
11:45 pm
Monday, November 3rd, 2003
1:23 pm
Adult Swim in Eden
Remind me to pick a safer hobby next time around, like beekeeping or skydiving. It's looking like Puzzlebox is going to be another exercise in learning things I already knew about human nature. For example, we're too "dumb" to realize that creating problems for other people -- or, sometimes, refusing to help uncreate their problems, or own up to an indirect and guilt-free role in them -- is eventually and inevitably equivalent to creating problems for ourselves.

People want things their way, and they can't be bothered to care about other people's way, even when getting their own way can only be accomplished with those other people's help. It's like pulling teeth to get them to question what it even is about their way that they're so attached to, making it next to impossible to help them come up with compromises. Oh, this never works! Oh, this person was being totally unreasonable! Oh, that's not worth worrying about anyhow. Oh, they just do that for attention. Oh, everybody knows if you do this, this will happen! It all boils down to why can't you think like me and make my life easier. How could anybody not find that funny? How could anybody not find that offensive? You know, if we all stopped treating questions like that as rhetorical and actually answered them, I suspect that a lot of the "stupid people" would magically disappear from our radars and be replaced with normal human beings.

And I know I'm prone to that kind of thinking too -- I loathe it. But this isn't about blame or superiority, it's about solutions. And, admittedly, it's about dealing with the emotional exhaustion and frustration I'm getting in the process of trying to provide those solutions, solutions which I feel these people could be doing more in their own right to provide. But I don't blame them. I don't care whose fault it was. I just want trouble to be avoided, by learning from our mistakes and moving on if necessary. That's called being a grown-up, isn't it? (Or has that definition of maturity been totally eaten alive by mere fiscal responsibility and child-rearing?) I'm starting to realize where my mom, the public schoolteacher, gets so much of her haughty no-bullshit attitude from, gods bless her. :)

And inevitably, and oh-so-conveniently, people who disagree always just happen to be stupid, or immature, or "whiny" (I HATE that word now) or unreasonable -- traits which, mysterious, nobody ever sees fit to apply to themselves. And when you try to help them, or force them to reflect on their own opinions, or demand reciprocity from them, the first thing they want to do is label you as an enemy and debunk you. Christ, do you people not realize the opposing side is thinking the exact same dismissive garbage about you, instead of actually listening to you, and that's why nothing ever changes for the better!? Are you just not psychologically capable of slipping out of your default worldview and getting beyond your own needs for just a moment!? Cripes, if people could, we wouldn't need social controls...

This isn't about a specific person and it isn't about any single faction of people. It's the sum total of a lot of different people's occasional behaviors, on multiple sides. It's also not everybody on PB -- some people haven't shown any fractious tendencies like that at all. (And I'll tell ya, I'm MUCH more inclined to hang out with those people, now!) A lot more people have shown them once in a while but been wonderful people otherwise, which makes it an even bigger pain in the ass when I'm forced to react to their stubbornness. If it were just happening in discrete individuals, who were never anything but kvetchy, you bet I'd just boot them all. Life's not that simple -- but you are, if you think we can neatly label people as good guys and bad guys, as "smart" and "stupid," and not expect to suffer when the same snap judgements are made about ourselves. (At least, you're acting simple -- there's a difference between that and being simple. That's kinda my point. :) ) It's not the people I want to get rid of, it's this one pernicious way of thinking -- I'm after the cancer, but that's no excuse to stab the patient, unless for some bizarre reason the patient decides to defend the cancer to the death. Unfortunately, this seems to often be the case...

For fuck's sake, all I want is for people to give each other the benefit of the doubt. You can do that and still stand up for what you believe in. You don't have the write the other person off as a loser or a psychopath. You want to know what the "Puzzlebox theme" is?! That's the freakin' Puzzlebox theme. It's not about stirring up interesting conflicts and making pop-culture references at each other. It's not about coating yourself in sentient vinyl and sticking wires into your pleasure center. It's accepting that we'll never be able to deal with infinite horizons until we learn infinite compassion and reason. It's working out the problem of how people get along in a world where there's no coercion and no simple solutions. It's having no mass consensus of society to back you up when you're obliged to speak up for your way of life, or obliged to listen when somebody else speaks up for theirs. It's taking joy in other people's joy, and I'd rather have somebody who understands that on PB than an army of L33T roleplayers -- or sexy bastards -- with hearts like ice and chips on their shoulders.

If you think that's just a load of "hippie crap," or you think I'm "just being self-righteous," that's fine, but I won't respect a word you say about it until you quit slinging mere definitions around and engage me in a real, mature, open, give-and-take debate about it. In fact, I think if I'm going to stay sane as supposed "head wizard" of Puzzlebox, I'm going to have to start taking that attitude towards everything. If you have a problem you're welcome to bitch about it until your emotional needs have been met, and I won't come down on anybody just for venting. But I won't do anything more than pat your head and give you a cookie unless you can explain to me why things should change, and do better than "because I want it this way." If you want a role in designing an environment that you must share with others, you have to get past the pointy, pink-and-purple, prancing pendant and convince her of your opinion in a fair discussion. >.< Some of you have -- most, possibly all of you have now and then, even people who have been a little selfish at other times -- and I do thank you for that.

Current Mood: grumpy
Thursday, September 18th, 2003
8:40 am
Hmmm, yesterday was actually pretty good. I got a breakthrough on an RPG idea, I didn't end up having to go into work, and after a bit of unhappy confusion -- we couldn't find our bus, and we accidentally stiffed poor alari because I thought he'd already left to go job-hunting -- postrodent and I met lediva in an admirably seedy arcade in Somerville and blew an obscene number of tokens. The arcade was a pretty mixed experience for me, since I really suck at most contemporary games and it was giving me "last kid picked for kickball" flashbacks. I'd like, just once in my life, to be good at something competitive, even if it is completely useless. :) But after a brief spazz, I gave up on the FPS games and returned to my home turf -- pinball. I sucked at that, too, but the freakin' arcade was so dark I couldn't see the upper tables on anything but the absurdly flashy Austin Powers machine. :p

Haven't gotten to fulfill my promise to spend more time on Puzzlebox, yet, since I haven't been able to find big chunks of time where I'm at a desk but not working. I have been doing a lot of writing, though, and apparently I'm not the only one. According to postrodent we now have at least one building project off of four out of six theme areas on PB, which is cool because it means we have places to put residences.

I could use a creative boost, though. I've have an idea for Strangewarp -- the spooky, infovirus-possessed, biopsych-horror district -- but that's all I have. I've decided I want its first public hangout to be a library, in keeping with the whole incestuous "information trying to experience itself" theme, but beyond some vague sense of Borges and Kafka influence, I don't know what to actually do with it. protocat and mharpold, especially... got any ideas for the Cronenberg Public Library? :) Remember: eerie, grotesque and pretty. Even fragments, something I could riff on would be much appreciated!
Wednesday, March 26th, 2003
4:02 pm
100 Reasons
Hello. I'm going through a very difficult time right now, so I wrote up a list of 100 reasons. Not for anything in particular, and probably not for what you're thinking -- just reasons to run, to throw everything away, to live like nothing mattered for a while, to indulge myself hand-over-fist until I burst. I posted it on my rant journal at first, but I decided to post it here, too, even though it probably violates my no-angst promise. I tried to at least be semi-witty about it, since it was just a therapeutic exercise to begin with. It's my attempt to figure out how my angst works, and maybe in the process... um... ask for a little help because I've been feeling pretty disheartened lately. But I know all I can expect from people is offers to talk, and I'm really even good enough at taking people on those when I'm happy, much less when I want to go hide.

No, I don't really mean any of these, nor do I expect anyone to read the whole list, but here they are for the record. This is all the nasty buried stuff.

Angst barrier.Collapse )

Current Mood: blank
Saturday, January 1st, 2000
12:00 pm
"Wizards make no difference, so they say that nothing does." -- Prince Lir

The same thing goes for a lot of people on Livejournal.

If you think some things make a difference, comment here and we'll talk.
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