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.