Category Archives: libros

(Re)reading The Ethical Slut: Day 0

ethical-slut
On Twitter the other day a friend of mine asked for recommendations on books on polyamory.  I saw tweets giving several recommendations, including, several times, the book The Ethical Slut.  This intrigued me (as mention of the book always does) and I started following the exchanges, stating that I’d like to read along as a blog project.  In the course of the discussion, we found out there was a new (2009) edition.  I decided to order the new edition.

My reasons were complicated.

I first read The Ethical Slut in 1997 (I’ve used the original cover image), the year it came out, which was something of a watershed year for me.  It was the year I turned 30.  The year I left my then husband.  The year I found the newsgroup ASS. The year I began talking with my first play partner (though not actually playing).  The year Paul and I started first emailing then talking on the phone.

I was eager for information, eager for a different way to see the world.  One of the women I got to know on the newsgroup was Janet Hardy.  She’s one one of the authors of The Ethical Slut and always seemed to give good advice.  So I ordered the book and read it. Carefully. Making notes in the margin.

I’m about to crack the cover of the new edition.  But before I do, I want to remember what I took from my first reading of the book (or what I think I took from my reading of the book) some sixteen years ago.

What I remember it being about was negotiation.  About trying to know how I feel and communicating that to those I’m intimate with.  I remember reading about the idea of jealousy not being something that would kill me.  About it being something I could feel, understand where it was coming from and let pass. About the importance of honesty, even when what we have to tell our partners will hurt them.

I remembering the dizzying complexity of the calendaring discussed, my wondering how those involved ever got anything done or ever had any time to themselves.

I remember wondering if I could be polyamorous, if I wanted to be, if Paul did.  I remember the thrilling possibilities of if.

What I discovered is that I can play with other people and it doesn’t change how I feel about Paul or my relationship with him one way or the other.  This has always been true.  But I experienced fierce and painful jealousy when Paul first played with others, especially when we were still long distance, still only seeing each other one month in six.  This seemed unfair, because intellectually I wanted him to explore, to enjoy play partner friendships the way I did.  Still, I hurt when he had feelings for someone else, was not able to believe it didn’t diminish what we had together.

Now, I’m not very interested in finding other people for myself. I have good friends, people I play with when we’re able (which isn’t very often).  But on the other hand, it’s not painful when Paul plays with other people.  What I feel, when I don’t just feel happy about it, are stabs of insecurity, not a sense of being diminished, but a wondering if I can possibly be as wonderful as this other person.  I don’t like myself for feeling this way and try not to indulge it or give it too much space in my brain.  I don’t want these feelings to control my behavior or Paul’s.

So these are my thoughts as I’m about to crack the new edition.  I hear there’s homework in this one.

Want to read along?

People who are reading along:

Marie – Life, Lemons and Spanking

Listening to Victorian England: Advent Blog Day 13

anne-perry
As you’ve probably gathered from my blog posts lately, I’ve been pretty stressed out about lots of things.  The spanking from Paul helped.  Working on my calligraphy helps.  So does baking, though I’ve done too little of that lately.

Another wonderful escape is listening to audiobooks.  Lately (for the last month) I’ve been listening to Anne Perry’s mystery series set in Victorian England. They’re lovely, full of rich detail about the period, the bad of the wrenching poverty, as well as the beauty of the lives of the English upper class.

At one point I had mixed feelings about audiobooks, holding to an odd snobbery about reading on paper. After listening to Stephan Fry read the Harry Potter books, I completely changed that point of view. A good reader can make a good book great, adding to the enjoyment of the text. I’ve found I like being read to and, as I read rather too fast sometimes, the act of being read to slows me down and can make me appreciate details of the text.  It’s also nice to be able to “read” while doing other things, like practicing my lettering. The act of having my hands occupied with calligraphy, while my brain is listening to a story is engrossing and leaves no room for the anxiety to creep in and distract me.

So what do you think of audiobooks or Anne Perry? Have you gotten into either?

And yes, there are very occasional references to “discipline” of various kinds. As ever, those unexpected moments give me a special thrill.

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Advent bloggers so far (go see them!):

padme & Anakin – Journey to the Darkside

Marie – Life, Lemons & Spanking

EmmaEnchanted – This Kinky Life

Quai  –  Spanking Discussion

Poppy St. Vincent – Poppy’s Submissions

Sharon – The Evolution of a Pin-Up Model

Tiger – Innermost Me

Indy – Not So Submissive

 

Book Review: Late Bloomer

late-bloomer
At the Shadow Lane vendor fair I bought one of the very last copies of spanking model and blogger Erica Scott’s book Late Bloomer from the author herself.  I then found myself staying up late Friday and Saturday night, not to play at suite parties but to finish Ericia’s excellent book.

I’ve read a few spanking memoir books and honestly, this one is my favorite. Not just because Erica is a very fine writer with a good memory for detail, but because she wrote in depth about her childhood, family (especially her fraught relationship with her idolized yet distant and emotionally abusive father) and life before spanking. The book is an honest retelling of a woman’s life and I enjoyed it for that, even apart from the spanking action.

In fact, my only criticism of the book is from my own desire to have more detail of how early Erica began having spanking fantasies and how she feels they shaped her early sexuality.  She doesn’t get into an analysis of where her desire to be spanked came from and I did wonder about her thoughts on this topic. But it’s a smal thing and, in part an effect of how much of herself she does give the reader.

So what does a reader get from this book? A story of a woman’s life lived by halves, in the darkness of depression and anxiety and her overcoming them.  It’s about her efforts to understand and undo damage done in childhood, her claiming of self (sexual and otherwise) and her successful battle to do things that matter to her, even in the face of fears.  There’s also frank accounts of her experiences as a spanking model, working on a variety of projects.  Thoughout the story, what shines through is Erica’s wit, humor and unflinching honesty.  I love reading Late Bloomer, and found I was staying up long into the night to finish it.

Highly recommended.

It’s not just in my head

birching It’s not just in my head (or those of my pervy friends) that calligraphy and spanking meet. This evening as I was reading through Marc Drogin’s Calligraphy of the Middle Ages, one paragraph on page 20 rather leapt out.

The Teaching of Writing

The Teacher was absolute ruler in his domain, and students who misbehaved or fell below expectations were often punished swiftly, harshly and in full view of the class as a warning to others. Some teachers wielded “palmers,” sticks with round, flattened heads with which to slap students palms. More common, as seen in Plate 3* within the capital letter C, was the whipping of a student with birch branches. This birching scene is from an English manuscript of the mid-fourteenth century, at which time monasteries had long ceased to be the major source of elementary education.

As I sat next to Paul reading this, I felt my face flush a bit as I read the passage, especially the line “students who misbehaved or fell below expectations were often punished swiftly, harshly and in full view of the class as a warning to others.”  Surely Mr. Drogin couldn’t have written that with the expectation of it having such an effect on me.

It’s almost enough to make me ask for a smacking.  Except I’m still sore from a severe caning last Sunday and expect another tomorrow so have a bit of trepidation about the state of my bottom.  (These are Regulars — I’m not being punished for anything.)

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I’ve started a new blog, caligráfica, specifically about studying calligraphy.  While I like the idea of posting everything in one place (here), I’d like my teacher to be able to read what I write about practicing but suspect giving her this URL would inhibit me in writing about kink.  That’s not something I want to happen.  That said, I’m not keeping the connection to this blog too secret — I’ve linked back and forth from here to there. Please feel free to comment on caligráfica posts with your usual identities.

I am still going to write about calligraphy here too.  Your comments and thoughts have been embarrassingly kind and mean a great deal.

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Paul and I went and saw Terry Gilliam’s film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which I absolutely loved.  It may be my favorite movie of his ever, certainly since Time Bandits.  It’s lush, fantasy filled and truly a visual feast. Highly recommended.

*Sadly the reproduction is too muddy to make out even in the book so there was no point in scanning it.  

Congratulations Fiona!

My lovely friend, Fiona Locke, found out this past week that her book Over the Knee, first printed in Fall of 2006, has sold out its original 9000 copies and is being reprinted!

over-the-kneeAs I mentioned above and in this Punishment Book entry, Fiona is a friend.  But even if I didn’t know her, I would love this book.  Reading the story of Angie, the book’s heroine and her adventures took me back to my bookstore haunting memories of college when I bought all kinds of books (mostly Blue Moon) on dominance and submission in the hope of finding spanking scenes.   My favorite of these  is / was  a collection of short stories called  The Reckoning.  Had  Fiona’s book existed then, it would have become my favorite.

This isn’t intended as a book review, but Fiona’s book isn’t about dominance and submission (not that they aren’t fun to read about too) but rather it’s about corporal punishment — spanking for role play and “real” and a blurring of the two.  In short, it’s all about my kink.

The book also represents a for fun labor of love between Fiona and her readers.  The white-pantied bottom on the cover of the book is her own, the headless spanker is her real-life partner.  (I have it on authority from the photographer than much spanking was needed for the color to look right in the picture.) Not to give something away here (okay, I’m going to give something away, but I have permission) but in the course of the novel, a website called English Vice gets mentioned.  The fictional site is all about spanking outdoors, frequently in famous places.  Here’s a situation where fact and fiction merge because Fiona and her partner registered the domain and created the site.

hollywood-signAnd so here’s my contribution to Fiona’s venture.  Paul took a picture of me getting spanked with a red leather Shadow Lane paddle by a friend underneath the Hollywood Sign (because what location in Los Angeles could be more iconic?) and its posted there (yes, I’m Luna).  It’s not a great picture — we literally only had a minute to get the pictures snapped.  The hike up had taken longer than we expected and the light was going — plus there were joggers coming by every few minutes.  But still, there they are.

Note that the picture is also rather humorous from a perspective issue.  The woman spanking me is basically the same height as me, but looks like a hobbit (or I look like an amazon).  The angle of the camera was apparently just right to create a rather funny shot.

The photos of me aside, the pictures on the site are great fun.  I especially like the rather spooky White Sands shots.

Academic Fetish: Dirt and Imperial Leather

Wife and servant are the same, but only differ in the name. – Lady Chudleigh

I’ve literally been meaning to write about this book for years — like since I first read it in a seminar in 1997.  Although I’ve read lots of pretty kinky literature in classes, including Venus in Furs, this is one of the most interesting books on fetishes I’ve ever read.   It’s called Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest by academic Anne McClintock.

imperial-leather1What makes this book such a delight to the fetish reader?  Not its prose, which isn’t as hard to get through as Foucault, but is definitely of the post-modern, post-colonial critical style.  This isn’t meant as a complaint by the way, but more by way of a warning that you probably won’t want to buy this for pleasure reading unless you tend to read academic texts more generally.

imperial-leather2There’s a lot of good stuff in the book on issues of race and fetish as well as images of imperialism in 19th century popular culture.  But it’s Chapter 3: Race, Cross Dressing and the Cult of Domesticity that makes for the most amazing reading.   It’s an account of the secret marriage of upper class, Cambridge graduate and barrister, Arthur Munby and serving woman Hannah Cullwick whom he met on the street.  They had a secret romance and marriage (facts Arthur only revealed to his family a few weeks before his death) based, in part, on Munby’s fetishization of their class differences and her status as his “slave” (she wore a leather wrist band to denote her status as “owned” by him and a locked chain around her neck for which only he had the key as further proof of her bondage to him).  He was especially fond of seeing her during and after she had labored — “in her dirt” (see image on the right) as he called it.  Both Munby and Cullwick kept diaries of their experiences / relationship, which makes for detailed knowledge of their relationship.

This fetishizing of class and Cullwick’s servant status was immortalized by Munby who took contrasting photographs  of Hannah dressed as a fine lady (her secret status by marriage) when they traveled together, as a serving woman and as a slave.

imperial-leather3Cullwick was stunning as a model (I wish I could find more of the shots of her on-line).  She posed for Munby cross-dressed as a boy, as a laborer and even as a gentleman of his own class.   Their private games were of her slavery.  She addressed him as “Massa,” knelt at his feet, licked his boots and washed his feet (again, we know this from their diaries which he donated to Cambridge though sadly the accounts of her “training” were removed).

One of the things I found quite striking as an account of fetishizing work was this passage:

…she would arrange to theatrically scrub the front doorsteps on her knees as Munby sauntered down the street, languidly swinging his cane… Cullwick visited Munby frequently “in her dirt” after a grueling day’s work, her clothes dank and filthy, her face deliberately blackened with boot polish, her hands red and raw; only to pose later that same evening freshly dressed as an upper-class lady in finery.  They spent happy hours mulling over the ordeals of her workload, ritualistically counting and recounting the incredible number of boots she cleaned. (page 137)

With material like Munby’s photographs and diaries both left to work from, it’s not surprising that there are a number of books discussing the couple’s history.  What I like about Imperial Leather is McClintock’s enlightened discussion of S/M in relation to the couple.  She sees both its theater and the realities of power as distributed between the two people in this relationship.   This means that unlike other works, Imperial Leather reads Cullwick not as a victim, but as an actor in her own slavery.

As McClintock writes (paraphrasing Foucault):

To argue that in S/M “whoever is the ‘master’ has the power and whoever is the slave has not,” is to read theater for reality; it is to play the world forward.  The economy of S/M, however is the economy of conversion: master to slave, adult to baby, power to submission, man to woman, pain to pleasure, human to animal and back again…. S/M is a theater of transformation; it “plays the world backward.”

I wish I had time to write more about this, but will happily return to discussion of it should anyone be interested.  And, maybe, even if no one but me is.

What about the third eye?

I think I once promised to explain what “el tercer ojo” (the third eye) means.

First off, the quotation –which you get if you play with your cursor and the roll-over on the freeway sign above– comes from a poem by Cherrie Moraga from her collection The Last Generation.  The entire poem is: “the third eye does not weep. it knows.”  I’ve always loved her writing and couldn’t resist this chance to use it (and thus somehow make it partly my own).  Hope she doesn’t mind.

frida-kahloFor me, the third eye is the mind’s eye.  I see it as is depicted by Frida Kahlo, in her self-portrait “Diego On My Mind.”  It’s the inner vision of whatever is most important to us/ me at any given moment.

I think it also represents (as Moraga’s poem indicates) that truth which we know rather than simply believe or feel.  Emotions can run high so often in my world / self.  Writing, for me can be a way to translate what I feel into knowledge — to figure out why I feel the way I do.

I weep rather easily though.  So does my third eye weep?  I don’t think so; I think like Moraga’s it remains somewhat abstracted.  Unlike the rest of me, I don’t see it so much as about feeling as being about logic and, as said above, knowledge.  There’s a coldness to my nature at time.  A part of me that however much I’m in the moment, even when I’ve been weeping with sadness or laughing until I can’t breathe, that observes me and the situation from the outside.

That detachment or disassociation (as I’ve sometimes thought of it) has led me to wonder what I’m really feeling.  Or even worse, if at the worst or best moments of my life I’m really feeling anything, or if my life is somehow a dishonest performance.

Not happy thoughts at all.  Luckily, I don’t feel that way very often anymore.

Why?  Basically because of a really good therapist telling me that there wasn’t anything very abnormal going on.  That these feelings were a product of a mind that was more comfortable with analysis then emotion, not dishonesty. And so I renamed that portion of me my third eye.

And left my other two free to weep.  And laugh.

Maybe this explains it.

I was going to write something deeply introspective explaining why I’ve never really seen myself as someone who’s likely to have children, but I’ve just taken this little quiz to find out what book I am and, rather unexpectedly, it’s explained everything.

lolita

You’re Lolita!
by Vladimir Nabokov
Considered by most to be depraved and immoral, you are obsessed with
sex. What really tantalizes you is that which deviates from societal standards in every
way, though you admit that this probably isn’t the best and you’re not sure what causes
this desire. Nonetheless, you’ve done some pretty nefarious things in your life, and
probably gotten caught for them. The names have been changed, but the problems are real.
Please stay away from children.


Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

That pretty much sums it up. Or not. Any questions?
(Oh and if you take the quiz, tell me what book you are please! After all, I’ve shown you mine.)

Burning Anaya

burning-booksDear God. The crazy, far-right protect-children-from-knowledge crowd are burning the classic Chicano novel, Bless Me, Ultima in Norwood, Colorado. Burning it with the help and support of a superintendent of schools Bob Conder who admits to never even having read it. The copies couldn’t be donated, he explained, because he didn’t want to risk them falling into the hands of a child.

Heavens no. If it fell into the hands of high school students, they might read it and learn how full of shit he is. What is he teaching them by burning school books, destroying novels? (Picture is a famous shot from a Nazi student rally where objectionable books were burned).

This is not some new marginal or semi-pornographic work that a radical teacher is trying to slip into her or his classroom, not that I’d support burning those either. The novel was written in 1972 and is probably among two of the first and best known Chicano novels. Its author, Rudolfo Anaya is both an award-winning author and a literature professor (okay, I think maybe he’s retired now) at the University of New Mexico and the book has national and international standing as exceptionally good American literature.

I’ve read this novel many times and been in two classes where it’s been taught — I can’t really see what the problem with teaching it to highschool or even junior highschool students would be. The book uses magical realism to tell the story of a soldier returning home from the second World War and the healing he finds in the memories of the herbal magic practiced by his mother and adopted grandmother.

There’s some profanity in the book, as befits a character who’s a young former soldier. The grounds for the book being destroyed? That it’s obscene and promotes paganism. More about the burning here.

I’ve sat here for a while trying to come to grips with what can be done. My suggestion is to buy a copy of the book, read it and then if you think its worthy, donate it to your local library.

Cooking Mexican

This entry is part public service, part suggestion for any family member looking for a gift idea for me. There’s a wonderful (and I do mean wonderful) cookbook that’s been re-released called Frida’s Fiestas. I got a copy of it for Christmas ten years ago when it was first released. It’s a cookbook by Frida Kahlo’s step-daughter (Diego Rivera’s daughter) with wonderful recipes and beautiful photographs of both the food and Diego and Frida’s art and house in Mexico.

fridas-fiestasIt’s definitely the most beautiful cookbook I’ve ever had. Fun to read, beautiful photographs and the recipes are organized by monthly holidays. So in addition to getting information about Diego and Frida’s lives, you also get to read about Mexican holidays.

So I bet you’re wondering why I don’t have my copy anymore. Basically, I gave it to someone to look through and they thought it was a gift. I didn’t have the heart to take it back. But I really miss having it. All the other Mexican food I know how to make are family recipes — I’ve found most cookbooks for Mexican food are dismal. The ones in Frida’s Fiestas are more fun though. The book was out of print for about five years, but was re-printed last year (probably because of the movie).

So this gift would work for cooks, art lovers and anyone interested in beautiful books.