Through the Looking Glass
"One can't believe impossible things",
"I daresay you haven't had much
practice", said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it
for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as
six impossible things before breakfast."
We, of the BDSM community are
conjoined through a mutuality of our psychology (and, hearts). Together we are
so much more than we found ourselves previously to be as individuals seeking the
'unknown'. We are known, if not to ourselves, then to one another.
Discovering what it is we are (especially to ourselves) is not easy.
First we have to accept our 'perversions'.
Then we have to
accept that they are ours.
Then we have to accept ourselves with our perversions.
Then we must accept that others have perversions.
Then we should accept their perversions (in as much as our individual and
cultural morality and ethics allow us to).
Then, we are faced with their reality.
'It ain't easy'. It causes some to lose their mental stability, join a convent
(for the cross dressers out there, this can be a goal anyway), to strain the
relational boundaries with the one's we love, lose a job, seek psychiatric care,
or simply strain our very foundations that have brought us to where we are.
Then once we are established, set, found, and 'bound' to it… we find that
there are people who we believed were "part of the life" (and
therefore, in essence, part of our very selves) telling us we are 'wrong' about
some aspect of our tenets, stating that we are 'incorrect', 'untrue',
'unreal', and 'impure' to these things we had held as ' self-evident'. They
inform us (their perception or reality) that our personal version, our personal
vision, and (therefore) our personal values are incorrect.
For a group that preaches tolerance for various proclivities and customs, we can
be awfully intolerant of one another. We speak of communication, but often times
that degenerates into divisive discussions with no winners and everyone losers.
There are disagreements about style, methods, behavior, and kink. There are
major disagreements about organizations, money, and structure. Eventually these
discussions or debates are no longer communication but 'verbal beating of the
Often times, outside observers to the argument can see that the people involved
are talking about the same things, but in different languages, or, are simply
unwilling to concede the points (often minor) required to come to a consensus
and end the fray.
It can be rather upsetting for all parties to say the least.
This happens in all walks of life; but, I believe it is more prolific and
obvious in the scene because of our unique dispositions relative to the rest of
the populace at large. I am not speaking of the fact that we are approximately
half comprised of "Dominants".
Anyone witnessing one of these "discussions gone wild" would more than
likely see a 'submissive' as ardently enmeshed in the midst of the debate as any
Together, we are people who are "partially self-actualized2 towards a
belief of who we are". We are constantly redefining ourselves and our
beliefs in an attempt at a refined self-definition. This carries over to highly
developed senses of 'right and wrong' about the minutest details of 'what it is
that we do'. Most of us have found acceptance in our lives through our
interaction within the community, and reinforcement of our beliefs through the
same. There are web sites, and books, munches and lectures 'ad nauseum'.
We are not perfect in our 'actualization'. Therefore we are definitively not
enough aware enough to understand others. We, at times, cannot see beyond our
We are not this way because of any "inherently divisive nature". We
are a community-based population, seeking others out for commiseration and
admiration (ok, we like to be bragged about). But: we can be aware enough of the
personal perspective and STILL not come to a comprehension that there are other
ones that NEED to be seen to get a more comprehensive picture.
A few years ago I was riding into the city. I chanced to be reading
a book by one the major kink authors about some penchant in the life. I sat
there, deciding to be nonplus about the reading material. Since it was not a
pictorial, I thought that I was safe from prying eyes… well… except for the
cover of the book that demanded some attention through a glossily photographed
female form tied and bonded in alluring pose.
I read all the time on the train, and, seldom get the opportunity to read in any
other setting. My desire to review this book was something of an over riding
thing with me. It was a gift I had possessed for some months. I wanted to read
it. The giver of the gift wanted me to read it (and, had already asked several
times 'how it was'). I was determined to do so… and, the train was (finally)
the designated place.
Unless someone was to look closely at the content of the book or the cover, I
would not offend anyone. New Yorkers are notoriously insular and self absorbed
by life while riding the train. I was determined not to be concerned about this.
If they looked close enough to see what I was reading, they were snooping... and
"to hell with them".
I sat there in unconcerned repose with my book, when at the next stop more
travelers got on. As the train is normally rather full, I had expected (and was
not disappointed) in the arrival of a seatmate to occupy the space beside me. He
sat down resplendent in his three-piece Brooks Brothers suit, immaculate silk
tie, and matching accoutrements required for the daily grind of a Manhattan
The doors shut, the train commenced shivering along. I wondered if he was
noticing my book, if it upset him at all, or, interested him. Then I was once
again set my mentality on the book and his presence retreated.
A few minutes later, I realized the man was staring over towards me. I got that
'odd' feeling one gets when being looked at… the look sideways confirmed that
this person was staring in my direction and reviewing the goings on in my seat.
He cleared his throat and looked away. A few minutes later, he was back staring
and was now moving (doing the jig of the uncomfortable and angling away from me
in his seat). Secretly I felt a small amount of disdain for his discomfort, he
was (after all) spying on my reading (something simply not done in polite
I chose to ignore him and his discomfort as I turned the page. He rose, and went
to the doors and stood there, back to me through the remainder of the trip.
I was rather surprised at this reaction. Certainly, should he have chosen to see
what I was reading, I could imagine a sneer or even a slightly startled
reaction. But, here you have a metropolitan, supposedly worldly man who was
visibly upset and agitated at something somewhat less than pornography.
I mused about this for a short time and slowly settled back to the reading,
leaving him at the door.
The train-ride completed, I placed the book into my leather (what else?)
briefcase and rose to leave. Checked all my property in place and watched the
doors slide open as the people queued to exit the train.
As I walked towards the door, the coolness of the winter wind whipped through
the train chilling all exposed skin as it might on any January day.
My fly was open.
there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot
now,' said Zaphod emphatically.3"
Perception is our ability to define the 'subjective reality' in which we live.
That is to say: We take in information, think about it to some degree, mull it
over with previous experience, place it within the context of our accumulated
values, perhaps even concentrate and consciously debate it within our frame of
reference and the setting we are in… …then we behave in specific and
unique ways. This behavior is unique to our personal experiential basis. They
are what we determine is the 'right' way based on the chaotic presence of our
consciousness and our 'selves'.
All of this may occur with in the space of less than a second. We do not need
any more time. We simply use the accumulated thoughts, recollections, previous
experience, what we know of other people's experiences, our socialization (that
attitude we carry from our friends, parents, even society) to consciously or
unconsciously act and react to the thing we are mulling over. And, we may not
even realize we have made any decision at all… ...it may seem natural in the
split second between 'inherent cognition' and action/reaction.4
We are bioelectrical machines of immense complexity, finely tuned through
centuries of evolution and decades of socialization that behave and react in
very similar fashions. But, we are not the same. All our individual experiences
and method of sensory input is very much acclimated to ourselves.
We are (in effect) individuals in the finest sense of the term. We are all very
different, despite any similarities. Even the study of fraternal twins has shown
them to be significantly different, psychologically and physiologically from
birth. Their personal experiences being just 'that much' varying in the womb to
their mentality and their bodies.
So how would the rest of us compare when we consider how different our outlooks
Perspective in cognitive thought.
In 1690, John Locke5 , the eminent philosopher, mathematician, and scientist,
thought on this long and hard. He wondered whether another individual perceived
things in a truly unique way from himself… and… whether he, in turn, saw
things differently from others as well as yourself.
He postulated that if he saw a color (red for instance) as 'red', would you…
could you… possibly see it as what he thought of as 'green'?? And if you saw
this as his version of 'green' could someone else see it as what might be
perceived as yellow?
But, since we all were so used to defining the colors we saw by the terms that
were familiar to us, and all other people (despite whatever color they saw)
defined this using the same terms... then we were all on the same page, unable
to tell that we were seeing completely different things… but, saw them in our
own way, and called them the same thing.
two men see the world exactly alike, and different temperaments will apply in
different ways a principle that they both acknowledge. The same man will,
indeed, often see and judge the same things differently on different
One day (it may feel like
yesterday if you are similar to me) you came to a realization in life. You did
not fit into the 'normal scheme of things' in the endeavor of human
interrelationship. You found that some preference of yours, some urge, or some
mannerisms of your personality were precluding you from enjoying a life that
felt 'fulfilled'. You felt scared, anxious, worried about it, or simply filed it
away as something that was not 'right' and, therefore, not to be thought about
You (at some point) found that there were others like you. You were all
'perverts'… people who were not what society generally considers to be
Now, this individual (we will continue refer to as 'you') had discovered a way
of thinking and looking at yourself and others that denoted a personal
preference beyond most people's comprehension. Upon recognizing this in 'you'
and the fact that a community existed, you may have felt a jolt pass through you
of understanding, pleasure, and possible awakening. Perhaps a rush of
something electrical passed through your mind as a realization of immense
proportion was finally actualized in conscious thought (although in many
instances 'you' were aware of this proclivity previous to this, 'you' were just
not mindful of it in your self). We were aware that we liked to tie people up,
just not the depth to which this was ingrained, maintained and a part of our
On the other hand, some of us possibly had relatives, friends or acquaintances
when we allowed relations into our secrets (should this have come to pass) said:
"I KNEW YOU WERE BENT!!" (of course in many instances these people are
the "Aunt Mildred"'s of the world, people who "knew it" no
matter whether it was Uncle Henry's gall bladder or the attack on Pearl Harbor).
This is the difference between our conscious and unconscious realities and why a
personal reality is considered very subjective and may not even be obvious to
In life there are three types of reality:
1. Subjective and experiential - or that which is developed through time
and experiential living by the individual. Including but not limited to
socialization, trauma, and personal beliefs. May be comprised of hypothesis or
theorem without attribution to any objective or tangible means.
2. Objective - that which is observed by others and is agreed upon by most.
A tangibly provable belief or thought. Repeatable or valid through the proof of
interactive observation of others conforming to the belief or reality of a
situation of the individual's objective reality and basis.
3. Experiential biologic effects - cognitive association that may or may
not be real and is based on the physiological, biochemical, bioelectrical,
cytomagnetic, and biogenetic composition of the mind and body, and, any
abnormality involved in these processes.7
These elements of the consciousness compose the chaotic myriad of possible and
potential outcomes for each interaction or relevant thing we experience (hence,
a major reason for the unpredictability of humans)8 . All three play
significant and intertwining roles in how we look at, perceive, and react to the
world. We are all with them, and, they are all with us.
What is the point?
The point is simply this...
Each of these outlooks, processes and means are rife with many angles and
oddities for each of us. We all have differing genetics, physiology, experience,
beliefs and general 'make-ups'. Any deviation from one person to another creates
immense and far-reaching changes as time passes on. For each difference, there
are millions of possibilities to be experienced in our unique outlooks and
People in this thing we call the "Life" are just as much individuals
as any other rational human being; as such, they are prone to the vagaries of
experience and thought which all beings are. Because they perceive something in
a different light (or color: nee Locke) than we might or do, does not
necessarily mean they are incorrect. At the same time, it definitively does not
mean they are right.
Right or wrong, we cannot possibly know what the other person is saying without
truly listening to them. To listen we have to dedicate ourselves to 'hearing'
what they are saying, hearing what they mean, and trying to comprehend their
position and place in the things they say.
This isn't easy.
Often times we are faced with someone who you personally do not like, who speaks
too quickly or writes in a manner that is too 'officious' (perhaps using many
footnotes or quotes as though that lends some sort of validity!!9 ), who is
offensive in personal habits or manners or customs, someone who behaves in a
pompous manner, or assumes they know than you believe (know?) they do… there
may be issues too numerous to mention.
cannot share a common communication system so long as it is split into warring
But, does this mean they cannot have information that you might find of interest
or use in finding out more than you already know about yourself and this life?
Knowledge is neither good nor bad, neither evil nor beneficent. It simply is. If
you desire to gain in your life and (ancillarily) your happiness, sometimes you
must allow yourself (and, I do mean allow) to adjust your mind to the fact that
the breakdown in communication does not exist with the person speaking at the
time… …but, with yourself.
The next time someone has written something that you find offensive, is speaking
with that superior tone which you find upsetting, or is simply someone who
pisses you off because they exist… think.
They are only imparting information. You are filling in the rest. Stop, and
consider the basis for the statements made without the prejudice. Are they in
concert with your thinking? Do they allow for some item or point that should be
It may be of the utmost importance.
1. Lewis Carroll [Charles Lutwidge Dodgson], Through the
2. Abraham Maslow "The Further Reaches of Human
3. Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
4. William Crain, Theories of Development: Concepts and
Applications (4th Edition), (1999)
5. John Locke, 'Essay Concerning Human
6. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, 'Propyläen', introduction (1798)
7. Robert A. Charman,'The Field Substance of the
Mind' [online]. Perspectives (26Sep97)
8. James Gleick, 'Chaos, Making a New Science' (1987)
9. KJPS Howe, “Made Ya Look”, (2002)
10. Bertolt Brecht, “A Short Organum for the Theatre,”(1949).