Saturday, June 29, 2013


My dad once told me that the reason he quit facebook after his very brief time using it was because he wasn’t a narcissist and didn’t think anyone should care to hear about whatever random thing pops into his head or whatever. This is sort of fitting with his generally reticent and private approach to life and is not something I really on any level understand. I know some people do eventually end up becoming great friends with their parents and I imagine some even learn to comprehend their reasoning, but that’s never really been an option as far as I’m concerned. My dad is a bit scary and unfathomable and I always feel guilty and odd and generally uncomfortable around him. Not really a Kafkaesque terror of him and his virility or superiority or anything like that, just the sort of unease around someone who is or was or has been something of a distant relative for most of your childhood while you were raised by someone who was vituperatively in opposition to him, popularly blaming him for behavioral mishaps or occasionally summarily labeling you as “just like your father” when you don’t think you did anything particularly wrong but anyway it creates a lot of odd tension there.
It’s not to say I don’t like my dad, in fact I like him very much. It’s not to say I don’t emulate him either, it’s just a weird uncomfortablility. Like a scar that didn’t really heal right so now you can’t quite flex your middle finger without some awkwardness or you can’t fully curl your toes or putting your knees on the ground just so causes you intense pain.
Personal writing gets compared to masturbation a lot, with the same connotations of the sort of thing you should do in the privacy of your bathroom or not at all and sharing it is kind of privately looked down on. It’s a sort of “keep it in the family/stop snitching” thing that serves as a social force actively preventing expression. The idea that no one wants to hear what you have to say or that you’re just repeating other people but worse or the idea that you’re whoring yourself out for attention and on and on. They’re all constructs of the mind; excuses and rationalizations and justifications for the sublimation of your self or your ego or your character or your internal monologues.
And they’re understandable. Nothing in the world is more understandable than insecurity. Literally every being who has ever lived on this planet grapples with some form of insecurity. Insecurity is just the difference between your mental idea of what you should be and who you are and no one lives up to their internal idea of who they are. And we can only blame ourselves, ultimately. Every single day we wake up and go literally or metaphorically outside and expose ourselves to image after image after icon after symbol of perfection and beauty and moral rectitude and every single day we go outside and get ourselves into vicious knife-fights with each other about how badly we’re failing to live up to standards and we invent news standards by which to appease ourselves about the other being that much worse so at least even if we’re failing to be perfect we’re more perfect than they are and it goes on and on until we’re all aged and infirm and judging each other in the gated communities right up until they find us dead in the kitchen trying to eat a 100 calorie yogurt cup or sitting in front of The Real Life mouth open midway through complaints about the imperfections of kids these days.
It’s a wonder anyone gets out of bed at all and not at all surprising when many of us don’t or would like not to except for our need to feed ourselves and cover our surroundings with distractions from our imperfection.
So I don’t know what to tell you. Insecurity is a force in your head and it’s a force that paralyzes you with fear, more or less, and stops you from achieving the full expression of your personhood. Yes it does bad things but it’s not like it’s for me to tell you that you should stop it or anything so trite as the idea that since it’s only in your head then it’s somehow any less real or physical or deadly. Conceptually this is just me describing the problem, attempting to find its true name so it can be bound or banished like any other demon or spirit.
Personal writing has benefits, chief among them being the sort of organizational power they can have for your thoughts. Through personal writing you can discuss a certain set of emotions you feel and read them back to yourself on paper and think about them in a new way and come up with new conclusions. With personal writing you can synthesize information that flows through your brain on your daily slog through underachievement world and turn it into something coherent and meaningful. With personal writing you can escape the flesh and bone and keratin shell you’re trapped in and at last interface with the world around you, if only in an instantaneous, photographic way.
It’s also a weak point. A vulnerability, a sort of handing keys to your car to whoever happens by except those keys are to your feelings, or if you’re at least a little more guarded it’s like exposing a tiny bit of yourself underneath the armor you wear out of doors as you walk through the hell-world that is social interaction, not enough to get seriously wounded but enough to hurt and enough to bleed and enough to keep you awake until you bind that wound or eventually forget about it or find yourself attentively deleting every attack and rationalizing away every attack and booting them all out of your restaurant because they hurt you and your world. It’s admitting to the world that beneath your armor and behind your façade and below your cool you are “only” human and “only” human in a way that denies or disrupts or destroys your pretension otherwise. You are “only” imperfect, despite all the attempts to say and prove otherwise and everyone is there to steal your perfection from you, cutting you down and making you that other because it’s the way to become more perfect.
I understand, I know there are things about yourself don’t say. You don’t say them because you don’t want to deal with their implications or their complications or their consequences. I am bisexual and I don’t say it to gay men because it turns into a conversation about inevitability and I don’t say it to straight people because it becomes an inevitability and I don’t say it to the progressive enlightened because it becomes a conversation about the injustice rendered by what they assume to be bisexuality, the transphobia that they insist it implies, so it becomes another conversation about inevitability, that ultimately I must not be bi but homo/hetero/pan. So I say nothing and let what assumptions will pass wash over me. Better this than to listen to an endless litany of nonsense and overt erasure. Dan Savage would be mad, but then Dan Savage thinks I don’t exist anyway, since Dan Savage has invaded my brain and determined for me who I am or am not attracted to.
But that’s not really much of a thing. Depression is another one of those things. You don’t tell friends or family members about your suicidal ideation, really, because it’s not likely a ton of people are really going to understand it and their attempts to do so are usually inadequate at best and it’s not like they can actually do anything other than suggest debilitating drug regimens and a cavalcade of well-meaning but ultimately terrible professionals that act out a devised script based on a handful of academic theories loosely derived from a crackpot with way too much influence. People who do talk about depression are inordinately brave, since there’s always always always someone in the crowd who is gonna yell “why don’t you just get over it, loser?” or you grow up with a parent who thinks you should just willpower your way out of all the problems she described you as having and all the problems you actually had and then later a pre-jilted lover tells you “wow it’s a wonder you don’t hate all women” because all of literary criticism theory and much of semiotics is based on that same crackpot and his weird obsession with children’s relationships to their parents.

Friday, June 21, 2013


I climbed slowly up the cliffs, my hands grasping cold stone in the moonglow, the road below me further and further away. The snow hadn’t touched the cliff, fortunately, and after a few terrifying moments my hand grasped the plateau and hoisted my body up and over. There before me lay the temple I sought.

Surrounded with snow-covered ornamentation—a fountain and some decorative steps—the temple was grand in its scale and yet simple in design, hearkening to Greek design. I knew not what I would find inside, yet I would not have been surprised to find a massive statue of Zeus or a smaller statue of Lincoln.

As I walked through the ornamental steps and ascended the pathway, I was struck with an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. I’ve been here before, I thought to myself. But it was different now, covered in snow and forgotten on a cliff-side.

I stepped into the grand archway that marked the temple’s threshold and found myself in a small room softly lit by a golden glow that resonated well with the room’s gold leaf and red velvet walls. It felt an infinitely warm and comforting contrast to outside’s dark indigo and silvery-white moonlight reflected on the cold snow. The room and the room beyond it were filled with dioramas housed in glass cases gilt with gold trim. 

They each depicted a different sort of battle scene, playing out silently in mechanical clockwork. Here tiny golden tanks fired glittering explosive shells into a field. There small airplanes dropped golden bombs onto a small dingy city. In the next room tiny soldiers fired tiny machine guns into each other, mortar exploding around them and grenades being thrown, all perfectly quiet.

At the end of the second room was a door, simple and brown compared to the splendor around me. As I saw the door I realized I had indeed been here before, in another time, perhaps another life. I recalled beaming with pride at the diorama here, having built it to demonstrate the genius and inevitable success of the Third Reich. Before, these walls lay bare and rooms empty. He was someone else, though. From somewhere else. Still, the door remained.

I opened the door only to find a yet smaller room, just wide enough to hold a couch and a computer desk and a small television with nondescript images flickering across the screen. The room was brown with cheap particle board paneling, the couch a nondescript grey-yellow-green color. Inside the room was an older man, hair white but still standing tall and proud. I barely paid attention to his outfit, which appeared to be a dark blue robe with silver trim. He spoke to me and asked if I had found some evidence for humanity’s continued survival, for its redemption. I thought for a moment and as my attention wandered I found myself at the crest of a hillside overlooking a quiet coastal town, night illuminated by the sharp moonlight, city glowing softly with human lights.

The port, I could see, was at the end of a ship-filled lagoon, beyond it a glittering ocean. The sight was beautiful, the small wooden ships gently rocking to the waves, the town below me laying in silence. I found myself walking to a nearby building, a restaurant, small and well-worn, a light layer of grime attesting to its habitation. Inside, I knew, was a woman I also knew and loved from the lowest depths of my heart. But she was not there, and in that moment I was returned to the study. “Well Belphegor?” said the man to me. “Have you found it?” As he spoke what I was not aware was my name, his appearance changed, becoming something less human and more indefinably alien. I saw myself change as well—into a reflection of him.

I sat on the couch, brainstorming what I would say, what argument I would give. As I did the door of the study opened and in walked the woman. My heart yanked as she smiled her beautiful warm smile at me, said a few quiet words to the man and then left again. “Have I always known her?” I asked myself. The man stared expectantly. I drifted over to the computer desperate to build an argument that would satisfy his questioning. I mulled over reports of human kindness, human hope, human courage, human love. I built my case thoroughly and meticulously and began to present it soberly and intensely.

But as I spoke my mind began to drift and I thought of the cruelties and the injustices and the greed and the malfeasance. I thought of war, of perpetual endless war. I thought of hate, justified and rationalized and reproduced again and again. I thought of fear and loss and grief and wounds and scars and destruction. I began to weep, to cry openly. I choked with fear and sadness, I stopped my argument and spoke instead: “I don’t know. I don’t know if humanity deserves to continue. I don’t know if it’s redeemed. I don’t know.”

The man smiled a warm, knowing smile.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Porn Review Special Report: Breast Expansion

One of the operating assumptions of this series and of erotic materials in general is that the female body is sex. The form of a woman is designed to entice, the function of a woman is to arouse and ultimately climax the other party, male or female. Breast expansion as a paraphilia is an expression of this idea in terms of breast paraphilia. Since boobs are one of the most popularly sexualized body parts in modern western society, it should come as little surprise that the modification (specifically here the growth of breasts. Breast shrinkage or deflation is a separate and much less common paraphilia) of those parts is one of the most popular paraphilia.
Breast expansion is exactly what it sounds like, the expansion of breasts on women. This is sometimes presented in a “before and after” fashion, sometimes depicted as it happens, and occasionally is applied as a label to characters depicted with larger breasts than is canonically known. For this special report I’ve selected two comics and a handful of related gifs to discuss the impact and creation of this paraphilia, as well as elements of the community formed around it.
Surprisingly, I am not an expert in sexuality, so take what I say with whatever grains of salt you wish. I’m more of an expert in the construction of online cultures than a person who has performed significant research into the areas of human sexuality. What I’m here to do, however, Is present and critique a handful of viewpoints and use my experiences to deconstruct the paraphilia as a whole.
Trigger Warning: Nonconsensual body modification, general reduction of women into objects

Monday, June 3, 2013

Transfuture Allstars - A Porn Review


In this day and age, old notions of gender and sexuality are challenged daily by individuals across the country. Every day I can get up and go outside and walk a few blocks and bump into at least half a dozen proponents of queer desire. I live with a drag queen, an embodiment of an often unspoken acknowledgement that gender is a performance; if not necessarily a refutation of that performance (opinions are divided).
It’s a great time to live in and I and my blue fingernails and desire to be objectified and pursued are quite happy about it as a whole. What does this mean in the porn world, though? The queer has always been the exotic, and thus erotic, and as such “tranny” and “shemale” porn has been rampantly popular for at least the last two decades. Much of the erotic desire in this particular branch of porn comes from the unexpected and interesting juxtaposition of a penis being on a person who behaves and is arrayed as female. Much in the same way that racial porn works, the actual character or portrayal matters little. The person’s sole erotic interest is in their unusual features.
However this is only one branch of queered pornography, and one that appeals to a certain set of western straight men primarily. What I’m about to cover here takes an entirely different approach to the concept. Instead of exoticizing queer desires, Radio’s artwork normalizes those desires in a setting that emphasizes the consent and safety of all participants. It’s transgressive in the best sort of way and should be interesting to look at. I’m going to cover three of her short comix, which I believe can all be found at Slipshine for subscription money or elsewhere if you’re patient/determined. Slipshine is a great outfit in the vein of topatoco, providing another revenue source for the talented and interesting sort of people who typically write or draw webcomics. It also has a notable bent towards a progressive concept of sexuality, where it should be fun and appealing to everyone rather than a narrow group of straight men. I have more to say about the movement later.  
Trigger Warning: Literally nothing. This stuff is cute as shit.

Captain’s log stardate June 3, 2013

 I’m sitting on my bed in an empty 15’ by 20’ rectangle that contains a whole buttload of stuff I neither need nor particularly want. Also food and musical instruments and cloth genital coverings. The power is out. I don’t know why it’s out this time, but I assume it has to do with the complete disregard for financial stability the roommate property manager drag/welfare queen drug dealer has. 24/7 he runs the A/c in the front room. 80* in the winter, 68* in the summer. It’s obscene. I paid a bill for him one, in that I motivated my self to the bill paying place with money he gave me. $382 for a month’s electricity. I assume this is why the power is out, but this is new Orleans still and basically power is optional.