Update: Science and Justice has put an English translation of the article on their webpage.
Recently California Senator Mark Leno proposed a bill that would allow cities in the state to grant selected restaurants and nightclubs permission to extend the serving of alcohol later into the night. The new suggested limit would be 4 am rather than the 2 am dictated by the current regulation. The bill, Leno’s press release stresses, would allow the California cities a fairer standing vis-à-vis other global metropolises in the economically important competition to attract pleasure-seeking cosmopolitans and their money.
Supporters argue that the bill would benefit the economy as well as provide cities with the traffic-planning advantage of being able to have different clubs close at different hours and thus spread out the flow of people heading home. The opponents, on the other hand, in dramatic images of blood, fire and sirens in the night, want us to consider risk, health and public order (“the streets of Los Angeles at 4 a.m. will look like a rerun of Demolition Derby”), as well as the economy, though this time in terms of the increased state expenses the escalated night-time ravage of the extended service hours would cause.
As a foreigner accustomed to going out in Copenhagen and other European cities, one of the most apparent differences in the flow of things, that I experienced subsequent to arriving in California last fall for a year-long study abroad was, indeed, the very abruptly ending nights out. Imagine something like having finally obtained the warm and buzzing sensation the combination that drinks and good conversations can facilitate, maybe having established some nascent feeling of connection with an interesting stranger or perhaps almost being ready to immerse yourself in the crowd of the dance floor just for the lights to be turned on and a resolute doorman letting everyone know it’s time to go home. Entire stages of the journey that is a Friday or Saturday night out are simply never even allowed to begin here.
And however much the supporters might imagine that keeping the taps flowing for two more hours would propel San Francisco and LA into the top of some global party circuit, compared to many European cities 4 am is actually still not very late.
One of cities that Leno’s press release imagines the Californian ones to be on level with if the bill is passed is Berlin. But in terms of alcohol laws Berlin is much more similar to Las Vegas in that there isn’t no such thing as a set cut-off time for serving. Thus, certain clubs are able to operate, and sell alcohol, continuously for several nights and days. The liberal laws of the German capital, together with other factors such as low rent and cheap airfare, have provided the conditions for an extremely vivid and cultivated scene for nightlife and club culture as well the establishment of an image of the city as the party capital of Europe, that allows its inhabitants and many visitors to drink and dance to loud music in sweaty rooms (or outside in parks, on boats, by lakes, or on rooftops in the summer) at any time of night or subsequent day for however long their bodies are capable of.
Compared to this, then, the bill indeed appears as a very modest proposition, perhaps suggesting something about how an American puritan legacy disparaging pleasure might still play a substantial role in conditioning and constraining the premises of political debate, even in California.
Along these lines, it’s worth noting that the supporters of 4am predominantly argue in terms of economy and practical convenience. (Admittedly these are principles that dominate many European debates too, though Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit’s 2004 designation of his city as being poor but sexy stands as a beautiful exception). What is largely absent from the discourse is how the diverse collection of aesthetic forms, interactions, sensations, feelings, and bodily movements encompassed in the term ‘partying’ might actually have cultural and existential values too, values that a societal debate could acknowledge as ends in themselves rather than merely means for economic ones.
When they work well, bars and clubs late at night can be very special spaces that give rise to unique situations and experiences, spaces that enable more overt expressions of affection and connection, spaces that allow playing with identity and self-staging, improvisation and loosening of boundaries, explorations of sexuality and intimacy. And they can be spaces of experiencing the body’s ability to gradually attune to and inhabit rhythmic movement facilitated by a collective of other bodies – often a process that can unfold over several hours if allowed.
And though drinking is not crucial to any of the above (indeed a lot of dance cultures utilize several other drugs, and perhaps even more so in the US as an effect of the strict alcohol laws), alcohol does often play an important role in transforming the situation into something distinct and different from everyday life, giving it a more ritualistic tone. And being allowed to serve does, in practice, seem to be what is necessary for most clubs and bars to stay open and keep the number of people required to hold the collectively charged atmosphere together.
Perhaps nightlife could be valued a little more – and the intoxicating substances involved in it be despised a little less – if we also think of it in terms of citizens sharing a quasi-public urban space, being able to experience one another as a sources of pleasure and communal ecstasy, and ultimately getting a strengthened sense of social commitment.
Photo by icanteachyouhowtodoit
Here are the prezi slides for a small presentation I recently gave on the music journalist/theorist Kodwo Eshuns accounts of alien/future/posthuman/cyborg musics. It mostly consists of quotes from the introductory chapter of Eshuns book ‘More Brilliant than the Sun‘, spiced up with words from Simon Reynolds, K-Punk, Jacques Attali amongst others, as well as a two wonderful pieces of 90s electronic dance music.
Viewing the accompaniment of a presentation is necessarily going to be (even more) of a fragmented experience, but maybe it’d be interesting for some anyways. Eshuns style of writing, as exemplified in the quotes, is fascinatingly energetic in its resonating with the sensibilities of that of which he is writing.
On the occasion of taking a class on the anthropology of sound I spent a little time brainstorming with the collective intelligence that is the Internet on various examples of different contexts in which sound is doing something.
Sound can be shown to affect people physiologically. Here’s a (kind of strangely written) danish news article about acoustics in classrooms. The most interesting aspect of the article is a mentioning of a study demonstrating a correlation between the frequency of the heartbeats of the teachers and the amount of noise in the classroom. Thus in comparison in a room with 0.7 seconds decay the teachers in average had 10 more heartbeats per second than in a room with a decay time of 0.4. seconds. Also, it seems that it’s quite well established that classrooms with insufficient muffling of sound significantly worsens learning. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases this knowledge still haven’t managed to be materialized in the architecture of educational institutions.
Sound and health. Sound, as music, can also be shown to be made work in favor of (a certain definition of, re. the measurement scales) mental health and well being. Here’s an example of a study.
This study used a random control experimental design with a music-listening group and control group for 22 older adults undergoing hip or knee surgery. The experimental group listened to music at the bedside for at least 4 hours daily. The NEECHAM Acute Confusion Scale and the Folstein Mini-Mental State Exam were used to measure cognition and acute confusion. Findings demonstrate that the music-listening group had higher levels of cognitive function and less confusion than those who did not listen to music.
I found the very fact that a journal of the name Music and Medicine existed to be kind of interesting too.
Noise is also being utilized for health and wellbeing purposes. Thus, there’s a bunch of web pages and apps solely made for generating noise-sounds. Often you can choose between white, pink and brown noise, and sometimes you can have recorded sounds that approach noise too such as ocean or rain sounds.
The idea of certain sounds having very specific effects, also made me think of the quite curious recent appearance of so-called ‘sound drugs‘; sounds that are being sold as allegedly having effects similarly to psychoactive chemical substances. It could be entertaining to see someone do an analysis of the rhetorics and imagery of the phenomenon. Here’s a quite funny Wired article from 2010 mentioning how an Oklahoma public school actually banned iPods in response to the phenomenon.
Finally, talking about sounds and physiological effects, I need to mention ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) too, which I’ve had a small interest in for a while. The term covers a certain type of reaction consisting of a very pleasurable shivering, tingling feeling in the head and sometimes the spine some people report to have as a reaction to certain stimuli, including listening to other people speak in calm and whispering voices with lots of lip sounds often in relation to activities involving personal attention such as examinations or haircuts. Despite the medical-sounding name the phenomenon has not yet been the object of any form of institutionalized scientific research, but it has spawned a vast online-community (thus, the reddit-page devoted to it currently has 34,700 subscribers) and a trend of creating role-playing videos deliberately designed to trigger the reaction.
Image in top by sam_jennings (slightly modified), CC 2.0-BY-NC-SA
At the University of California Santa Cruz where I’m currently an exchange student I’ve encountered one aspect of the organization of university life that has been standing out to me as being remarkably far from my conception of what higher-level education entails: The way the grading and test system for some undergraduate classes is designed in an extremely rigid, inflexible and disciplinary fashion. Being confronted with this, I think it’s interesting and important to try to think about which attitudes towards learning are encouraged and which understandings of knowledge are performed in these systems. Which ways of being a student does the system enable and encourage me to pursue?
This is the way one upper division (which means the students have usually been to university/college for between two to four years) class was designed:
The final letter grade which is the one that will figure on the student’s transcript is generally translated from fairly meticulous 100-grade scale on which you during the course accumulated points. An array of different activities gave us these points. Each week we had 4-8 reading questions typically asking us to describe a certain concept from a text and compare it to something else. Each question had to be roughly a paragraph. All answers for these questions had to be uploaded on a webpage before a certain time in order to elicit points. It didn’t matter that much, we were told, whether the answers were actually good or correct as long as they were there and somehow tried to engage with the question. In the middle as well as by the end of the term we had two-pillar exams consisting of an assigned take home-essay and an in-class quiz. The midterm essay had two questions to choose from. An example of the form of one of them is:
“What is the relationship between concept 1 and concept 2? Discuss this through Author A, B and C (including citations), and give 2 examples each from Author D and E (with citations) to support your argument.”
The answer to this question had to be in three double-spaced pages. We were provided the rubric which the teaching assistant were to use to grade our papers, detailing how every inclusion of a requested article gave us a couple of points while a coherent argument gave a couple of extra points too. The final exam, in five pages, was a veritable puzzle and too complicated to explain here, but included three different quite broad ranging questions that all had to be answered and six lists of different texts from the course with us having to use one text from each list once, with all lists except one being tied to specific questions. The in-class quizzes had the form of a list of sentences with a blank spot in them in which we had to insert a concept from a list from the top of the page and write a small justification beneath it.
The design of a course can be thought of as an apparatus that works to create and/or sustain a certain conception of what knowledge and learning is. The particular class in which I experienced the test system described above was in addition also characterized by a fairly large reading amount, which at least for me (admittedly not a fast reader, but from talking to other students my impression was that many of those experienced the same) meant that it wasn’t possible to actually thoroughly read all pages of all the assigned texts, at least not without deprioritizing other classes simultaneously.
Here are some thoughts on what the design of the course in my experience did:
The actual practice of reading changed. The reading questions pointed out in advance what one should look for in the text, which meant that interpretation to some extend got uniformed across the class. Overall, Everyone reads after the same. My own experience was also that, due to the busyness I tended in a higher and higher degree to read with a purpose of getting a very superficial understanding of a given text in order to be able to answer the reading questions as fast as possible. This also strengthened a tendency to understand new texts through concepts and patterns that I already was acquainted with before starting to read the text (usually actually even before starting the course), thus reading for sameness rather than difference, the identic rather than the non-identic. I noticed that I started to disregard the types of analyses that were more ambiguous, complex or multifaceted, something I otherwise tend think of as important to pursue, in favor of the articles that to a higher degree allowed themselves to be reduced to what was entailed in an abstract or a conclusion.
The in-class multiple choice tests gives the impression that social scientific concepts are unambiguous and that they to a large extend can have a fixed meaning outside of a larger textual context. The fact that these quizzes count as an exam suggests that knowledge is primarily about memory, that being able to remember the (very simplified version of) meanings of concepts is an end in itself rather than doing something with the concepts. The reading questions and the prompts for the essays did in their formulation sometimes allow an approach that was a little bit more analytical explorative, but the extremely small amount of space and especially time for each of those meant that it in practice was very unlikely to get very far with them, and if you did end up spending too much time thinking about one of the questions and actually did an effort to answer it in an interesting way you’d have lost the time needed to answer the other ones and would end up getting lesser points in the end.
Thus in contrast to classes with exams based primarily on small research-like projects or more individually defined essays the test-design of this class had practically no mechanism to reward creativity or originality. This counters curiosity and creates a sense that more discoverous, groping reading/investigation is an ineffective way to spend ones time as a student. It also gives very little room to develop an individual flow of motivation and working style. I guess it that it as a contrast to neo-liberal demands of constantly being entrepreneurial selves could be argued to be somehow liberating to be allowed to feel less personally engaged. It can be stressful always to be creative and make decisions; this course had such a narrow scope for a creativity that it doesn’t matter anyway. One could be allowed to feel a bit of comfort in the oldschool experience of allowing oneself to be distant and despising of an inhumane and alienating system and a bit of joy in the hacking-like challenge of trying to formally meet the demands of the system with as little effort as possible. But then on the other hand it’d be hard to seriously argue that being able to accommodate so clearly defined goals could ever be a viable way of actually practicing social science. Thus the kind of skill and the kind of work the test-system encourages doesn’t point very far beyond being able to do well in this particular course. We are approaching something almost tautological: The primary goal of learning in the course becomes to be able to get a good grade in the course.
An ongoing inquiry: How our way of relating to (experiencing, perceiving, being involved with) the world, ourselves and one another is something that is being shaped, elaborated or produced through different practices we involve ourselves in.
A potential (academic) starting point to think/explore from could be the human geographer Nigel Thrift’s article ‘Still life in Nearly Present Time’ (pdf) in which he describe how contemporary life in western societies contain a series of systematized bodily practices and knowledges that work in a certain way on how we relate to time, slowing it down and stretching it out through recurrently directing awareness to present time. Several of the practices revolve around the sense of kinesthesia.
Here is a formal listing of the examples he gives. Most of these are knowledges and practices developed in the 20th century:
- Body practices stressing intensified awareness and control over the body as well as a more harmonious relationship to the environment:
- Systematic knowledge of the body and it’s movements:
- The fixing of a still gaze found in eighteenth century art and especially in photography. A way of organizing time by fixing bodies and objects momentarily.
- Knowledges about social interaction as involving detailed bodily movements:
Thrift describe argue how these developments all affect consciousness:
“Each and every one of these four developments of body practice stretches out the moment, most especially by paying detailed attention to it. They expand, if you like, the ‘size’ of consciousness, allowing each moment to be more carefully attended to and invested with more of its context. Taken together, they may be seen as constructing a slow-down of perception, as much as a speed-up.”
All these practices and knowledges can be thought of as apparatuses that take part in producing our styles of embodiments and entanglements with the world. For Thrift the latter especially relates to how nature is constructed for us:
“[T]hese contemplative and mystical developments which, taken as a whole, are widespread in modern Western societies, constitute a background within which nature is apprehended and which provides quite particular experiences of what nature is. They form, if you like, an ‘embodied unconscious’, a set of basic exfoliations of the body through which nature is constructed, planes of affect attuned to particular body parts (and senses) and corresponding elements of nature (from trees and grass, to river and sky).”
“[T]rees do not so much mean nature […] as they are present as evidence of a natural configuration that embodiment itself has produced: our bodies know themselves in such thinking. Thus trees become flesh by being bound up in a practical field.“
Photo by Shira Golding CC 2.0 BY-NC
A woman is sitting by a table with a book. She introduces herself, presents the book and starts reading aloud. As the reading gets along she starts having small twitches and jerks, at apparently arbitrary moments she displays half-suppressed smiles and every now and then she makes larger adjustments to the way she sits as if something is perhaps irritating her. While all these disruptions seem to be getting more and more severe she nevertheless strives to keep on reading. This goes on for five or ten minutes until she at some point has to stop reading, her breath getting heavier, her movements starting to tend toward rhythmic thrusts. She bends her head forward, the chair rocks, she moans, her muscles tightens and shakes. After some 20-30 seconds this is over. She smiles exhausted and as a conclusion she once again says her name as well as the name of the book she has been reading from.
‘Hysterical Literature’ is a series of videos by photographer Clayton Cubitt. The concept being that a woman reads an excerpt of a book of her choice while at the same time having an active vibrator in her vagina, working in/through her from beneath the table outside of our view.
Lots of aspects could be commented or reflected upon in relation to this project (an obvious one being notions of female sexuality/pleasure/orgasm as pointed to in the hysteria in the title of the project). I think one of things that I’m drawn to in the videos is how two different temporalities or dynamics – the reading and the stimulation – are intersecting and how the tension between them is manifesting in interesting ways in the bodily movements of the women.
To some extend the videos could also be said to be playing out a conflict between the speaking body and the sexually pleasured body (though I would like to think that a lot of the time, they are also complementing one another). Recently, I’ve been reading a bit of the french philosopher Michel Serres’ book ‘The Five Senses’. Serres seem to mourn how language as a drug have prevented more direct, more embodied relation to the world. At some point he describes a situation where he’s stung by a hornet while giving a lecture:
One day I was lecturing to an audience in a marquee, as attentive to them as they were to me. Suddenly, a large hornet stung me on the inside of my thigh, a combination of surprise and exquisite pain. Nothing in my voice or intonation betrayed the accident and I finished my talk. I do not mention this particular memory in order to boast of Spartan courage, but only to indicate that the speaking body, flesh filled with language, has little difficulty in remaining focused on speech, whatever happens. Words fill our flesh and anæsthetize it. It has even been said, and written, that the word was made flesh. Nothing makes one more insensitive than words. If I had been looking at some image, listening to the sound coming from an organ, smelling a garland of flowers, tasting a sugared almond or grasping a pole, the hornet sting would have caused me to cry out. But I was speaking, balanced in a groove or enclosure, protected by a discursive breastplate.
In the videos – the hornet exchanged for the vibrator – the situation is quite the opposite. Discourse is recurrently disturbed or intersected by the sensual until it eventually happily crumbles into ruins by the means of orgasm.
To some extend this post is within a genre that I generally thinks it’s best to avoid: The self-thematizing blogpost. It’s a classical and quite prevalent genre. Bloggers writing about being bloggers, about not blogging as much as they’d like to, about not knowing what to blog about, about what they imagine that they’ll blog about in the future. I remember the first time I made a blog, about six years ago, starting out writing about cool web 2.0 tools, the social/political/democratic potentialities of blogging and social media etc. I guess – or at least I think that was what it was like for me then – starting a blog often coincides with a blooming fascination with the medium rather than any actual subject one would like to write about, the only present ideas for something to write about thus being the medium itself. An inwards spiral of self-referentiality is thus initiated. Most likely very boring for everyone else as virgin bloggers aren’t very likely to actually be able to say anything very profound, new or interesting about blogging.
Being aware of all of the above, the reason for writing this is thus all-overriding a part of a solely self-centered, self-indulgent project of lowering the thresholds of self-censorship. Sidetrack: For danish readers, Caspar Eric is a remarkable example of making the lowering of thresholds of self-censorship and allowing the emergence of an hyper self-conscious blog-persona into an almost conceptual project that by over-amplifying these tendencies might actually perhaps take them somewhere else. This is not really an attempt to make that the general direction for this blog, though, thus I hope, I’ll be able to limit the blog-blogging to this post for now.
An occasion for making this post now, is some thoughts on new mutations I plan for/hope will happen to the blog. (By experience, the actual way things happen often ends up betraying these kinds of declarations, but we’ll leave that aside for now).
One thing is that I want to start to try and write in English. So far all posts here have been in danish and maybe I’ll write more danish posts in the future as well, but for now, being in an English-speaking environment (I’m in Santa Cruz, California until next summer) it feels like it makes sense to try and start writing more in English as well. Writing things and publishing them for public access, for me relates to a desire for dialogue and exchange. This can take place just online but in my experience often some of the more interesting things happen in the mixing of online and offline dialogues. Thus blogging is also about the hope that people around me might sometime randomly bump into what I’m writing and be engaged by it and discuss it with me and thereby enabling us to create new ties and thoughts and common changing worlds.
Another aspect of writing in English is also to make it a part of a project – related to being at a English-speaking University – of being better to think with the English language.
Another ambition – that maybe, maybe not will actually be fulfilled – is post things more often. This is a quite recurrent one, I guess. It’s an interesting question though, how to make writing a more integrated part of ones daily practice, and, for my part relating to this blog, how to set up things in a way that makes it feel ok to post things that are not necessarily well-rounded or flawless in any way, but to the contrary can be a lot more tentative and ambivalent (and vulnerable?). The reason for wanting to do this again being the ambition to get into a state of being in exchange with the world around you, experience the resistance or creative building upoen other people might produce in relation to the modes of thought you’ve grown used to taken for granted with yourself.
I have some thoughts about how to enable myself to post more often (especially re-thinking what is enough to count as a post, though at the same time also very much acknowledging the need for some kind of quality criterium. I feel like I need to, however small, make some kind of comment or contribution to whatever I’m writing about or juxtapose something in a novel in order to make it justifiable as a post), but I’d love to hear someone else’s thoughts on the matter as well.
Also, as I’m not a native English speaker and I’d really like to get better, I’d love to get some spanking by some grammar nazis out there, if anyone would ever happen to feel inclined at that.
Selv om man tænker kroppen som noget fysisk og biologisk, behøver det ikke indbefatte at den også er fastlåst og determineret. Jeg vil her prøve at give en fremstilling af, hvordan et specifikt kropsligt-socialt møde anstifter en længerevarende transformation og udvidelse af en ung kvindes seksualitet og kropslighed. Materialet i det følgende stammer ligesom i min tidligere post om stønnen fra en interviewundersøgelse om krops- og selvoplevelser i seksuelle møder, jeg lavede i efteråret. Igen er de navne der optræder pseudonymer, ligesom enkelte biografiske detaljer er forskudte for at sikre anonymitet.
En af de personer jeg interviewer, Maja, fortæller en del om hendes erfaringer med sadomasochistiske og dominansfunderede seksuelle praksisser. Maja har især udforsket og fundet nydelse i at indtage en domineret/masochistisk position. Jeg spørger hende, hvordan hun fik denne præference. Da hun var yngre bevægede Maja sig meget i det, hun kalder ’det alternative samfund’, hvilket i denne sammenhæng omtrentligt er ensbetydende med den subkulturelle gruppering populært benævnt ved den engelsk betegnelse ’goth’ eller på dansk ’gotere’. Dette miljø har i følge Maja et ret stort overlap med det sadomasochistiske miljø, hvorfor forskellige BDSM-praksisser er tilstedeværende som noget man snakker om, og har mulighed for at lege eller flirte med. Det samme gør sig i øvrigt gældende for kvindelig biseksualitet (det fremgik ikke af interviewet hvordan det forholder sig for mænd).
I regi af dette miljø begynder Maja at flirte lidt med en fyr, som er en del ældre end hende. Hun er i udgangspunktet ikke rigtigt seksuelt interesseret, men fatter en vis fascination for ham. Denne fascination har blandt andet grund i et umiddelbart særpræg ved fyren: Hans meget lange negle. Maja beskriver dem som ”nærmest ligesom klør, det var meget meget sært. Sådan rigtigt alternativt. Det var meget meget sjovt”.
Den første kontakt Maja har med fyren er på en subkulturel web-platform, og de første mange gange Maja og fyren mødes uden for nettet er det i semi-offentlige sammenhænge, til koncerter, demonstrationer eller på den klub som på dette tidspunkt fungerer som omdrejningspunkt for miljøet. En aften har Maja imidlertid inviteret ham med hjem til sine forældres hus i en forstad til København, hvor hun har samlet nogle af sine venner, som alle også er knyttet til ovenstående miljø. Det var egentlig deres plan, de ville ind til byen, hvor der er kulturnat, men det er endt med, at de er blevet i huset, hvor de ser film, hygger og snakker. Der en god stemning. Maja beskriver atmosfæren som eksperimentel og flirtende, og seksualitet er et meget tilstedeværende tema. Alle ender med at sove lidt tilfældige steder i stuen, og Maja kommer til at ligge på sofaen sammen med fyren med neglene, som begynder at ae hende kælende i nakken. Maja fortæller hun, også uden det overhovedet behøver at have noget seksuelt i sig, er meget responsiv overfor berøring. Hun nyder meget at blive strøget over nakken og det kan gøre hende meget henført. Imidlertid sker der i denne situation også noget andet, i og med et element af smerte introduceres.
”Det var bare sådan noget med han langsomt gled hånden ned ad nakken og så bare sådan nussede allerførst, mens man sådan slapper helt af og er helt døsig. Og han synes det var megasjovt, hvor døsig /altså hvis man gør det nok, så er det sådan, jeg blokker helt ud, og jeg glemmer /jeg kan stoppe i en samtale og sådan nogle ting, og det synes han var meget underholdende, fordi igen sadist og kontrol og dominere. […] Men han havde helt vildt lange negle, og så begyndte han sådan at rive, og af en eller anden grund så tændte det mig. Første gang da det skete, der blev jeg helt vildt overrasket og forarget og irriteret – især for den reaktion som skete i mig, som jeg ikke havde forventet overhovedet.”
Maja har før ovenstående uddrag beskrevet mere uddybende, hvad smerten gør ved hende:
”Jeg tror faktisk det var noget af det første /det ved jeg ikke /det var meget overvældende følelser. Og jeg /med alt med smerte, sådan allerførst så gør det ondt, men hvis du så kommer over det med din hjerne, du har accepteret sådan signalerne, du forventer at det sker, så mærker du kun endorfinerne og det er rart […] Altså jeg kan ikke gøre det med ekstrem-smerte og sådan noget, men med sådan noget som at blive revet og blive hevet i håret, man kan næsten blive helt høj af det. Man giver rigtigt meget slip af det. Man glemmer lidt sig selv og situationen Jeg kan huske næsten alt hvad han gjorde ved mig, jeg kan ikke huske en skid af, hvad jeg gjorde. Jeg ved ikke om jeg bare har ligget som sådan et lig og gjort ingenting. Jeg kan ikke huske, hvad jeg gjorde i den situation, jeg kan bare huske følelserne og det han /og hans negle”.
Forløbet Maja fortæller om formes af nogle afgørende skift. Den uventede tilkomst af negle der pludselig river, i stedet for fingre der aer, skaber en mængde forskellige følelser og fornemmelser i Maja. Centralt er en seksuel tændthed, som igen afføder både overraskelse og følelser af forargelse og irritation. I et sikkert lidt lommepsykologisk/-analytisk perspektiv kunne vi måske forstå fremkomsten af følelserne som en slags konflikt mellem en tidligere konstitueret seksuel selvforståelse og en pludseligt opstået ny erfaring – lyst knyttet til smerte og dominans – der overskrider rammerne for førnævnte (på lacaniansk: Det imaginære vs. det reelle?). På en mere sociologisk skala, kan der givetvist også være nogle sociale normer for, hvad der accepteres som sund seksualitet på spil. Normer som Maja, trods sit subkulturelle tilhørsforhold, alligevel også til en vis grad har fået inkorporeret. Sadomasochisme har historisk været, og er det i mange sammenhænge, implicit stadigvæk, genstand for en række patologiserende og moralsk devaloriserende diskurser. Ligeledes kan visse trist endimensionelle dele af de sidste 40 års feministiske strømninger – i hvad i praksis må siges at virke i retning af en indsnævring af mulighedsrummet for seksuel udfoldelse – have været med til at gøre det sværere for en kvinde at få det til at føles acceptabelt at opleve lyst ved seksuelt at underlægge sig en mand.
Disse potentielle normative-reaktive kræfter er imidlertid, ikke dem, der i dette tilfælde styrer situationen. Majas accept af smerten og dens subjektivitetsopløsende virkning klinger lidt i tråd med de franske filosoffer Gilles Deleuze og Felix Guattaris besyngende fordring i Tusind Plateauer:
”Der hvor psykoanalysen siger ‘Stop, genfind deres eget jeg’, skulle man sige ‘Fortsæt, længere endnu, vi har endnu ikke fundet vores LuO [Legeme uden Organer], vi har endnu ikke i tilstrækkelig grad opløst vores jeg’. Lad glemslen erstatte anamnesen, lad eksperimentet erstatte fortolkningen.” 1
Legemet uden Organer er som begreb en mangefacetteret størrelse, men som en grov sammenfatning kan det tænkes som et slags billede på en bestræbelse på en nedbrydning af afsondrethed og selvtilstrækkelighed (Organer som i organiseret som i afgrænset og defineret) til en stillen sig til rådighed for de strømme af tværgående, før-formede kræfter, der i Deleuze og Guattaris tænkning grundlæggende er det, vi er skabt af. At blive noget mere og andet end bare sig selv. At nå andre steder hen?
Maja: “[D]et er ikke sådan at man bliver glad, det er bare meget ekstreme følelser, som man helt af sig selv glider væk af, glemmer hvad, hvor, hvem, glemmer der er andre mennesker i stuen og sådan nogle ting.”
En deterritorialiserende bevægelse som den der finder sted med Maja åbner op for, at ting kan sætte sig sammen på andre måder at de faste og vante. Noget af det, der konstituerer sig i situationen bliver en art ny seksuel anatomi, decentreret fra genitalierne:
”Han rørte aldrig mine bryster, han rørte aldrig særlig meget ved mig, han kom aldrig under mit tøj, altså vi /og alligevel var det så seksuelt for mig i mit hoved, at det ville jeg rigtigt gerne opleve mere af, det ville jeg gerne eksperimentere mere med”
Det fyren med neglene gør ved Maja, den virkning han har på hende, er noget der får stærke resonanser ind i fremtiden.
”Han åbnede noget for mig, som jeg ikke havde overvejet før, som jeg ikke havde tænkt over før, […] han kunne bare nogle ting med sine hænder og sin måde at røre ved /og sådan en meget dominerende personlighed”
Maja kommer aldrig til at have samleje med ham – han er for overvældende og hun stoler på en eller anden måde ikke nok på ham – men hændelsen igangsætter en proces i hende, giver hende lyst til og intention om at bevæge sig videre ind i eksperimenter med sadomasochistiske praksisser, hvilket det senere lykkes hende at finde en anden fyr at gøre med:
”[E]t halvt år efter, et halvt til et helt år, så fandt jeg en fyr der mindede mig rigtigt meget om ham på visse punkter, og det var så ham, jeg kom til at komme sammen i tre år. Han var sådan en mild udgave af den person. Han var bare mere på min alder og vi kunne sådan starte ud sammen. [Det udviklede sig sådan at] han udforskede sin sadistiske side, og jeg udforskede min masochistiske side. Det er også derfor, jeg ser ikke mig selv sådan rigtigt som sadist, men jeg har aldrig udforsket den side, jeg har aldrig haft nogen, der var /jeg tror også kun jeg er blevet så meget masochist, fordi jeg var sammen med en sadist, og vi sådan /vi kunne ret godt lide at lege med de her ting sammen. Men det var også fedt, fordi han ikke havde /han havde ikke eksperimenteret så meget med det før, og det havde jeg heller ikke. Så det var sådan neutral ground.”
Hvis vi skal prøve at være lidt mere analytisk-sammenfattende omkring hændelsen med fyren med neglene – som et knudepunkt i igangsættelsen af Majas bliven-masochist – kan muliggørelsen af denne begivenhed tænkes som en interessant sammenfletning af en række forskellige faktorer. Dels er der det fælles subkulturelle gruppetilhørsforhold, der på et overordnet geografisk-logistisk plan har gjort, at Maja og fyren med neglene er blevet bragt i de samme fysiske såvel som digitale rum, hvor de har kunnet lære hinanden at kende og gennem flirten etablere en art gensidig kropslig sam-stemthed. Også knyttende an til det alternative/goth-identifikationen er der dyrkelsen af æstetiske sensibiliteter, der kan have været med til at danne grundlag for Majas fascination af neglene, og som ligeledes har været med til at facilitere en relativ åbenhed og nysgerrighed overfor sadomasochisme hos hende. Disse forhold (givetvis blandt en lang række andre) er en del af situationen, om aftenen ude i forældrenes forstadsvilla, som mulighedsbetingelser og som fordringer, allerede siddende i kroppen. Vi kan forsøge (igen med kobling til Deleuze og via denne videre tilbage til 1600tals filosoffen Spinoza) at tænke kroppen ud fra dens evne til påvirke og blive påvirket. Majas krop har evne til ved at blive kradset i nakken – på sofaen i stuen af fyren med neglene (de lange negles materielle karakteristika er som mulighed for at gøre særlige ting ved andre kroppe også en væsentlig aktør her) – at producere smertesignaler, liderlighed, rusfornemmelser, endorfinudløsninger, bevidsthedsforandringer, og forskellige følelser og tanker. Kroppen kan tænkes som en proces, som noget der i mødet med sin omverden – med andre kroppe – kan forandre sig og udvide sin flade af mulige evner til at blive påvirket. Majas masochisme kan i det lys forstås som en ny, tilføjet, seksuel sensibilitet, foranlediget af socio-somatiske møders kontinuert transformative kraft.