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Perverted pleasures (2020)

You can listen to this musing here, or read it below.

What does it mean to be perverted? Or maybe a better question, when does something become perverted. The word has a pretty negative feel to it, but why is that? In a way, it’s a word that I love, because it describes a feeling, or behaviour, rather than “a thing”. The abbreviation BDSM feels technical in comparison. I’m reading a book called Deviant Opera with the subtitle Sex, Power, and Perversion on Stage. It talks about why acts of BDSM is becoming a part of modern stage performance. I just started it so won’t say too much, and probably write more about it later. But it brought back the word deviant to me – to deviate from the norm.

Words, words, and more words. In Japanese, there is the concept of Ikigai, the place where the needs of a professional market and one’s passion meet. Many memes on the Internet say; this is the meaning of life, in a mutually beneficial agreement between the individual and society. I believe that different cultures put different weight on this agreement. Sweden has the bar pretty high but compared to Japan; it is “lazy”. There is a mixture of internal and external regulation and incentivisation upholding the agreement and ensuring that one stays a good citizen. I have written much more about this in my text Like the ocean if you want to dive deeper.

Sometimes I like to think of humans, as something between the animals and the gods. The gods represent the pinnacle of society, where all citizens gather under a common symbol. An idea. One that both enslaves and empowers. In any place where the gods are strong, metaphorically speaking, there will be a counterbalancing force. Something that deviates from the norm. I think this is why kink is so prevalent in both Sweden and Japan. Before I go onto perversion, I just want to make a quick reference to my text about shame and humiliation. I think it frames the need to counterbalance every well, especially on a topic that many find confusing.

For me, perversion connects closely to pleasure. How much can I enjoy every detail of eating an orange? Breaking it open, slowly pealing it as the skins rip way revealing the juicy inside. And how the taste overwhelms me when my teeth break into the sweet fruitiness. I can make love to it with all my sense. But how much pleasure is reasonable to take out of eating an orange? According to this agreement with the world around me. It would be kind of weird if I spent all my time devouring oranges. Right? I think there is a limit on how much pleasure we are allowed to have. So I don’t waste my time valuable productive time, that I should dedicate to being “good” for society.

BDSM, or kink, offers a place to be deviant. A safer place, partly because consent is in focus, but even more it is isolated from “everyday life”. So there is no question of how perverted I’m allowed to be. Or how much pleasure I can take out of eating the orange. Maybe this is why BDSM is so specific in its aesthetics, with whips and leather, to create this safe place for being perverted. But what happens, if one takes this knowledge about pleasure into their everyday life?

Partly as a joke, I want to end with this text from the old testament, and the “Wisdom of Solomon” chapter 2. It fascinates me to think about that this theme is so old. It consists of three parts, first about mortality, then hedonism, and finally about selfishness.

Life is short and sad—
the end is certain to come,
and no one escapes the grave.

Only by chance were we born,
and after we are gone,
everything will be
as though we had never been.

Our breath is merely smoke,
and reason is a spark
from the beat of our hearts.

When that beating ends,
our bodies turn to dust,
and our spirits vanish
into thin air.

In time we will be forgotten
and so will our deeds.
Life disappears like a cloud;
it melts away like mist
in the heat of the sun.

Time fades away like a shadow,
and no one returns from death.

So make the most of life,
especially while you’re young.

Drink the very best wine,
wear expensive perfume,
and enjoy the spring flowers.

Decorate your head with rosebuds
before they wilt.

Do your share of celebrating!
Party always and everywhere—
that’s what life is all about.

Abuse the poor and the honest!
And do the same to widows
and old people.

After all, might is right,
and weakness is useless.