Monday, 28 March 2011

Fetishism, shamanism?

I’ve seen and read a few things and had some conversations about fetish that sparked a line of thought.

There’s a sense of ‘fetish’ that refers to ‘the attribution of inherent value or powers to an object’. Interacting with the object, using it in some ritualistic way, enables you to communicate with a world beyond the immediate and everyday - the spirit world, a deeper level of consciousness, however you might like to model it. In that sense, do our fetishes enable us to communicate with or enter into a world that is not part of ordinary reality?

Notwithstanding the somewhat simplistic description of shamanism you'll find on Wikipedia, shamanism is similarly about communication with a world outside our normal experience - a world that is often entered through the use of powerful symbolic operators such as fetishes, objects attributed with the power I've destcribed above. OK, there's often ritual, physical exertion such as dance, and drugs too - but these are all means to a similar end. Are we all, in some small way, shamans now?

Women and transvestites probably know more about this than men. Eyeliner, lipstick, blusher and well-cut fabric have an almost ceremonial purpose. Put on your makeup, change into a favourite dress and heels, and by changing your appearance you become almost literally a different person.

Pagans know about this. Go to a pagan camp and people you normally see in jeans and T-shirts are striding around in capes, carrying a staff and with an atheme on their belt. At one level it looks rather like medieval re-enactment, but whatever people are, or aren’t, wearing (there may be a certain amount of skyclad-ness) it’s meaningful to them as a symbol of identity and something that helps them connect with whatever energies or aspects of personality of belief they want to connect with.

Probably police officers, nurses and priests know about it as well – put the uniform on and you become the kind of person the uniform symbolises, not least because it influences how others interact with you.

Fetishists know about this. Don your leathers, your PVC and latex, and you can almost feel your personality changing as the second skin covers you. They are symbols, conduits connecting you to a sexual identity outside your everyday persona. Do you become more essential? More vital? Feel a link to something that empowers you? In its own way, fetishism can be a shamanic experience.

Friday, 18 March 2011

The triumph of imagination...

Second life has been turning up on my radar periodically for a while now, for a few reasons. So I’ve been investigating.

SL , for anyone who hasn’t encountered it, is a virtual world in which you (i.e. your avatar) can wander round, interact with others and do a lot of the things you might do in the first (‘real’) life – work in a shop or buy things there, go to events, be a DJ, chat people up and have sex with them. You can of course own things that wouldn’t be easy to own in your first life – a genie in a bottle, a sword of aetherial flame, and so forth. You can do things you wouldn’t normally do in your first life, whether that’s sprout wings and fly (or have your own jet airliner, or use a flying vacuum cleaner), design shoes or be involved in sex parties (or organized crime for that matter). You can change your skin tone, body shape, hair length and tattoos several times a day if you want. You can even become ‘pregnant’ and have a baby, presumably without worrying about its long-term care or stretch marks.

You can even be someone (or even several people) you wouldn’t normally be – middle aged men can be young women, young women can be 150 year-old vampires, vampires can be warlocks, etc.

SL has a whole bunch of real-world uses. Some universities, for example, use it to teach science students by distance learning in virtual labs. Some companies reputedly use it to hold virtual conferences. Disabled people use it to lead the kind of life or lives they’d never have in the real world, and presumably abled people use it the same way.

But sex is in the virtual air. The featured fashion items of the day are mostly rather skimpy outfits that would go down well in nightclubs or at fetish events: a ‘sinner’s leather dress’, samurai outfit, and things that look like delinquent schoolgirl wear.

But of course. Why on earth would you want to wear stuff in your second life that you could equally well wear in your first? (I'm assuming it isn't cold and doesn't rain in SL. If you can in fact wear clothes like these in real life outside of a nightclub or fetish event and get away with it, congratulations! And no, I can't remember who the vendors are or the proper names for these outfits, sorry).

SL has its own economy, based on Linden dollars. You want to add effects to your avatar or build a home (or buy a flying vacuum cleaner or genie in a bottle) - or buy the outfits shown above - then you need to work for it. There are many jobs available but those that caught my eye included: Dancers (M/F) & Escorts, Female Dancers Wanted for Women Only Club, club hosts/escorts (All Genders/Orientations/Adult Avs, Human, Furry, Tiny, Neko, Etc., All Welcome!), and furry, human or hybrid Host/ess, Dancers, Entertainers, House Slaves, and DJs for BDSM Club.

BDSM is big in SL. My guess is that SL enables people to have the kind of sex they can’t have in real life, for a range of reasons: family responsibilities, fear of being ‘outed’, being the wrong sex or whatever.

Nothing wrong with that – SL is about, I think, exploring your imagination. There’s no point in being sniffy about people doing stuff in SL they don’t do in real life because, erm, that’s the point of it. And in SL, as you'll see in a moment, it's possible to do stuff that's not just illegal, but physically impossible in real life.

The graphics may be pretty primitive when it comes to BDSM play and sex, but in the days when people were using sites to post and chat, there were no interactive graphics and imagination filled the gap. Imagination is still as powerful a tool as it used to be.

At this point I’ll make an admission: I’m not a member of SL and am unlikely to be anytime soon, because my first lives are numerous enough and time-consuming enough already, thank you. Even the BDSM side of it isn’t hugely attractive because, erm, that’s something I can do at home. If I were involved in SL I’d probably use it to do stuff that wouldn’t be feasible in my normal lives, like build and live in an airship, or explore new planets… Obviously, Your Mileage May Vary, just like your imagination may vary, and that’s the whole point.

Meanwhile, it continues to amuse me that the following kinds of products appear to be popular. They're not in any particular order!

Asylum Gurney. L$400. A gurney with straps which hold the victim / patient helpless. The device is a vehicle, and may be wheeled about by the operator.

Sex Table Sightseeing. L$99. You wanted to stare into her pussy forever? Here she lays on the talbe - just in front of you. You smoke your cigar while you keep her waiting.

Sculptie Bang Penis Weirdiculous. L$50. A specially sculpted penis for for your avatar.

Pissing Guy with Noobie Friends. L$99. Complete your urban or grunge scenery with a guy pissing in the corner!

TortureChamber. L$500. Eleven pieces of dungeon furniture for your torture chamber.

Certificate of Vasectomy. L$30. Men! Are you worried about being surprised by pregnancy of your partner or girlfriend! Now you can sidestep that situation...

Lap Dance - Tease Edition. L$190.

PERDITION: The Dungeon Prison. L$3999. A massive set of interlinked stone chambers with prison cells, cages, concrete slabs, stone walls etc. Themed accessories available separately include: shower stalls, punishment blocks, whipping frames, inspection tables, cell bunks, interrogation racks, branding furnace (gives free brands), flogging poles (two versions; breast whipping and ass whipping), slave rags clothing, etc.

Tentacle Lover's Lair. L$3500.

Escort Training Starter Kit. L$3000. From Newbie to Sex Godess...

Giant Flower Sex Machine. L$2500.

HELLHOUND Animated Bestiality Prim Dog. L$2160. Animated hellhound that features a highly realistic canine genital, 9 different sex positions...

Sperm Bank Deposit. L$1500.

Sperm Bank Withdrawal. L$1500.

Gorean Auction Block, with poses. L$1500.

Blow up Doll Psychiatrist. Fully interactive, in three differn't styles, Blond, brunette AND Redhead

Big nipple cocks. L$89.

Baby Helspawn 5 Pack. You can either be the predator or the victim, if you play the predator [ a ‘demonic hermaphrodite’] you can have your fun, raping your victims and making the bitches carry your unborn helspawn… Victims will, allegedly, grow to enjoy living in the ‘corrupted world of demons’ and becoming a ‘surrogate whore of the abyss’. They experience ‘19 random emotes timed to humiliate you every 15, 30 or 60 minutes,’ though fortunately it appears gestation is over 16 hours rather than 9 months…

You can see what I mean about the triumph of imagination, I guess...

In erotic story terms I should probably up my game now this kind of stuff is around.

By the way, the extent of sex on SL resulted a while back in the 'adult' part being located behind an age-restricted barrier, so several of the items described above, which I came across before that happened, won't now be publicly visible unless you're a member.

Final thought. If you're in Second Life and you want to escape from it for a while, is there a Third Life somewhere in Second Life??