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- Ame

Sep 17 '11

With little doubt, one of the most significant discoveries of biology was the finding of DNA. Within the last decade, neuroscience has taken similar leaps and bounds with the serendipitous discovery of mirror neurons. Through the discovery, neuroscientists are slowly beginning to find biological explanations to phenomena such as culture, language, and empathy.

Although mirror neurons seem to directly influence these prior mentioned phenomena, what are their specific biological functions? Barry (2009) defines a few of their functions in a relatively simple fashion:

…[Mirror neurons] are the reason happy people make others smile, and tense and anxious people make us tense. They’re the reason yawning is contagious… Mirror neurons, in effect, break down the barrier between ourselves and others: as the actions or expressions of others resonate within us, we can recognize the other as us (p. 80)

This, in effect, means that mirror neurons are the biological reason that we are able to, “put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.” When we observe an individual, our mirror neurons respond directly to how we perceive that individual to feel. If we believe the individual is depressed, our mirror neurons mimic that emotion. Conversely, if a person appears euphoric, our mirror neurons will imitate their glee.

            A key question, in light of this, is how we are able to consciously separate our emotions from those we observe. Super mirrors are the contrasting force to mirror neurons. They, according to Barry (p. 86), “govern lower-level mirror neurons by inhibiting mirror neuron activity.” Although our mirror neurons reflect the emotions of an observed individual, super mirrors keep our mirror neurons in check. Barry then paraphrases neuroscientist Damasio and explains that humans are feeling beings that also thing, rather than thinking beings that also feel (p. 86). This suggests that mirror neurons do have priority over most of our emotional reactions, but it is the super mirrors that keep us rational while leaving mirror neurons in check.

            With that said, one of the primary functions of mirror neurons is “intentional attunement.” In Barry’s article, she cites Rizzolatti as saying, “our survival depends on understanding the actions, intentions, and emotional of others, mirror neurons allow us to group the minds of others not through conceptional reasoning but through direct stimulation. (pg. 87)” Similar to observing emotions, mirror neurons also reflect actions. When we observe an individual performing an action or process, our mirror neurons imitate these actions. It is through this imitation that we learn language through hearing, become emotionally stimulated advertisements, and potentially even become violent through playing video games.

            Both language and culture can be simplified to bring the process in which ideas and emotions and transfers and it is through mirror neurons that we are able to perform these functions. Originally, prehistoric man communicated through gesture, and Barry cites that Ramachandran believes that primitive gesture systems paved the way to developing a verbal-based language (p. 81). Because mirror neurons already mimic observed behaviors, it would be no small leap to suggest that this was a stepping stone to developing verbal communication. Research by Arbib, Barry cites (p. 81), showed, “[the systems in our brain that] are tapped for both physical gesture and spoken language [are overlapped with] both spoken and sign language.” This means that individuals who use modern sign language are, through their brain, imitating spoken language via mirror neurons.

            One field that these studies of language and mirror neurons have heavily influenced is the commercial realm. Inevitably, marketers found mirror neurons to be of great interest because marketing, “is the ability to read the consumer’s mind. (Barry, p. 81)” Images, of course, cause our mirror neurons to imitate assumed behavior. In fact, scientists like Iacoboni are already using FMRIs (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to scale Super Bowl advertisement effectiveness by examining mirror neurons (Barry, p. 82). Through this research, the media is studying finding ways to cause more empathetic responses to their advertisements. Beyond the realm of language, rituals have been a keen interest to many neuroscientists.

Language is clearly related to mirror neurons, and the rituals in which we follow are influenced by mirror neurons. In approximately 2005, according to Barry (p. 84), Horner and Whinten of the University of St. Andrews elaborated on the correlation of mirror neurons and rituals. In their experiment, both children and monkeys were shown a box that contained a reward in the bottom. The subjects were shown a simple ritual to obtain the reward: “by first tapping and inserting a stick into the top unconnected chamber, and then inserting the same stick through an opening in the bottom chamber. (Barry, p. 84)” Both the children and the monkeys were successfully able to complete this task and receive their reward. However, when both subjects were another part of another experiment—this time using a clear box—the monkeys simply reached into the box and pulled out the award, whereas the human children performed the ritual again. This is a clear example of how mirror neurons emulate the behaviors we originally learn, and how it sometimes can affect our efficiency. Extending beyond rituals and advertisements, one portion of research is far less empathetic: the correlation between violence and video games.

            As prior established, mirror neurons directly imitate the actions we see performed; this same concept applies to video games where an individual performs any action, violent or not. The subject who is playing the video game is stimulated by the images he or she sees; mirror neurons respond by imitating the process of committing whatever act the gamer is currently performing in-game. “On the unconscious level, the brain registers everything that it sees as reality,” elaborates Barry (p. 82). This means that when you slaughter someone in a video game, your mirror neurons react exactly as if you were the one murdering the individual. What keeps us from imitating this behavior, however, is super mirrors. “While our tendency to imitate remains strong,” Barry elaborates (p. 84), “the empathy enabled by mirror neurons can easily fail, leaving us to see others not as ourselves but as merely an instrumental ‘other’.” This is particularly true for those individuals with damaged or missing mirror neurons, and an example of an individual with missing mirror neurons could potentially include an individual with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

            Just as functioning mirror neurons are of interest to psychologists and neurologists, “broken” mirror neurons are also of key importance. For example, Barry (p. 85) describes an experiment in which twenty children—ten autistic children, and 10 normally developing children—were shown images of emotions. As the children imitated these emotions, both the autistic and normally developing children were able to mimic the desired behavior. However, autistic children showed less brain activity in regions where mirror neurons where, and the FMRIs of normally developing children showed great activity. In general, the less impaired the child, the more mirror neuron stimulation experienced. Experiments of this nature may be able to help therapy for not only those individuals with ASD, but it may be able to help those whom have suffered brain damage in accidents.

            In conclusion, regardless of your major, occupation, or interests, the study of mirror neurons is directly influencing your life. Some individuals may find mirror neurons being discussed in their field, namely education or psychology majors. Those who do not have such a direct need for knowledge of mirror neurons will still feel the effects of research through more efficient advertising. And, even if you don’t consume any sort of media, mirror neurons are what effects many biological functions that are critical to your survival.

 

Reference:

Barry, A.M (2009). Mirror neurons: How we become what we see. Visual Communication     Quarterly, 16 (April-June). Retrieved September 2, 2011, from EBSCOhost database.

May 28 '11
[ cloud overview | get your own cloud ]This is a Tumblr Cloud I generated from my blog posts between Feb 2011 and May 2011 containing my top 20 used words.Top 3 blogs I reblogged the most:hereTumblrpet
[ cloud overview | get your own cloud ]


This is a Tumblr Cloud I generated from my blog posts between Feb 2011 and May 2011 containing my top 20 used words.

Top 3 blogs I reblogged the most:
Tags: tumblrcloud
May 20 '11

Preface: I have been asked to elaborate on my religion. These posts will be slightly further apart than my BDSM posts (though expect activity to continue). However, these posts are certainly harder to write about.

As always, ask questions.

Religions, typically, are named off of their core element. Christians are individuals who worship Christ, for example. When an individual first hears of Taoism, a common initial reaction is, “Who, or what, is Tao (pronounced Dao)?”

Tao, literally, is the, “way,” in a literal translation. Although the human language is not entirely able to explain what the Tao is, it can hint at it. Oftentimes, individuals question how a concept exists without any proof. Well, that is the basis of faith. However, how does one explain being “touched” by Christ? How does one explain the sensations caused from reading poetry? These sorts of things can be alluded to, but words simply don’t fully elaborate.

The Tao is not a thing. A common misconception Westerns have is that the Tao is an object or a deity, simply because many Taoists refer to the Tao as the Tao. One could consider the Tao an object, but that would be a thing in the widest sense, simply because the Tao represents a metaphysical reality. It might be a bit more reasonable to consider the Tao as a guide, a road, a path, or a philosophy. This is easier to grasp, as it’s completely understandable—and correct—to identify Taoists following the road of the Tao in order to live in complete conformity to its standards.

The Tao is not visible, though its effects are. Another good way to look at the Tao is to consider it as a “ripple effect”. Although you cannot see what causes the ripples, you most certainly can see the ripples. The Tao is what causes the ripples. Although we cannot see the Tao itself, we can identify the effects of the Tao on us all. In addition, we can see the scale in which the Tao affects all matters of life, including those that non-Taoists would be unaware of.

The Tao is not God. In addition, the Tao is not worshipped. Although some Taoists elect to worship a god (and these deities and often borrowed from other religions, typically eastern religions; this means you can follow Jesus Christ and the Tao), but Taoism—at its core—is an atheistic religion that focuses on self-growth rather than self-salvation.

So what is the Tao? I believe this is better served by a list:

  • The way and philosophy of Taoists.
  • A systematic belief focused on self-growth.
  • The source of creation.
  • The ultimate, or the ultimate reality.
  • The un-namable. The unexplainable.
  • The universe, naturally, as a whole.
  • The way of the universe as a whole.

Hope that explained it a bit; questions?

May 12 '11

Today, I’m going to discuss a topic that’s going to get flamed. I do this not with the purposes of attracting attention or “trolling” but with the intentions of expressing my viewpoint and allowing others with similar viewpoints to acknowledge that they aren’t a “silent minority.” I also want to make this very clear: I am not reviewing Homestuck; I’m simply elaborating on observations that I have experienced (as well as the majority of those individuals reading this). This means don’t immediately think, “Well, you haven’t read Homestuck; how is it your right to judge something you haven’t read?” If you’ve read all 5000+ entries, you probably have the right to suggest that my opinion is weightless. But, if you’ve read all of these entries, you’ve probably invalidated your own point for reasons I will explain.

Homestuck is bloated. When I use the term bloated, I am referring to the sheer size of Homestuck. Homestuck currently has five acts (the fifth act being divided into two portions). Having 5659 entries (varying from pixel art to flash games, and even to music), Homestuck has been around since April 2009 (if we’re ignoring the BETA, which I am); it is still a work in progress. Andrew Hussie—the artist of the series—has also completed other similar projects (the largest being Problem Sleuth, which I somewhat enjoy).

The primary interest of most individuals reading Homestuck is the trolls. The trolls appear as primary in the first half of act five—there are mentions earlier, but they are not the protagonists. I would like to take a moment to emphasize this fact. It took until October 2010 for the trolls to become dominant characters; that’s over a year and a half of waiting. Take a moment to consider if you would be willing to read Homestuck and wait for over a year and a half to even get to the trolls. You could argue, “But I didn’t have to.” Someone did; think about if you would have waited that long. If you wouldn’t have, the content of Homestuck probably isn’t as great as many fans suggest.

In the first four acts, the protagonists are humans. These humans are Mary-Sue characters (which is to say they are blatant clichés that may or may not end up developing). John is a stereotypical, introverted nerd. He likes bad movies, web comics, makes computer programs, and various other stereotypical things (such as play piano because his parents forced him to learn, probably). Rose begins as your typical “book lover” female; she eventually develops into a different character—which is astonishing—and looks into strange beasts and the like (avoiding spoilers for those who are interested). Dave is your basic “cool dude” who hides behind irony. Jade is what you would consider a “hipster hippie” in the fact that she is highly concerned with flora and gadgets.

The initial argument to this point is, “Nearly all mediums begin with stereotypical characters to simplify introducing characters.” Quite simply: no, they do not. Novels often begin with novel characters—ironic, no?—as well as movies, games, and comics. That’s one of the catching points of media: they are meant to be novel. Although characters do not have to be original, they have to be interesting (read: not Mary-Sue) in order for the reader to even consider reading further.

This is my next point: barriers that keep you from reading further. The majority of Homestuck fans will tell you that Homestuck is subpar (if not just awful, boring, or dreadful) until the trolls become protagonists. I’ve already made the point that you would’ve waited over a year and a half for the trolls to appear (if you began at the beginning, after BETA). However, you still have to go through literally hundreds upon thousands of pages in order to reach this point of the comic. Some people don’t mind waiting 4,200 pages that are awful in order to read 800 pages that are amazing. However, I’m willing to wager that the majority of rational individuals would prefer to read 5,000 pages that were consistently good (that is if anyone would read in this day and age). If you are a fan of Homestuck, you still feel this plague. Either you’ve spent hours to catch up by reading 200 pages, or you’re behind by 200 pages, or you’ve been keeping up daily and reading it religiously. If you’re the latter bunch, you probably treat Homestuck in the same regard as a full-time employee or post-secondary student treats their occupation or studies.

Beyond the sheer volume of pages or the potential time that an individual had to wait or spend on Homestuck, we have to consider the content. Some of these pages—particularly the beginning—are one-word sentences that you can brush off with ease (i.e, Dave went to open up the drawer. Next page: Dave looked into the drawer. Next page: Dave pulled a comb out of the drawer). However, there are some sections that are literally walls of texts that last longer than any blog post I make. Although some individuals are willing to read these walls, I’m willing to suggest that they treat Homestuck as a full-time hobby, which I’ve mentioned already.

The plot is based off of wish-fulfillment. Andrew takes the suggestions and comments on the comics seriously. In fact, Andrew literally took the first comment of every page in Problem Sleuth and made it the next page. Although this is an interesting ideology, MSPA (MicroSoft Paint Adventures) is built like a choose-your-own-adventure novel; there is no adventure to be chosen if you are not actively keeping up with Andrew’s webcomics. If you debated earlier that you didn’t have to wait a year and a half to read Homestuck, you fall under the former mentioned problem.

On a quick tangent, this is entirely opinion and not an observation: Homestuck poorly executes the purpose of a webcomic. You can pick up Dinosaur Comics, XKCD, etc. and read at any point. The comics are independent of each other. One could debate that Homestuck is not a webcomic. If it isn’t a webcomic, please—as a fan or critic of the series—quit calling it a webcomic. You’re giving people the wrong idea. You could suggest that Homestuck is a, “new type of media” because it is a compilation of various media into a single topic, but don’t call it a webcomic or a choose-your-own-adventure. I would call it a waste of time, but please don’t use those terms in interest of accuracy.

Homestuck relies on low comedy. This means that Homestuck relies on elements like slapstick comedy and irony (neither of which endure very long; you get annoyed relatively quickly). What Homestuck relies on is a bastardized version of commedia dell’arte (you have Wikipedia if you’re unfamiliar). Homestuck uses basic clichés that trolls fall under and use them to create characters. This means that Homestuck requires that the reader enjoys crudeness, violence, bawdy jokes and physical action as means of humor. I’m not saying that Homestuck needs to be a satiric comedy or a comedy of manners, but it is by no means a “clever comedic comic”.

You have to train yourself to be stupider to read Homestuck. The trolls are infamous for their poor typing styles. They type with all caps, replacing letters with numbers, capitalize every word, and various other grammatical mistakes. This is all fine and good, and I can understand if you simply consider this a learning curve to the comic (which would not be a bad thing if the comic didn’t already have a plethora of other barriers). However, individuals who are fans of the comic often type in the same fashion as the trolls. You essentially are making yourself look stupider by acting like a character who is intended to seem retarded. A common argument to this is that individuals often relate to the trolls. This is an argument I agree with; I firmly believe the majority of individuals relating to the trolls relate to them because both the character and the reader are retarded.

This aside, there is another horrid aspect to Homestuck: fans treat Homestuck as an inside joke. When an individual complains about the sheer stupidity of this, fans will often say, “You can read Homestuck just as well as I; but…” and the fan elaborates on a plethora of barriers that prevents one from enjoying it. No one likes an inside joke besides those individuals who are within the joke. But, if a joke was good, would it have to be an inside joke? No, it wouldn’t.

To conclude, I would like to mention that Homestuck is not horrid by any means. I appreciate how it is a compilation of media, and I am amazed by the amount of fanwork that has come from this series. However, there are simply too many barriers to prevent an individual who is currently not in the series to enjoy it. In addition, there is a clear separation between those who religiously follow Homestuck and those who do not (and this is evident through lameass allusions). There is one final thing I would like to ask those considering reading Homestuck, those reading Homestuck, or those who have read Homestuck:

Consider the amount of barriers and the sheer amount of material that is between laughs; is it truly worth translating complex nonsense to enjoy what little Homestuck has to offer? I know what my cost/benefit analysis says; what about you?

May 12 '11

Preface: Someone earlier inquired what sort of history a master has. Usually, they have the same past as anyone: a troubled one. So, if you haven’t read my introduction post (tagged #intro), you might want to check that out first. I use the generic term of, “family,” to elaborate on all of my adopted families. I’m rather eclectic with this post. I talk a bit about my religion, family, folk groups, and so forth. I also show my peacock cock cock

Worldview, unlike many terms, is difficult to completely define using a single sentence. One definition of worldview would suggest that it is simply a sense or understanding of reality, whereas another might suggest it’s the sum of your beliefs. Yet another definition may suggest worldview is the foundation established during childhood in which we build our beliefs upon.  To me, worldview not only includes all of these aspects, but includes the cultural screen that individuals examine the world through. Even further, worldview can be specified to refer to an individual worldview (which is unique to the individual and includes cultural myths) or a group worldview (which is a combination of individual views which are shared amongst a culture).  

My individual worldview—unlike the majority of my peers—was formed by sources other than my parents. When I was a young child, I felt that my parents only supported me financially; all emotional care went to my siblings (particularly Blake, who has high-functioning autism). Because of this, I found my own beliefs through novels and dramas. Although I do not deny that my parents have provided influence to my worldview, the majority of my worldview is influenced by art rather than peers or parents.

In the sense of a group worldview, I share many of the same ideologies that my folk groups hold. Out of the folk groups I hold closest—teachers, competitive gamers, programmers, and PC repairmen—they all hold one common thread: merit is based off of skill and accomplishment. Granted, in several of my folk groups—particularly teaching, at times—there is a focus on your social links, but the influence of my other folk groups leads me to believe judging merit by social links is a fallacy. 

Although my family has had a limit influence, I have often attempted to hold ideologies that opposed that of my families. As I mentioned prior, I felt that my parents did not raise me on an emotional level.

I’ve had little contact with my father’s family, but I’ve never held them in high regard. My oldest uncle has been in prison multiple times for drug-related felonies, and my youngest uncle has not matured beyond the mental age of a teenager; both of my uncles still live with my grandmother. None of these are traits or achievements that I admire—and, because of my folk groups, I partly base merit from achievements—I never truly respected my father’s side.

As for my mother’s side, I’ve neither more nor less respect. Monetary exploits have always been a point of pride on my mother’s side of the family; they are highly materialistic and base the worth of a person on their wealth. Because of my folk groups’ influences, I never developed much respect for this part of my family. Another issue that has always concerned me is that my mother’s side of the family contains Klan members. Although my folk groups do not directly influence this, my religion does. I detest racism, but I do not hate racists.

Prior to discussing my family, I elaborated on using novels and dramas to develop my present-day ideologies. When I was in middle school, I struggled understanding why my parents could emotionally support my younger siblings but left me to develop alone. I found an answer to my problem through religion.

When I was still in middle school, an older friend suggested that I read Tao Te Ching­—the religious text of Taoism. Lao Tzu did not focus on the obvious values of things and action. Instead, he diverted my attention to the value of nothingness and inaction. The idea of emptiness—restraint, patience, silence, simplicity, and frugality—aided me in refining my adolescent values into present-day ideologies. Taoism also gave me an answer to my insecure feelings of being left to develop alone: there was a clear balance, to me, between the upbringing of my sibling and of myself.

Despite of the answers Taoism provided to me, it also forced me into a subgroup of the American folk group. The majority of Americans are Christian, and I willingly became a minority.  There are conflicts of views between Taoism and Christianity—some include the afterlife (there is no mention of an afterlife in Taoism), the growth of an individual (Taoism is a selfish growth, whereas Christianity is growing closer to God), and the existence of a deity (Taoism is atheistic)—and these differences have led to strife throughout my life.

The most significantly of these conflicts is that Taoism lacks the idea of sin. I, as an individual, acknowledge that “bad” is only a measurement in which we are able to relate the concept of “good” to; acknowledging sin would be a fallacy of dualistic thinking because it is only half of the equation. The American folk group believes in the concept of “evil” and believes it needs to be “defeated”. Because of this conflict of interests, Americans who fall under the philosophy of conservatism often disagree with me, so many of my ideologies have been modeled as an opposite of conservative values.

A clear example of this occurred in middle school. During one of my English classes, I wrote a poem titled The Gay Human. At the time I wrote this, the objective of the lesson was to compose a piece about a group that has been wrongfully judged. Most students wrote about Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, or other civil rights activists; I decided to write about wrongdoings that targeted homosexuals.

The poem, without going into detail, depicted various situations where humans have been tortured. Rather than showing the intended victim (such as crucifying a criminal), a homosexual was used instead. The poem was meant to express empathy and show that, despite sexual preference, all individuals felt the same pain (empathy is a core tenant of Taoism, and I learned how to empathize from it).

As a result of this poem, I was immediately exiled—in a social respect—from my classmate. If I was able to empathize with homosexuals, my peers suggested I had to at least be bisexual. Although I was curious in my sexuality (in terms of a romantic interest rather than a sexual interest) at this time, I did not associate myself with any sexuality—not even heterosexuality. My empathy was translated as propaganda by my peers.

This experience did not lead me to change my beliefs. Through the years of discrimination I experienced in middle and high school, I developed my worldview to emphasize the importance of empathy. Instead of withdrawing, I was able to acknowledge that humans—as a whole—often discriminate or express apathy (or even antipathy) towards minorities.

Unfortunately, I have never been tied to a specific geographical location. Because of this, I cannot (and do not) associate myself with any specific geographical folk group. The benefit of having moved through a gamut of states is that I have observed a variety of cultures. These observations have allowed me to empathize with those individuals who I have never met, and my experiences allow me to understand and appreciate the differences humans have.

When considering all the factors that have led to my empathy, I am led to believe my religion is the main contributor. In a direct quote of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu wrote, “How can I understand the source of the world? / By accepting. (Verse 21)” This is a particular portion of the Tao Te Ching that I have attempted to live by. Without my religion, I would not have been as accepting as I am today, and I would likely have practiced the same apathy and antipathy as my peers.

Earlier, I mentioned that several novels influenced my personal growth. Both Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra contributed greatly to my childhood. Often, as children, we’re lead to ask ourselves, “Why care?” Through these novels, I eventually refined my own answer: “In case someone else doesn’t.” Both of these novels contain a protagonist with a profound intelligence with the intentions of teaching or being taught. However, their philosophies were never heard simply because of apathy and antipathy. As a child, I concluded that apathy and antipathy serve as barriers to understanding and accepting.

My socioeconomic class, along with Ayn Rand’s novels, has also influenced my worldview. As a child, my parents often preached to me the value of hard work (the Alger myth). However, I observed that my parents have worked hard throughout their life and never experienced the fruits of their labor that some of my peers obtained. Even in elementary school, I was able to acknowledge a clear separation in correlation to an individual’s SES.

Ayn Rand provided me an answer to the childhood question of, “Why do my parents work hard and not get the same money as other parents?” Rand’s novels answered this by simply saying that skill and intelligence is what determines an individual’s SES. Although this was not entirely true, I found that humans have different innate talents and intelligence. It’s not what innate abilities we have been given, but how we utilize them in an economic perspective. Hard work just “isn’t enough” in a world where resources are limited (only one person can be president).

Out of all of my folk groups, the folk group of competitive gamers has most influenced my worldview. In arcades, an individual’s merit, and status, is determined by their knowledge and/or skill. You do not have to be extremely good at games to be a figurehead of the arcade community, and you do not have to be extremely smart to be a figurehead. However, most “major players” are both skilled and knowledgeable about their game.

Arcades are one of the few places that meritocracies can exist, and I’ve always been drawn to arcades because of this quality. Outside of competitive gaming, there are few instances where an individual is revered for their skill or knowledge concerning a specific aspect of the folk group. Not even my fellow student teachers respect an individual for being better and attempt to learn from them. Instead, they are seen as competition.

Empathy, however, is not a trait of the competitive gaming folk group. Individuals who are unsuccessful and do not adapt are seen as a lower status, and those individuals who complain are considered “scrubs” (a highly derogatory term). This is not to suggest the gaming community does not approve of new members. Instead, this folk group only approves of new members who are willing to learn and develop on a person level.

In conclusion, religion and literature have been the greatest influences on my worldview. It is through self-reflection, observation of my peers, and personal experiences that I have refined my worldview to my present-day ideologies.  In addition, my family did not contribute as much to my worldview as my peers’, and I have found my views to contrast to those of my peers’ views.

May 6 '11

Having received fifteen followers in fifteen days, I’m going to elaborate a bit on my follower-base (because it’s not quite a fanbase). I’d like to apologise for the text being a bit off with my background (I’ll need to edit it later). Exact numbers aren’t used; just estimate.

Believe it or not, I only know a third of my followers. The majority of my followers are actually complete strangers. Let me know a little bit about you! Answer some of my older articles; ask some questions in my prior articles and let me know what you want. I’m also available for discussions for those who are curious.

But I’d sleep with all of you. Unfortunately, I’d only SLEEP with that blue slice.

Interestingly enough, there’s less than 1/3rd of my followers that actively post BDSM. This includes images that show BDSM-material, reblogs containing BDSM-material, or posting BDSM-related text. This, to me, is a wonderful thing. If someone is interested in BDSM, but are unfamiliar with its core concept, this Tumblr is meant solely for their needs. It’s particularly this audience that I want to hear from; I’m intensely curious about their thoughts and inquiries.

One of my violent rants about Tumblr is that the majority of Tumblr users just reblogging porn and retarded-ass memes. Thankfully, this is not the case with my follower-base. Although a significant portion (about a third) contains only pictures, they are not (usually) retarded, overused memes (granted, Salt needs to stfu about Harry Potter). Approximately a quarter of my followers post little text (usually captioning images, poetry, or “journals”). One follower (shoutouts to Corey) actually posts blog entries similar to myself (you can see his stuff here, but it’s not of the same topics that I write on—besides a few tangents concerning LURVE LURVE RED ROSE).

As a closing word, I’d like to throw out one last shoutout to Riodragon’s Tumblr. He’s currently doing a playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas where he roleplays his character (similar to a tabletop RPG). If you’re a fan of the game, he’s using a few (see: 10+; wtf. Granted, several are just radio stations) mods that you might be interested in seeing. If you like roleplaying (or just think it’s funny to watch people semi-LARP), it’s worth a view. Only episode one is up, and it’s mainly character development, but it gives you a taste of what’s in store.

Questions? Comments?

May 5 '11

Preface: I think History Channel having a show that uses Larry the Cable Guy as a host is fucking ludicrous. Continuing on with my discussions on BDSM-relationships, I’m going to approach the sub audience (because I elaborated before on the hardships of masters). This is for you, Kitty.

A, “nameless slave,” is referred to. You can find the blog referred to here.

I’m going to discuss a topic that has caused many subs in a gamut of relationships to have breakdowns: divine submission.

Divine submission refers to the sensation a sub experiences when they obtain pleasure simply from pleasure. These individuals often focus their efforts solely on pleasing their masters simply because it provides them a constant high (because not only are they in bliss, but their master is served). Oftentimes, these subs will mention having their, “hearts, souls, and beings,” filled with fervor. However, when other subs (who do not experience this same pleasure) hear of divine submission, they often withdraw. Withdrawal, in this case, is stimulated solely because the sub believes, “They feel this… divine pleasure… from submitting, but I don’t; I must be ‘wrong’.”

Clearly, there are positives and negatives to this. The pros seem much more obvious, so I’d rather spend time talking to those subs that do not experience divine submission.

First off, let me begin with this statement: Whether you experience divine submission or not, you are not broken. If a master expects his slave to constantly focus on pleasing him, you are either in a Gorean relationship (which, if that’s your thing…) or the expectations being set for you are far too critical. If the latter is your case, it’s probably in your best interest to discuss this matter with your master (if you’re punished too severely for questioning your master—I don’t let my pet protest or interrogate me—you’re probably in an abusive relationship and not a D/s relationship, but don’t let me stop it if you enjoy it).

Not all subs will experience divine submission; I’m fairly certain my pet does not. In fact, upon asking her, she responded:

Divine submission sounds really selfish. If people try to make someone else happy just to make themselves happy then they’re only really doing it for themselves and therefore not for the Master. Which is why she hates being happy about pleasing you. But she can’t help it.

Take her opinion as your will. However, it is worth inquiring, “Why would one remain in a relationship if they were unable to derive pleasure?” This is a valid question; from a BDSM-relationship standpoint, this question would be answered by simply stating that D/s relationships, similar to their vanilla counterparts, rely heavily on both parties pleasing each other. There is a significant metaphorical magnifying glass on this pleasure. The master has no reason to assume the burdens of being a master if he’s not being pleased; the slave has no reason to submit if he or she is not enjoying it.

When slaves who do not experience divine submission, they usually share similar reactions. Here’s one from a nameless slave:

At times when I submit, I internally struggle even though externally I obey. I obey because I am owned and serve Master. And those are my first thoughts….to obey, to serve because I am owned. And Master is pleased that I obey and serve Him – so yes I am pleasing but it is not my focus.

There’s an interesting point here: she has explicatively said, “…it is not my focus.” If a slave’s focus is not serving his or her master, what is their purpose? It’s the same as any other relationship: their focus is loving and being loved.

D/s relationships are, at their very core, relationships. They simply have had the adjective, “BDSM-“, “D/s”, or “M/s” tagged on it. The majority of individuals focus on the tag, rather than the relationship. This is perhaps one of the greatest reasons the BDSM-community, as a whole, has been stigmatized. But, without a doubt, BDSM-relationships are relationships first and foremost. Never mistake that, whether you’re a master, a slave, or an onlooker.

So what happens when an individual doesn’t realize this? Let’s refer to our nameless slave again:

Enter my first 24/7 D/s. I was there to please my Dominant. And I knocked myself out doing it…literally. I worked hard to please him 24/7. Because I was knocking myself out trying to please him (without really being told how to please him) – I became obsessed. Everything I did – I did over the top because what if he did not want iced tea after work – maybe he wanted orange pop – no maybe root beer. What if he wanted something different for dinner? What if …what if. I had to have every possible thing that could please him – in my mind – ready. So, I obsessed and in the end questioned if I was submissive because it was such hard work to please someone 24/7. I thought others did it….and got joy from it. But it just felt so tiring to me. It felt like I was not me. I ended up falling hard – becoming so tired and burnt out with submission as I literally would lay awake at night thinking of what was next in what I thought pleasing him should be. I thought pleasing meant I couldn’t express opinions because it was not the same as his and in my mind that meant obviously it would not please him that I had different thoughts. I did not express feelings, thoughts or ideas as anything that might be negative - and negative equaled not pleasing in my mind.

Of course, she eventually broke down; any rational human would.

To those who experience the sensation of divine submission, indulge in your gift! For those who submit but do not experience these same feelings, do not feel ashamed or believe you’re broken. Regardless of if you’re a sub, a dom, or neither, acknowledge that relationships are love, and your relationships (whether present or future) should always keep this as their focus.

What do you think?

May 5 '11

Preface: I promised I’d get a little something from my pet’s side, and here it is. My questions are in bold, whereas her responses are in plain text. Note that she doesn’t use terms like, “I,” or, “Me.” This is simply because she is following one of the rules I have set.

So, what’s your favorite part about being a pet?

She thinks… those times where [my master says] just small things like, “That’s what I like to see,” or other things that [imply] that [my master] pleased at least somewhat. It sounds silly. She loves when she thinks she’s made [my master] happy. She guesses that’s only a small thing, though. Kitty isn’t sure if she has any other favourite parts — probably, but she isn’t really sure what. She likes all aspects of it, she thinks.

All aspects? There has to be something you dislike.

This has been on her mind for the last while, actually. She’s been trying to think of something she dislikes, or even hates. She can’t think of anything. Surely there’s something, and she agrees, but she really doesn’t know. If anything, she only dislikes things about herself in relation to that. For example, if she genuinely feels she can’t do something. Kitty loathes that feeling, because it’s the feeling of failing [my master]. It frustrates her. But then those sorts of things aren’t really about the relationship itself, because it’s more to do with how she feels about herself. So, she doesn’t know.

But then, she can’t say she particularly dislikes the aspect that stresses failure in some cases. Without it, the few things she does right wouldn’t feel as good, probably. She likes how there’s both.

Then what about being called, “Pet”? That’s not the usual title of, “Slave,” in a BDSM-relationship. Do you think that implies that perhaps you’re less submissive? Maybe your master is more lenient?

Not at all. But, she isn’t too fond of the word, “slave.” They’re both the same to her, but, “pet,” seems… more loving, she supposes? Of course, she wouldn’t mind too much if [she was referred to as a] slave, but, “pet,” seems cuter anyway. Although she isn’t sure how [my master] feel in relation to names. If anything, dogs (for example) are expected to be loyal and well-trained. Slaves… sound like they don’t WANT to be there. If that makes sense.

Loving? But doesn’t that supposed to go against the idea of a BDSM relationship?

Why should it? Why should one try to hide affection in any sort of relationship? As long as there is an obvious sub and Dom [sic], why can’t it be loving, too?

Well, do your friends feel the same way? Or at least your peers?

Possibly not. The ones who’ve spoken to you (skype mostly lol) seem to have no problem with us, but she doesn’t tend to discuss our relationship with anyone like that.

But I’m sure you hear things when you call someone, “Master,” or you refer to yourself as a pet.

[Some people] would say it’s automatically an abusive relationship with no real love. [To those people,] she’d try to explain as well as she could, and insist it’s something SHE wants just as much and that she has not been brainwashed, but a lot of people just don’t understand. @_@; She did get a fairly heartwarming comment on [Master and her’s] relationship yesterday, though, considering nobody ever has anything good to say. x3; [She then went to elaborate on a personal matter which will not be posted]

Is there anything that makes your relationship different than any other BDSM-relationships?

She wouldn’t know the ins and outs of others. There’s surely something — everyone has something unique.

Now, if someone was interested in a BDSM relationship and considered themselves a sub, like yourself, would you tell them anything as advice?

[Various ranting occurred here; it has been removed] But regardless, it sort of depends on the situation. She doesn’t feel it’s right to just say what she thinks right off the bat. It does depend entirely on the two people in the relationship that way. Kitty isn’t entirely sure what she’d say, but if anything, she imagines she’d only be answering specific questions anyway.

Well, it sounds like you think people generally have a bad idea about BDSM-relationships. What would you like to tell people about them?

She just… wants them to know how it is before they jump to conclusions. But then, she isn’t very good at explaining. She just wants them to get out of the idea that it’s always abusive, or loveless, or that [Master’s] pet has some mental troubles for wanting to be in such a relationship in the first place. x3;

She wants to at least try to convince people that there’s nothing wrong with it. [Master’s] pet didn’t even really know what it might entail when [Master] mentioned it to her first. x3; But she figured it’d make [master] happy so she went along with it. And she is glad she did. Kitty prefers it this way, definitely. She is just really unsure of how she’s supposed to let anyone know that it isn’t a bad thing.

You can follow my pet here, but don’t expect any content worth reading.

May 5 '11

Preface: I’d like to thank those who decided to follow me for this series of articles; I wouldn’t be writing these without someone to read them. It’s interesting to see all the tumblrs that hold interest in this topic, as well as their focus. If I get a large amount of followers, I might decide to throw up a graph or two to show what the focus of my followers (and, perhaps alter my writings to reflect that).

These articles—particularly this series—is not only meant for those who consider themselves to be in a BDSM lifestyle. It is also meant for those curious or interested in them, as well as those who are entirely against them. I’m curious of what you think; that’s what I write about.

Let me know by answering this, and other, articles.

Last part, the focus of the article concerned the transference of freedoms in a BDSM relationship. However, I did mention quite specifically what this article would consist of:

Those individuals in a master-slave relationship give up additional freedoms as compared to a ‘normal’ relationship. Yes, this is both parties; I’ll save an explanation of that for a later volume (in fact, I’m willing to argue that masters have the harder position). - Part 1

Of course, I am the master in my relationship. It is worth mentioning a few facts about my relationship simply for the purpose of being considered, “insightful,” or, “legitimate”.

My pet and I have been in a relationship for approximately seven years, but we’ve only been in a BDSM relationship for about two years. Perhaps I’ll have an article to focus her (to allow you—the audience—a better understanding of our relationship so you may have a little more insight to my articles) at a later time. But, it is important to note that these positions have never changed. Ever.

It is also worth noting that my pet is not a Gorean slave. This is an important distinguishment, and it’s worth taking some time to explain. The philosophy of Gorean relationships come from the novels of John Norman (which I have never read), who is a retired professor of philosophy. His novels occur in a fictitious setting, but there have been a large following to his philosophies that actually attempt to follow the Gorean philosophies. Not all Goreans indulge in BDSM, but the majority of them partake in acts such as branding, whipping, and chaining. What’s most significant—from a BDSM relationship standpoint—is that Gorean relationships have two sets of powers: the sub sets the limits, and the dom has the power.

There is a single clear benefit to this: the slave knows exactly what they are not allowed to do. When they fail to follow a set protocol, they acknowledge exactly what protocol they failed to follow because it was the slave who made it. This serves simply to make the job of the master easier, because this is one of the primary issues of masters. One of the primary issues of being a master is assuming your slave acknowledges the reason they are punished.

Not any master is perfect (because, similar to any relationship, both sides are fallible; masters are simply expected to be less fallible). Even when rules have been established by a slave, it is critical that the master establishes exactly what rule has been broken. Without this knowledge, the sub often withdraws from the relationship because of confusion and fear. Masters are not only assumed to be less fallible; they have to be less fallible. If a slave makes a mistake, it has been assumed (simply from the nature of the relationship) it would occur—otherwise, there would be no reason to establish rules and a hierarchy. If a master makes a mistake, the foundation of the relationship can crumble.

One rational question would be, “Are there any assumed rules that are a common thread in all BDSM relationships?” My answers would be to reply in confirmation, but I believe that these assumptions are problematic. Some slaves do not find the need to outline rules such as required obedience, required service, and other requirements of vanilla/non-BDSM relationships (such as remaining faithful, as we mentioned in the first part). However, if these are rules are not clearly outlined, how would one be able to assume both parties acknowledged these protocols? For the purposes of leaving nothing to chance, I choose to outline these protocols for my pet (and have had little trouble with them).

Another issue we often find in master-slave relationships is that not all rules apply to all situations. In vanilla situations (which are situations in which appearing as a BDSM-couple may prove hazardous, like when I’m at a teacher meeting), some rules simply do not work. At home, I can have my pet eat from a bowl, on the floor, sitting by my feet. However, if I had a meeting with my co-workers and employers, this behavior may not be desired. There’s another struggle that masters have to decide: Am I always a master, or am I only a master beneath non-vanilla settings?

This question is answered by how a master decides to design his rules. There are three fashions masters design their rules:

  1. The master designs a single set of rules to apply to both vanilla and non-vanilla situations.
  2. The master designs one set of rules to apply to vanilla situations, and a second set of rules to apply to non-vanilla situations.
  3. The master does not set up any rules, and all of his or her rules are implied.

My relationship falls under the first category, and I’ve already spoken concerning the third style (this is not to say having unspoken and/or unwritten rules curtails a relationship, but there are certainly more opportunities for curtailment to occur). Therefore, I’d like to discuss the second style.

When a master describes a set of rules for separate situations, there eventually becomes a glaring issue: the sub is assumed to respect the dom equally at all times but only has to submit entirely at some times. In a relationship style as extreme as a BDSM-relationship, one needs to always be their slave’s master. A slave must always submit entirely at all times. Rather than changing the rules for situations, I find it much more efficient to change the pet. For example, rather than telling my pet she has to sit at my feet at all times, I’ve told her that she must always assume a submissive position beside of me. When she does not assume a position I find suitable, I dig a nail into her, pull the back or her hair, or any other small pang to silently get the point across.

The point of this article is not to suggest one relationship type is correct whereas another is incorrect. I acknowledge that every relationship has its unique needs and conditions. Instead, the focus of this article is showing just a few of the plethora of issues that face a master, and showing my views concerning ways to go about them.

So, what do you think?

May 4 '11

Time for a change of pace.

I’ve been reading The Time Travel’s Wife. Honestly, it’s a rather cliche novel: a man—Henry—falls in love with a woman. He travels back in time and spends moments with her (152 of them, to be exact). The synopsis of the story isn’t as significant as the fashion the book is wrote; as one can see from above, the protagonist is a rather charismatic fellow. It’s his personality—and the other character’s—that really interests me in this book.

Granted, there’s a certain romantic interesting with your partner—whether it be geographically or chronologically (I assume that’d be the proper word for this instance). But, the characters are just entertaining. Too many people are worried about having an original storyline, and most of these individuals even acknowledge that is a goal all but unobtainable. Instead, creators of media (whether it be novels, games, movies, or the like) should simply focus on making the characters entertaining. Audrey Niffenegger has done exactly that.

However, it’s worth mentioning that the grammar in this book is rather… poor. However, if that doesn’t bog you down too much (and lord knows I’m a hypocritical grammar Nazi) and you have enough free time to pursue reading a free book, I’d suggest The Time Traveler’s Wife in a heartbeat.

Interest? Then read it for free, because you know I am. Third one down.