Work in progress, October, 2007

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A work in progress ... a prototype?


Meditations on desire: Poems

There are many Muses

The words of each line of the first stanza Many truths many paths started out in October 2007 as being almost completely from the links of Many paths many truths; both poems continue to evolve, so it's a steadily-more-imperfect match (as opposed to the two stanzas of Many truths many paths and The Asymptote of Desire/Desiring the asymptote, which are intended to stay in sync).

See also: the Seducersworld thread Many paths, many truths (resurrected)


July 2011: In the last line, I changed "seduction" to "attraction". "Seduction" has inescapable overtones of sexuality and deception, exemplified in Robert Greene's 'Art of Seduction', and "attraction" is a much more positive term. And luckily for me they have thee same number of syllables.

September 2011: I went back to "seduction". It's a great word, and worth reclaiming :)

"No Muse-poet grows conscious of the Muse except by experience of a woman in whom the Goddess is to some degree resident. A Muse-poet falls in love, absolutely, and his true love is for him the embodiment of the Muse..."
-- Robert Graves, The White Goddess

I think it's pretty generally agreed that most artists have multiple Muses. We often only find out about it via memoirs, biographies, or deconstructionist readings (in which case it's sometimes news to the artist as well), but even those who are known for a single Muse often have some youthful flings, engage in a pattern of serial monogamy or cheat just a little. And of course the same person can be a Muse for multiple artists, sometimes even ones that she* doesn't know. This opens up all kinds of possibilities -- and makes Muses a great way of thinking about non-exclusivity and win/win opportunities.

"Creative work comes out of an intense and passionate involvement -- almost as if with a lover, as one (the artist) interacts with the "other" to bring something into being"
-- Jean Shinoda Bolen, Goddesses in Everywoman

Many of my poems and stories have multiple Muses. The anomaly and the goddesses and poems such as Many paths many truths and Elements are not just to multiple muses, at some level they're about having multiple muses. Sometimes the muses are directly credited: Fountains of light is to "for the gemstones and elements that are the women of Seducersworld". Sometimes they're explicit or implicit in the poem's text. Sometimes they're less visible, like the four uncredited Muses for Solitude. Interactions can be complex: the poem cycle Space of desire is for D, and some of individual poems (The journey and In the space of desire, for example) have multiple Muses. All nine of the classical muses are here as well, along with quite a few other goddesses.

Topics still to cover:

  • Goddesses, Elements, Muses, and muses
  • post-publication Muses
  • win/win, artists, and Muses

See also: There are many truths, Many paths many truths, Many truths many paths

* While muses come in all varieties, and there are notable exceptions like the Muse of Michalangelo's David, as an archetype she is typically gendered female or trans. See Genesis' The muse on Seducersworld for more. Artists, by contrast, may be gendered male, female, or trans. Artists can be Muses as well; one good example is Sappho, who has been called the "The Tenth Muse".

Elements

Elements

Earth. Air. Water. Fire.
Every night, each morning,
We transform our world.

(February - November, 2007)

Talk:Elements

Seduced by the elements

If you ever have been deeply seduced would you please participate?

i'm pretty good at being deeply seduced, if i do say so myself, so i have a handful of experiences to draw on here ... over the last few years i've had five seductions that have gotten steadily deeper and deeper, and since i've been reading a lot of Tibetan Buddhism recently, i'll refer to the seductresses as Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Space.

I would like to you to share what happened, how it happened, what made you allow yourself to surrender? What did your seducer do, say, behave ?

i'm not sure i "allowed myself" to surrender; all of them are Charismatic Coquettes, as well as Mythic and/or Fetish Stars (and other types too) so it's not clear that i really had a lot of options here :-)

There are three different stages i chart of my surrender to all these seductresses. in terms of what they did and said to get me there, there are a lot of differences in each case -- unsurprisingly, since they're very different people. there are some common themes, though.

In each case there was a time when i became aware that she was transforming my life ... like i said above, that i had surrendered without even making a decision. with Earth, Air, and Fire, i can point to the precise moment when something they said or did fundamentally changed my worldview and self-awareness: Fire asked a single question; Air asked a series of questions and then withone sentence gave me a different way to look at a problem that had been causing me major stress; Earth gave a definition and a way of thinking about the world. Water and Space have a more continuous process, if you will, so that i can't point to the specific instant when i first realized how they were transforming me, but it's the same deal.

Another is the moment i realized "my life will only feel complete with her in it". In all five cases it took a while for me to realize how deeply i was seduced (and these seductions continually deepen, so in a lot of ways i'm constantly discovering it), and then at some point there was a moment when i knew that i was utterly under their spell. These were pretty dramatic realizations for me; i remember them all very clearly, including exactly what song was playing at the time with Space, the way Fire looked in the candlelight, or my feeling as Air once gain asked me a question that revealed things with crystal clarity.

And the third, and most magical, is when i realize that "i can no longer really remember what my life was like before she was in it". Oh, of course i at some level i remember (and sometimes when i reread things that i wrote long ago it's now seems clear that i was anticipating and often fantasizing about her years before i met her), but still: after months, years of having her so completely in my thoughts, my dreams, my life, sharing richer and more intense experiences, creating and reinforcing poeticizations, talking regularly with no boundaries about everything, growing in our different ways -- and helping each other grow ... it becomes such a core part of my life and so firmly ingrained in everything that it feels like this has always been a part of my life.


Can you now recognize the pattern that took place, what physiological and psychological changes happened in you as you as you were allowing this seduction to occur.

Again, i don't really think of it as allowing the seduction to occur; i'm not sure i could have prevented it if i wanted, and also that's got a feel of something that's happening to me, whereas i try to be a very active participant in all these seductions! How about "encouraging" or "helping"?

One pattern i notice is that they all have a very calming effect on me both psychologically and physiologically -- while simultaneously turning me on, but still, i can literally feel my blood pressure dropping. It's most pronounced in person but it happens with phone, chat, and even email.

Psychologically they all have the effect of really deepening my awareness of the world and of myself, so it feels like i'm on a continual journey -- with them as simultaneously traveling companions (because our journeys overlap) and guide (because they're a lot wiser about most things than me). They have all been very helpful at getting me to develop and trust my intuition. There's a real clarity to my view of the world when i discuss things with them; when there's not a chance to talk, i often ask myself things like "how would Space approach this situation?" or remind myself "Earth talked about this once and she said..."

A couple of other things leap out in terms of patterns: we communicate extremely well so there is a real sense of flow; we both learn a lot from each other and it has really changed our interactions with the world; we've worked through problems (personal and/or professional, ours and/or others') together and so communicate well and know a lot about each other's thought processes; we don't get to see or even talk to each other anywhere near enough so we are constantly looking forward to it and savoring every moment ...

The net effect of all of this is that time spent as part of the seduction is somehow "better" than other time in my life, "better" in many different dimensions in ways that are hard to describe but we both know what we're talking about, and that just keep getting steadily better and better over time.

Did your seducer have to overcome resistance on your part? How did she do that.

While sometimes it took me a while to realize the extent of the seduction, i don't think i resisted being seduced in any of these cases. But sometimes i do resist, consciously or unconsciously, when somebody who has seduced me is trying to help me transform.

i spend a lot of time talking about seduction with all of them, and am very open and honest, so they all have a very clear picture of how best to overcome my resistance; and they ask each other's advice, so between them they have a very clear picture of what works with me -- and for them.

Probably most important, they all have high standards, and are very direct in terms of what they want. They know that i see being seduced by them as a real privilege as well as a treat, and how much i appreciate their attention, and so use that to help move the seduction in a way that works for both of us: positive reinforcement via appreciation and praise, correction and suggestions when there's room for improvement, and letting me see their disappointment when they feel i could have done better.

In terms of specific techniques, all of them poeticize themselves extensively. We enjoy discussing art and poeticizations (and the idea of poeticization) and actively seek out ways to bring them more deeply in our lives, with each other and more broadly. With their encouragement, i go out of my way to surround myself with poeticizations that remind me of them -- and they're all Muses for me, so i also spend a lot of time creating art under their inspiration. It's hard to know for sure but i think that at least for me this combination leads to the seduction unfolding much more intensely than in situations where this wasn't so much the case.


-- questions from Eon's Seduction questions for the men thread on Seducersworld

Goddesses

The following goddesses appear in the poems and stories here (as well as potentially others who have not yet revealed themselves):

And of course all nine Muses: Calliope (the "beautiful of speech", chief of the muses and muse of epic or heroic poetry), Clio (the "glorious one", muse of history), Erato (the "amorous one", muse of love and erotic poetry), Euterpe (the "well-pleasing", muse of music and lyric poetry), Polymnia (the "[singer] of many hymns", muse of sacred song, oratory, lyric, singing and rhetoric), Terpsichore (the "[one who] delights in dance", muse of choral song and dance), Thalia (the "blossoming one", muse of comedy), and of course Urania (the "celestial one", muse of astronomy ... gee, I wonder who that would be?).

Some of the others I expect might be here include: Hera (especially after the draft of The anomaly and the goddesses, Tara, Parvati, Hebe (goddess of youth and cupbearer), Demeter, Nemesis, Eos (dawn), Hecate (in her role in of goddess of sorcery), Nike, ...

Worship the anomaly

Talk:What an anomaly

Definitions for anomaly include

  • something that deviates from the norm or from expectations
  • something strange and difficult to identify or classify
  • a deviation from the common rule
  • an irregularity that is difficult to explain using existing rules or theory

Theories, societies, and people have a hard time dealing with anomalies, and so the natural tendency is to make them fit existing norms [or expectations -- or alternatively to try to make them disappear. In many cases it's the anomalies that are the most interesting: the data points that show the limitations of a current theory, the interdisciplinary works that combine different viewpoints, the people with radically different outlooks on the world.

Anomalies are frequently to be intersection points in the network-of-networks. And anomalies tend to attract or discover other anomalies; so they're frequently hubs and linked to other hubs. Scott Page's book The Difference explores how groups with diverse cognitive "toolboxes" (techniques, perspectives and experiences) outperform individuals -- even experts. (A thread on Liminal States gives some examples.) Anomalies provide additional toolboxes to any group, and so as long as the group accepts them and everybody works to overcome communication gaps, contribute disproportionately to better results... and transformational change.

Don't fear the anomaly.

Worship her.

The Anomaly and the Elements

Talk:Multidimensionality

Art is total freedom

"What is blue? Blue is the invisible becoming visible ...
Blue has no dimensions. It exists outside the dimensions that are other colors....

Art is total freedom, it is life; as soon as there is any imprisonment in any way,
there is an affront to freedom, and life diminishes in proportion to the degree of imprisonment."

(Yves Klein, quoted in Yves Klein, p. 48)


180px-Le_Saut_Dans_le_Vide.jpg


Redefinitions

Art and beauty mold time and space.
It's "now" when I write this, when you read this,
Whenever we think or dream of each other.
And no matter the distance,
We can share sensations as well.
Close your eyes.
Whose fingers do you feel brushing against you?
Asynchronous immediacy. Remote physicality.
Pinch me feel me kiss me hold me.
Now.

(to Katia, april-may, 2006)
(originally in Meditations on desire)

Definitions for anomaly include

  • something that deviates from the norm or from expectations
  • something strange and difficult to identify or classify
  • a deviation from the common rule
  • an irregularity that is difficult to explain using existing rules or theory

Theories, societies, and people have a hard time dealing with anomalies, and so the natural tendency is to make them fit existing norms [or expectations -- or alternatively to try to make them disappear. In many cases it's the anomalies that are the most interesting: the data points that show the limitations of a current theory, the interdisciplinary works that combine different viewpoints, the people with radically different outlooks on the world.

Anomalies are frequently to be intersection points in the network-of-networks. And anomalies tend to attract or discover other anomalies; so they're frequently hubs and linked to other hubs. Scott Page's book The Difference explores how groups with diverse cognitive "toolboxes" (techniques, perspectives and experiences) outperform individuals -- even experts. (A thread on Liminal States gives some examples.) Anomalies provide additional toolboxes to any group, and so as long as the group accepts them and everybody works to overcome communication gaps, contribute disproportionately to better results... and transformational change.

Don't fear the anomaly.

Worship her.

Seduction, Fantasy, and Reality

At least for me, seduction operates largely at the boundary between fantasy and reality.... What's especially exciting is when the fantasies starting in the seduction spill over to the rest of reality -- influencing, transforming ... revealing that the boundary between "fantasy" and "reality" (or "art" and "life") is much fuzzier than we usually consider it. I like that.

-- from Seducersworld, November 2005

A ring that looks like a present

Seeing
(feeling)
(remembering)
(wearing)
glitter
earrings
(crystal, gemstone, glass)
pink, purple, turquoise
lavender nail polish
a bracelet
a choker
(and the sound as it clicks shut)
a ring
that looks like a present.


-- April, 2007, from Space of desire
revised October 2007

Our threads are the ashes of our art

 "We must create ourselves as a work of art" - Foucault

And on social networks, we do

 "... Foucault, it definitely starts with Foucault " - What kind of postmodernist are you!?

This site (especially the poems, stories, and meditations), like my other [online work, is a performative process of transformational self-creation.

"our threads are the ashes of our art"

-- me, after Yves Klein
to a collaborator on a shared work of art
January 2007

Many of the links from eluminatus are to threads and sequences of threads on social media that were originally collaborative performances. The static representation remains after the fact ... but like Yves Klein's paintings, it's only the aftermath of the art.


Rituals

What rituals would make you happier?
What would you like to introduce to your life?
Introduce no more than one or two rituals at a time
and make sure they become habitual before you introduce new ones.
"Incremental change is better than ambitious failure.
Success feeds on itself."

New rituals may be difficult to initiate;
but over time, usually within as litle as thirty days
performing these rituals will become as natural as brushing your teeth.


(Tal Ben-Shahar, Happier, p. 9-10)

Sometimes / Every moment

Sometimes I realize
I've been there all along.
Sometimes I discover I'm there.
Sometimes I drift there more slowly ...


Infinite depth
Infinitely reflected
Extended,
Relaxing,
Recharging,
Blissful,
Transformed ...
Transforming.


April, 2007, from Space of desire

From Dzogchen Ponlop's Mind Beyond Death's discussion of the Dzogchen Buddhist tradition of the four great modes of liberation:





  • decide directly on one thing: this very moment of consciousness is self-liberation; these very experiences of emotions -- of suffering and happiness that are arising -- are the expression of our naked awareness
  • directly recognize our nature, the essential nature of our mind. Apart from this very experience of nowness, this very mind, there is nothing to be pointed out. We recognize that this is it.
  • gain conference in liberation: this very mind that we are experiencing now, in this present moment, is self-liberated







  • Primordial liberation: When a moment of passion arises in a vivid and sharp manner ... it is already free from concepts; therefore, it is primordially and utterly free.
  • Self-liberation: Like a snake that simply uncoils itself form its own not, passion returns to its natural state, already in the nature of transcendence. We cannot purify or transform passion except through passion itself.
  • Naked liberation occurs when the mind observes itself. When passion arises and we look at it nakedly and straightforwardly, the very process of looking liberates the experience of passion. That vibrant, radiant, quality shows us the actual insubstantial nature of mind.
  • Complete liberation occurs when passion is further liberated as mind observes the experience of passion again and again. In the first moment of the arising of passion, we look at it directly, and it liberates itself. In the second moment, we look directly again and it liberates itself further and further, or more completely.

Many paths many truths: poems from Seducersworld

The poems collected here are inspired individually by the many Muses associated with Seducersworld, an online community for people interested in Robert Greene's Art of Seduction.

Many paths many truths

The words of each line of the first stanza Many truths many paths started out in October 2007 as being almost completely from the links of Many paths many truths; both poems continue to evolve, so it's a steadily-more-imperfect match (as opposed to the two stanzas of Many truths many paths and The Asymptote of Desire/Desiring the asymptote, which are intended to stay in sync).

See also: the Seducersworld thread Many paths, many truths (resurrected)


July 2011: In the last line, I changed "seduction" to "attraction". "Seduction" has inescapable overtones of sexuality and deception, exemplified in Robert Greene's 'Art of Seduction', and "attraction" is a much more positive term. And luckily for me they have thee same number of syllables.

September 2011: I went back to "seduction". It's a great word, and worth reclaiming :)

Seduction is

Tto Fifi, May 2006

Melting together

Melting together

Attraction, respect.
Relaxed, melting together.
Our shared work of art.

(december, 2005)

Liquid glitter

liquid glitter

bubbling in my ears
tingling on my tongue
swirling through my mind
somewhere between awake and asleep
thinking of you
dreaming of you
both at the same time
dreaming that you're dreaming of me
thinking what a wonderful dream that is

(for Genesis, march 2006)

I remember

I remember

I remember
One time you said
That a night with you
Changes everything.

Now I understand
That this was a ruse,
Lulling others, creating
A false sense of security.

You don't need
An entire night
(And all the delights
Implied by the idea.)

Now I appreciate
That every moment
Just by existing
You change everything.

(to Potion,
december 2005 / october 2007)

I can quit any time I want to

Some of the most seductive women I know approach as creating addiction. Are there ways to apply these of their techniques to poeticization? For example, consider this discussion of presuppositions from Isabella Valentina's trance FAQ

"The more you stare up at my red toenails, the more submissive you become." Now I presupposed several things. First, I made you assume you had to "stare up" at my toenails, which is implies you are underneath me. Secondly, I presupposed that I have bare feet. Thirdly, I've presupposed that I have red painted toenails. How would you know it if I hadn't said it? I could have pink toenail polish. All I did was put a thought in your mind that was said in a way that implied it actually existed. Fourthly, I presupposed you were already submissive because I said "more submissive" as though you could somehow increase your current state. When I tell you to "look at" them something that technically doesn't exist (all that really exists is your own imagination), your reality has changed. Once my feet are part of your reality, then your subconscious mind automatically has the ability of looking at my glorious toenails.

This sounds like exactly the kind of thing a Muse might do to poeticize her toenails and deepen an artist's submission to her! Is there a way for an artist to apply this technique as well -- for example can a poem (or set of poems) simultaneously poeticize the toenails and the deepening submission? How would that in turn affect the artist's submission to the Muse? To other Muses? What affect does this have on the reader?

Without a presupposition, I could have said, "Pretend I have my feet over your face. I have bare feet. My toenails are painted red. The more you imagine staring at my red toenails, the more you'll realize that perhaps you're submissive. [Obedience | And the more you realize your submissive nature, the more submissive you will become]."

Early experiments are promising, and so this seems worth exploring more. A couple more quotes, the first once again from Isabella Valentine.

If I said, "You're going into trance now and hypnosis overwhelms you deeper and deeper into my voice." Now in that sentence there are subliminal unspoken things... the direct command was that the listener is directed to go into trance. And I added "deeper and deeper" which means subliminally the person is falling.
Another subliminal message is the presupposition "my voice" which assumes that my voice even exists. My voice technically doesn't exist here because you can't hear me. You can only read me. So I've subliminally suggested that maybe you can hear my voice. Also subliminally, I suggested that because you're entering trance, you'll "fall into my voice." Not only will you fall into my voice, but you'll go deeper because you're finally in my voice.
I could have easily said, "You're going into trance now. My voice is all you hear. Pretend my voice is a cave. Now enter my voice and as you enter, go deeper and deeper into hypnosis."

And from Mz Dominica's blog entry How Flexible Is your Mind?:

And then you fall asleep... and the dreams begin. Dreams of kneeling at My feet, gazing up into My spinning, shiny crystal. Sleep. Even inside your own dreams, I put you into deeper and deeper sleep. Sleepy, and dreaming of Dominica controlling you... shaping your mind... You've heard about people taking up new hobbies, trying to keep their memories sharp, their thinking clear... by learning new things. Learning a new language... doing puzzles... Learning how to drop deep, DEEP into trance. Oh yes... I train you, don't I pet?

And Isabella Valentine describes the first step of the training:

all you have to do
to experience a deep trance
is follow instructions.
I know you want to be hypnotized,
otherwise you wouldn't be reading this.
So do yourself a favor
and teach yourself
the art of hypnotic obedience.
Obeying is easy.
It really is.

Indeed.

Redefinitions

Redefinitions

Art and beauty mold time and space.
It's "now" when I write this, when you read this,
Whenever we think or dream of each other.
And no matter the distance,
We can share sensations as well.
Close your eyes.
Whose fingers do you feel brushing against you?
Asynchronous immediacy. Remote physicality.
Pinch me feel me kiss me hold me.
Now.

(to Katia, april-may, 2006)
(originally in Meditations on desire)

The mist

The mist

You're the mist,
Sensually lingering,
Cool on my skin,
And in my mind.

You're the transformation,
As the mist swirls and lifts,
Pervasive, barely perceptible,
Soft focus and crisp -- why choose?

You're the world,
Obscured, revealed,
Peaceful, serene,
Experienced and alive.

(for AA, november 2006)

Fountains of light

Fountains of light

Garnet
Quartz
Peridot
Sapphire
Emerald
Gold
Diamond
Topaz
Ruby
Jade
Opal
Moonstone
Amethyst
Platinum
Obsidian


(for the gemstones and elements that are the women of Seducersworld)
(March-October 2007)


Sweet dreams

(for Fifi, january 2006)

Many truths many paths

Many truths many paths

You shouldn't exist.
Seduction is a process.
Imagine this: Sweet dreams.

A change is coming.
A kiss. Midnight. Seduction.
I choose left. And you?


(October 12, 2007)


Bonus tracks! Prequels and remixes

A night out in the big city

we were visiting ny a few years ago. i think i was there on business (don't remember the details). we decided to go out to La Nouvelle Justine, which is on 23rd st. we were wearing fetishy stuff, with me dressed as a boy -- a sub boy, naturally, but a boy nonetheless (i can't remember just why, probably didn't have time to get dressed right and i hate doing a bad job).

the place was done up as a dungeon, big bondage cross in the middle of the room. the waitstaff was all wearing fetish gear -- for us, an adorable boy in daipers. all the plates and silverwear were black. the food was actually quite good. there were some scene people there but also tourists. there was a large table of people who it seemed were probably some rather vanilla office group out for "a visit to the underground" or some such thing.

dominants and submissives of both genders were hanging around, and from time to time there was a scene on the bondage cross. these "services", if you will, were available to the diners as well; a little note on the menu, right below the signature dessert of chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce in a high heel shoe made of chocolate, mentioned that you should ask your server if you were interested in any "tempting delicacies".

as we were eating our appetizers we saw something involving hot wax and an extremely well-behaved slave who seemed like he was enjoying things a lot;

his Mistress was clearly proud of him.

since i too am well-trained, i asked my Mistress (because we were definitely in Mistress/slave mode that night) whether she would enjoy seeing one of the Dommes do something to me, or whether she'd enjoy playing with somebody else. unsurprisingly she got a big smile on her face and told me how much she'd enjoy seeing me perform for her benefit -- and warned me that she did not want to be embarrassed by my behavior. there was a blonde Domme in black leather, very tough looking in a feminine way; she was the obvious choice. we asked the server how to accomplish this, and she said, "you need to go up to the front and buy a voucher."

a voucher!?!?!

[presumably this must have something to do with new york city law to keep it from being prostitution or something. but i digress.]

okay; i get a voucher and in a couple of minutes the Domme comes over to our table and we have a brief three-way discussion of limits (no hot wax for me, sorry), preferences, goals for the scene, etc. she was obviously a pro, in the good sense of the word -- and clearly understood the theatrical elements as well. i think she could probably tell that we had some experience but we both look somewhat innocent (my Mistress in particular looks sweet and innocent even wearing a black pvc dress).

she put me in the cuffs on the cross and we discussed safe words (yellow/red). the first item on her agenda was nipple clamps, and she was somewhat surprised when she reached under my shirt to start tweaking my nipples to harden them up ... and discovered my nipple rings. it's always risky to surprise a Domme but she appeared to enjoy it and fairly dramatically "ripped open" my shirt [taking care not to actually rip anything, of course] to unveil them before putting the clamps on.

after me thanking her appropriately, she got out a whip and teased me with it for a while. she gave me a couple of light taps through my pants but it was clear where she was going. at some point she got there: to get better access to my oh-so-whippable rear, she dropped my pants -- which revealed the red silk and black lace panties underneath.

"you're full of surprises," she said, or something to that effect.

the vanilla group at the large table were shocked, or so my Mistress told me afterwards (i was somewhat into subspace at this point and so am hazy on the details). "does he really have panties on?" they asked her. it didn't seem like they were horrified or anything, but enquiring minds wanted to know. "did you know? does he wear them all the time?"

my Mistress just smiled.

Eris and the Anomaly

After the Judgment of Paris and the Trojan War, the golden apple with καλλίστῃ ("For the most beautiful one") didn't just vanish, but surfaced time and again -- with the same tendency to provoke strife and discord. And things got steadily more complex, with more and more contestants: goddesses other than the three who were at the wedding saying "what am I, chopped liver?", Paris looking in the mirror and deciding to compete rather than judge, Helen asserting her own agency ("'the most beautiful woman in the world' should be more than just a bribe -- count me in!").

By the late 20th century, Helen's and Paris' entries had opened the gate for a flood of mortals to compete (via "play-ins", aka beauty contests); the gods had successfully sued for eligibility under anti-discrimination law; multi-culturalism led to the inclusion of gods goddesses and mortals of different cultures; the trans liberation movement had removed gender restrictions ... in short it was kind of a mess.

Finally everybody decided "let's give the apple back to Eris and let her deal with it." Enough time had passed that she had gotten over the snub, and even though it was all a misunderstanding (she had really intended the apple as a wedding gift to the bride!), she had to admit that the law of unintended consequences had kicked in with a vengeance, and she really did have some responsibility here. So she accepted the challenge.

Of course Eris was not being wholly altruistic. For quite a while, she had been working to overcome her bad rap as goddess of strife and discord -- in her view the strife and discord were people's reaction to the unexpected events she introduced or highlighted. Discussions with other tricksters (immortal and mortal, at conferences, clubs, and consciousness raising sessions -- and sometimes in bed) helped her realize that she wasn't the only one with this kind of issue ... maybe this would be a useful experiment.

Taking into account that her privileged position as a goddess might bias her viewpoints, as well as how others interact with her, Eris realized that she shouldn't try to handle this all by herself herself. So she decided to enlist a mortal (reminding herself as always to avoid the elitist attitude of thinking of them as "mere mortals") ... an anomaly. The anomaly came from a different tradition, and wasn't generally wild about Greek gods and goddesses, but was open-minded and willing to discuss.

"How did it all go so wrong?" the open-minded anomaly asked Eris.

"So many places, but especially where Zeus picked the judge. Paris was easily bribable and a conformist but he was so elitist and such a guy -- what could be more cliche than picking the woman who everybody describes as "the most beautiful in the world" as your bribe? But I don't blame Paris so much, after all he was just a mere ... I mean, he was in many ways a reflection of the societal attitudes of his time."

"In other words, Zeus picked somebody a lot like him."

"Right."

The anomaly had got a lot of other things going on in her life, but this seemed like an interesting project, so she decided to help out. She mulled about it for a while, and eventually she ran into me. Unsurprisingly, I was intrigued too.

Over the course of a couple decades, with the help of more than a few hints, I finally started to realize some of what was going on here. Helping Eris with this problem seemed like the kind of journey that only a Fool would embark on, so naturally I found it intriguing. Even better, it seemed to fit in with a bunch of ideas that we and others were groping towards: the possibility of using the energy of desire for societal change, the performativity of beauty and gender, the power and necessity of art and seduction, approaches to getting people to work together more effectively rather than falling into strife and/or discord.

The anomaly and I started coordinating our efforts. Individually and together, we did all kinds of amazing, incredible, wonderful research -- often working with others, sometimes helping to lead and always trying to contribute, stretching our minds while having tons of fun in the process ... and falling more and more deeply in love with each other.

Coming at it from the theory side, I naturally explored intersectional feminism, pure multiplicity, situationism, critical legal theory (since this was after all a "judgment"), epistemology, aesthetics, and many more underlying abstract approaches to the question. Coupling theory with practice, I took every opportunity to investigate the question first hand -- hanging out with (which usually meant being seduced by, and sometimes seducing, and very occasionally falling in love with) people who were "beautiful" in many different senses of the world, trying to participate in multiple tantric cycles, and learning about the limits of analysis.

One night, in the midst of a timely Kundalini awakening, while out dancing to psytrance, a question popped into my mind:

Why settle for singularity when you can have multiplicity?

After meditating on this for a few months, I felt like I had gotten to the point where I thought I had started to understand it -- and could even explain it. Maybe. Kind of. At least a little. Naturally, the first person I talked about it with was the anomaly.

"You know how whenever we're out dancing I always wind up saying 'I left with the best-looking woman in the place'? That means that one answer to καλλίστῃ is ... you."

"Me? You're biased."

"Perhaps so. But note that I said 'one answer'. If you combine this with the idea of multiplicity ... there are so many different kinds of beauty, so many different standards, so much subjectivity ... it seems to me that everybody can be the most beautiful, from at least some perspectives, in at least some senses of the word."

"Hmm. Let me mull on this, and let's discuss further."

"Sounds good. It's not like I think this solves everything ... one open question that leaps to mind: what should Eris do with the damn apple?"

So she mulled, and we discussed and refined. It's never easy to calibrate feedback from a goddess, but it seemed like Eris seemed pleased by this idea and encouraged us to continue. So we did ... back to absorbing discussing and creating and blurring the lines between theory (tantra, network theory, queer theory, cyberfeminism, cultural studies, post-subculture studies, anomaly standpoint theory) and practice (all of the above, plus tarot, go, panopticism, sousveillance, activism, rethinking computer science, Seducersworld, poeticizations, Burning Man, free association as well as other kinds of social networking and social bookmarks, and on and on.

Finally I came up with a suggestion for Eris.

"I think that καλλίστῃ is performative." She rolled her eyes, and I hurriedly continued "... by which I mean, you giving the apple to somebody means that they become the most beautiful -- as long as they act that way."

"Act that way?"

"Yeah, well, that part is underdefined ... at a minimum, it's acting in accordance with human rights; and since this is based on multiplicity, respecting and valuing and appreciating differences -- after all, we're all anomalies in our way. Beyond that, it's probably different for everybody. Your mileage may vary, but at least from my perspective, I think some of the key things include deciding to choose hope, desire, and pride, try to create oneself as a work of art, being excellent to each other, and of course respecting and valuing the anomaly."

She thought about it for a while, and agreed that it might make sense. "So should I give the apple to the anomaly?"

"Thanks for the offer ... but she doesn't need it; she already is the most beautiful in so many senses of the word. And anyhow, it's potentially true for everybody, so as much as I worship her, I don't think it's right to give it just to one person ... or goddess. I think you should give it to everybody."

"Oh please. I might be a goddess, but golden apples don't grow on trees."

"Eris! It's the 21st century! If you put it up on the web, you'll give it to a billion people -- and if you Creative Commons license it, then people will find thousands of different ways of giving the apple to each other, remix, recombine, recontextualize, and in general let a billion apples bloom!"

Somewhat to my surprise, Eris didn't yet have a web site. Plus she didn't want to learn HTML ... and who can blame her? In any case, as she pointed out, if it was her site, that would give the impression that only she could cause somebody to become the most beautiful; and since everybody already is the most beautiful (as long as they decide to act that way), it would be better for everybody to realize that no goddesses are necessarily required for this "transformation". In fact, it's the kind of thing that even a mortal can do!

And so, with the assistance and encouragement of the goddess Eris and the open-minded anomaly I worship, I hereby pronounce whoever sees an image of the golden apple -- or the word καλλίστῃ or any translation thereof -- the most beautiful ...


apple.gif

... as long as you act that way.

Solitude (Anomaly remix)

Solitude (Anomaly remix)

Power out.
Solitude.

Three candles,
Surrounded by a circle
Of votives and tapers:

Grounding.
Creating Sacred Space.
Seduction.

I light them ... and think about you
And us -- individually, collectively.

I think about how the thought of you (and us)
Grounds me.
Makes me aware of the sacred space that surrounds you.
Seduces me.

I think about how thoroughly you've seduced me,
And I think about the scrap of paper I found this afternoon
With the carefully-written equation
Love = trust pretty darn absolutely

I feel (or imagine) your presence.
In the air ... on my skin ...
In my mind ...
Throughout my being.

I remember (or imagine) other seductive times with you,
Grounded and sacred,
By candlelight
And other magic illumination.

I remember (or imagine)
The first time we met ... and the next ...
The first time we held hands,
The first time I told you I loved you,

Every moment we've spent together,
And all the moments with you I've remembered,
Imagined, replayed, anticipated,
And fantasized about.

And then I realize
I'm thinking too much
And watch the candles
And experience you.

-- December 15, 2006; remixed October 2007

A toy story

A toy story, coming soon transformed in some way ...

Appendices

Soundtrack

(to follow, with the starting point of my current iTunes "Burning Slash", "Editions of my Slash", and "Goth Favorites 0.9/1.0" playlists)

Alphabetical listings

(Ideally I'd like to include the listings here directly, but in the version of mediawiki I'm currently using there appears to be a bug.)

Poems

Category:Poems

Meditations for the 21st century

Category:Meditations

Transcluded pages

(Ideally this would be automatically-generated, and/or on another tab)