On Misogyny in Industrial Music

And speaking of deflecting criticism through irony, Nadya Lev has written a long, thoughtful piece on misogyny in industrial music:

The “cinematic reference” argument seems to be a common tactic in deflecting criticism. Thomas Rainer has used the filmic term “sexploitation” to describe Nachtmahr, and Throat Full of Glass music video director, Chad Michael Ward, wrote to Coilhouse stating that “the video, conceived by both the band and myself, is a send-up of 1970s grindhouse/exploitation films, where men were thugs and women were whores; in other words caricatures, not entirely unlike the noir films of the 1930s that I also love dearly.” In reality, the “it’s an homage to grindhouse” defense is so common that it’s becoming a cliche. Here’s the thing: when Tarantino revived the grindhouse genre, it was with clever, self-aware, satirical, intelligent scripts that actually told new stories that were relevant to our time. The Bride is one of the most celebrated bad-ass film icons out there. Similarly, today’s burlesque movement revives the noir glamour of the 30s with a DIY, feminist sensibility. Contrasted to that, what collective story does the combination of these industrial music videos tell?

Full Story: On Misogyny in Industrial Music
Here’s the comment I left:

“If satire isn’t interpreted as satire, but as a sincere expression of belief, doesn’t mean that the artist has to condescend to explain it and hold the listener’s hand.”
The question of the artist’s responsibility for people not getting a piece of work is a sticky one. People completely missing the point of satire has been a thing for a long, long time. The movie Joe [1] comes to mind, but it was hardly the first.
Similarly, to what degree can an artist be criticized for utterly failing at satire? If Combachrist has been at this for as long as he has, and no one gets the joke, is that a failure as an artist on his part? (joblowcritic’s point about Laichach is particularly relevant here).
There has been a rash of movies over the past few years that claim to be satire or criticism of media violence, violence against women, etc. but simply devolve into being an embodiment of what they intended to satirize — to such a degree that it’s questionable whether the film makers ever really intended to do satire or whether that was all just a cover (Sucker Punch for example).
Combachrist and Nachtmahr have fallen into the same realm. Is this stuff *really* earnest parody, or cover for the opportunity to do whatever they want without criticism? Did it start out as parody, but at some point start feeling a bit too comfortable?
One big difference between these guys and Laibach is that, to the best of my knowledge, Laibach never used their aesthetics of fascism schtick as an excuse to, say, make a video about torturing Jews or beating women or whatever. That’s the problem I have with films like Sucker Punch, Crank and that whole family of neo-grindhouse films as well. There just isn’t a big enough difference between the real thing and the satire.
[1] http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3013/

Just Let the Shut-Ins Bang Their Virtual Girlfriends in Peace

augmented reality girlfriend
Lindy West writes that although augmented reality “girlfriends” freak her out by objectifying women:

Critics looooooove to climb up on their high horse and flail around with fake concern about shit like this—how Real Dolls and “virtual girlfriends” keep men (and some women, I guess, maybe) from forging real human connections. But let’s be honest, here. There are some people in the world who, unfortunately, will never make a real human connection. There are some people who nobody in the world wants to be around. Or, if somebody does want to be around them, that person might be very very far away (hence, computers!). Those people exist. A computerized goggle-girlfriend might not be the #1 healthiest road to fulfillment, but: a) Who am I, the fulfillment police? (ANSWER: MAYBE); and b) So fucking what? Let them have their things.

Full Story: Jezebel: Just Let the Shut-Ins Bang Their Virtual Girlfriends in Peace
(via Chris Arkenberg)
Guys and Dolls, a documentary about men and their RealDolls

Interview with a John

Antonia Crane has been doing a series of interviews with sex workers for The Rumpus. Now she’s trying to find johns (the customers of prostitutes and other sex workers) to share their stories. Here’s a bit of the first one:

The negative experiences were usually when I found myself in a situation where I felt I was doing something wrong, dangerous or exploitative. I think my situation is not uncommon, and I think most of us do not want to hurt anybody. Not wanting to participate in anything that’s harmful, that’s wrong, that’s cruel. But like a lot of other industries, both black-market ones like drugs or gambling and legit industries like food processing or farming, there are abuses. And so you go into it navigating through the abuses.
You’re in this for a connection. Physical—but also emotional. And a shadow of the dark side of sex work kind of hovers around in the background.
It’s like with drug use. You just smoke pot once in a while, and then one day you find yourself buying a little more weight, from a guy who’s got a gun in his car, and you realize there is this whole other big scary reality behind the little bit that you can see.

The Rumpus: Paying to Play: Interview with a John
See also: “Do-Me” Feminism and the Rise of Raunch

Psychotherapist/Sex Game Designer Nicolau Chaud Talks About Next Game

Nicolau Chaud is a Brazilian psychotherapist and indie computer game developer responsible for such hits as Marvel Brothel, which is actually more of a business simulator than a sex game, and Beautiful Escape: Dungeoneer. Here’s Joel Goodwin’s description of the latter:

“The Dungeoneers” is a clandestine society of sociopaths who believe “pain to be the most intimate form of relationship one person can have with another”. They carry their mental disease with pride. They inflict it on their victims with impunity. A dungeoneer’s finest hour is when he or she tortures a victim to a sweet spot on the verge of madness and death called a “beautiful escape”. They also upload videos of these torture sessions for others to review, in an intentional nod to the experience of releasing games online for peers to high-five or tear down.
You are Verge, a dungeoneer of poor reputation with honed self-loathing skills. This is a game without heroes. Verge is not a likeable character.

Chaud is now using his RPG Maker skills to create a new game called Polymorphous Perversity. Not much has been revealed, but he’s given a few interviews on the game. Here’s an excerpt from Goodwin’s:

In May, Chaud’s mood was ebullient: “I had a very weird insight today: I treat my game like a girlfriend… Yeah, I know, weird. But the good thing is: it loves me back.”
But his posts were infrequent and in June he made a quick remark that this special relationship was fast becoming dysfunctional: “Making this game has been a very interesting and weird experience. Researching sexual preferences, googling for pictures, spriting 24×32 sex, reading and writing porn, getting e-mails with naked pictures from players… it’s all very weird. Fun, at first, but gets somewhat unpleasant after a while, and the feeling of numbness I’m getting towards the theme is disturbing.”

Electron Dance: Not Safe for Work
Nightmare Mode: Interview with Nicolau Chaud, Mind Behind Polymorphous Perversity
Kotaku: The Sex Game That Crossed Lines and Unnerved Its Creator
All three sites have screenshots that contain adult material (NSFW).
(links via Metafilter)
Polymorphous Perversity is currently open to its final round of testers. You can apply here.

Old Genesis P. Orridge Interview by Phil Farber

This is an old interview with Genesis P. Orridge conducted by Phil Farber and published in Paradigm Magazine in 1996. Orridge talks about hir exit from the Temple ov Psychick Youth, the purpose of TOPI/The Process/Transmedia, and more. Lots of interesting stuff in this interview, which I surely must have read when I was 15 and hanging around The Process mailing list.
On sigils as a way of cutting up behavior:

One of my ideas was that if you did magickal ritual or sigils, in a way you were cutting up your normal behavior and expectations and programming, just as Burroughs and Gysin and people had done cut-ups with language. Just as Burroughs would say you cut up a book to see what’s really there, if you cut up your own social imprinting and take yourself into other dimensional realms, do you also see what’s really there inside yourself? Do you really learn the most detailed and scarily honest version of what you really are made up of, and can you then engineer your own character and behavior pattern from inside back out to become what you wish to be?
And I would say, yes, slowly. One of the basic things is that there is a cumulative effect of anything. Any ritual done with sincere commitment and repeated with honor and sincerity over any long period of time appears to have a cumulative effect. The orgasm appears to be a very powerful portal for transferring messages to areas of the consciousness or the DNA structure, which then continue to amplify the will. These things seem to happen. There seems to be a cumulative effect of a positive relationship with synchronicity.

On the Internet:

We’re going to invade the Internet and cyberspace as far as we can. One of the theories that we’re working with is that there are four brains. DNA, if you like, is the first brain, and we call that the Nanosphere. Then the individual human brain is the Neurosphere. The group consciousness, the social or tribal brain, is the Kaosphere. Then the Internet and all the computers which are, in a sense, at the moment a whole. Literally a whole brain is being built, it’s not a metaphor for a brain, it actually is a brain. We call that the Psychosphere. What we’re really thinking about is when you plug in and go online, you’re plugging into all the brains of all the other people who’ve been there, some of those people being psychotic and paranoid, some of them being into control, and some of them being very benign. But it is not implicitly benign. Taking that further — this is just a TOPI/Process/Transmedia interpretation — we suggest that when enough people believe in something, it becomes a deity. At a certain point it can separate from its source and have an agenda of its own. It can physically or psychically manifest separate from its source, which is originally the human brain. That’s what’s going to happen with cyberspace. We’re building a god, but we’re building a god with the flaws and the gifts of everyone on the planet almost, at this rate — millions of people — with no real unified agenda and no real dialogue about what the psychic and neurological and social and economic effect really will be of that acceleration and separation of this larger brain. It will be the first all-encompassing and contrived and constructed brain so far, that we know of.

Genesis P-Orridge on Magick, Sex and Cyberspace
For more on Orridge check out our dossier.

Covers From Ah ! Nana, the All Female Creator Version of Heavy Metal

Cover of Ah ! Nana # 1
From the Women in Comics Wiki:

Ah ! Nana was a French comics magazine published from October 1976 to September 1978, running nine issues. It was published by Humanoïdes Associés, best known as the publishers of Métal Hurlant, or Heavy Metal. It was the first French publication featuring work entirely by women (though each issue invited one man to contribute) at a time when comics were still almost exclusively male environments. It included work by such French cartoonists as Chantal Montellier, Florence Cestac, and Nicole Claveloux, as well as Americans such as Trina Robbins. It sold 15,000 copies on a print run of 30,000, before the ban on sales to minors proved fatal, due to its frequent taboo and controversial material.

Women in Comics: Ah ! Nana has covers and a history of the publication.
(via Popjellyfish)
Previously: Leah Moore on Women in Comics

The Risks and Rewards of Yoga

William J. Broad, author of The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards, writes for the New York Times:

Hatha originated as a way to speed the Tantric agenda. It used poses, deep breathing and stimulating acts — including intercourse — to hasten rapturous bliss. In time, Tantra and Hatha developed bad reputations. The main charge was that practitioners indulged in sexual debauchery under the pretext of spirituality.
Early in the 20th century, the founders of modern yoga worked hard to remove the Tantric stain. They devised a sanitized discipline that played down the old eroticism for a new emphasis on health and fitness.
B. K. S. Iyengar, the author of “Light on Yoga,” published in 1965, exemplified the change. His book made no mention of Hatha’s Tantric roots and praised the discipline as a panacea that could cure nearly 100 ailments and diseases. And so modern practitioners have embraced a whitewashed simulacrum of Hatha.

New York Times: Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here
(via AshleyB)
Broad goes on to discuss some of the studies linking yoga to sexual stimulation and speculates about how that could relate to some of the various guru sex scandals that have plagued yogis for decades.
Broad also recently wrote for the times How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body, an extremely interesting piece that’s made frustrating by its lack of comparisons between the number of injuries in yoga and the number of injuries in other types of strength training. But here’s a taste:

Black has come to believe that “the vast majority of people” should give up yoga altogether. It’s simply too likely to cause harm.
Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable. Instead of doing yoga, “they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition,” he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. “Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”

(via Dangerous Meme)
See also:
Calling Bullshit on Penn and Teller’s yoga episode
Stripping the Gurus
Guruphiliac

Forthcoming Conference: Sexual Science 2.0

This looks like an interesting conference, November 8-11, 2012 in Tampa, FL:

The Internet and sex go together like Florida and sunshine. Online resources enrich our lives with sexual health and sexuality information, opportunities for relationship formation and sexual connections, sexually explicit materials, and commercial sex products. We can also face unintended consequences from Internet use, including dependence/compulsion, abuse, and inaccurate information and misinformation. However, beyond the Internet, myriad of technologies greatly influence human sexual behavior and sexuality both positively and negatively. Thus, the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) theme is Sexual Science 2.0: Technological innovations in sexuality research. Although submissions from all areas of the scientific study of sexuality are welcomed, we are especially interested in multidisciplinary submissions focused on how technology informs and is a part of the research being conducted by sexual scientists. Potential research topics for plenaries, presentations, and trainings may include:

  • Sex and the Internet (Internet sex-seeking, navigating relationships online)
  • E-dating (finding dates and relationships online)
  • Technology-based sexual health interventions (video, web-based, chatrooms, etc.)
  • Cybersex (sexual interactions mediated by Internet or other electronic technology)
  • Compulsive online sexual behavior
  • Non-monogamy and the Internet
  • Special populations and online sexual communities
  • Sex and new media, social networks, etc. (Web 2.0, Google+, Facebook, Foursquare, etc.)
  • Reproductive and contraceptive technologies
  • Technologies pertaining to pharmaceutical/medical treatments and sexual enhancement
  • Sex toys and other commercial sex products that utilize technology
  • Online sexually explicit material, pornography, and erotica
  • Technologies aiding with sex therapy, sex research, sexuality education, etc.
  • Technologies for measurement and data collection, including new measurement styles
  • Sexual harassment online/cyber-stalking
  • “Sexting” and other innovative ways to communicate about sex
  • Sex and mobile phones/other portable communication technologies (tablet PCs, phones, laptops, etc.)
  • And others…

Sexual Science 2.0 conference

Douglass Rushkoff in Conversation with Genesis P. Orridge (2003 and 2007)

The Believer has finally published Douglas Rushkoff’s interview with Genesis P. Orridge, conducted in 2007 just after Genesis’ wife Lady Jaye passed away:

DR: But, then, Jackie’s passing. Do you experience that on two levels, then? On the level of half of the pandrogene?
GO: Yeah. But I also experience it as a person who is fifty-seven and has been indoctrinated for most of my life to accept a binary world. And feeling a great sense of loss just in a romantic way, as an emotional person. Conceptually, I see that she has just broken through the final perceptual barrier. The human species won’t exist if it carries on replicating pointlessly. I think it’s very clear what we were concerned about when we began this, which was the ever-increasing polarization and reduction of ideas into dogma and paranoia, and this posturing that there’s a right way and a wrong way: I’m right, you’re wrong, and therefore I must attack you. And the whole idea of Pandrogeny is to make that irrelevant, and to bypass that. If we were all pandrogynous, physically and/or mentally, it would be impossible to be at war, because there wouldn’t be a sense of difference all the time.
DR: So does the project continue? You as a lone pandrogene?
GO: It’s not convenient. Because there are lots of things we had in mind that would use both of us in the projects. So I have to try and figure out ways to represent those ideas anyway.
DR: Or start on the new ones. I mean, gender may be an artificial duality perpetrated by DNA and all… but what about death? That’s got to be the biggest, baddest duality of them all. It’s not so very hard to see through gender as a social construction. An illusory divide, like you’ve shown. But death is entirely more convincing. We die, and the people to whom we’ve passed our genes take our place. Death feels like DNA’s last laugh, its final tyranny over us.

The Believer: Douglass Rushkoff in Conversation with Genesis P. Orridge.
Arthur Magazine published another conversation between the two back in 2003. Once upon a time, Rushkoff, Genesis and Grant Morrison were planning to write a book together. It was meant to essentially be a collection of conversations between the three of them. The Arthur interview may give us a sense of what that book may have been like (and the plan for a book may help explain the preoccupation with co-authorship in the interview). It’s also interesting to Rushkoff talk about themes that later became the basis of his books Life Inc and Program or Be Programmed:

DR: That’s why for me the open-source software movement is such a terrific allegory and practice for accepting the fact that we live in a malleable reality. Or certainly for accepting that a hell of a lot more of our world is programmable software than we’ve previously thought. There might be some hardware down there somewhere, but we haven’t got close to that yet. People are starting to accept that they have indeed been the programmers, whether they were witting or not, and that they’re actively programming the world we live in. I think it’s healthy for people to realize this. I think that then they start to experience everything—from their bodies to the air we breathe—as a medium through which they can create and transmit their story.
G P-O: Absolutely. Well you know that Burroughs and Gysin used to say, In a pre-recorded universe, who made the first recording? I’ve thought about that a lot. And what it led me to wasn’t so much wondering about that question, because I think you’re right, it doesn’t matter, actually, but what it did make me realize is that the entire planet is a recording device. That, as you and I are speaking now, on this planet, there is, certainly it seems that way, and we’ll probably find more, there’s some kind of data recorded—whether it be fossils, geological strata—
DR: [laughing]: Or the digital cassette that we’re recording on right now.

See also: my interview with Rushkoff.