Friday, 20 March 2015

THE RAFT OF THE MEDUSA Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault 

Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault (26 September 1791 – 26 January 1824) was a profoundly influential French artist, painter and lithographer, known for The Raft of the Medusa and other paintings. Although he died young, he became one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement.

Born in Rouen, France, Géricault was educated in the tradition of English sporting art by Carle Vernet and classical figure composition by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, a rigorous classicist who disapproved of his student's impulsive temperament, but recognized his talent. Géricault soon left the classroom, choosing to study at the Louvre instead, where he copied from paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Diego Velázquez, and Rembrandt for about six years, from 1810 to 1815. There he found a vitality which he preferred to the prevailing school of Neoclassicism. Much of his time was spent in Versailles, where he found the stables of the palace open to him, and where he gained his knowledge of the anatomy and action of horses. WIKI

Géricault was beautiful, controversial, supremely talented. He had an affair with his aunt. The pair had shared an intense bond since Géricault's boyhood, but by his twenties he had matured into an eye-catching figure.

His teacher Carle Vernet claimed he 'had never seen such a good-looking man ... his legs were, above all, superb': Alexandrine-Modeste clearly thought so too and aunt and nephew started an affair. In 1816 Géricault fled to Rome in an attempt to distance himself from the imbroglio but he was back within a year and in 1818 Alexandrine-Modeste gave birth to his son. It was, therefore, in a state of turmoil that he started work on The Raft of the Medusa.

“Théodore Géricault was the quintessential Romantic artist: he died young and in torment, leaving behind him one great masterpiece and the legend of a painter touched by both genius and madness. 'Suffering is real and pleasures are nothing but imaginary,' he said; it was an extraordinarily bleak outlook and what is truly terrifying is that he believed it.

The painting that made his reputation was exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1819 as “The Scene of a Shipwreck”, but is universally known as “The Raft of the Medusa”. It tells the macabre story of one of the most notorious scandals of Restoration France: the abandonment on a jerry-built raft of 147 passengers and crew of the frigate Medusa when it came to grief off the coast of Senegal in 1816.

As the Royalist captain, officers and more well-to-do passengers headed for the shore in the ship's boats they cut the rope towing the raft, leaving those clinging to its planking to their fate. Provisioned with six barrels of wine, two of water and a sack of soggy biscuit, the castaways' ordeal lasted for 13 days, during which time they suffered from exposure, malnutrition, dehydration, mutiny, murder and, most thrillingly for the audience back in France, cannibalism.

When the raft was finally sighted there were only 15 skeletal survivors left and strips of flesh - human biltong - were hanging on the mast to dry. When the full story of the abandonment of the raft came to be known in France it became a liberal cause célèbre, the perfect example of the callousness of Royalist misgovernment.

Until the second decade of the 19th century, action painting in France—whether dealing with mythic, religious or historical events, and even if violent in content—often lacked real energy. In France, the gorgeous colours and symmetries of Poussin in the 17th century, the chiselled nobility of David in the late 18th and the austere beauty of Ingres at the start of the 19th, all gave way to the explosion of Romanticism. One painting, above all, might be said to have initiated the new movement: Théodore Géricault's ‘The Raft of the Medusa.’”
From the daily telegraph 1 April 2007
Michael Prodger

Géricault revolutionized the depiction of real events, taking for his subject a scandal only a few years old and "romanticizing" it. While the painter visited hospitals and morgues to study the moribund and cadavers, the figures on the raft here hardly look as though they have just suffered through dehydration, starvation, cannibalism and madness. They are muscular. Some are beautiful.

Today's viewer will probably respond less to this picture's political and historical relevance than to the drama of its composition. In terms of art history, it looks both backward and forward.

“"The Raft of the Medusa," while maintaining the symmetry of Poussin, changes painting once and for all. It is sculptural and architectural, but depicts no architecture. Two great overlapping triangles, suggesting both a ship's sails and the ocean's waves, define the space. They also contain 19 human figures (one barely visible, four others quite obscure) in various postures, combinations and stages of life: the living, the dying and the dead, old and young, black and white, male and—perhaps—female. Some have faces; others turn away from us. We can read the painting both from left to right and from bottom to top.

The picture represents a specific moment. The survivors have just sighted the Argus, the boat that will eventually rescue them but is now a speck on the horizon, actually passing them by. At the top, two men, one an African crew member, are waving banners, shirts or kerchiefs. The figures express a range of emotions, from eagerness and exultation to incredulity, despair, hysteria, resignation and apathy. Géricault's preliminary sketches (one smaller canvas hangs elsewhere in the museum) document the growth of his ambitions for the painting. The most shocking figure, absent from the earlier sketch, is a dead person on the lower right. Its gender is uncertain: Géricault used a male friend as his model, but the chest looks womanly. The head is outside the frame. We see primarily the person's midsection, with pubic hair exposed. Whoever this is, or was, has one leg still wrapped around a beam of the raft. Clearly the person will soon slip into the sea.

Another apparently dead youth has the beauty of a Greek sculpture. The most arresting figure, the only one staring straight out at the viewer, is an older, well-muscled man who supports the youth, perhaps his dead son. He looks like someone out of Michelangelo. His gaze suggests his transcendence of both hope and despair.

The painting's center has what seem to be cracklings or bubbles, which distort both the figures and their colour. The painter's use of bitumen on his palette came at a cost: This particular black appeared lustrous at first, but over time it created a wrinkling that cannot, according to the experts, be corrected.

If not as great a colourist as Delacroix, Géricault made an appropriate palette of deathliness. The picture's primary hues are sickly, pallid grey and yellow flesh tones, but there is a range of hues from alabaster to black. The colouring seems to work against the classic muscularity of the figures' bodies.

But there is more. Nature frames humanity. At the painting's bottom, top and sides, the waves and sky—in their colour and brush strokes both intense and delicate—compete with the humans for our attention. The planks of the raft, especially when viewed from up close, reveal delicate brushwork applied meticulously to reproduce the grain and colour of the wood. Flickers of light on the beams leaven the thick brown impasto.

First and last, there's action itself. Not just the waving gestures of the men at the top, but also the play of sea and light. The wind is blowing from right to left, against the tilt of the human action. The light shines from left to right. The two forces operate in perfect antithetical harmony. Géricault learned from Caravaggio all about chiaroscuro, and then went on to discover by himself a way of depicting human life and death in a painting that contains both natural tempestuousness and compositional calm. He has put pictorial symmetry at the service of ferocity. Two dimensions have never felt less flat.

Gericault’s preparations for the painting were meticulous: he befriended Alexandre Corréard, the Medusa's engineer who had survived the ordeal of the raft and who, with the ship's surgeon, Henri Savigny, had written a celebrated account of the shipwreck; he commissioned the ship's carpenter to build a scale model of the raft; and, most notoriously, in order to immerse himself in death he filled his studio with the heads and limbs of executed criminals borrowed from a nearby hospital. The paintings he made from these body parts are the most horrific still lifes in art, but also among the most beautiful.

The Raft of the Medusa itself is an enormous work, measuring more than 23 feet by 16: 7 meters by almost 5. To paint such a subject at such a size for the official Salon can be seen as a sign of political protest but it can also signal an artist who has lost all sense of what is appropriate.

The other pictures he was producing at this period - scenes of graphic sex and murder - also reveal a severely disturbed man. Within a couple of years he was painting portraits of inmates of a mental asylum, possibly as a fellow patient. Géricault was no clear-headed agitator but a man whose grip on reality was loosening.

Today, “The Raft of the Medusa” hangs, with other large canvases of that period, in one of the Louvre's grand galleries. It has darkened with time. Some of its figures are barely visible, and many details are occluded.”
From Willard Spiegelman’s essay; “Revolutionary Romanticism.”

Sadly, I haven’t seen Géricault’s painting.

Friday, 13 March 2015

BDSM (post 50 Shades) Madeleine Morris aka Remittance Girl

This is in response to a very disappointingly unnuanced article published in the Atlantic Monthly.

So, you’ve just seen Fifty Shades of Grey, or you read the book, or both and you’re thinking… wow, that’s looks sexy. I could go for some of that….
Okay, I really hope you read this fully and take what I’ve written here to heart and give it some deep consideration.

1. Fifty Shades of Grey is fiction, written for the purposes of selling books. It was written by a woman who is NOT a practitioner of BDSM and knows literally fuck all about it. It’s an amusing read, a sexy film, whatever. It has no data in it that is reliable for you to apply to real life. Watching Top Gun can’t teach you how to fly a plane and FSOG contains NO practical info on BDSM. Similarly, the stories you will find on this site are fictional. They are not self-help guides, or how to manuals. In fact, quite the opposite. Narrative form leans towards conflict, not harmony. My characters are not admirable, healthy people. They might be interesting fictional characters, but they’re all terrible role models.

It turned you on? Wonderful. Have a wank. Have five. But there is very little chance, statistically that you are a masochist or a sadist, or even all that wired to sexually enjoy the kind of explicit power dynamics involved in domination or submission. So, right off the top, enjoy the fantasy. You don’t have to take it into your real life to be cool or legitimate or trendy.

2. Being sexually aroused or getting erotic pleasure from inflicting pain or receiving it is not normative. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying it’s less common than the hype would have you believe. There is a consumer trend at play at the moment to convince you that being that way is a glamorous and desirable thing. Manufacturers of Fifty Shades of Grey and BDSM merch and paraphernalia have in interest in trying to convince you that if you don’t have this stuff, you’re not hip, you’re not sexually aware, or liberated. This isn’t true. They just want to sell stuff and they don’t give a shit who they hurt or what kind of physical, mental or emotional trauma results from their lifestyle identification brand strategy. Bondage, beating and rough sex all carry significant physical and emotional risks. Anyone who tells you it’s absolutely safe is lying.

3. Many people who DO really find the giving or receiving of pain, humiliation, degradation, sexual control, etc., pleasurable have an agenda. They want the rest of the world to think they’re not sick or deviant or evil. There’s nothing wrong with this, because the vast majority of people who practice BDSM are ethical people who feel very strongly about consent and the rules that surround the practice of BDSM. BUT they have an agenda too. They don’t want to be persecuted or punished for their sexual tastes. They want to be validated and recognized as good citizens by mainstream society. This means that some organizations are guilty of downplaying the risks inherent in the practice and downplaying the fact that some people use the cover of BDSM to sexually abuse unwilling, non-consenting people.

4. Being someone who gets their sexual pleasure from causing another pain is problematic within a culture that condemns acts of violence. Generally, it takes a person who is wired this way many years to come to terms with their appetites and figure out how to engage in their type of preferred erotic activity while still staying within the bounds of the law and of humane ethical behavior. And some sadists NEVER manage it. So, cosying up to one carries risk. Always. I’m not engaging in victim blaming. When someone breaks your rules, breaches the boundaries you have set, they are ALWAYS the ones at fault. BUT, violence, especially associated with sex is a taboo in our society. People who get off on it are transgressive by nature. Transgression is about rule breaking. So, you are dealing with a person who is sexually aroused by breaking rules and you are depending on the fact that they will break the ones you like broken, but not the ones you don’t. YOU have an obligation of self-care. You have an obligation to understand that you are placing yourself at greater risk. If the world were fair, all sadists would be scrupulously ethical. But the world is not fair. When it gets fair, I’ll let you know.

5. Being someone who is sexually aroused or gets erotic pleasure from being hurt, humiliated, degraded, restrained, having one’s ego decimated, engaging in symbolic self-annihilation, etc. is also problematic in our culture. Our culture emphasizes the need to avoid pain, to care for oneself, to keep healthy, to hold oneself in high regard. A masochist also faces a difficult path in negotiating his or her way through mainstream society. Their need to get the kind of stimulation that satisfies them often leads them to take risks that others would not take. Just because a person gets sexual satisfaction from being caned doesn’t mean they are asking for or deserve to have their spine broken. But to not acknowledge that in letting someone cane them, they are taking a chance that this might happen is to be willfully stupid. Furthermore, servicing a masochist also requires having limits yourself. And although most masochists are ethical will accept what those limits are, some will not be able to do that. And that can make them very dangerous.

6. Shaming, bullying or manipulating someone into being submissive or taking pain when that isn’t what gets them off is FUNDAMENTALLY lMMORAL. No matter how cool the movies, books, the press or sex toy sales companies say it is. It is a deeply emotional and traumatic experience for anyone whose psychosexuality doesn’t lend itself to this kind of thing.

7. Shaming, bullying or manipulating someone into being dominant or inflicting physical or mental pain is JUST AS IMMORAL. And I suspect there are even more adults being cajoled into this kind of behaviour than anyone wants to admit. Acting in the capacity of a dominant or a sadist can be deeply traumatic to a person who is not naturally inclined to this.

8. Sex is not safe. It’s not safe in nature and it’s not safe in human society. People are vulnerable in sexual situations, both physically and emotionally. Society can inscribe laws that attempt to mitigate the risk and prosecute people who violate them. You can take sensible precautions, and minimize the risks on a personal level, but you can never eliminate them completely. If the world were fair, it would be different, but the world isn’t fair.

9. BDSM is FAR LESS SAFE. If sex carries some basic risk, kinky sex carries a much greater level of risk. It is transgressive sex. To transgress means to consciously and intentionally step over boundaries, to contravene taboos established within any given society. The eroticism at the core of BDSM lies exactly in the fact that kinky activities flaunt established social conventions and carry a level of risk. If it were safe, and socially acceptable, it would not be so erotic.
So… this is the paradox that few people want to accept. We live in a world that encourages us to have our cake and eat it too. But cakes and BDSM are both always subject to the laws of matter and physics. This can be very hard to accept because our consumer society keeps on assuring us that we can have BOTH transgressive pleasure AND perfect safety. It is a lie perpetuated for the purpose of encouraging your consumption.

But you can be thoughtful and self-reflective and refuse the Koolaid. Please, in this instance, stop thinking about what might be cool to have, or be or do. What do you need? What do you really need sexually, erotically, inside? Please ask yourself that.

I do not want to dissuade anyone from pursuing their kinks. I am not condemning, pathologizing or shaming anyone who has non-mainstream sexual tastes. I am not a hypocrite. I just want to try to inform you that you have a duty of care to yourself that goes far beyond this month’s hip thing, or this week’s sexual flavour. Ultimately, I want you alive, uninjured and untraumatized. And it is foolish to ever depend on anyone else to ensure you remain that way. If the world were fair, you could depend on others, organizations, websites, groups to help keep you that way, but the world is not fair.

I have mixed feelings about the debate regarding Fetlife and outing dangerous people. Even if Fetlife were to allow users to publicly accuse people of rape or lesser unacceptable behaviour, it would be a grave mistake to believe you were any safer. Meanwhile, its proponents seem unwilling to address the rare but grave issue of false allegations. A lot of rapes happen when people meet in a bar under very vanilla auspices. Do we post notes naming rapists in bars? I still think the best response to a rape is to formally accuse that person and make the law work. If what is at issue here is that the law, the police and prosecutions are not dealing with this, then that’s the battle we should be fighting – for everyone, kinky or otherwise.

You need to acknowledge that when you step into the world of transgressive sexual practice, you have walked into a less safe place. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there, but it means that you need to be very vigilant and take responsibility for your safety.

You need to practice the care of self. Be well. Be careful.

Thanks to Madeleine Morris (aka Remittance Girl)for letting me post this brilliant more of Madeleine's stuff here

Friday, 6 March 2015


Melly is a character within the dynamic of an Age Play relationship – Melly is her ‘little girl' name. In real life Melly is an adult – I don’t know her real name. Melly is a Daddy’s little girl.

i’ve slept with a teddy bear all my life. this may seem insignificant, but it’s really not,. i had my teddy bear with me when i moved in with Master. i held him every night, and was tucked in with him when Master sent me to bed. When i was moved into a kennel for sleeping, the bear moved with me. This was the jumping off point for my D/g relationship with Master. When reaching for my bear one night, i felt especially “small”. i whined in a very little-girl-like manner. And looking up at Master, i felt comforted in a way that piqued something in me.

Later, i expressed to Master my little girl inside. i’ve always been child-like in my wonder and expression of joy and sadness, and Master had told me it was one of the things that endeared me to Him. He had me write an essay about being little, about wanting a Daddy. i poured out my feelings, and when He had me read my assignment aloud to Him, i was in tears. i blushed and was embarrassed at my desire to be little. i was shy about my connection to the little inside me. i was worried that He might reject that part of me, and be unwilling to be my daddy.

All those worries were very much in vain. i first called Him “Daddy” when He was tending to a wound on my hand (a splinter, gone infected.), cleaning it because it was awkward for me to reach. the alcohol burned, and i was shocked at my own self to hear a gasped “Daddy!!” leave my lips. He didn’t even blink. He just kissed my forehead, and told me, “Daddy doesn’t like hurting you like this. it’ll be over soon.” He was right, of course. The pain subsided, and the wound healed over the next few days, but i wrestled with that word, that place. Master, however, was already settling into His role, and later, when i asked Him if it was okay that i had called Him “Daddy”, he smiled gently, and hugged me close. No other answer was needed.

Over the past two years, my little and Master’s Daddy have grown into each other. And the two of us have settled deeply into those places with each other. i read to Him from my Nick Jr. subscription. He laughs and traces the mazes when i tell Him i can’t find the path. i can see His pleasure when i am excited and giggle. i put my arms around His waist, and He holds me and tells me i’m a good girl. and i am. inside our D/g dynamic, i have an innocence, a simplicity, that can’t be had elsewhere. i have an excitement and a wonder that is unsurpassed. i have a trust that can’t be broken. and Master takes all these things, and gives me the counterparts. He is the strong Daddy. He is the comforting hand. He is the responsibility that i can’t handle.

Ageplay, for some, is a separate activity from their everyday selves. Sometimes, i am more or less little, but i have not engaged in separate roleplay style “ageplay” for quite some time. Why? Well, because at some point, i stopped separating my little and my grown up selves. i embraced my little, even in the midst of being grown-up melly. My Master/Daddy understands this. We shifted into that gradually. Initially, i would put on a special t-shirt, put my hair up in braids. Turn on the TV to cartoons. It would take me a bit of time to “get into” being little. Now, it’s natural, and an inclusive part of my behavior. i don’t dress a particular way, or do anything special to send me into little space, though sometimes, i’ll pull my sippy cup down, and i often color to relieve stress and gain a sense of achievement from Master by showing Daddy my pretty pictures.

The D/g dynamic has vastly improved our relationship, because of the behaviors inherent in being little. trust, often fostered over a long period of time, came quickly. Fears were lost in the face of the wide-eyed wonder of a child. Communication flows freely between little melly and her Daddy, and she never has to worry about being judged. Even in the BDSM sense, things that grown-up melly might feel shame for become innocent in light of a child’s sense of exploration. Fears are only fears, and can be overcome. When i AM afraid, i can be comforted, and allowed to cry.

Emotionally, i am more stable when i am able to actively engage my little on a continuous basis. Mentally, i am more whole when i can allow this part of me to not only come out, but be ever-present. It IS who i am. i can no more erase her than i can erase my hand. Even if i remove it, there will be a stump, and something will be missing.
Just tonight, i asked Master, “Why do you like being my Daddy?” His response: “I don’t know… there’s just something about it. something .. important.” Indeed. Something very important. To us, having this dynamic is a closeness and a comfort. Master has never been a Daddy before. i’ve never been able to integrate my little into myself as fully as i have. Actually, i think i am about as fully integrated as i can get. And i think that’s very very good, for both of us.

i do realize that not all people do it like we do. It is perfectly fine to put on your hair ribbons and ageplay a single scene every few weeks. That’s just not what we do. i’m a 24-7 little girl, just like i’m a 24-7 slave. Sometimes, it’s more overt, sometimes, more subdued, but it is a very real and very important part of who i am. i am growing into BOTH of those identities more fully every day, learning more about myself in the process. i honestly hope i never stop!

Every night, i tell Master, “You’re the best Daddy in the whole world…” and true to His form, He replies, “i’m really glad you think so.” He IS the best Daddy for me. And i am the best little girl for Him. it’s now integral to our relationship, not added on. it’s who WE Are.

Submissive Guide

This blog post has been compiled using sources from the Web.