Beautiful, depraved

Intimacy. Debauchery. Irreverence.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Naked as we came

Photographer Sally Mann gained notoriety through the provocative pictures she took of her children, showcased in the book Immediate Family. Disarming in their insolence, truly owning their bodies, these children project boldly and defiantly - something we don't necessarily associate with the naked body or the naked self.

I imagine these children having the luxury of growing up barefoot, wild and free to roam; sylph-like, able to explore their strength, agility and grace, unencumbered by clothes, or shame.

It's unusual to see shots of adults with such raw, exuberant beauty. This quality of radiant self-possession is rare in general and nearly absent with the nude. I search a lot for this level of truth, self-love and raw empowerment. For something which is startlingly authentic. When I find it, it's disarming and it opens me. People comfortable being themselves give me permission to do the same.

Just being a porn star and being willing to go through the motions of reveal, doth not self-possession make. I do see traces of it in Sasha Grey, the wunderkind 20 year old who's myspace bio cites her loves for "rough sex, being silly like a pixie, true love and c.g. jung." I haven't seen much of her work but what I have seen and the way she describes it, it sounds like there is a sentient person engaging.

There is a beautiful closing scene in the film version of Story of O, the great Western treatise on de-civilizing. The way these children still have retained their self-confidence is something that O comes to after much unfolding and stripping down. One of the final frames in the movie is O naked amongst a group of people at a black tie party. She wears a beautiful mask of bird feathers and she stands open and vulnerable, yet exuding strength.

We humans come by it honestly, but often when it's removed, we need to return to it shockingly.

Photos: Sally Mann


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hipster Tantra

I'm often asked about starting places for Tantra in terms of learning - i.e. books, workshops, teachers. There are primarily a couple of different "schools" of Tantra: Indian and Taoist. I resonate primarily with the Taoist school of philosophy. Tantra is a huge, expansive study, but I've extracted from it certain principles that I find useful:

Sexual energy
is thought to be the most potent form of chi in the body - it's denser and stronger than regular chi. Tantra is all about cultivating this energy to be used for our own physical rejuvenation (see Zone fucking ii) and also as a catalyst. By drawing the energy up from the lower chakras and infusing it through our entire beings, we can 'ride' this current to access higher spiritual dimensions. The Taoists use the term 'sexual kung fu' which encompasses energy practices.

Marathon fucking. I like to get fucked a lot and I'm a marathon fucker. When I realized that I could share Tantra with my lovers to extend our experiences, I was all for it.

The sexual and the spiritual. I want depth. I always intuitively felt that sex had a more spiritual dimension to it than I could articulate. Sex and spirituality are highly polarized in western culture, and in a lot of modern eastern cultures. They meet in Tantra. I guess the only place I can stomach their meeting, that isn't infused with a lot of: "I am the goddess, and you are the god" (i.e. a lot of flowery ritual) is in the idea of being present. All the Tantric rituals (like eye-gazing and breathing) and exercises (deliberately moving energy) are about bringing us into our bodies, our selves and allowing us to be seen by another person. And to see. To slow down and value each other. When I let myself pause and feel into everything, I can orgasm almost without touch. Or just the lightest of touch because I'm so overwhelmed.

Say 'yes'. Another dimension to Tantra is something that is all embracing, not judging. Saying yes to experiences of all kinds. My "6" adventures embodied this marriage of wild acceding combined with a very powerful depth of learning.

The perpetual orgasm. The Tantric climax is not a finite thing. It's a series of stages that build and plateau, build and plateau and never really have to end. The idea is to walk away (physically) from an encounter perhaps with a feeling of release, but energized with the whole body still humming with arousal and desire.


Mantak Chia: I've mentioned him before and I'll mention him again. He's done excellent work in bringing Taoist teachings to a western understanding. He has workshops and teachers all over the world and a beautiful residential retreat center in Thailand. His books can be dry reads and lately he's taken to pairing up with Western authors. I still think his best books are the earlier ones which are laden with heaps of fabulous information and techniques: Cultivating Female Sexual Energy and Cultivating Male Sexual Energy.

David Deida: He's modernized the Tantric language and ideology in a very playful, irreverent, fierce and beautiful way. He's also put forward a brilliant explanation and remedy for the ailing sex lives of modern humans. His books: The Enlightened Sex Manual (he reworks a lot of Taoist concepts into a more readable form), The Way of the Superior Man and Finding God Through Sex are all excellent choices.

Osho: You may remember mention of an Indian guru who owned a hundred Rolls Royces and had a penchant for big breasted women. He's also the founder of a couple of residential retreat centers I would advise for those looking for radical change in their lives. Osho is all about the "Just say yes" idea and then some. His work is wild and takes courage but the people I know who've done a lot of it come out vibrant, fearless and owning their own stuff. I can't recommend any books because his work really is more experiential. The two residential centers that exist are: Osho’s Multiversity in Pune or Humaniversity in the Netherlands. There are often local Osho communities in cities. Find them. Take some workshops, like the "Aum."

That said, Tantra is most importantly experiential. I've learned the most with a willing partner and a bit of information I'd read beforehand. Be open.

Photos: found via acidpez