Answering Amul

amul, a colleague and online friend from the world of freelance gaming by means of some convoluted connections, did a meme where you answered three questions for someone else, and then invited others to ask you for three questions. I asked him, he replied, and now I’m going to try to answer them. Feel free to ask me for three questions in turn.

1. Okay, seriously, why do you read live journals in the first place?

Ironically, I started writing on LiveJournal in order to get away from the community on, so that I could work on a poetry project involving the Orienese story of Avren the Heron. If you go back to the very beginning of this LJ, you’ll find that story-in-verse, which is several hundred, if not a couple of thousand, lines long. THAT was the principal reason for coming to LiveJournal in the first place.

Since then, I’ve abandoned (ok, not abandoned, but put on hiatus) that project, and many of my friends have migrated here from Diaryland or elsewhere. I guess I read livejournals in the hope of finding inspiration and interest from the private and not-quite-as-private lives of friends and acquaintances. feel like it gives me a window into the lives of other folks, and it helps me expand my own sense of the wideness and diversity of the human experience. I do wish I had more LJs that were utterly unlike my worldview, but I also don’t want to read the typical tedious, “omfg this horrible b*tch did something horrible to me today”.

2. Do you remember the first time you were called “sir,” or otherwise treated like an adult by a complete stranger? If so, tell us about it. If not, please describe your favorite piece of underwear.

I do remember it, and I recall being taken aback by it at first. It was a barista in a coffee house who was very cute and gothy, and I remember being attracted to her. I was not more than 2-3 years older than her, but due to a receding hairline I probably looked a lot older than her. I wanted to object, and I think I did, because the guy who actually DID hand me my drink a few minutes later said, “here you go, sir.” I remember feeling very conflicted about it, and trying to decide if I was a “sir” or not. I’ve always liked the title because of its association with knighthood (is a Jedi Knight officially known as Sir Obi-Wan Kenobi, JK, or Qai-Gon Jinn, JM?), and there’s also its association with BDSM. But in a retail context, it’s simply a way for a server/salesclerk to acknowledge a customer’s relative age and dignity. I miss just being a kid or a guy sometimes. Now I’m approaching 40. “Sir” rankles me a lot less today than it used to.

As a bonus, I don’t have a favorite individual piece of underwear, but I’m gradually switching over from FTL and Hanes boxerbriefs to Nautica, which are made of much nicer cotton fabric. They are also huggier, without being restrictive.

3. Do you think children who go to a boarding school grow up to be more socially well-adjusted than children who do not?

I think it used to. Children in boarding schools when I went to one in the 1980s had no access to video games, minimal access to computers, and no television. We had access to books and newspapers, and teachers who pushed us rigorously on writing and being well-informed. I remember constant conversation and communication with colleagues and friends, teachers and students, as being the norm. We learned to talk, to argue, to debate, and to think. There was also an enormous almost-monastic isolation from consumer culture, and it was very difficult to have access to sweets/soda/junk food/consumer goods of any sort. We were all encouraged to take charge of our minds and our hearts, rather than worrying about the contents of our wallets and our accumulation of stuff. There was definitely a push toward privilege in how we thought of ourselves, and how our teachers talked to us; we expected to go out and help run the world. It led to the kids growing up to be ambitious, articulate and capable adults who could go out and get or do what they wanted.

Much of teacher expectation and student self-expectation remains the same today I think, twenty-odd years on. But that expectation doesn’t seem to be as backed up with conversation, writing, information-acquisition, and thinking. There’s also considerable pressure from the consumer world on boarding students as much as public students — “buy this, buy that”. They have the same presumed access to TV, video, video games, Internet, etc. that public school students do. The time/energy pressures on private school teachers are similar, if not worse, than those on public school teachers, and the schools-as-institutions are under tremendous market pressure to provide facilities (squash courts, computer labs, football fields, dormitories) and financial aid to needy students, far more than worrying about the quality of faculty and student-to-student experience or student-to-teacher experience. And finally, the pervasiveness of public-education consumer culture, in the form of textbooks and standardized testing and educational films and supplementals, has wedged itself into the formerly primary-source-based private school cultures.

So it’s not that public school is getting better or that private school is getting worse, so much that the firewalls that once separated a private school experience from a public school experience, are breaking down and becoming more permeable on multiple levels. Both groups have access to ‘experiences other than school’ at about the same level, ranging from drugs to the Internet to pornography/erotic information or experience to practice-effect games.

So no, they’re probably not any more or less well-adjusted as a group than public school kids. And I think that schools in general are becoming more confused and less coherent because they don’t know how to regain the advantage they once enjoyed.

And that’s that. Sorry for taking up so much of your friends page, all.

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  1. Re: sure, I’ll ask …

    Let me ask this a different way, then. What are some of the ways that being a Hindu, a photographer, and a fetish play enthusiast intersect unexpectedly, either happily or unhappily? I’m interested in getting an outline, at least, of some of those several conversations you mention.

    By way of background: A few years back, a friend who was into fetish play tried to tempt me into being a percussion-play target; he reminded me of the whole ‘mortification of the flesh’ theme in monastic Christianity, which I had studied in seminary. He wanted me to experience directly what I’d only read about. I didn’t take him up on the offer. A few months back you were excited at having met another Indian who also took a ‘top’ role in fetish play; then, you sketched out a conversation about the fun of having a white bottom you had with them.

    Anyway, it reminded me of an old awareness that other people have similar ‘fusion’ experiences where different aspects of themselves merge in different scenes or scenarios. I’ve always been interested in the ways that one part of someone’s life intersected with another, and whether people compartmentalized them, or allowed them to flow together.

  2. Re: sure, I’ll ask …

    Hm….I’m not sure I understand the terms “anti-globalism” and “anti-colonialism,” or if I do, I’m not sure that I consider myself a proponent of them. While I talk about my political views, I haven’t really constructed a political viewpoint superstructure, or spent much time thinking about where it fits in the greater scheme of things.

    I’ve posted the other two answers, but am waiting to answer the first one until I get a clearer idea of what you’re asking. It sounds like a question that could take several conversations 🙂

  3. sure, I’ll ask …

    1. What are the threads joining your interest in fetish with Hinduism, photography, and – for lack of better terms – anti-globalism and anti-colonialism? I’m always interested in the intersections of sexuality, politics, religion and art, and you seem uniquely suited to comment.

    2. How did your demonic sacrifice scene go? Alternately, would you describe three non-essential tools in your life that you still would rather not do without?

    3. What’s been on your reading list lately – three books each from “photography”, “fetish” and “general” categories?

  4. Thanks for the thoroughness of your answers. You make me glad I tried this meme out.

    Care to ask me three in return?

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