Locomotive Breathless

Things are happening in France.

I have been told that SNCF, that country’s national train service, wants to webcast an excerpt of Vision Aveugle from the culture wing of their (vast) web site.  They do this on a regular basis, evidently:  conscript some French actor or writer type to read a twenty-minute book excerpt.  I get the sense that they don’t do science fiction as a rule, though (which surprises me, France being the homeland of Jules Verne and all), so Blindsight‘s appearance is something of a coup for the genre overall.

Cause for wootage, I guess.  (Although in my case it was a bit muted because I’ve been filling out my tax return recently and the only news that could really cause me to whoop with joy would be the tidings that an asteroid had just flattened the taxation center at Sudbury, Ontario, where Canada’s dreams go to die.)  But there was more.  Within  thirty minutes of receiving the SNCF news, Canada Post knocked at my door  to deliver an author’s comp copy of the French sf magazine Bifrost, in which was printed a French translation of my first-ever published story, “A Niche” (which many of you will know as the first couple of chapters of Starfish, with edits).  Not just translated, either.  Illustrated, too:

uneniche

France, meet Lenie Clarke and Jeanette Ballard.  Lenie & Jenny, meet France.  I’m not sure who the artist is (the sig reads JuBD.  Anyone?), although their vision of my apocalyptic world-destroying antihero is a bit more whimsical than my own.  You may be surprised to learn that I’m not going to complain about the inaccuracies.  The divergence from canon is so radical that it’s obviously a deliberate artistic choice— these are the guys, after all, who regard Jerry Lewis as a genius— and in fact I kinda like it.  It speaks to me in its own way, and what I hear it saying is, “Hey, you self-important humorless lemon-sucking purveyor of unrelenting grimness and despair:  lighten up a bit, why don’t you?”

And I gotta say, point taken.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Tuesday April 28 2009at 11:04 am , filed under public interface, writing news . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

53 Responses to “Locomotive Breathless”

  1. Placement of a fine derriere as the focal point of a drawing, ftw.

  2. Quelle adorable! The “BD” is probably in reference to bande dessinée, or French comic strips (lately, influenced by manga). Which might be why the girls look so kawaii in their undersea Catwoman cosplay.

    I don’t know which one is which, but the one who’s standing seems to be whistling at the other in a way which she finds deeply unsettling. (“Hey there, sugar, lemme explore your rift!”) It’s certainly another explanation for the final events of the story.

  3. the one who’s standing seems to be whistling at the other in a way which she finds deeply unsettling.

    Not to mention all the implied tentacle rape in the drawing.

  4. Clearly, I am far too de-sensitized to implied tentacle rape.

  5. I don’t know that tentacle rape is implied so much as … OH GOD MUST USE TENTACLES TO PENETRATE… it’s really just artistic license.

    On an unrelated note I heard Lenie just got back from Mexico and couldn’t get ahold of any Behemoth but she did find herself a nice cozy hog farm and some locals to pal around with.

  6. Clearly, I am far too de-sensitized to implied tentacle rape.

    Haha. I blame the modern moral decay. Or maybe I see penes everywhere?

    Perhaps I was also over-compensating, trying to look clued-in. I know you follow anime, but I got caught out in 2005 not knowing about the anime tentacle thing, my pop culture knowledge having an anime-shaped lacuna.

    Imagine my surprise when someone directed me to an image of a neotonized woman with enormous breasts, being molested by an animal with strangely veiny tentacles. “Hey, those tentacles look kinda like ….OH. Oh. Now I get it.”

  7. Hljóðlegur said:

    …a neotonized woman with enormous breasts…

    Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?

  8. …a neotonized woman with enormous breasts…

    Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?

    Yes. Exactly. It’s part of what weirds me out about anime – the disproportionality, the complete disconnect between parts of individuals, as if they were Frankensteined together to suit some particular fetish.

    The girl/woman in the careful elaborate image in question had the face of an infant or a doll, and the body of a child with the exception of the humungo balloon-like boobs.

    What I mean is, if the artist is going to deconstruct the woman anyway, why not go ahead and just have two giant bazongas wrestling with the multiple flexible phalli? What precisely do we need the girl for here?

  9. I dig the x-ray specs.

  10. What I mean is, if the artist is going to deconstruct the woman anyway, why not go ahead and just have two giant bazongas wrestling with the multiple flexible phalli? What precisely do we need the girl for here?

    I thought that was what certain parts of The Wall were for. (And for the record, we can trace the evolution of the pornographic tentacle to both old rules about pornography in Japan that banned the depiction of genitalia, and to ukiyo-e prints like The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife.)

    I stopped looking for realism in anime a long time ago. Peter once told me that this was hard to get past, because if we met someone from FMA (or Evangelion, or many other titles) in real life, we might consider them deformed. “Yeah,” I said, “but if you met Charlie Brown in real life you’d direct him to a good oncologist.” There’s no reason for the characters to look real — each character designer has their own vision to express, and if they draw fetishized women it’s either because they enjoy it or because that’s what they can sell. And sell it they can — my visit to Japan featured regular walks through the pornographic sections of bookshops, each of which was quite well organized based on genre. (And where, I should add, I always felt completely safe.)

    Besides, being female I’m used to having my body deconstructed. I’m used to knowing that my culture sees me that way and that it wants me to think of myself that way too so that I’ll buy more stuff. The Frankensteining is just something that my brain does, now, whenever I look at myself. I suspect that for good or ill, a lot of women raised in Western post-modernity are the same. This is not to say that it’s right, but it’s something that I’m well aware of by now. I’m glad that you’re actually disturbed by it, instead of taking it as given.

  11. Hi there !
    This is JUBO your frenchy’llustrator for “A NICHE”…who 1st gotta excuse himself for these strange English sentences written’ here.It was a real great pleasure for my poor self to illustrate this good novellette from Peter…an author who was then totally unknown to me.
    When I say ” to illustrate ” a text you’ll see that in fact ( and with no big arrogance ) I somehow mean ” to collaborate ” with it.
    Because illustrations assignements for a “serious” or “cerebral” deep piece of writing often leads one “little picta maka” to be interpretated by “let’s say” accurate-readers, I wanted to play this difficult game with a “non boring image” in the end … and with little funny provoquations( hope I don’t sound pompous here !!! ) .
    Also in this case I really found or thought that my “drawin’ abilities ” were not ” that able ” to be very “faithfull ” to the text.So without the will to do a so ” strictly commercial ” image for the novellette, I quickly decided that a kind of expression of contrasts and oppositions was needed ( hope you see what I mean ).
    Also I believe that generally the content of a text had to be a little bit conscienciously betrayed or detourned by the illustrator… or illus-traitor.
    So because 1+1 could make 3, an ” oblique approche” was my very deliberate choice.
    I swear that the ” tentacle rape” are here “first” to visually re-enforce this “felling” of menacing underwater elements… wich was not clear enough in the whole design of my rough sketch.
    For I certainly did not wanted the wiewer to bellieve that the story was taking place in a bloody spaceship they are here under our nose.
    Also by putting those “organs ” in the image I knew that a kind of sexual content was gettin’on the air… intriguely fittin’ quiet well with some aspect of the story. So then I naturally ( and heavilly… and evilly ) forced the kinky pin-up aspect of Lenie & Jenny + the composition of the picture.
    If my visual little contribution could create a little ” buzz ” around this 1st publication in France then I’m glad.
    Dunno if I succed with this bizarre drawing… but I’m glad.

  12. We can only hope she doesn’t look quite this whimsical when it’s time for her to be Meltdown Madonna. . . because THAT would be disturbing.

  13. JUBO said

    (a bunch of stuff)

    Hi, JUBO. Thanks for dropping by, thanks for illustrating my story, and thanks for your insights.

    Your illustration surprised me, but it works. Squeak’s insights into the lack of “realism” in anime and comic strips is especially relevant here, I think: the intention is not to depict reality so much as to comment on it. I’ve seen some beautiful literal interpretations of my rifters (here, here, and here, for example); hell, I’ve even done one or two myself. But this is the first illo I’ve seen to act as metaphorical-commentary.

  14. Madeline says, I’m glad that you’re actually disturbed by it, instead of taking it as given.

    Thank you.

    Before you let me off the hook , consider this disturbing fact: disembodied breasts cause me fewer mental alarms than an entire human form that is rendered in grotesque disproportionality:

    #1: disembodied parts
    A breast is an icon, as you say, mentally disembodied by how culture views bodies, a separate item, in the same way a penis is. I blame language to some degree, because as soon as you name a thing, it puts a boundary around it mentally.

    For instance, your head. People think of their head as an object, when in fact, it is an outgrowth of their spine. It’s partly because there was a word “head” they learned when they were 3.

    “Show me your head, sweetie, where’s your head?” and the kid points to his head.

    Unless Mum is a doctor, she never asked you to, “Where’s your occipital lobe, honey, show me your occipital lobe?” Hence, that is not a basic category of body part, even though it bulges out and has definite boundaries at the bottom. I mean, what are the boundaries of “your tum-tum”? Yet that is a “basic” body part.

    #2: relative shape and volume

    So the lady in the drawing above – the first thing I see is the fine buttocks and note they are disproportionate, and in the next split-second, that so is her head.

    The disproportionality functions to draw your eye. That is what it is for. Sexuality aside, aethetics aside, the eye checks for symmetry and proportions for some reason, and anime artists are manipulating that.

    You see an anime character with eyes proportionally the size of his fist, and it draws your eye. It draws mine, too, but it’s outside of my comfort limit, because for whatever reason, my brain software is less tolerant. (When my brain assays a person, it’s sensitive to proportionality and symmetry, even if unconsciously. It becomes a conscious thought if divergence exceeds some arbitrary bound, but under that limit, it merely draws my eye?)

    Another example – Stephen Colbert’s right ear. Notice it? It’s completely different from his left ear, and I find myself looking at his ears. I pointed it out to someone who hadn’t noticed it, and they went, “Oh, yeah, lugidthat!” Differences in how tolerant the software is, in action.

  15. Also by putting those “organs ” in the image I knew that a kind of sexual content was gettin’on the air…

    The actual artist confirms that I know tentacle rape when I see it. *looks vaguely smug*

  16. Well… thank you too Peter !!!
    Bringing ” fleshy ” and non realistic or… non bloody photo realistic images to the demanding world of ” hard-scifi ” illustrations is also ” I suppose ” an act of rebellion… against some clichés of one genre.

    Sayin’ that I would like to salute the very open minded art director of this french mag. The freedom he give us for the b-w interriors is I think very valuable for the genre.I also must say that here in my case … and abilities … I felt that I had to draw what I can … and not what I cannot.

    I deeply enjoy and admire most of the interpretations of your rifters you send me… I think they all work pretty well in one level… but goescertainly in that only one technical artistic direction… that I call ” clichés of hard-scifi”.

    Strickly using hard technology to depaint technological-stuffs for a well writen area where science and technology are allready depicted or clearly suggested…allways questions me… like sometimes those comic-book balloons clumsy tellin’ you exactly what is shown on the pannel you see… and nuthin’more.

  17. hoops…
    I missed some words on the last lines of my previous post.
    sorry again for my ” not totaly clear ” translation … but here it goes.

    ” The strickly using of the hard technology ” visual-tricks”to depaint all the technological visual-stuffs for a well writen area where science and technology are allready depicted or clearly suggested ( by words )…allways questions me… like sometimes those comic-book balloons clumsy tellin’ you exactly what is shown on the pannel you see… and nuthin’more.

  18. I have in fact noticed Stephen Colbert’s ear. It doesn’t bother me, though. He styles his hair so as to further the asymmetry, so it works. I also find that I notice erratic movement more than I notice disproportionate form.

    Then again, I’m rather small. So I’m probably just used to living that visual disproportion, in my own way.

  19. I notice erratic movement more than I notice disproportionate form.

    Okay, now that’s fascinating. What’s “erratic” movement? Does it have to be done by a human? Does it matter how much of your visual field it crosses or where it starts?

    I have in fact noticed Stephen Colbert’s ear. It doesn’t bother me, though.

    Me, neither. It doesn’t reach my discomfort threshold, but one part of my brain keeps paging my consciousness, and directs my attention to it every so often. Funny, you’d think evolution would be more interested in motion, as a predator-evasion/prey-detection device.

    I’m rather small. So I’m probably just used to living that visual disproportion

    Smaller individuals do have proportionally bigger heads, true. I would bet your head doesn’t approach the proportions of the Lenie in JUBO’s drawing. Project her legs down; especially with the crest, doesn’t she win a big-head contest with you?

  20. Hljóðlegur said:
    “Not to mention all the implied tentacle rape in the drawing.”

    Hljóðlegur also said:
    “Haha. I blame the modern moral decay. Or maybe I see penes everywhere?”

    Madeline said:
    “(And for the record, we can trace the evolution of the pornographic tentacle to both old rules about pornography in Japan that banned the depiction of genitalia, and to ukiyo-e prints…)”

    I see both male and female sexual “organs” in the illustration, as well as a “penetrating image” pointed out by “the breast”. Also, Hljóðlegur, human beings have been seeing and depicting “penises” since at least caveman days, so nothing to do with morals and decay thereof.

    JUBO said:
    “Also by putting thise “organs” in the image I knew that a kind of sexual content was gettin’on the air…intriguely fittin’ quiet well with some aspect of the story.”

    Why it’s a milder form of implied “teasing tentacl porn” – I saw this kind of stuff as a child living in Okinawa, Japan and Hawaii.

    Warning: For mature eyeballs ONLY

    Hokusai and shokushu goukan
    http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Tentacle_rape

    For Art Lovers:
    Ukiyo-e: http://www.ukiyo-e.se

    For Sci Fi Lifeforms: The theme of women tangling with Tentacled Ones has been around for some time: http://francescanet/pulp.html

    Well, the rather phallic implication, and the eight ones that can maneuver about themselves, certainly lends itself to the eroticizing of this cephalopod. But then humans tend to make many things erotically infused.

    Here are very cute octopuses by Tagawa Suiho -“Takono Hatchan”
    http://www.paulgravett.com/articles/175_kuniyoshi/175_kuniyoshi.htm

    Now I kinda feel bad for eating tako sushi.

    Here we have “Cephalopod Centerfold”
    http://cephalopodcenterfold.blogspot.com/2007_06_01_archive.html

    JUBO! – I very much like your illustration, it has a neo-retro feel. I am reminded of Les Triplettes de Belleville and 1930s-1940s vintage illustrative animation. Merci beaucoup for sharing. :)

  21. Sorry! Forgot the “period” after “francesca”….

    “Here you will find hard-to-locate images of science fiction, fantasy, and adventure pulp and comic covers featuring the wily octopus, courtesy of your hostess Francesca Myman.”

    http://francesca.net/pulp.html

    Wily octopus?

  22. The rules about pornography referred to comics art and photographed pornography during the twentieth century in Japan — you could get away with a lot more in the Floating World. And I think the rule is gone now, anyway. That, or those futanari artists just don’t give a damn. (Which is highly likely.)

  23. Peter Watts said:
    “I get the sense that they don’t do science fiction as a rule, though (which surprises me, France being the homeland of Jules Verne and all), so Blindsight’s appearance is…”

    Peter further said:
    “…French translation of my first-ever published story, “A Niche” (which many of you will know as the first couple of chapters of Starfish, with edits).”

    Peter then concluded:
    “…these are the guys, after all, who regard Jerry Lewis as a genius— and in fact I kinda like it. It speaks to me in its own way…”

    It all makes perfect sense and relates to everything. France, Jules Gabriel Verne and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Nautilus, cutting edge marine biology, poulps (giant squids) but similar to pouple (octopus) that attack and devours a crew member, the submarine encounters a Moskstraumen (maelstrom), and here we have Lenie Clarke and Jeanette Ballard, of Niche and Starfish, encountering “menacing tentacles” that may or may not devour, or imply something otherwise as in soft tentacle porn, as in Ukiyo-e Floating World…France, some of her artists were influenced by this Japanese Art Form, and the country that honored Jerry Lewis, The Nutty Professor, Professor Kelp and Buddy Love, Geisha Boy, Lenie and Jeanette in kawaii cosplay kitty cat suits, with books written by an author who said something about sucking sour yellow citrusy fruits, who has kitty cats, and whose latest book has scramblers in it, which are some sort of sea star octopussy intelligent life form that can hack the brain of homo sapiens and wave tentacly appendages about…but of course. As Spock would likely say…it is logical.

  24. @Hljóðlegur: It’s true, BD!Lenie would win a big head contest with me. I wear child-size hats. (And child-size gloves. And fairly small shoes. Small enough, in fact, to fit inside Peter’s shoes.) Then again, Lenie is also supposed to be close to child-size.

    Re: erratic motion, it doesn’t have to cross my visual field too closely or frequently. I notice it out of the corner of my eye, as it were, and it draws my attention. As for what I mean by “erratic,” it might be simpler to say “easily distinguishable from the common flow of foot traffic.” Focusing on motion rather than faces allows me to notice immediately who I should be making more room for/moving around, who will push me out of their way, who is lost from their group, etc. Gait recognition is poor at identifying individuals, but good at identifying types: arrogant swagger, post-stroke recovery, furtive and used to being ignored, lost in a foreign city, etc. With headphones on, you notice these things far more sharply, because you’re not immediately involved in the surrounding conversation(s).

  25. @Madeline: Got you – human motion at the periphery of your vision, in urban settings. Good for balletic collision avoidance. Do you mean that in any setting where human forms are in the center of your visual field, the motion is less salient, or still a major component of what you see?

    I’m guessing I also register peripheral motion, but without it bothering to page my conscious mind the way shape/conformation do. Do you draw, or did you? No – organized sport, maybe, where collision avoidance gets more practice? *thinks* Ah ha – dancer.

    arrogant swagger, post-stroke recovery,

    mental exhaustion’s mechanical rhythm, truculent bored teen slouch, tourist possum-footed meandering?

    I wear child-size hats. (And child-size gloves. And fairly small shoes. Small enough, in fact, to fit inside Peter’s shoes.)

    Wow, you sound wonderfully elfin. I see a sparkly petite right sandal, size 7, nestled into the dark leather heart of Peter’s size 13 lace-up. I’m enjoying how the sunlight hits different parts of the interiors of the nested shoes, and the contrasting velvety shadows.

  26. I see a sparkly petite right sandal, size 7, nestled into the dark leather heart of Peter’s size 13 lace-up.

    Size 7? Pfft. What am I, a giant?

    Ah ha – dancer.

    I wish. I could use the coordination. No, erratic motion is just something I notice without quite knowing why. I’m not sure which of my experiences trained me for it, if any. Probably just being close to Hobbit size, and knowing people often don’t see me until it’s too late.

  27. Size 7 would work if you were a hobbit. Lady hobbetesses shave their feet, so we’d never know.

    Okay, okay, size 5. 4? 3? Now your tiny sandal is AWOL in Peter’s shoe, lost like like a lonely atoll in the Pacific, a tiny bright spot in miles of sole, an oasis in eclipse, a … wait…. *squinting* … it appears, it appears to be … *hand covers mouth* ….oh my.

    I don’t know how to tell you this. Did you know there were …shoeniverous animals in his footware? Some kind of toe cavern dweller? A bit like a goblin shark – Oh, the teeth on that thing! Oh , wow.

    I’m so sorry. I don’t think your shoe suffered, if that’s any comfort.

  28. Reminds me of that Saturday-morning-cartoon mash-up of Watchmen. . .

  29. Nice paws.

  30. The big (huge) eyes and disproportionate bodies makes the “women” in anime look like children/teens (& objectifies them).
    Why? Why do all porn actresses shave their pubic hair? Draw your own conclusions. (Or do I have to spell it out?)

    Or if you have a better explanation, let’s hear it. 😉

    (PS: I’m not some man-hating “feminist” -or whatever-, I am in fact a guy.)

  31. “Or if you have a better explanation, let’s hear it.”

    Maybe not better but equally plausible. Its simply the current fashion. And like most fashions has little in the way of explicable basis other than “hey, look what she did, I think I’ll try it.”

    “Me too.”

    “Me too.”

    Ad nauseum as monkey imitates monkey.

  32. uninvited says “Why do all porn actresses shave their pubic hair? Draw your own conclusions. (Or do I have to spell it out?) “

    You do not. It’s beyond a pedophilic kink; it’s about making women look less scary.

    I’m not some man-hating “feminist” -or whatever

    It doesn’t take a man-hater or a feminist to see that the popular western culture is experiencing a backlash against women having an equal share of power with men.

    The public is sated with simply watching people have sex. That is what they wanted in the 70’s and 80’s. Now they want porn to tell them that women can’t hurt them.

  33. Is that why there’s so much porn with women in black leather with whips and paddles spanking men and leading them around by a collar like a dog?

  34. david ellis asks:

    Is that why there’s so much porn with women in black leather with whips and paddles spanking men and leading them around by a collar like a dog?

    I was speaking about the internet at large, not your hard drive?

    OH, that was harsh, wasn’t it. Let’s say, “my hard drive” then.

    See, the rule of thumb on human sexual expression is: “variety.” So we are going to find everything imaginable on the internet somewhere in some amount. That said, there is always a vanilla middle-of-the-road porn template, marketed to what the producers think their average customer wants to see.

    Given that middle of the road standard, what the market will bear is shaved women, sanitized for our protection, with fake breasts, a blonde dye job, clearly faking both enjoyment and orgasms. No chance of having to deal with the real thing; this is nearly as fake as using a silicone doll. Safe and impersonal.

  35. That’s actually not the middle-of-the-road standard I see when kink is portrayed in prime-time TV. Virtually all those instances are played at least partly for laughs, and involve leather-clad dominatrixes dominatrixii doms and submissive males. I suspect this hails from an overweaning sensitivity to being perceived as misogynist. Despite all the female subs out there, the moment you portray one on TV you’ll be branded a sexist woman hater, whereas you can pretty much do anythoing you want to males. (Same thing for overt physical violence. I remember a humorous commercial once where a female golfer was imagining that the golf ball was her male boss’s head. It’s pretty easy to imagine how well that ad would have gone over if a man had been whacking a *woman*’s head across the green.)

    So yeah, I’m with Dave on this one.


  36. See, the rule of thumb on human sexual expression is: “variety.” So we are going to find everything imaginable on the internet somewhere in some amount. That said, there is always a vanilla middle-of-the-road porn template, marketed to what the producers think their average customer wants to see.

    Or is that just the porn men think their wives and girlfriends won’t be too freaked out by.

    And why is shaved pubic hair indicative of a pedophilic impulse but shaved armpits aren’t? I might be able to buy it if the normal in porn stars was breastless androgynous women rather than the hardly childlike busty, curvaceous women that are the norm.

    My suspicion is that shaving the pubic hair is newer and therefore, to some minds, threatening so they are inclined to paint it in the worst possible light.

    I wonder how people reacted when shaving the pits was the latest thing.

  37. david ellis: Or is that just the porn men think their wives and girlfriends won’t be too freaked out by.

    Well, do you watch your porn collection with the little lady? Think most men select their masturbational materials with their women in mind, or do you think they select based on what they like from the materials they can get to?

    And why is shaved pubic hair indicative of a pedophilic impulse but shaved armpits aren’t?

    Here’s my take – Shaved armpits, legs, pubic areas are all part of the marketing schema under which the buyer is made to feel more secure when the female image he is buying is made less adult, less scary, more accessible. It also has the added consumer benefit of implying the goods are specifically tailored to the buyer – we aren’t selling you raw poontang, we have provided some value-added by processing it for you. It’s not actual pedophilia, per se, although it is neotenization.

    In fact, although men shaving their beards in the past had some practical value, currently it serves the same purpose. Facial hair, among groups that have it, gives the consumer clear indications that the male is sexually mature, fully grown, as does his back hair. Yet for some reason, these indicators of virility and maturity are shaved off? Why? Among other reasons, because it neuters the appearance of the male, makes him boyish, not manly. Less scary, less adult. Sanitized.

    My suspicion is that shaving the pubic hair is …threatening so they are inclined to paint it in the worst possible light.

    Maybe. Do you feel that noting the hand capitalism has in such a private activity is painting it unfairly?

    Could some folks just find the idea of getting beard-burn from a cooch a boner-kill?

    I wonder how people reacted when shaving the pits was the latest thing.

    That’s a good question. That was from the 1920’s, wasn’t it?

    Watts: That’s actually not the middle-of-the-road standard I see when kink is portrayed in prime-time TV. Virtually all those instances are played at least partly for laughs, and involve leather-clad doms and submissive males.

    I wasn’t talking about kink, but, again, consider the sellers and the perceived audience for prime time. If less numerically popular sexual practices are portrayed, what are the chances they are being written and produced by actual practitioners of that lifestyle. Not good. (Homosexual lifestyle excepted here.) Also, consider the prime time television audience – who are they, and whom do they need to see rendered less scary in order make them more comfortable? Think about it.

  38. Shaved pubes serves a functional purpose, allowing positions other than missionary without painful hair pulls. Or so I’m told.

  39. Chris Knall: “…positions other than missionary without painful hair pulls.”

    Painful hair pulls? Hm. That page in my Kama Sutra must have been missing.

  40. @Hljóðlegur

    The “pedophilia kink” explanation at least has some kind of superficially logical explanation, like “kids have no pubic hair, adults with shaved pubic hair don’t have pubic hair (for the time being)”, though the act of drawing conclusion from this superficial similarity is misguided at best..

    But the reasoning behind this concept of “making women less scary” escapes me entirely.
    Somehow, I fail to see in what way shaved pubic hair (or breast upgrades, or shaved armpits) make a woman “less scary” and “easier to interact” or less of a “real thing” (wtf is real thing, btw, how does one define it?).

    Really, I fail to see the mechanism behind this connection, the logic that brings it about… And, well, I also do not see the connection, as a matter of fact :)

  41. OI… repeated “explanation ” twice… Woe upon me !

  42. Hello, 01:

    I think you nearly have it, in fact.

    If adult sexuality, with its messy fluids, hair pulls, smells, and other earthy, organic qualities, scare me, then a body without those symptoms might be more appealing, and if I am buying a consumer good, I might further enjoy getting the fun without the mess.

    See, a potential sex partner is scary because they have something I want, but I need their permission to get it, so they have power over me. If I objectify them by making them a consumable, or by perceiving them as a class of people who are weaker and have fewer rights, like children, I will feel safer.

    It’s the same process where hurricanes are given people names – it helps bring a scary unpredictable primal force down to the power level of a person. Sex is a primal force in some ways, if you think about it.

    If I can think of something scary in other terms, it makes me feel better because it reduces my anxiety. Less anxiety is more comfortable, on the average, so people seek that.

    Does that make sense? You don’t have to agree, but do you see the mechanism?

    wtf is real thing, btw, how does one define it

    Male and female bodies as they naturally occur, with sweat, hair, their own needs and agendas. (Granted that bathing daily isn’t natural, although I am in favor of it.) Non-commodified bodies.

  43. @Hljóðlegur

    Well, I can, more or less, see how a pedophile (I wonder, is FBI crawler already here, seeking sexual predators? If so, then… Hi there, FBI! Nothing to see here!) could perceive a child as a defenseless “low hanging fruit”. However, given the sheer amount of grief one is likely to get for such shenanigans, children are actually the most dangerous and hard-to-get target for any such predators, and are very far from being defenceless.

    Also, I do not think it is exactly clear what comes first. That is, hard to tell whether offenders target children because of being too anxious to go after an adult person (that is not very logical, given the harshness anti-pedophile laws), or they already have the P. urge from the start and develop an anxious, introverted attitude because of the constant fear of prosecution that is likely to arise in someone who has a sexual preference that brings about so much hostility. It seems equally logical both this way and that way.

    I understand how someone who has power over a person appears scary to said person, and I can more or less understand how a sexual partner can seem scary (but you know, isn’t it supposed to work both ways in the particular case of sex? Like, doesn’t said partner want sex? If so, aren’t we mutually scary, lol?)

    But somehow, I just fail to make a connection between shaved pubic hair (or any other upgrade) and decreased “scariness”. It doesn’t make sense to me.
    I do not see how it helps one to think of it in “other terms”. The terms and acts remain pretty much the same, with hair or not, aren’t they?

    The mechanism. It escapes me.

    P.S.:
    I must admit, it might have something to do with the fact that I think that things “as they naturally occur” are often crude, lacking, and usually have a lot of room for improvement.
    So it might be that the lack of understanding stems from that when you say “the real thing” I say “the thing in need of some improvement and refining”…

    P.P.S.:
    BTW the very term “commodification”, when used to describe the situation when something that some author claimed to be “not considered in economic terms” gets assigned an economic value, is IMHO misleading (I know it is the accepted term for such phenomena in some theories, this makes matters only worse).

    When something is assigned economic value it becomes a good, not a commodity.

    It will become a commodity only if it will loose all qualitative differentiation across market.

  44. children are actually the most dangerous and hard-to-get target for any such predators, and are very far from being defenceless.

    I can’t actually speak to the pedophile mind-set. I would comment on this sentence above – it isn’t the children that are dangerous, it is the adults around the pedophile who will punish him that are the danger.

    But somehow, I just fail to make a connection between shaved pubic hair (or any other upgrade) and decreased “scariness”. It doesn’t make sense to me.
    I say “the thing in need of some improvement and refining”…

    Ah, now I see.

    Consider a woman, reclining, left leg up, right thigh down, smiling at you. She is nude. Bend closer and breathe in musk, ocean, and mystery, and see the tender folds of flesh, soft hairs top the arch, curling shyly inward near the clitoris. Let your nose and cheek be gently tickled while your tongue tickles in return the delicate pebbly clitoral hood. Use your fingers, get up to your ears in pussy, framed and bright in a forest of silky hair …

    Brother, this needs no improvement, refinement or upgrade. It’s celestial, or maybe just heaven on earth. It’s a feast for the senses, and the Gillette corporation is not welcome.

  45. “I would comment on this sentence above – it isn’t the children that are dangerous, it is the adults around the pedophile who will punish him that are the danger.”

    I see very little practical difference between two propositions. Then again, I have little insight into the mindset as well, so maybe for the pedophile, the difference is more substantial…

    “Consider a woman, reclining, left leg up, right thigh down, smiling at you. She is nude. Bend closer and breathe in musk, ocean, and mystery, and see the tender folds of flesh, soft hairs top the arch, curling shyly inward near the clitoris. Let your nose and cheek be gently tickled while your tongue tickles in return the delicate pebbly clitoral hood. Use your fingers, get up to your ears in pussy, framed and bright in a forest of silky hair …

    Brother, this needs no improvement, refinement or upgrade. It’s celestial, or maybe just heaven on earth. It’s a feast for the senses, and the Gillette corporation is not welcome.”

    Guess this is a taste thing after all. I would still prefer shaved version. And I still do not see how it is less scary ( or more scary) than the unshaved one.

    I believe we should just agree to disagree on questions of intimate aesthetics.

  46. Hljóðlegur opined on the beauty of the bush, finishing…

    “Brother, this needs no improvement, refinement or upgrade. It’s celestial, or maybe just heaven on earth. It’s a feast for the senses, and the Gillette corporation is not welcome.”

    Sorry. Not with you there.

    I have gone down on my share of partners over the years. I have buried my face in snatches scented of honeysuckle and others reeking of cottage cheese; I have sampled clearcuts and sodden rainforests with their own macrofauna. And IMO, all other things being equal, Gillette is more than welcome in those regions. If for no other reason than to spare me the need to pick pubes out of my teeth after the fact.

    In fact, before Hljóðlegur weighed in, I was going to post a comment suggesting that that might be the reason for the prevalence of shaved kitteh in the softcore mainstream; not to infantilise and not to disempower, but just to facilitate target acquisition and to save on dental floss.

  47. HAHAHAHAHAAhahhahahahaha!

    01: I believe we should just agree to disagree on questions of intimate aesthetics.

    Or of the possible meanings of shaved bodies!

    Yes, on the agree-to-disagree idea, in that we disagree about the politics of declaring someone else’s body in need of improvement, particularly where the main reason for the supposed need for the razored parts is utterly the creation of a razor company.

    In other words, if the guys advising me that the beautiful people are the ones with their ears nailed to the wall happen to own a giant nail gun conglomerate, weeeeellllllllll….. let’s say I’d be suspicious. But that’s me.

    Watts: I have sampled clearcuts and sodden rainforests with their own macrofauna.

    Yo ho! I see stalwart British adventurers in pith helmets, machetes singing through the public underbrush, a path parts, and the native bearers run screaming back towards them. The camera turns to see a Macrofauna of the Netherbush, white fangs gleaming in the half-light. It growls.

    The one Brit turns to his companion, adjusts his grip on his trusty pistol and says, “Well, Nigel, I suppose one can’t live forever,” then plunges back into the bush.

    Watts: but just to facilitate target acquisition and to save on dental floss.

    Har har. In re hair as dental floss, it’s an inconvenience, yeah, but judicious pre-combing works wonders, and combs never draw blood.

    *ehem* And I bet I can find the target regardless of hair length, and, be honest, so can you. It’s on the same basic place on every human. Wait, unless they changed the basic model. I have been married a while.

    Stalwart explorers of Other People’s Crotches, I salute your stout hearts (and tongues)! I do, truly. I guess the categorical imperative, if there is one, is that I don’t feel qualified to tell you, my friends, to shave your balls or labia or other sensitive parts, to pave the way for minor conveniences in my sexual pleasure? My feelings on this one, and I know this is hokey, is that your body is a glorious garden (hee hee, macrofauna) and I’m a visitor, so you should keep it how you need to. You live in there; I just visit?

  48. Whenever I’m bored, I put on my provocateur hat and go look for someone to prod. *poink, poink*

    This place feeds my addiction to poking, I’m afraid.

  49. Ross quickly checks that he is, in fact, reading Peter’s blog, and is not lost somewhere in the badlands of Usenet.

  50. Never fear, Ross, you’re safely in the Wattsetorium, not lost in Usenet!

    Nonetheless, if you want to hang out in this thread, you’ll have to shave your testicles. *shrugs* House rules or sumpthin, I dunno.

    http://www.shaveeverywhere.com/

  51. Please insert your testicles in your CD-ROM to validate their shaved-ness.

  52. It’ll take just a few minutes while NCIC and Philips-Norelco validates your ID from the wrinkles, and cross-checks you for any criminal record or previous bankruptcy.

    Try to hold still.

  53. А мне нравится этот блог, только авторам надо помнить , что посетители разные бывают. Короче учитывайте возростной ценс посетителей.