From a conversation with The Photographer I had this moment of clarity, expanded into a mini-essay. For the record, I've never been given a collar (though I've worn them), but do crave one for a host of reasons from the aesthetic to the philosophical via pant-wetting excitement.
The collar circumscribes behaviour as it does flesh. When worn it allows for control of movement via leads and chains whilst also giving a mental attitude of submission, servitutde and slavery. The two modes of control are really one and the same: I move both because you make me move, and because you asked me to do so. In reality, then, there are two collars. The one you can see - the physical collar that grabs me round the throat and the invisible collar of expectations that lives under my skin in exactly the same place.
The collar is a tool of ritual: a physical reminder of an agreement and the seal on the deal. A physical mark of What Is and What Is Not. Putting it on, or allowing it to be put on signals my aquiescence to whatever follows, and its removal ends the game. It is a clear demarcation of where rights and priviledge start and stop and in whose hands their bestowment lies. I like to think I'd look different when wearing one, some sort of physical change enforced by the feel of its weight around my neck. Would I stand taller, or shrink, look straight ahead or drop my eyes to the ground? Of course, you can use it to put me in the place you want, to make me stand or kneel. Your direction comes from manipulating the collar and my reactions will stem from the physical pressure exerted.
However, my behaviour will also be based the agreements and discussions we've had which will bear upon me via the invisible collar. This too, makes me move and flex in accordance with your wishes, but in a different way. We won't have negotiated everything in advance, because it's impossible to plan something so complex and so reliant on human response to such a precise extent. The invisible collar is flexible and creative, it works my brain. Unlike the physical collar which has no give or room to change, the invisible collar moves and grows with each unexpected action. Its original form alters based on my on-the-spot inferrences and instinct, unless corrected of course, in which case another shape is created.
They work together then, the physical and the invisible - each one reminding me in different ways just how you want me to be. There's also a further pull and push going on here, just as I wear the collar and act in the proscribed manner, so you make me wear it and respond to me in kind. We've both agreed to wear the invisible collar, the mutual decisions that circle us.
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