Hooded hawks, trained to the glove and the gyre, are kept soothed whilst blinded, kept away from distractions they are secure and tuned to a purpose. The hooded submissive is different. Certainly, restriction of movement and sensorial input by another is a powerful force of control, but the absence of freedom is not a lack in the same sense that the bird is kept from the skies.
Like the blindfold, the hood cuts out light, but it also goes further: the hood cuts out the self, both my ability to represent myself and that of others to percieve me. The Photographer assures me that I looked good wearing it, dehumanised. This total disconnect between the major site of sensation and identity (the face and head) and the body is a reduction of selfhood to flesh, which encourages both passivity and panic within me.
Passivity because there is a sense of calm, of seclusion which comes from feeling so enclosed. I am anonymous and therefore protected and safe: a faceless body and as such, there is nothing for me to concern myself with because there is no centre for such anxiety. I am also made to feel helpless and without autonomy, whilst tied and hooded my desires are without expression beyond those I make in response to unseen touches. And all of those sensations are made stronger because I cannot anticipate them, not because of the blindness, but because I truly feel cut off from my ability to consider what is happening to me, I experience. The hood makes me more of the body and less of the mind.
There was also panic. As time wore on and the inside of the hood became closer and warmer, I started to get a claustrophobic feeling as my heavier breathing pulled the material nearer to my mouth and face. The concept, more than the actuality of oxygen deprivation lingered. I couldn't hear very well, and I couldn't tell where he was as much as I can with just a blindfold, although that may just be my mind playing tricks. Yet, in the moment, without referent, how could I tell? I worried that I might have been abandonned, there, like that, and hoped that he was merely standing there, just a few feet away from my senses. There was also the psychological panic caused by having my expressions hidden: knowing that any wincing, smiling, tics or tears was lost, meaningful to no-one else, internalised.
The two contrasting feelings were at flux within me, a pull and push, co-existing in their contradiction. They also emphasise each other, the waves of calm and comfort made all the sweeter by the preceding tightness in my throat, cold sweat on my palms. That neither could be reconciled with each other was joyously frustrating, like pleasurable pain, it was there to be experienced as a double edged sword made sharper by the mode of delivery. It is wrong to say that sensorial deprivation heightens other senses, because they are neither actually weaker nor stronger in the absence of each other. What it does do, is give new perspectives on both the senses and concepts that are absent and present. The hood gives more than it takes away.
5 weeks ago