At the point of calling it a day I’ve decided instead just to put some work out there, starting with Flashers. These will be appearing in my WordPress and Tumblr blogs too.
Here’s a very slightly revised ten year old of 99 or so words.
A Writer’s Dilemma ( was’Variation on a Theme’)
Chance or mischance brought me home to find her naked, sucking the happy cock of a happier friend, his familiar head back-tilted with his pleasure, his familiar voice unfamiliar in its ecstasy. Having written the scene, I’ve never thought to see it, do not know if my anguished heart fits the script I typed so eagerly days ago.
And seeing me she’s laughing, looks so winsome, his jizm drizzling down her chin:
“I was only keeping him busy till you came home, hon,” she tells me, cheekily smiling, “so’s we could try the threesome that you wrote last week.”
Copyright 2004, Richard V Raiment
My wife and I were walking along the South Bank, close to the London Eye, when a group of three women walked past us. To my wife I said: “Did you see that girl?” She answered; “The pretty one? Yes.”
I believe this means more than you might think.
I tried to find out which of the two images above had the strongest impact on those who looked at it. My blog’s not very well known, so the responses haven’t been many and I am very, very grateful to those who did respond.
The predicted outcome was anywhere between 80% to 100% preferring the image on the right. It turned out to be 75% to 80%, which is a strong enough indicator. The ‘model’ itself is flawed (mea culpa) and results may have been affected.
There are other compositional things going on in these images which someone more knowledgeable could explain, and I made a significant error, perhaps, in not rendering the right hand image thus:
This image, cropped from the original this afternoon, is most likely to be the kind of end result that a painter would paint. In the vast majority of still life paintings (and probably in most paintings of most subjects) overlapping elements are a key part of the composition.
Overlapping hides. If there is nothing hidden there is nothing beyond the superficial for the brain to deduce and the brain, usually, gets quickly bored. In a two dimensional shape the brain does not see an image of a bottle with a chunk cut out of its lower left corner but uses knowledge it already contains to determine what the hidden part actually looks like.
It could be wrong – the 3D original of the bottle might actually be differently shaped or in some way damaged – but the brain factors in prior knowledge and understanding to solve a logical problem.
The brain enjoys such deductive games – games which probably originated in a need to work out whether or not a perceived object – a moving branch, an ill-defined sound or a cloud formation in the sky represented a benison or a threat. We retain the faculty for similar purposes, but it is probably also why we enjoy certain kinds of images as well as quizzes, arguments and who-dunnits.
And the pretty girl? She looked something like this:
All three women wore black hijab (body covering) and niqab (face covering), yet neither of us had trouble identifying ‘the pretty one’.
I don’t say this to take a swipe at hijab or niqab, though I’m not very fond of the latter for my own particular reasons, but to illustrate the extent to which ‘hiding’ the body – which in different ways we all do – really doesn’t work very well, the extent to which the human brain uses deduction based on prior information to see, even when the ‘seen’ would rather not be.
Now I have to hope this makes sense. Next post: Truth Seeking; what exactly is sex?
Sorry it’s only a cartoon, but there are here two ‘sketches’ for still life images containing a wine bottle, a glass and a bunch of grapes. What I am hoping you will tell me is which of the two designs you think would work best. Nothing more. Just say left or right, because this is not really about painting at all.
It is also a hot one – ‘stroke fiction’ of the warmest, kindest sort, perfect for self-pleasuring or sharing, and there isn’t a chapter that fails to deliver.
Madeline Moore knows her craft and knows her language. If you enjoy ‘hot action’ smoothly delivered, you will not be disappointed.
I am no longer young, though I’m a long way from old, and I have spent my adult life asking myself – and sometimes the world – what I call ‘the hard questions’.
Quick blast of theory: I’ve said many times that the most dangerous lies are the lies we tell ourselves. They’re often the most insidious, too – from the ‘one more biscuit’, ‘one more cigarette’, ‘one more drink’ won’t hurt lies of the dieter, the smoker and the alcoholic through to the ‘well no doesn’t always mean no’ and ‘women like it a little bit rough’ or ‘he keeps hurting me but he loves me and I know I can change him’.
They’re all lies, all self-deceptions, and I believe we accommodate them in part because to the human being the brain is an environment which, like any environment he/she lives in is one that we want to keep ‘comfortable’. It’s the furry gonk, the family photos, the plant in the isolated workstation, the cushions on the sofa, the carpets underfoot, hot food and drink at home, the choice of color on the walls, the hangings and the bedding. We adapt our environments routinely to make them comfortable and I believe the brain is little different.
So we tell ourselves self-comforting lies. If we’re rich and powerful we convince ourselves that poverty is not our problem, if we’re weak and afraid we convince ourselves that we are better than the person of different race or color, creed, gender or sexual orientation.
And the only way to get round this is to ask ourselves hard questions.The first of which always needs to be “do I believe this because it is true, because I have genuine evidence, knowledge that it is true, or do I believe this because – fundamentally – I want to.
The answers are not always easy to deal with. In the next instalment I’m going to share with you some of my questions and particularly some of my answers.
See you soon.
Going scarcely skin deep any place where women post it is too easy to find women of all ages who are unhappy about their bodies and their appearance, too easy to find women who have been brutally assaulted by assertions that they were ugly and/or fat.
I hate this. I don’t want to be a part of anything which supports this. I want to make quiet war on this – quiet, at least, to begin with.
I want to know what the words pretty, beautiful and attractive really mean, how they have arrived at their meanings, and if they mean today what they should.
According to recent research – I regret I’ve lost the original source – beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It appears that if you take a photograph of a woman considered beautiful in one particular culture and show it to people in a completely different culture they will still select that photograph when asked to choose those they consider beautiful. Overwhelmingly, those images are of the kind of women who make up the bulk of Western movie stars, which is no encouragement to those who are under or overweight by perceived norms or those whose faces are scarred, distorted or simply variant from them.
The same program showed how photographs of monsters – including Frankenstein’s and I forget which others – could be printed large and placed in a baby’s cot without the baby abreacting to them. This, it was claimed, is as a result of there being a certain balance within the face on the image. Babies see at first imperfectly and what registers initially upon their perception is a kind of shadowy mask to which pretty much all faces conform. This mask, it is argued, is what determines our perception of facial beauty from babyhood onwards.
Facial beauty, it appeared, was not ever in the eyes of the beholder. And facial beauty is only part of the question. Babies don’t know slim mums from big mommas.
The word ‘beauty’ troubles me. It’s a word we can assign to a landscape, to a lamb, to a dog or a squirrel, to a land or seascape, to a voice and music, to a single flower, to a child, to an image of emotion.. None of these, for those of us who are (I would argue) of the majority are things which awaken sexual desire.
So is beauty a non-word? Have we set limits to it that should never have been set, or have we failed to set limits that should be set? If so, why, and how do we get away from it?
There are things which some find sexually attractive which don’t immediately respond to the things that (arguably) most people would consider beautiful or, indeed, sexually inspiring. For me these include the artificially hyper-inflated breasts on women who otherwise fit the perceived ideal of the majority and, equally, hyper-inflated bottoms. Some men – and presumably some women – appear to be drawn to partners who are not so much overweight as severely and clinically obese.
There are extremes, and they work for some. So what is it that determines the majority view of what physical beauty is?
Perhaps one of them is a long, long history of association of physical attractiveness with ‘good’?
Okay. I rather fell in love with an actress, Jenny Agutter, when first I saw her in a movie called “The Railway Children” (1970). It has always alarmed me a little that the the character she portrayed was ‘under age’, though in fact she was around 18/19, a year younger than myself. The body she revealed in “Equus”, a film I never saw, but did see in Roeg’s “Walkabout” was ideal, her face lovely, her voice charming. I was bedazzled from the first and I remain so. But to Jenny Agutter – whom of course I do not know – I attributed the qualities of her characters. I think this is something that we do, and that it always comes as rather a shock if we discover that the actor whose characters we admire turns out to be personally less than admirable.
The ‘good’ girl in The Railway Children and the beautiful innocent in Walkabout was the persona – the very attractive persona – I have carried in my perception of her through all the intervening years. It is much the same persona of her character in the recent ‘Call the Midwife’.
The fact is, of course, that I do not know her. I do not know what her voice is like in conversation. I do not know what the quality of her conversation is, how witty she is, whether she is prejudiced or intolerant. I do not know if her ‘beauty’ is more than skin deep. But there remains for me an association.
Think of all the positive images of females in movies and literature and they are all essentially the same in conforming to certain ideas of ‘beauty’. Look up Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Polyanna, Juliet in any movie version of Romeo and Juliet, the heroine in Shakespeare in Love, Wonderwoman, for that matter. Anyone a woman might want to identify with, anyone a man might want to desire, is represented in every case according to the same ideal of ‘beauty’.
We’re not just talking images here, though, or at least not in a two-dimensional sense. What is reflected in most of these characterisations is ‘good’, a personality you would choose to be with, a personality you would choose to be.
Beautiful villains are rare and, even when we encounter them, they are not entirely irredeemable – I’m thinking Margaret Lockwood or Faye Dunaway in “The Wicked Lady”, for example – but villains, the people we would not want to identify with or be – are either (in popular perception) fat or ugly.
Cue Billy and Bessie Bunter, any villainess created by Roald Dahl and depicted on screen. The Dursley’s in Harry Potter feature a fat brat of a son and an overweight father, the dumpy Dolores Umbridge and the aunt Marjorie who is inflated to grotesque ‘fatness’ before she floats up into the sky. Witches are a by-word for ugliness. Even the fairy tales of pretty much everyone’s childhood portray the wicked and the stupid as fat, ugly or both.
There are those who would argue that negativity towards people of a particular appearance is ‘natural’. Historically, however, the ideal body shape does not appear to be a constant. Is it possible then, that the hostility towards people of particular appearance is learned, steadily and by an unrealistic negative association?
And if it is learned, shouldn’t we change it?
Not a young man, I noticed long, long ago that positive female role models were few and far between. Somehow I was exposed early to certain macho prejudices and learned to despise them, rapidly growing in the conviction that anything a man could do a woman could do – if she chose to – no less effectively. I decided that if I ever got to write, the females in my stories would be those I would want my daughter to read about.
I tried a children’s book which, in its draft form, a great many older female readers thoroughly enjoyed, but it was of a kind – my prospective publisher told me – that people no longer bought except as picture books, but it was in writing erotica that I seemed to find my real opportunity. I am wondering, still, if I haven’t taken some steps in the wrong direction.
The character Susanna, in my first novel, ‘Aphrodite Overboard’, set in the late 18th Century, describes her ‘assets’ as “a body barely twenty-one years of age and of comely proportions very appropriate to the latest fashions come from France”. She is blonde, has a blonde haired ‘quim’, and from the illustrations on the covers of the paperback and later ebook editions is clearly slender and lovely. I am not sure, now, how much I wrote her ‘slender’, how much it is assumed from other things in the text and how much it derives from our conventions as to how sexy heroines should look.
Zuri, the girl who will turn up in my second novel, ‘Islands’, due for imminent release, is black and African, is described by a male observer in the following words: “Even so one could tell even then that this was a girl who was normally plump and rounded and that her face, if not beautiful, was really quite pretty.”
Susanna and Zuri are strong, capable, courageous and intelligent women and, in their particular ways, sexually liberated women – the one because she’s given the opportunity to escape the conventions of her time, the other because those conventions have never been inflicted upon her.
I am not sure, at all, that I have managed in my writing to avoid following the conventional ideas of ‘beauty’ and ‘prettiness’ which Charlotte Bronte found troublesome so long ago, encouraging her to write ‘Jane Eyre’. I am not sure that I have not added to the conventional perceptions which currently drive girls and women to painful extremes in their attempts to emulate them.
What I would like to know – from women, for whom I principally write – is what their own ideal heroines would look like?
I thought reviewing books would be easier and perhaps more fun than critiquing first drafts. Just read a book that seemed to me to have so many errors and typos in it that it might have been a first draft. So now what do I do? Potentially upset the author/publisher? Leave other readers to be potentially disappointed? For all I know this might be the standard they’re used to.
I hope not. Guess time will tell