Art, Blood, Catharsis

Admittedly, I am not the most “productive” member of society. I say productive in the most capitalist, meaningless sense of the term, but on rare occasions I do in fact get down on myself for this perceived lack of responsibility. And, during these bouts of turmoil, I console myself by remembering that I am, mentally speaking, bringing food back to the tribe.

Or so I thought. I have noticed, on occasion, that this ideational food is often perceived as bitter, and less than nourishing. As an example, I ran into a girl I knew from high school at a party, the attendants of which were actively pro-drug, and somehow wound up talking about the uses of ketamine in transcending the human ego. Looking horrified, she asked that I not tell her things that would make her think of me in this (presumably negative) light.

This is sort of to be expected, and I’m not really crying in my beer over it (though I am saddened that someone whom I cared about was unable to benefit from my experiences.) One issue, however, seems to evoke this reaction more often than drugs, free love, or nihilist meta-ethics. I am speaking of the issue of masochism.

Barring details, I became acquainted with the art and philosophy of bodily injury on an intimate and spiritual level during the later months of two thousand and eight. I do not practice overt masochism at present, nor do I have plans to resume said practice in the foreseeable future. However, because of the recent nature of these events on the timeline of my life, they have, on occasion, been the subject of controversy of late (such as when a romantic interest found pictures of a particularly brutal work I had crafted in early January – BUZZKILL.) I address this issue because of the frequency with which I find myself pressed to verbally defend my actions, often without having raised the matter of my own volition.

Spiritually and aesthetically, there is something to the masochistic arts that I, a seasoned pursuer of bizarre experiences, found unique. To sit down and tear a knife over one’s own flesh, whether a quickie in the bathroom before class or a thorough-going, hundred cut masterwork, arouses psychical and aesthetic energies on a nuclear level, and does in fact produce beauty for those eyes which have taught themselves to see it.

I am not advocating this path to anyone, just as I wouldn’t hand you a checklist of drugs or sex partners and tell you to emulate the experiences that make my life unique. The point I am attempting to drive home is that much undue shock and chagrin is produced by the mention of a tradition that is as cathartic as it is aesthetic. Quite frankly, I have found otherwise intelligent, open-minded people reacting to the matter much as Victorian society reacted to homosexuality. More disturbing is the fact that, to the masochist-in-practice, those activities which are often symptomatic of deeper concerns are treated with all gravity, while the root problems are overlooked entirely. Not once have I ever truly given a fuck that I was scarred, bleeding, or in danger of some other non-serious biological reaction which the outside world construed as physical jeopardy. What I did care about was the inner blackness with which I found my psyche being consumed – a blackness which the masochistic experience attempted to pacify or resolve.

On that note, I yield the floor to group discussion. Perhaps you have a story of your own, of which I encourage to share as much or as little as you please. Perhaps this article has raised some questions in your own mind, or perhaps you merely think I’m a fucking moron and would like to tell me this in just so many words. If you would like to give feedback but are uncomfortable doing so in a public setting, I welcome responses at

Redpillneo is a contributing writer for ProjectGroupThink.  Follow us on Twitter at username PGTblog.



Filed under philosophy

3 responses to “Art, Blood, Catharsis

  1. Po

    Are there not less painful and disturbing ways to achieve these “peak experiences”? I doubt salvation/enlightenment ever came to an individual who subjected himself to this nonsense. In my opinion mutilating ones own body is a subconscious display of self hatred. Easy with the knives, bro.

  2. Part of me argues that some art should be disturbing. It’s odd to my mind when people say things like “less painful,” because the pain is either desired outright or accepted as a non-issue. You’re absolutely right about the hatred; though the self part may or may not be correct. These sorts of works, for me at least, were probably equal parts self-loathing and “unrequited hate,” which compounded into more self-loathing as a result of misperceiving an inability to actualize said hate through external violence as weakness or cosmic futility.

    I found a book on Amazon saying pretty much what I said above, by one Anita Phillips (whose credentials are not known to me.) The summary claims she draws on Foucault and Jung, which makes sense. In any event, I don’t disagree that there are healthier ways to do these things, it just struck me as odd that people were so polarized about masochism; after hanging out at watering holes were it was practically a requisite for entry.

    In any event, I don’t want to write this and give some young kid the idea that its an advisable path. I guess I just wish that there were a few more eyes that could see the aesthetics of it, but such is life.

  3. davidrsheehan

    I’m thinking of all the terrible things we do to our bodies that are way, way, way, way less beneficial long-term (e.g – tanning, smoking cigarettes, eating crap food, etc.). While these aren’t masochistic in the sense that they’re being done overtly to experience the pain/pleasure sensory expedition – they achieve far worse results than a wounding/healing cycle of masochism.

    Having said that, I think you’re onto something Po – there are ways to experience peak sensations without resorting to destructive tendencies. Art as creation need not rely on destruction (although, the flip-side argument of why art shouldn’t explore destruction runs in my head too) to achieve something.

    Death is a unique experience, too, Mike, but I wouldn’t suggest trying that though. I am intrigued by your post, but think you should consider seriously before continuing this route. Don’t want to have you Carradine yourself accidentally.

    (Yes, Po, I’m bringing David Carradine into this to generate buzz and click-throughs. Applause unnecessary.)

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