Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kaelah's Corner (May 2013):

As the title indicates already, today's post is about fantasies and their role in human life. In my view, fantasies are a wonderful and very healthy part of our lives. Over the years I have learned that the degree to which I immerse myself in fictional worlds also tells a lot about my current emotional and physical state, though.

The times I am and always have been the happiest are when I am away on a holiday trip with my family. During holiday trips I am not only (more or less, depending on the current overall situation) relaxed, my brain also gets fed with great new impressions and experiences every day. The same is true in general for the times I am with Ludwig, especially when we spend the days with interesting activities and / or with friends. In these situations, I observe two things: It is usually easy for me to enter my (vanilla and kinky) fantasy worlds, and I tend to fall asleep to some lovely naval M/M spanking fantasies.

On the other hand, all the fascinating real experiences every day are so fulfilling that I tend to spend very little time in one of my fictional universes during the day. That is, except for the times when something (Ludwig and) I see or do triggers a fantasy. And of course, I also enjoy spending some of the time with making (kinky) fantasies come true by, for instance, shooting naughty pictures.

Before I met Ludwig, though, I used to spend more time in fictional worlds, having no partner and quite some time on my own. I also immersed myself in the stories I came across in kinky blogland and spent a lot of time reading when I first discovered that new world. Part of that surely was because it was all new and exciting. But I think I also spent so much time online feeding my fantasies because I didn't have a partner at the time and didn't live out my kink. So I made up for that by fantasizing instead.

Today, the situation is quite similar when I am at home and either bored or busy with work that has to be done but doesn't feel very fulfilling. These are the times when I spend more time in my (not only kinky!) fantasy worlds. It helps me to relax and it often helps me to develop ideas for things I would like to do or achieve in the future as well. So, at times when my current real life is not so fulfilling, immersing myself in fictional universes and daydreams serves as a compensation. It can also help me to feel happier and stronger at times when I am feeling insecure.

I have also made the experience that my libido can increase in situations which are sad otherwise. After my mother had died, there was a time when my hunger for sex with Ludwig was stronger than usual because it made me feel alive. The closeness and the positive excitement that goes along with sexual activities acted as a positive counterpart to the sadness I felt otherwise.

There are other times as well, though. The worst situations are those in which I am so stressed out that I can't enter the fantasy part of my brain at all. That happens extremely rarely and then only for a limited time, but when it happens, it shows that I am experiencing a very high level of stress. At those times, I can neither play out any vanilla nor any kinky fantasies in my head. When I am lying in bed, my mind doesn't take me to the kinky naval cadets. Instead, my thoughts are focused on the real life situation which is worrying me. Only when I start feeling better, the fantasies will slowly come back. This is true right now, and I am very happy to be reconnected to the fantasy part of my mind.

I wonder if it's the same for others? When I see, for instance, some of the Tumblr bloggers who add dozens of pictures to their blogs every single day, I can't help but think that the kinky dreamland they are creating acts as a compensation for something they aren't happy with in their real lives. On the other hand, it seems that there are bloggers who disappear for a while, declaring that they haven't got any ideas for new blog posts because their life has become too stressful.

How about you? Do you think that fantasies are a healthy addition to reality? Do your fantasies at a certain time say anything about your current emotional and physical state? Have you experienced times when you used your fantasies to escape from reality? And are there times when you can't enter the part of your brain that creates your fictional worlds at all? If you like to share your thoughts and experiences, you are very welcome to do so in the comment section!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Spanko Chess

"Human chess in the Sports Exhibition Munich",
a German postcard from 1899

Chess, the game of kings. I have always been intrigued by it, and not just because I took my blogging name from the mad fairy tale king of Bavaria (who, to my knowledge, was not a chess aficionado). In my teens, I used to play in a chess group in school. It is such a fascinating game. The rules are beautifully simple - anyone can learn them in a matter of five minutes, even if they have never heard of the game before. And yet, the thirty-two pieces of the two opposing sides, with six different types of pieces and on a board of eight by eight squares, make for a game of such complexity that it takes a lifetime to master. Actually, few people ever master chess even if they play their entire life. I admit that I am a semi-decent, but by no means a good chess player myself. I have not played much since my school days and am woefully out of practice. But I am still fascinated by the game.

The reason for my bringing up the subject is that I read an article about human chess the other day. It is a form of chess where people take the place of the pieces. You may have seen it as a theme in movies like Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I (in a parody of aristocratic life) or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ("wizard's chess"). According to the article, human chess is first documented in the 15th century, but it may have been played during the earlier European middle ages already. Stories about Turkish sultans playing matches of human chess where every taken "piece" was executed, and of cruel Spanish inquisitors or the Russian czar Ivan the Terrible playing for the lives of real people, are probably urban legends. What is certain is that human chess was a popular pastime at the royal courts of early modern times. The absolute monarchs of the era had the money and the personnel to organize matches with enormous material effort. Gardens and parks were redecorated as giant chessboards, servants put into lavish costumes to act as the pieces. It must have been quite a sight.

It occurred to me that it would be a lot of fun to play a spanko version of human chess. I don't have to spell out to you what would happen to a piece that gets taken! The losing player would also get a proper thrashing after the match. Or both players a minor thrashing if the match ends with a draw. Of course, if you wanted to represent all the pieces with people, you would need a total of thirty-four people: thirty-two pieces plus two players. Or a total of thirty-two if the players take the place of the kings. In any case, that would be difficult to organize even at a large event like the Shadowlane party. But wouldn't it be awesome? The kings of both sides would, naturally, get a majestic implement to use, maybe a richly decorated cane. The queens, something equally painful - maybe a single tail whip? The rooks should be equipped with something blunt and bludgeoning, like a big wooden paddle. For the knights, a riding whip or crop seems the natural choice. I'm unsure about the bishops - maybe some kind of flogger would serve them well, "penitentiam agite" and all that? The pawns, as the most lowly pieces, would use their bare hands to spank the other pieces they take.

Or maybe it should be the other way around, with the lowly pieces getting the more intimidating implements, because it should sting more to be taken by a lowly piece? That would work as well. I'm sure we could come up with a nice set of rules and customs for the spanko version of human chess. Oh, and once you take unorthodox chess variants like hexagonal chess or four player chess into account, the possibilities really become limitless...

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Naughty Climber

This is the third and final part of our series about New Zealand. After our series of pictures with me being bent over outdoors and the introduction of the patu, a pervertible implement, this is maybe the naughtiest part of our adventure. During an amazing alpine trip, we decided to shoot these nude pictures in front of the stunningly beautiful landscape.

As you can see, we were fully equipped for the trip with axes and crampons. The hike was wonderful and we enjoyed not meeting too many people on our way and thus partly being surrounded by nature only.
And, if the chance presents itself, what is more joyful than bathing in the bright sun on the top of a mountain in one's birthday suite? Since I love pictures in the snow so much, as you could already see here and here, of course I couldn't resist.

And so this naughty mountain climber photo series was born. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed that very special day!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


As someone with a passion for history, I am always intrigued by historical BDSM literature and art. I am not talking about historical depictions of real, i.e. non-consensual corporal punishment or torture. While I find some such depictions erotic, the majority are too brutal or just too matter-of-fact for me. No, I am much more interested in actual historical BDSM literature and art that was made by kinky people for kinky people. After all, there have always been people with an inclination for BDSM or sadomasochism or whatever name we want to put on it. The terminology may be recent, but the inclination certainly is not.

Spanking-themed and flagellation-themed erotic literature seems to have been quite popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. The high age of nationalism and imperialism, the age of Queen Victoria in Britain, of the Prussian-dominated Kaiserreich in Germany and the fading Habsburg monarchy in Austria-Hungary. I have always had a soft spot for this era, with its air of pomp and glory, decadence and decline. The last hurrah of old Europe and its aristocracy. Honestly, if ever a period in history seemed tailor-made for erotic BDSM fiction, it must have been this one.

The reason for my choice of subject today is that I have finally found out where one of my favourite flagellation-themed pictures is from. It has been in my collection for ages, I downloaded it many years ago from a free site I don't even remember. It is obviously an old picture, so it is in the public domain and can be freely shared. As you can see, it shows a dark-haired, naked young woman strapped to a whipping bench of sorts and getting thrashed by a man in what looks like Roman dress. The French caption reads: "Cécilia est attachée à son tour sur le chevalet..." ("Cecilia is tied down for her turn on the rack..."). I think it is a lovely picture. Nicely drawn, with a beautiful female body - it's interesting to note both the similarities and the differences in the beauty ideal compared to today. And the action is severe, just the way I like it, while not being overly bloody.

I always wondered in the back of my mind where that picture might be from. But only recently did I, on a whim, enter the text of the caption into a search engine. Lo and behold, the origin of the picture is easy to find. It is from a spanking novel by Jean de Virgans, titled Flagelles: La Flagellation des Femmes dans la Rome Antique. The title should be easy to figure out even for those of you who do not speak French: the book is about the whipping of women in, as we assumed correctly, ancient Rome. Or rather, it's about what the author thought the whipping of women in ancient Rome might have been or should have been like. It's all wildly ahistorical, of course, but who cares when the result is such a nice picture.

Different sources I found give a publication year of 1909 or 1922. We might be talking about two different editions of the same book, or maybe one of the dates is a mistake. The illustrator was someone called Gaston Smit, who also used the aliases Georges Topfer and James Barclay. Whether Gaston Smit was his real name is anyone's guess, as nothing seems to be known about this illustrator except for the fact that he contributed drawings of corporal punishment to various books from the genre during those years. In any case, I think we can reasonably assume from the quality and the vibe of the work that both the author and the illustrator were probably not just fulfilling a market demand, but genuinely kinky people. It's nice to know that some of "us" have always been around.

My search also revealed some more illustrations from the same book:

Here the caption reads: "Les souples lanières se moulent sur les fesses de la femme..." ("The flexible straps mould themselves to the woman's buttocks...").

And here: "Les bourreaux l'attachent debout à un poteau..." ("The executioners tie her to a standing pole...").

A few copies of Flagelles: La Flagellation des Femmes dans la Rome Antique are available, supposedly in good condition, from antique bookshops at a price of around 180 Euros at the time of this writing (around 230 US dollars or 150 pounds sterling). Even as an obsessive spankophile, I am not willing to part with that kind of money for a historical BDSM book. But if you are filthy rich and have more money than you know how to spend (good for you!), you might consider buying a copy and letting the rest of us know how it is.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Facing the Darkness

When the first wave hit me, I was almost unprepared. Though I shouldn't have been. Instantly, I began to sweat. I tried to calm myself down. Controlled breathing can be helpful, but it didn't work this time. Every time I thought it might be over, it started again.

I signalled Ludwig what was going on and that I had the feeling I couldn't take it anymore. He listened and calmly talked to me. The communication helped me to focus and to believe that I could make it through. But then another stroke hit target and another one and another one. My whole body was covered with sweat and I was shaking uncontrollably. Several times I started crying. For a moment I thought that this might be going on for the rest of my life and that I might be losing my sanity.

And then it was over. I don't know how long it lasted exactly, maybe one hour. Afterwards I was totally exhausted, my body still shaking. I told Ludwig that I could manage alone now, though. For a while I listened to some music and eventually laid myself to sleep again. It was about 6 o'clock in the morning.

I hate anxiety attacks. My experience with them surely is one reason why I don't want to be pushed over the edge in my spanking play and why I don't seek any loss of control (at least not in the context of dark scenarios). I think accompanying someone during such an experience is much more difficult than leading a spanking scene as a top. The basic dilemma is quite similar, though. One can try to offer a safe environment as well as encouragement, but ultimately it is the one experiencing the situation who has to deal with the challenge and make it through. In contrast to a top in a spanking scene, someone accompanying another person during a panic attack doesn't even have the power to control or stop the process, though. That's what makes it much more challenging.

I have experienced (luckily not very many) anxiety attacks on a few different occasions in my life, for instance when I started living on my own or after my mum had died. I know the background, the triggers and that the feeling of anxiety becomes less frequent and finally disappears once I get used to a new situation. The important thing is that running away is not an option. Trying to reduce the pressure – yes, taking good care of oneself – most certainly, but avoiding certain life challenges because of the fear only reduces one's personal freedom in life and makes it all the worse.

Right now I have to deal with new challenges caused by several current and upcoming major changes, and the fact that I was very tired and exhausted and Ludwig was going to leave the next day led to the recent anxiety attack. Ludwig did the only right thing to do, though. He left the next day as planned, but offered to be there on the phone, should I need someone to talk. We both know that I have to face my anxiety on my own if I want to quickly get back in control again. This is how I handled previous situations like this one as well. Which is not to say that support from family and friends and maybe even professional help to find out more about the background and the triggers when the anxiety first comes up isn't important to have. Still, no one can take away my fears. Only I can.

The "trick" is to go through the situation and to confront the anxiety, to adjust the elements that can be changed and to accept and get used to those parts of the challenge that can not or from a long-term perspective should not be changed. Again there is a parallel to spanking. A very severe scene can easily break a bottom who is unprepared and starts panicking, having the feeling of not being able to take it. But, if one manages to adjust some parameters to fit one's personal limits and if one gets used to the intensity of the strokes and begins to believe that one can take them, even a severe, painful beating can be a very empowering experience.

When Ludwig left, it wasn't easy for me. I couldn't eat more than just a few bites that day. But we had a wonderful walk (physical exercise is crucial when fighting a depressive mood) during which we talked about our future which gave me a new perspective and hope. I managed to send Ludwig on his way without shedding a tear. Even though I neither slept very well nor very long, I made it through the following night without calling Ludwig. We only exchanged e-mails because he arrived at home very late at night and we only talked on the phone more than 24 hours after Ludwig had left. Despite of my physical state, I also managed to fulfill all my job duties and I didn't have another anxiety attack since then. I am proud of this because it tells my that all the work that I put into learning to know myself and my needs better finally starts paying off. I will most probably have to deal with anxiety time and again for my whole life. But chances are good that we are only talking about certain (and hopefully short) periods here.

After my anxiety attack the night before he left, Ludwig mused that for some "daddy" tops the idea of taking care of such a shaky, tearful, helpless-looking bundle like me at that time surely would have a great appeal. To be honest, I am happy that Ludwig is not one of those tops. Don't get me wrong, I don't care if my vulnerability in such a moment has a certain appeal for Ludwig and I don't mind if it awakens his protective instincts. But I am glad that Ludwig is the kind of guy who understands that I have to stand up for myself and confront my fears and that I should not rely on him to take care of everything for me in such a situation. I don't need a white knight in shining armour who solves the issue for me. I need a companion who helps me put on my own armour and improve my own fighting techniques. I think that's a huge challenge because in my view, men are usually trained to "solve" a problem rather than remaining passive and lending an ear for difficult and long talks.

Ludwig willingly accepts that challenge, though, and I am both very lucky and glad to have a man like him. I am also happy that I am feeling better right now. But I am aware that the fears will most probably come back from time to time during the upcoming months. If that happens, it will feel like the darkness is going to last forever. But it won't. And one day the anxiety related to the current situation will be gone for good. I hope that day will be soon and I am confident that I can make it happen.

In the meantime you might hear a bit less from me since I am extremely busy and sometimes rather tired. Ludwig offered to support me by blogging more regularly, which will be great for the blog. I already very much enjoyed his post about the prisoner's dilemma.

Apart from that, all that can be done is laughing about certain aspects of this situation. Because some of the ideas on how to deal with anxiety attacks are actually really hilarious if one imagines that one would follow them in a public environment, for instance at work. For example, one advice is to touch an object that has a pleasurable and soothing haptics. I couldn't help imagining what co-workers might think of a business colleague who suddenly starts cuddling and petting a stuffed animal at work! Another advice which made Ludwig and me laugh: Turn on some music, clap your hands to the rhythm of the beat and sing along. Doesn't that sound like a great advice for a business meeting?

The truth is, anxiety sucks. But a good laugh is what makes life worth living!

One final thought: Today is Mother's Day in Germany. Yesterday I put red and white roses on my mum's grave. Her much too early death was the most horrible experience in my life so far. As I already told you, my mother was a wonderful woman. She also was very strong and she taught me to believe in myself and to accept myself the way I am. It's incredibly sad that she is gone and I miss her immensely. But I am lucky in that she helped me to become strong enough to even be able to live without her being around (at least not physically, she will of course always be in my heart). So, let me end this very personal post by saying: Thank you, Mum, for having been such an incredible person and mother!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Prisoner's Dilemma

Raise your virtual hands: how many of you have heard about the prisoner's dilemma? The prisoner's dilemma is a classic example of a game studied in game theory, economics, psychology and other assorted disciplines. I first heard about it in a university course a few years ago. Here is how it works. As a thought experiment, imagine the following situation, and put yourself in the position of the participants:

Two members of a criminal gang are arrested. They are interrogated separately. The police admit that they do not have enough evidence to convict the criminals on the primary charge. They only have evidence to sentence both to a year in prison for a lesser charge. However, the police offer each criminal a deal: if he testifies against his partner, he will go free and the partner will get three years in prison. If he stays silent and the partner testifies, the partner will go free and he will get three years. And if both criminals end up testifying against each other, they will each get two years in prison.

It's an intriguing and ominous situation to imagine yourself in. Do you decide to stay silent? If you do and your partner does as well, you will both get one year in prison. Not so bad under the circumstances. But if your partner testifies while you stay silent, you will get three years, the harshest penalty possible, while your partner goes free. So, should you play along and testify? If you do and your partner does as well, you will both get two years. And of course, there is always the possibility that your partner will remain silent while you testify, in which case he is the one getting the harsh three year penalty and you go free...

What makes the prisoner's dilemma so interesting for game theory is that it rewards betrayal. If your partner stays silent, then betraying him means a better outcome for you in terms of prison time than staying silent (you go free instead of getting one year). And if he testifies against you, then testifying against him also gives you a better outcome than staying silent (you get two years instead of three). In both cases, betrayal rewards more than staying silent. So, a rational individual whose only goal is to minimize prison time for himself should always choose betrayal over staying silent regardless of what their partner does.

Of course, people are not always so coldly rational, and there might be other factors that come into play. One or both of the prisoners might have motivations that to them are more important than simply minimizing prison time for themselves. For instance, a prisoner might feel an overriding sense of loyalty to their partner, or he might be bound by a strong personal code of honour. This might be rare among petty criminals, who usually are not the most loyal or honourable types, but it would be a lot more likely among freedom fighters, political activists and similarly idealistic groups.

I can't really imagine Kaelah or myself embarking on a life of crime. We both have too strong a moral compass for that, and besides, crime almost never pays off for the criminals in the long run - they are far more likely to get arrested or killed than to enjoy a long successful career. However, I can quite easily picture a fantasy of us as political activists who have been arrested by a dictatorial regime. Would I betray Kaelah if the regime offered me such a deal? Never. Because she is my loved one and as a matter of general principle, I would refuse to testify. And I would have the utmost confidence that she would do the same.

But let's say the partner who was arrested with you is not your loved one or a close friend, but a mere acquaintance. Let's say that you are not political activists, that you have really done something bad, which he talked you into and which you now regret. Let's also say that you are not quite sure of the loyalty of that acquaintance, whom you do not know all that well. Would it not be tempting, under this set of circumstances, to testify? Even if you have a strong personal code that would normally forbid you from doing so, you would probably at least take the option into consideration. Especially if we replace the linear set of penalties from the canonical prisoner's dilemma, one, two or three years in prison, with a more exponential progression, like one, three and ten years. Can you really afford to risk staying silent while your "partner" talks, which will get you a draconian ten years in the can? If you talk, the worst that can happen to you is three years if he talks as well. And if he stays silent, you go free...

I'm sure you already guessed why I brought up the subject in the first place. Anyone with an inclination for BDSM can see that there is potential for a kinky scenario here. One could play out the spanko version of the prisoner's dilemma and replace the prison sentences with corporal punishment. Flogger, paddle, cane? Take your pick. If both prisoners stay silent, they get ten strokes each. If one talks and the other stays silent, one goes free while the other gets a harsh thirty strokes. Tough luck! And if both talk, twenty strokes each. Or you could raise the stakes and use a more exponential progression of numbers, like six, twenty and sixty strokes. That should be interesting, especially when you play it with canes.

Scenarios like that are not everyone's cup of tea, but for people who like a bit of edginess in their kink, the prisoner's dilemma could be quite a treat. And there is plenty of video material here - frankly, I am surprised that Bars and Stripes have never done a take of their own on this game theory classic. It would seem tailor-made for them.

What about you? Would the prisoner's dilemma scenario catch your interest? Have you ever played it out for real? I know of at least one group of spanko friends who have (with both "prisoners" ratting the other out almost immediately). And most intriguingly, what would you do as a participant in the scenario, if the partner was a) a good friend or loved one, b) someone you don't know well, but are inclined to trust, and c) someone you don't know well and about whose loyalty you have doubts?