Monday, November 01, 2010


This is a guest blog that I asked Tim Barrus to write about the experience of liminality (see yesterday's post). This is in part what people say is S/M. Tim also posted this on his Facebook page with a video illustration.

Prairie Mary

Then Let the Wind Die Down

I was eleven the first time. Lake Michigan near Traverse City. I was wearing the buckskin coat. The one with the fringe I loved. My dad had killed the buck and had had the coat made for himself but I had appropriated it. We had driven that whole day down from L’anse in the Upper Peninsula. We would spend the night at the lake, and I had waded into it wearing only the buckskin coat. I was not quite waist deep and I was walking north.

The sun was setting behind the lake. The water only barely covering my cock and balls as I pulled myself through the water, walking north. Always due north. That was the first time, and at eleven, I did not know what it was. But I knew it was something because it had never happened to me before. Not like this.

The next time would be onstage. I was a dancer and I was dancing. Suddenly, the audience became irrelevant. I was no longer dancing. I was the dance. I do this with writing now.

The next time would be in China. The magician was showing us how to manipulate the marionettes (puppets) via string so the puppets could perform the magic tricks. Suddenly, the magician leapt backwards doing a complete acrobatic flip, and then he disappeared. What came to me was both the question and the answer and it had nothing to do with magic tricks. Question: what will you do with the puppets now that they have been abandoned to your person. Answer: the children who need them will find you.

The next time it happened, I was shown into an almost empty room with a chair in the center of the room which I sat down in. A door opened and a woman with a big heavy box pulled the box into the room. She left. Inside the box were six new wolf puppies. I was not in my body then. I had given it to them. They will tear your clothes off, they will. Their eyes still blue.

It has happened to me dozens of times on Grant Street in San Francisco. It has never not happened if I am in China town. So I once decided to move there. Just walking down the street was extraordinary.

It has happened to me in ruins. That is all I can say.

It happens in Shinjuku whenever I am there. It finds you. You do not find it (the idea of you finding it is ludicrous) and it happens.

It has nothing to do with nature or new age anything. Shinjuku is the most contrived environment on the planet. But it is very powerful in Shinjuku. Other people who I have never met and do not know have written to me that it happens to them there as well.

It has happened to me on the beach in Tunisia. It has happened to me in brothels in Tangier.

It happened to me once after having just taken off from La Guardia on a jet. It was night. We flew around the Twin Towers — close enough to touch them — and then we took off straight to California.

It happened to me once diving in the Keys.

It happened to me sailing a windjammer through a storm just off Nassau. It has happened to me several times while writing. I can MAKE something similar happen at will. But it is not the thing.

It happened to me today high on LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. You can only call to it using these tools. It doesn’t mean it will happen but I have gotten quite good at communicating with it to see that it does. LSD and psilocybin mushrooms beckon to it.

The dogs and I walked about twenty miles today. It was with me most of that time. I can taste it on the wind. I am not sure how I constructed this video to show you (not that you will believe it which is fine) what it’s like walking in and through the thing. I need to make visual representations (all of them quite inadequate) of what it’s like to be inside the thing. Usually, I am walking through. Or swimming through. Or flying through it.

Different cultures have different words for it. The Hopi break it up into four worlds. Asian cultures are replete with references to it.

I find that it’s not so much a thing as it is a process.

It enfolds me. In much the same way that color itself as place enfolds the male walking through the video.

Most people cannot access it. I would caution you to not even try.

I do not call it peace or bliss or even experience those things while walking in it and through it. Bliss is far too sophomoric a term. It is not bliss. It is not joy. It can be terrifying in much the way the universe itself is violent and terrifying. It does not CARE and either does the universe.

It does not matter what you believe. You are not important to it in any way. Americans in particular find that hard to handle. Americans want to be the POINT.

But they’re not the point of anything. They are not germane to anything. The universe does not know Americans exist.

It is not god. There is NO god. Get over it.

I have a term for it. It is only MY term. I call it the way.

I used to work with it during my sex worker years. You can’t really call what I was doing sex. It was role playing.

Men would pay me to take them on sexual adventures. Experiences that were powerfully sexual to the men involved. How would I know this. I would ask them to talk to me about their lives and they did. I never once found any of these experiences I would create to be sexual. I found them to be about the way with power.

There were so many of them. It would fill a book. I would guide you through eroticism, light, sound, sensory deprivation; experiences where you could touch and learn many things, things outside your consciousness. But there was one thing you could not touch and one thing you could not under any circumstances access and that was me.

Many people in the sex work universe would put labels on what I was doing such as sadomasochism, but that term is so misleading. It’s ALWAYS about power. But it’s not always about a power where you get tied up and jerked off. It was a little bit more complex than that.

Imagine: It’s night. It’s PITCH black. I have taken you into a tropical jungle. I have tied you naked to a tree. All night, you hear the animals and the predation and the life all around you. In the morning, you see the sunrise come across the sea, and you didn’t even know there was a sea.

This is slightly more than being tied up and jerked off.

Imagine: The two of us are in scuba gear. The water is warm. The air from the tanks tastes stale. We are in a cage. Great white sharks are pounding the cage. You are hysterical. Yet I am holding you silently while you shake. These are not experiences you can even IMAGINE. You just can’t. They are not what you know. I am only now learning tiny, tiny, so small as to be molecular fragments of the way.

Imagine: We are making love (it is only the image of me; it is not me) in a canoe in the middle of a lake under the northern lights.

The way can heal you or destroy you. It can terrorize you or set you free. It’s all up to you in how you use it.

In my lifetime, I have only known two other people who could do this. Who could access the way. I know there are many more mentioned as mythical figures, but I am not talking about (Mary will not believe this but it happens to be true) mythology as mythology just doesn’t kick my interest when reality itself is so volatile. Only two men and one of them was an Asian puppeteer.

Imagine: I have shackled you to a line of naked men and I am marching the lot of you up to the roof and you have no idea what will happen next because you have no power here.

Imagine: I have blindfolded you and put your hands into the colors. You are sitting on the canvas. Now paint.

Mary will tell you about ideas like what is and is not therapeutic. I only believe in power (I did not say god). I do not believe in ideas and I do not seek any false idea that unifies the other ideas. This is mush. I believe people love to be confused and therefore not responsible for what they access whether it’s compassion or murder.

It’s about the power and the way. I walked twenty miles today. I am exhausted. The dogs are in bed. I will be there soon. With any luck, I will have the kind of dreams where you can see the wind die down.


Art Durkee said...

I appreciate this, because I've had many similar experiences, all my life. Albeit I've never been a sex worker, although I have engaged in sexual healing with self and others.

A great deal of my Photoshop art has been about making these sorts of experiences (which can be framed as visionary or shamanic, if we want to use that language, or not) visible for others to see. I feel the same way about Alex Grey's artwork, and what I read in poets like Rumi, Rilke, and some others. A lot of my poems are records of liminal experiences, in some cases just transcriptions. Lots of people don't believe me when I tell them that.

Mary Strachan Scriver said...

Art, Tim posts his videos and poems on Facebook to escape some of the Google-opoly. I don't know whether you are on Facebook or want to go there, but "Tim Barrus" is his page name and I suspect you will find a lot that is in sympathy with you.

As you note, in one time and place such visionary experiences are considered sacred and in another -- maybe not so far away -- they are signs of madness. Tim is more "maudit" than you.

Prairie Mary

Art Durkee said...

Oh, I know. I make no claims to be poet maudit, or even an outsider. Except of course being a gay artist makes me an outsider at least some of the time, no matter what I think.

I agree, however, that the same experience depending on context can be viewed as either sacred or mad. That's part of the problem with the modern rationalist denial of all things spiritual: the mindset itself creates the attitude which creates the filters through which people perceive and define things.