On the Schedule: NSFW SXSW FTW!

If you’ll be in the convention center for SXSW Interactive, go see Violet Blue’s Sexual Survival for Geeks panel. This is the REAL “how to rock SXSWi.” It’s no secret that I’m a VB and sexual safety advocate. Violet’s resources have kept me healthy and sane on more than one occasion. Keep an eye out for the above postcard, and get ye to that panel!

Marty and I are beginning to plan our SXSW Interactive week. The more we plan, the better it looks. Some of our fave cronies will be in town, many great projects are coming to a head, and we’re busting out a lot of new pieces we’re particularly enamored of. Especially the one above. Zowie!

In addition to all that, Marty’s whipping up a new batch of art grenades over the next few weeks. And at least one of them is going to be verifiably NSFW. How’s that for excitement? NSFW SXSW GRENADES. Weaponized art, sexified. Yeah.

Though we’re skipping badges this year, Marty and I will both be downtown for meetups, parties, coffee dates, brainstorming and sundry — so if you want to nab either or both of us while you’re in Austin, please drop us email. We want to see you, too!

Not to be forgotten in the shuffle: If you need last-minute promotional materials before your trip to Austin, talk to us now instead of later. Don’t wait until you’re packing, man. You can email me directly by clicking here.

That’s a wrap for now. See you soon, citizens!

Polymorphous Perversity

I’m engaging in an experiment. It’s not a sexual experiment (yet).

Okay, maybe it is sort of also a sexual experiment. (How could it not be? I mean, people have sex. Sex is not entirely disconnected from the rest of one’s life. Many self-experiments end up also being sexual experiments. You might be surprised.)

(Or… maybe you might not?)

There’s this thing called “polymorphous perversity”. When I was in high school, I came across something that referred to polymorphous perversity in relation to the idea that a little kid doesn’t know what’s appropriate or inappropriate — she does whatever she feels like doing. That includes silly things, crude things, sexual things, the works. Because of that original reference, I’ve come to associate polymorphous perversity with all possibly inappropriate things that one might wish to do, especially when one does them despite external pressure to conform to certain societal definitions of normalcy. My association is noooot quiiiiite the textbook definition of the term — but you can read about it here. It’s primarily about sex and child development. But now you can see how, inside my head, it’s about sex and everything else, too.

I’ve been thinking about polymorphous perversity a lot lately, because it’s a concept I associate with the opposite of social pressure to conform — especially for adults who are out of touch with their authentic selves. Since my 30th birthday (and the ghost of my 30th birthday, which apparated 6 months earlier), I’ve been noticing a lot… that I’m tired. Not give-uppy tired. But very much done-with-that tired.

I’m tired of thinking about the pressure. I’m tired of thinking the pressure knows best. I’m certainly tired of giving into the pressure. Because what I’d really like to be doing is dancing in my socks. And walking around my house half-clothed. What I’d really like to be doing is reading and sharing and thinking and exchanging ideas. Making videos. Learning, and passing along. Meeting bright people, making new friends, solving problems, building community projects. Raising the standard.

I don’t want to hawk anything — aesthetic design or conceptual design. I don’t want to tell you that you need what I’m selling. You don’t. All you need is yourself, your brain, your wits, your human heart, your community, your ability to connect, your will to survive, dude, that’s all you need. You sure as hell don’t need me or Ideaschema in order to be great.

I want to add… not subtract. I want to multiply. I want to exponentiate.

It is a fearful proposition to suggest that I’m sick of selling when there are so few financial resources currently available. Ideaschema pays our living and operating expenses in a good month — but neither Marty or I technically get a “paycheck”. We are this business. And we’re still here, still doing what we love, still helping new people every single goddamn day. Sometimes it astonishes me how happy and powerful a person can be with an empty bank account.

Who knew?

That sense of happiness and engagement and empowerment is what I hang onto when I consider diving back into the great sea of urges I have often put off in the name of business. More and more, that sea of urges is where I really belong. I don’t know what that means, or how it leads to financial stability (ha! nice one!), but I’m tired of skirting around the edges of it. I want to slip down into the sweet salt dark. I think, like, Atlantis is down there. Undiscovered ocean life. Billions and trillions of tiny ecologies, economies, experiences, communities, cultures, challenges, great big juicy problems to solve…

And so right now, I’m going to try it. Charlie’s on board. Hell, turning it into an experiment instead of waffling and drifting in that direction was his idea. Self-experimentation — another superpower I’ve been overlooking because I had to balance my bank account or write up a sales page. WTF, y’all?

It’s a lot like NSFW. All the things we don’t say because it isn’t socially acceptable to do so… All that stuff I don’t do because I’m running a business? Fuck that.

Let’s see what my polymorphous perversity has to say about it.

PS. Yeah… there probably is a Profitable Idealism tie-in here. Serendipity is my posse, man.

NSFW

NSFW is a funny concept these days.

You know it as the widely implemented content tag that signals material you may not want to view at work; at its most extreme it denotes outright pornography, but it’s also used to warn you of subjects that might in some other way be “inappropriate”.

So behind that NSFW designation might be gooey, sticky, hardcore photography and close-up HD genitalia midst-of-intercourse. Or it might be dirty stories. Or it might be a completely reasonable and intelligent website promoting compassionate values… that happens to have an artistically rendered nipple in the logo.

It might be a truth-slinging news blog with no qualms about explaining the gritty details or showing the sexually-charged artwork of the controversial event everyone is arguing about. Hell — it might be Wikipedia, displaying a clinical illustration of a sex act. Educate the masses. Combat ignorance. Share information.

And that’s where I get steaming mad at NSFW, because in these terms, it starts to mean… that we’re afraid.

It starts to mean that even though we know there is “NSFW” content that is completely respectable, even though there is a wide range of subjects and images that might be useful for us to consider, that might teach us something obvious or not-so-obvious, that might stretch and exercise our brains, that might positively affect us as thinking human beings — even despite these things, it’s all unacceptable to discussion in a traditional cubificated workplace, and we’d better hide it.

So we kow-tow to the NSFW label and to our faceless managers and corporations and governments… and we wait to check that link at home. If home isn’t a safe place for rational consideration and intelligent exploration, maybe we never check it at all. We know our boss (or spouse, or county judge) wouldn’t understand if it came up on the browser logs later. Even if we’re on break, or other non-work-related content is fair game, and even if we happen to be fully-capable adults with the ability to make these discernments for ourselves. And more, we get uncomfortable if something isn’t tagged properly, if we stumble on it accidentally. We don’t want to get in trouble, after all.

In addition to all of this bullshit, you’ve probably noticed that the word “obscene” has become very political, something no one can really define properly (certainly not from the government’s standpoint). There are all kinds of ways we might get in trouble for thinking about things that aren’t… appropriate. And Christine-O’Donnell-forbid we engage in some kind of safe, harmless, private behavior on our own time — much less discuss it without bias or (heavens!) depict it in a publicly accessible space.

I’m so tired of listening to everyone worry about getting in trouble.

When was the last time you sought out some good old-fashioned trouble? I ask you.

As a result of this huge, ridiculous grey area and the impossibly vague boundaries thereof, NSFW is a label placed disturbingly lightly. Though I don’t work in a cubical and I haven’t had a boss to fear for years, I am still truly offended that most of the NSFW content I’ve seen is considered inappropriate for good people to have at hand. Every instance seems to mean something really dirty about the person in question, even if it has nothing to do with that person’s personality or proclivities — even if the material isn’t, itself, meant to titillate. No wonder we’re all messed up about sex in America. No wonder the abuse of sexual impulses in advertising has such a stranglehold on our pocketbooks. No wonder we grow up feeling repressed and confused and embarrassed about the complex and miraculous machines that are our physical bodies — and no wonder we make so much conflict for ourselves, when the very thoughts in our heads are anathema in polite society.

No wonder politics these days feels more and more like The Battle of the Stupid.

I’m NSFW. You’re NSFW. Our innermost thoughts and feelings are certainly NSFW. More and more, it feels like our ability to reason is NSFW, too. And what else? Creativity, for instance? The asking of questions? Pride in oneself as a unique individual, rather than just an obedient cog in somebody’s massive machine? Outlawing sex is bad enough without outlawing human substance and variety. What the hell does NSFW mean anymore, except as a dated concept to be challenged and dashed against walls?

It is in preparing to dash this tag against those walls — and rediscover this territory that others don’t dare to map (here be sea monsters, indeed) — that I decided I needed a new outlet. Another direction for expansion; a space dedicated to this inquiry.

I am opposed to fear. I am opposed to censorship. I am opposed to the absence of cognitive fire in a dreary, shut-down world. Fear of offense is not a good reason to halt the spread of useful information, stifle education or restrict free thought.

In this new space, we have repurposed NSFW as our torch. We will light the dark alleys of our own minds and see what’s really in there. We will not balk at discussing topics that make others fidget and avert their eyes. We will prod and poke and use our minds the way they were made, unflinchingly — to think. To consider. To understand.

No, dude, I understand. I used to hide my porn, too. But we’re better than that. You’re better than that.

I’m tired of pretending I’m something I’m not. If you feel the same, you can get on the list, too.

This is the plan: I will tell you exactly what’s on my mind, no matter what it is. I will crack the occasional joke. You will probably find out just how pro-exploration, pro-sexuality, and anti-censorship I really am. Some of you will get squicked out and leave. I am okay with that. We can still be friends, yo.

This probably won’t be a no-holds-barred foray into forbidden sexuality. I’m not saying we won’t post the occasional naughty pinup (with Marty in-house, I can’t ever promise that), but there are a lot of issues we don’t currently discuss on the blog because perhaps the timing and the audience aren’t quite right. On this list, I am divesting myself of those concerns. Somebody else can worry about them; me, I’m going to write what needs to be written. The audience will become whatever it becomes. For those of you who do stick around in the end — well, I imagine it will be very nice for us all have found one another!

I have many long-simmered thoughts about change and growth and the world at large that I have not yet shared. Common courtesy and the nature of these particular thoughts demand that I give you reasonable warning:

The inside of my head is NSFW.

I think you’ll find that yours is, too.

Jump on in.