An example of the value of critique

Posted on Tue, 9 July 2013

I have come under a fair bit of flak for daring to suggest that critique of Japanese bondage photos and videos can be more beneficial than the adulation culture that prevails. It seems that some automatically condemn criticism as negative, choosing to ignore its positive meaning as 'analysis and judgement'. Maybe, for some, these terms are too value-loaded and we need some other term? As they say, "A rose by any other name, doth smell as sweet."

Of course, however valid, it is rarely comfortable to have ones failings pointed out and, I suspect, this discomfort increases proportionally with the size of ones ego. Let's not kid ourselves, there are some massive egos in this scene and some seem to take their self-appointed roles rather too seriously. I'm sorry but just because somebody chooses to play games in which they are exalted by their sub/slave or whatever doesn't mean the rest of us should also bow to their title in real life

Sure, I might be called an attention whore. I suggest he who is without sin cast the first stone though, since why else are we so prolific in our posts and photos? We love the praise and want claim the 15 minutes of fame Andy Warhol promised us all one day. Of course, I enjoy adulation as much as the next person. Yes, I market my business which requires media whoring. Although, I hope throughout I retain some humility. I admire those who do, who can accept criticism and benefit from it. Here's a laudable example.

Earlier, I received a mail from a rigger I highly respect, asking, somewhat mischievously I suspect, what I thought of the wrap positions on a takate-kote in a Fetlife picture. He knew I wouldn't be able to restrain myself. It showed a very nicely shot and pretty photo but the upper wraps were quite high and the bottom ones very low. I was concerned so sent a PM which resulted in the following exchange:

Me: A fellow rigger of some experience pointed me to your photos. Very pretty. However, his concern was your wrap placement in a number of pics. Unless your model is fairly unusual, lower upper and higher lower placement (about 2-3 fingers width between wraps) is better for safety and aesthetics. The main concern is the lower wrap due the typical path of the radial. Plenty of info on My research has caused me to tie wraps closer than I did.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Him: Thanks for your message, your comments are always welcomed and respected here. To be honest, the general advice on wrap placement has been a little confusing over time, my original understanding was that one should avoid the more central area of the arm, now it seems that further up is preferred for the lower wrap, as you say.

Always happy to learn from someone of your experience, and hoping to get down to Bound sometime this year.

Me: See

Result: One rigger who is less likely to cause a nerve injury, who will tie closer to the original aesthetic.

Where would ignoring the error and simply pouring blind praise have got us? Probably a lot of nice comments and 'Love Its', with kudos for those who heaped them, but he would have continued to tie that way and might have started to injure people without a clue why. Newbies might come along and emulate the much praised example and, in turn, set their own less than ideal examples for others to follow. So it goes on.

It's quite possible the reply could have been "Thanks for your concern but actually that's the best way for her". I would have no argument if it was tied with that consideration, although I might suggest it would be worth mentioning in any accompanying caption since it would be a perfect example of we are all different, so tie accordingly. I'm sure the exchange would have ended differently if he'd simply told me where to stick my opinion where the sun don't shine. Don't get me wrong, this isn't some kind of power trip where I expect everyone to humbly listen and accept. A polite explanation of why I'm wrong is fine by me. I might have misinterpreted what I saw or even discover something unexpected. Just because something is 'not how I would do it' doesn't mean it's wrong or, for that matter, how I do it is right. I really can get over being wrong. It's not so very unusual.

If people had been more inclined to provide me with more unsolicited advice over the years my progress might have been faster. In fact, in my years of assembling my nerve damage study, I have been amazed by the lack of proactive input or critique. The latest update will include a lot of information that some seem to regard as old news, yet not one person ever thought to give me a heads-up and say 'Hey, I think you missed X' or 'The big issue is the lower wrap, not as most existing literature says the upper one'. They prefer to nod sagely after you publish any addition or change and say 'Of course! You didn't know that?'.

I hope this sort of constructive exchange becomes more universal at all levels. I don't believe any of us should ever believe we rise above it or that one needs to cook better than expert chef to express an opinion on a meal. I believe it is better to express that opinion as, if the recipient cares and he should if it's valid, it might give rise to change for the better.