This post condemns emotional, physical, verbal, etc. violence upon non-consenting creatures, things and persons. Transgression without permission is law-breaking criminality and should not be confused with the art of sadism.
Most people, even those who claim to be learned, parrot predictable narratives about the function and meaning of a thing called ‘sadism.’ Sadism lurks in the realm of the sexual, the perverted, the immoral and the violent. Sadism is, a typical parroted narrative claims, a disorder in which sexual gratification is achieved through the infliction of pain.
Most texts on sadism will trudge through the accepted historical emergence from the chronicles of Sade to the delousing of Deleuze. As this has all been done to the point of boredom and it will not be repeated here. The accepted history of sadism is a cliché, i.e. a concept drained of any genuine meaning. Moreover, it is a lazy history. Does anyone truly believe that up until the novel Justine no one explored the dimensions of being alive?
Turning anything into an ‘–ism’ is a way of killing our ability to see the thing itself. Once an ‘-ism’ is consigned to a thing it becomes forced to bear the burden of moral consensus and is, therefore, subject to policing. A person who participates in an ‘-ism’ is usually labelled and ‘-ist’.
Imagine something that is not an ‘-ism’, e.g. a deep love and commitment to dogs. Of all the mammals, four-footed things and living creatures, our Dogist practices Dogism in her choices because it gives her pleasure. (This notion, of desiring a thing because it has a consequence, a result, or an end goal, of personal pleasure, is another unfounded and oft repeated fiction in the realm of sadism.)
She is naturally wired (another parroted narrative) to prefer the experience of dogs. Dogs are part of her cognitive pleasure structure. She prefers to pat dogs, to walk them, to groom them, to throw a stick and see the dog leap with joy and energy. She once patted a budgie but it did nothing for her.
Some texts speculate that when she was a young girl she had a negative experience that shaped her towards being a dogist. Some significant adult figure was either overbearing or absent, cruel or neglectful, and in those early experiences her dogism seed was planted.
We study her and try to ‘explain’ why she is different. We begin to call her difference a perversion, and she, therefore, a pervert. She has a condition, a disorder.
We need to medicalise her condition. Psychoanalysis, hypnosis, behaviour therapy, cognitive therapy, drug therapy, exorcism, and a transition to synthetic dogs. Dogism, however, presents treatment challenges, because it is often concealed, and is often associated with guilt and shame. (Another cart-before-the-horse parroted narrative; shame is result of dominant cultural values, not individual biological processes.)
The Kennel Club argues that behind closed doors consenting, mature adults should be allowed to keep and care for dogs. We once had a robust licencing system and dog-friendly public spaces but they have fallen away. As the medicalisation of dogism as a disorder grew, we began to forget the art of ourselves as being alive and capable of diverse and beautiful experiences.
We have confused dogism and few of us bother to remember when things were different to today. We have polluted dogism with the crimes of people who are cruel and violent to dogs. Those people are not dogists, that much is obvious. The spaces that accepted dogists have become both shameful in mainstream life and commercialised as a role-driven industry.
Our dogist, our heroine, tries to fight on all these fronts, to remain true to the practice of living as she knows it. She is not a dogist at all; she is a person with a timeless love and infinite care for dogs because they are dogs.