I ran across the opening quote from Pablo Picasso in a fascinating essay called the Turpentine Effect. It’s interesting to me because it seems relevant to anyone working to master a craft. As far as I’m concerned, that includes crafts that are part of exploring the joy of kink.
“When art critics get together they talk about Form and Structure and Meaning. When artists get together they talk about where you can buy cheap turpentine.”
~ Pablo Picasso
mastering a craft? beware the turpentine effect
When you practice a craft you become skilled and knowledgeable in two areas: the stuff the craft produces, and the processes used to create it. And the second kind of expertise accumulates much faster. I call this the turpentine effect. Under normal circumstances, the turpentine effect only has minor consequences. At best, you become a more thoughtful practitioner of your craft, and at worst, you procrastinate a little, shopping for turpentine rather than painting.
The Turpentine Effect is an interesting theory. I’ve seen it at work in the BDSM community in a number of different ways. Some folks, having accumulated the tools, actually believe they’ve also mastered the craft. For others, the tools themselves become the obsession. That’s a path I’ve been down in other pastimes, but have thankfully avoided in my own practice of BDSM.
And I do consider BDSM, like medicine and the law, to be practices and not absolute science. While I learn a little from every BDSM scene in which I’ve taken part, my knowledge will never be absolute, nor completely comprehensive. There’s always another technique to understand and master. Another new way to get inside my submissive wife’s head and spin it around for our mutual enjoyment.
Which brings me to the other piece that caught my attention. This one is called The Generalized Hawthorne Effect which is postulated as –
The effectiveness of a tool depends almost entirely on the amount of mindful attention being devoted in its use, not the specific form the attention takes.
This would seem to be a useful piece of information for most dominants. There’s a lesson there if you are willing to find it. Use it as you see fit . . .