There's a blog called A Faded Romantic at Wordpress that I find myself reading on autumn nights. The author there introduces himself this way:
About and Explanation
A faded romantic Dominant from a time before Dominant became a cliché, with a love of all things beautiful and a taste for the darkly sensual and decadent.
A lover of music, food and wine, literature, theatre, film and art.
A writer. Though not a good one. Of novels, short stories, songs and poetry. The written word is my joy and my curse.
I am tall, silver-haired, slender, athletic, with piercing dark green/blue eyes and long, sensitive hands. I am neither handsome nor unattractive. I am a realistic dreamer, an idealistic pragmatist. I am a sexually dominant but patient and sensual lover.
I adore intelligent, elegant, independent-minded, beautiful, sexually submissive women.
I am not young. I am faded and fading.
But if the music is playing, and the wine is good, and the stars are shining bright in a soft velvet night sky, and the light falls on me just right, then you might see the man who could break hearts.
Well, if you have a very good imagination anyway …
There's rather a lot there that I can identify with, though I'm not silver-haired and was never athletic. I've never thought of myself as a Dominant, of course. I'm never sure what to make of that word. Of course I like having my own way; I'd never deny that. My companions are inevitably younger, and I did spend years in front of classes, with whatever authority that brings with it. I've sometimes been the one holding the riding whip, but I've never been a Dominant in any BDSM sense. The metaphors I apply to sex are less about dominance and submission and much more about ritual, formality, and crafting stories. Asking a young companion to be a character in your stories is about control--- when is a story arc not about control? ---but it's not about submission to you. It's about losing oneself in the story, which is something separate from the two of you.
I'll have to come back one day to the idea of what control and submission are about. All I can say tonight is that I've never seen myself as a Dominant. Roué, certainly. Flaneur, of course. Auteur if I'm lucky, though there's a pretentiousness in that word that puts me off.
Whoever is writing at A Faded Romantic calls himself "a romantic Dominant, from a time before Dominant became a cliche". I'd like to know more about that, about how he's seen the word change to a cliche. I'd also like to know how he became a Dominant.
One of the standard arcs in BDSM tales is how the girl learns to be a submissive, how she comes to accept herself as a submissive and learns the arts of yielding up control. Name a classic s/m tale, from "Story of O." to "Fifty Shades" and you'll almost inevitably focus on the heroine's learning curve, on her initiation. There's almost never a story of how the male lead grows into being a dominant, let alone a romantic one. There's no Bildungsroman about becoming a male dominant that I've ever seen. (Is that true of the world of gay male literature as well? Does anyone know?) And it's a story that has so many questions about learning techniques, about recognizing and accepting oneself. Would a story about a young man becoming a dominant need an older heroine to be his guide, to offer herself up as a learning experience? Is there a romance out there about a romance where two new lovers of seventeen or eighteen teach one another BDSM--- with or without the internet?
I do wonder what it is for the author at the A Faded Romantic to look back on his life to something like twenty and ask how he became what he is now. I'm using him as a particular example, but there's a wider issue here, something beyond s/m. How do we learn to desire what we desire? How do we learn what we are as lovers? And when we do learn, when we've finally ridden out the learning curve, is it too late to use the things we've learned?
If you're out there reading this, darlings, write and tell me about learning curves. If you are a lovely young submissive, tell me how you learned that about yourself. Tell me about whether you think desires are innate or something acquired. Tell me what you think about when you look over what you've learned about being a lover, what you've learned about desire.