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Xiaan Bodyart Pain
"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

Westley, from The Princess Bride


i hurt myself today to see if i still feel i focus on the pain the only thing that's real the needle tears a hole the old familiar sting try to kill it all away but i remember everything what have i become? my sweetest friend everyone i know goes away in the end you could have it all my empire of dirt i will let you down i will make you hurt i wear my crown of shit on my liar's chair full of broken thoughts i cannot repair beneath the stain of time the feeling disappears you are someone else i am still right here what have i become? my sweetest friend everyone i know goes away in the end you could have it all my empire of dirt i will let you down i will make you hurt if i could start again a million miles away i would keep myself i would find a way

hurt, by nine inch nails

Why Write About Pain?

Maybe it's a comment on the state of society, as in "Boy, are they ignorant!", which may be true, but I hate it when all people can think of to ask me about my piercings or my planned tattoo is "Did it hurt?". Of course it did! What do you think? That putting a needle through one of the most sensitive parts of your anatomy is painless? It's a stupid question, so take a look at some more stupid questions and some witty replies that I've collected.

Pain Is Relative

Anyway, the whole idea of pain is relative, especially when you begin to classify it. First, there's the division between physical pain and emotional pain. There's a very real difference between the two, and being a human being, I will always chose physical pain over emotional pain (more on this later in the text). An interesting way to relate the two is that physical pain can sometimes be used to displace emotional pain. Reducing an emotion to a very basic, easy to identify physical pain can be the easiest way out. Somehow it makes things simpler. If you know anything about the psychology of pain, physical pain is used by a lot of people to deal with emotional pain.

Bodyart As Pain

My first, most basic rationalization for going through the pain of any bodyart modification begins with some pain that lasts anywhere from a minute to several hours. It hurts. And then it's over. The result of that pain, may it be a nipple ring or a lifesize tattoo of a small hippo, is far more enduring. For example, I felt real pain for about 3 minutes when I got each of my nipples pierced (and that's even on the long side). I've had them for almost 5 years, so in total, I've spent 0.000257% of the time since I've had my nipple pierced in pain, and 99.999742 % of the time either not worrying about pain, or taking pleasure in my nipple piercings. You get the idea. I guess the next justification for the pain of body modifications is more personal, and perceived by some as bizarre. It's the same reason that I don't fear getting needles at the doctor. The sensation of a needle in your arm is rather unique. To feel anything that deep inside my arm is rather intriguing. When I got my nipple pierced, I wish I had focused more on the pain of the piercing itself, since I don't really remember exactly what it was like. However, the unique, almost titillating sensation of the first 24 hours afterwards are still rather vivid. I'm rather curious to get my tattoo done, because everyone says that the pain is rather intense.

Pain As Therapy

The second, slightly less rational, more cerebral point of view was suggested to me by an old friend, Bonnie, who said that pain clears the soul of cluttered emotions. I agree wholeheartedly. Again, reducing something to basic physical pain can be very therapeutic. All forms of life can feel pain, albeit to different degrees, and end up expressing it in different ways. As humans, in addition to being able to feel incredible pleasure, we also have an incredible capacity to feel pain, both emotionally and physically. This is just one element of what separates us from the rest of the animals. As an example, the torture of humans can be easily achieved without any physical contact, while with any other animal, this is more difficult (show a dog the severed limb of it's mother, and I promise you, you will get nowhere near the reaction you would from a human. Not that I'm a sicko, but it seemed like a good example at 3 am one morning).

Buddhist Pain

The third element of pain is directly related to suffering. Suffering as an aspect of human existence is thousands of years old. The central ideas of traditional Buddhism revolve around suffering. Self-abnegation is the focus of that suffering, but it includes a rejection of pleasure, one aspect of which I see as embracing pain as a route to salvation (as opposed to pleasure). It's not the end-all of Buddhism, but rather one small aspect. The important distinction to make is that suffering does not equate pain, but rather, pain is an aspect of suffering. According to Buddhist thought, once one has suffered enough, he or she is rewarded with enlightenment. It's an interesting idea, which has lead me to believe that one can get glimpses of insight of a somewhat more idealistic nature, through experiencing pain.

Pain As Singularity

I tend to relate this to feeling cold. Have you ever just felt cold? Not the irritating, I used to be warm and would rather be that way cold, but the goose-bump, feeling every part of your body respond to the shivers down your spine cold. Down to the currents of wind that cause flashes of cold over your skin, concentrating on the physiological feeling of cold goes mostly unnoticed in our society. I think of it as another aspect of reducing existence to its basics. At heart, we are creatures whose primary existence used to revolve around our abilities to kill and fuck. Rather base, but those men of ancient times had much less complexity in their lives. Being able to concentrate on something as basic as pain or cold in today's hectic society is a welcome relief from the constant bombardment of the behemoth we've created, known as technology.

Motives For Pain

The motives for experiencing pain of one's own will are divided into two categories. There's those people that use pain to deal with something else more traumatic, and choose to use physical pain to eclipse emotional pain. I'm not even going to suggest that it's a cure for a deeper problem, but speaking from personal experience, it can definitely help make life more livable. We're unique creatures, and dealing with life's problems has to be more than an instinctual response to present events at hand. Then there's experiencing pain for pain's sake. Once again, reducing things to a basic emotion allows a certain intensity. In today's society, we're forced to focus on so many different things, that feeling anything intensely is rather unusual. I think that explains, at least partially, the resurgence in the use of drugs in the last few years. Human beings have a great capacity to feel, and not feeling anything to an extreme is very frustrating.

Pain vs. Drugs

Drugs offer some people that intensity, to block out the unimportant fringe details, and concentrate on an intense feeling. Be it the intense visual stimulation of psilocybin, or the endorphin rush of methamphetamines, it introduces that intensity. Pain can be viewed in the same way. Given that there are people crazy enough to try crack cocaine for one reason or another, imagining people 'enjoying' pain isn't so hard. I've experienced pain to deal with something else, and yes, pain for pain's sake. And I'm not alone. The existence of a rather healthy S&M industry is proof alone.

So, until I have more profound thoughts on the subject,, I leave you with a request ... go out and be intense! There's too much in this life that we miss because we just don't look in front of ourselves, or simply in the mirror.


Warning: Open Mind Inside

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