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CALL OF THE DAY: Extreme Top and the Uncanny Valley of intimacy

Uncanny Valley, self-made, based on image by Masahiro Mori and Karl MacDorman at http://www.androidscience.com/theuncannyvalley/proceedings2005/uncannyvalley.html

Uncanny Valley, self-made, based on image by Masahiro Mori and Karl MacDorman at http://www.androidscience.com/theuncannyvalley/proceedings2005/uncannyvalley.html

Yesterday, in the middle of what would turn out to be a 90-minute session with Extreme Top, in a pause after a mutual verbal reenactment of one of his more common sadistic fantasies, I blurted out, Daddy, my pussy hurts, it's so raw.

It seemed like the right thing to say; I mean, he does like to imagine that he's really pushing me to the limit. And he said, "it's okay, baby, we can take a quick water break, take your time." I gulped down some water, which I actually needed—whimpering like a 12-year-old in pain will always be way outside of my normal vocal range—and a thought flashed up in my mind: I don't like it when Extreme Top is kind.

I've had this thought before. But yesterday, I discovered a useful analogy for the feelings of discomfort that I have when Extreme Top breaks through the normal run of BDSM bullshit, when he tells me to take a break or praises me outside of the scene, or even knowing that I am his favorite PSO for the specific way that I can accommodate his telephonic attentions.

Extreme Top resides in my Uncanny Valley.

Uncanny Valley is a hypothesis that gets batted around in 3-D animation and robotics, which holds that people get squicked out by a certain range in the spectrum of "not humanoid at all" to actually human, with that range being very, very close to the right hand side of that spectrum. That is, the closer a humanoid figure comes to looking "real" but still falls short, the more revulsion or unease the human observer experiences. So for example, Wall-E is cute and easy for viewers to identify with, since he has just enough traits that feel human-like, in spite of being basically a garbage compactor on tractor treads. The characters in the movie The Polar Express, on the other hand, make some viewers feel repelled, like they are watching soulless mannequins going through the motions of holiday cheer. See also Real Dolls, and the feeling many have, that they are simultaneously too real and not real enough. (Wikipedia has a great entry on the Uncanny Valley here.)

I have been aware for some time, especially since I started exploring age play and daddy dynamics with a couple of my lovers, that I am most distressed by Extreme Top's calls when they are dramatically juxtaposed with scenes or situations in those real-life relationships. Other times when his domestic needs intruded have been similarly unsettling, e.g. the one time where he had to excuse himself for a moment to check the sausages on the grill. WHAT, NO STOP, LA LA LA LA LAAAA, I DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING AFTER YOU GET OFF.

This has never been an issue with other callers, whose fantasies have next-to-no overlap with my experience, the cross-dressers and the panty-sniffers and, yes, even Baby Snuff Dude. I can be human and joking with them, in a detached sort of way, because the rest of our interactions are like NOTHING that I do in real life. From a psycho-sexual or romantic point of view, they are cartoon characters that I can empathize with, but there is always some distance.

Not so with Extreme Top. Over the nearly seven years that I have been taking calls with him, I have seen enough evidence of his real life that he's not a cartoon anymore. His play edges up on mine. He says things, phrases or pet names, that are EXACTLY, word for word, things that have been said directly to my face, whispered into my ear by someone I love.

The main things that pull me up short, time and again, are a) he thinks I am as into our calls as he is, and b) he is an asshole and doesn't really care. The few times when I started crying, because I am feeling delicate about a situation with a real lover and have had to take a call with Extreme Top, he thought nothing of my crying, didn't think to inquire, he thought it was how turned on and wrung out I must have been, just from talking with him. He's a fucking delusional narcissist.

That's what keeps him in my Uncanny Valley. That's why I keep reminding myself about his asshole-ishness: it helps to push him back a little toward the "cartoon monster" category on the spectrum. Temporarily, at least, it reduces my sense of unworldliness about those encounters. Because he cares, but not the way my lover does; he mimics caring as part of the scene. He is aware of my tears, but will never understand what they mean. He admires my sexuality, but he doesn't know even a fraction of it.

In the interest of containing him further to the left of the Uncanny Valley Spectrum, I have to be careful about how vulnerable I let myself be there. Maybe not say anymore that "it hurts". Even the appearance of concern on his part is just too fucking weird.

He is simultaneously real, and not real enough.

<shiver> Creepy.

*****

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