Philosophy in the Dungeon – Jack Rinella

Philosophy in the Dungeon: The Magic of Sex and Spirit
Jack Rinella
Rinella Editorial Services, 2006
234 pages

The combination of BDSM and spirituality is nothing new; people in the kink community have acknowledged the altered states of consciousness that are part of the territory for years, and pagans and magicians of all types have worked their kink into their beliefs and practices numerous times. This book, however, fills a particular niche in the small but growing library of BDSM spirituality/magic. Rather than going into the How and What, Rinella gives us insight into the Why.

The author has a varied religious background, ranging from training to become a Catholic priest to joining a Pentecostal congregation to being neopagan. All of these spiritual influences have been worked into his approach to BDSM, and this is where he gets into the contemplation of that relationship. As the title suggests, it is quite a philosophical look at the practice of BDSM, the thought processes and the reasons for why we like what we do.

The first few chapters set the stage for the rest of the book. Rinella discusses everything from viewing the world holistically to the differences between ancient cultures and ours today. The rest of the book builds on these ideas, and we are led to think about the idea of initiation, challenging expectations, and the nature of faith. The last two chapters address both practical spirituality and magic in conjunction with BDSM, though these are brief introductions that give an example of incorproating the previous material rather than in-depth studies.

What I really liked about this book is that it sparked a lot of thought processes in my mind about the Why of kink. Being able to understand our desires is incredibly important when it comes to both accepting and growing in our sexuality. Rinella presents us with a spiritual and philosophical explanation of kink, and addresses many of the supposed conflicts between sex and spirit.

It may be just me, but I found his writing style a little hard to follow. It’s not bad writing, mind you, but not every reader perfectly meshes with every writing style. I found myself skimming quite a bit, not as engaged as I’d liek to have been. But I was still able to ingest what he was saying. Additionally, the layout could have used a little tweaking; the right margin was ragged instead of justified, and the indentations looked like they were the standard Word 4-5 space indents, rather than the three-space indents which turn out a lot better in book format. Both contributed to a bit less professional appearance.

Still, overall I’d definitely recommend this book to any kinky person out there who’s looking for a different angle to the topic. This one is definitely staying in our collection!

Four pawprints out of five.

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