Dr. Peter B
Founder and Curator of the Sydney Festival of Really Good Sex. Since 2011 host of Schwelle Sydney. From 2011-2013 artistic director as well as producer of the Festival on the Art of Lust – Xplore Sydney. Peter is also member of the Philosophy Research Initiative at the University of Western Sydney, where he has also lectured and tutored in the School of Humanities and Languages.
Peter publishes and teaches in the fields of continental philosophy and literary theory. He currently teaches philosophy courses at WEA Sydney and in the Sydney and Melbourne Schools of Continental Philosophy. In 2014, he spoke with Anne Dufourmantelle and Romana Byrne on the intersections between sexuality and philosophy on the ABC Radio National Program ‘The Philosophers’ Zone’.
He holds a Ph.D from New York University (September, 2009). His book Holocaust Forgiveness: A Literary Philosophical Discussion is under contract with Fordham University Press. His current research interests include the resonances of German Romanticism, the intersections between philosophy and sexuality, and the politics of reconciliation and forgiveness in relation to cultural trauma. You can read some of Peter’s more recent academic articles here, including notably, Re-reading Sexuality as a Life Practice: A Conversation with Peter Banki and Nikó Antalffy.
Being the Beast
We all have a beast within ourselves, somewhere hidden in our unconscious or imagination. This workshop will help you to find it. We want to create the conditions for the beast to come out. Maybe it wont come. But we will implore it to come.
The beast is not exactly the equivalent of the animal; it is a kind of human animal, a monstrosity who sometimes speaks, and who is figured in various ways in mythology and fables. Sometimes the beast is just another name for sexual desire and sexual freedom. But as such, the beast is an altered state and an altered space.
This workshop will explore a deeper and more hidden aspect of sexual experience, one that is both extremely physical and linked to the imagination. It will be a step into the unknown.
Why is sexual desire figured as a beast?
Research suggests that infidelity happens in many, if not most relationships, be they straight, queer, mono or even open. Why is infidelity so common? Why is it that someone would, as the dictionary puts it “engage in sexual relations with a person other than one’s regular partner in contravention of a previous promise or understanding”? And why is it that it causes so much hurt and anguish?
As a possibility, infidelity is an uninvited guest in every relationship. No-one is absolutely protected from it. Rather than seeing it simply as a problem to fix or to “move on from”, this workshop will explore what is at stake in infidelity and the different shapes and forms it may take. With collective exercises whose purpose is to make place for a deeper conversation, this workshop aims to give you the intellectual room to make more responsible decisions: whether or not to break a promise with a partner, and if this has already happened or been exposed, what to do, whether one is in the position of the betrayer or the betrayed.
This workshop has been inspired by the recent work of Esther Perel. She recalls that while today in the digital age it has never been easier to be cheat, it has also never been harder to conceal it. It is not always useful to simplify the ambiguities of love and desire. It can be helpful to accept that its dilemmas do not yield simple answers like black and white, good and bad, victim and perpetrator. In this workshop, Peter Banki will be assisted by Jacqueline Hellyer, who will draw on her clinical experience as a sex therapist working with couples to examine the issue of infidelity.
Erotic Pain and Pleasure
“For me erotic whipping is an act and expression of love.” So says the Butoh artist Delta R’ai. Without wanting to suggest that Delta simply expresses the whole truth of it, he gives to reflect on an important thought. When practiced skillfully, SM can stimulate positive connections between people, give physical and psychological pleasure as well as feelings of well-being and happiness. This is paradoxical. Sometimes it doesn’t look like this is what is happening. Sometimes one realises it only afterwards.
There are more or less artful ways to process pain as well as to give it. For it to be erotically exciting, pain must very often be mixed with pleasure. A person’s mind also must be engaged. In administrating pain, there are questions of tempo, rhythm, space, techniques of restraint and denial to make your partner want more. There is unpredictability and surprise. The ‘bottom’, the one receiving, must learn to use the breath. (Indeed, so must the ‘top’).
The aim of most SM play is to reach a limit to challenge oneself and the other, but not to go so far as to cause permanent physical damage or undue resentment, anger, or excessive guilt or shame. The more subtle ‘esoteric’ aspects of SM play have to do with the ‘moving of energy’ (Janet Hardy) and the coming into altered states, where one is no longer in the realm of pleasure or pain, but in another space entirely.
In this 90 minutes playshop, we will experiment with softer to more intense forms of stimulation (your limits respected). We will give some consideration to the neurology of sadism and masochism, and also refer to celebrated readings such as Sigmund Freud’s famous paper “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” and Gilles Deleuze’s reading of Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs.
The more you know about your own body and that of your partners, the less you must obey simple ‘textbook’ rules and the more risks you can take. Scandalous as it may sound to some, SM is really a form of artistic improvisation. Even if you regularly practice SM as a ‘top’ or ‘bottom’ or both, there will be something for you to learn. If you are interested in putting your toe into this field, or adding it to the repetoire of your sexual skills, this playshop will provide a gentle and reflective environment to watch, try and ask questions.