Essay from a book
I don’t believe anyone has yet written anything really worthwhile about what’s called scratching, as in back-scratching, that special kind of caress that doesn’t produce the desire for intercourse. It is in fact absolutely asexual, and among those who go in for it doesn’t require even the feeling of any special closeness. For all that, it’s most common in the immediate family circle. Of course, it’s desirable that there should also be those who like to do the scratching as well, so they should be completely engrossed in the task in those moments they’re doing it to and for members of the household and not thinking of the next instalment of some enjoyment of their own. Most commonly, the act of scratching is performed by mothers for their children or husband, at the same time or by turns. Though, when a man scratches his wife it’s likely to have a more dodgy character, because it will often, even at the very outset, devolve into lust, which is most inappropriate and undesirable from the scratching angle, since it’s a discipline that doesn’t brook any deviation from the set movements. It’s a self-satisfied immersion in a world that isn’t easy to leave and that won’t easily be subordinated to any other desire. Scratching requires total reciprocal dedication, while in the one who’s being scratched it produces something tantamount to a metamorphosis of body and soul and of the skin that unerringly knows and remembers responses to all stimuli, but which will suddenly, putting them aside through its own immanent and superior ability to recognise or not, make the sensuous importance of this insidious fondling the essence of an experience that is practically outside humanity.
While I was still a child I was a great fan of this kind of strong and persistent petting. I would engage everyone in my surrounds at it, from my grandmother to my girl cousin, or all those who were young enough or old enough to stay at home with me during the day. I don’t know, in truth, how it actually started, whether I spontaneously required this kind of touch, or whether it came about in some other way, but it was certainly for me from the outset a very particular sensual sensation. However it might have been, I still today look forward with such sharp desire to any impending clawing, indeed I compel it, recognising my victims with a very cultivated eye. I’m capable of spending hours in the same position, curled up, concentrating only on the touch that is actually nails scratching away, with a ferocity that will produce a flush, making somewhat scarlet blotches on the skin cut across with chaotic stripes.
Of course, such a thing can’t be entirely comprehended by those who don’t like scratching, people who probably find it a totally unfathomable phenomenon: fondling which is and isn’t, a touch that produces a pleasure so one-sided and selfish, which has a recipient and donor who is both a voluntary victim and an exaltee. How much of a part it really does play in interpersonal relations is practically impossible to say, because as a rather intimate act, for many people it is in a certain way, at least ostensibly, practically a family-only occasion. For me, though, this touch, however familiar the effect it has, or perhaps because of that, is a stimulus that is a kind of logic and absurdity, and has as such no precise place in which it can be fittingly located, except, perhaps, in some non-existent salon de scratch, which like those establishments offering ambience-cum-therapy, would provide their easily-teachable virtuoso friction to those who really need it in full measure. For I think that this special species of contact, which doesn’t expect or seek any kind of counter-service from the touchee, or any other form of response, not even the satisfied moans indicative of a certain kind of gratitude, as well as being pleasant, is also particularly conducive to good health.
I even console myself, fantasising that one day, in my later years, it will be completely enough for the experience (of the physical sensation) of happiness that will, because of my old age, have ever-greater restrictions, insurmountable physical obstacles, and yet not sensuous barriers, at least in that manner. Perhaps by that time some kind of scratching automata might be invented, which would certainly be some kind of replacement in the want of volunteers. It would certainly be better if the salons de scratch were opened before then, because after all the human hand is quite irreplaceable in things like this.
They could well be a kind of complement to massage parlours, like: scratching during a massage, or vice-versa, scratching with long or with short nails, without nails at all, incisively or superficially, circularly or rectilinearly, on the back, head or feet, or wherever you want. This would give it, as publicly accepted profession, with its therapeutic importance admitted, like the healing power that is granted to laughter (self-healing, in fact, but I believe none the less therapeutic), the representation it deserves. It is true that it would lose the mystery of being a covert and hence somewhat questionable rarity because it would become in a way a part of a completely secular contact of desirable and suitable relaxation, but then in its sophisticated development it would be humanly promoted into the certainly not only virtual touch of psychosomatic recuperation.
Perhaps medicine will one day show how truly healthy it is, though as a superficial testimony, which through the eye of the invisible manifestation that records significant changes inside the body and psyche, does not have to be understood and taken on board any more seriously or widely than the already stated, still insufficiently accepted even if verified, therapeutic power of frequent and throaty laughter.