From the films of Larry Clark to the feminist comedy of Amy Schumer to the fall of Louis C. K., comedic, graphic, and violent moments of abjection have permeated twentieth- and twenty-first-century social and political discourse. The contributors to Abjection Incorporated move beyond simple critiques of abjection as a punitive form of social death, illustrating how it has become a contested mode of political and cultural capital—empowering for some but oppressive for others. Escaping abjection's usual confines of psychoanalysis and aesthetic modernism, core to theories of abjection by thinkers such as Kristeva and Bataille, the contributors examine a range of media, including literature, photography, film, television, talking dolls, comics, and manga. Whether analyzing how comedic abjection can help mobilize feminist politics or how expressions of abjection inflect class, race, and gender hierarchies, the contributors demonstrate the importance of competing uses of abjection to contemporary society and politics. They emphasize abjection's role in circumscribing the boundaries of the human and how the threats abjection poses to the self and other, far from simply negative, open up possibilities for radically new politics.
Contributors. Meredith Bak, Eugenie Brinkema, James Leo Cahill, Michelle Cho, Maggie Hennefeld, Rob King, Thomas Lamarre, Sylvère Lotringer, Rijuta Mehta, Mark Mulroney, Nicholas Sammond, Yiman Wang, Rebecca Wanzo
Plato’s Philebus presents a fascinating dialogue between the life of the mind and the life of pleasure. While Socrates decisively prioritizes the life of reason, he also shows that certain pleasures contribute to making the good life good. The Emerging Good in Plato’s "Philebus" argues that the Socratic pleasures of learning emphasize, above all, the importance of being open to change.
John V. Garner convincingly refines previous interpretations and uncovers a profound thesis in the Philebus: genuine learners find value not only in stable being but also in the process of becoming. Further, since genuine learning arises in pluralistic communities where people form and inform one another, those who are truly open to learning are precisely those who actively shape the betterment of humanity.
The Emerging Good in Plato’s "Philebus" thus connects the Philebus’s grand philosophical ideas about the order of values, on the one hand, to its intimate and personal account of the experience of learning, on the other. It shows that this dialogue, while agreeing broadly with themes in more widely studied works by Plato such as the Republic, Gorgias, and Phaedo, also develops a unique way of salvaging the whole of human life, including our ever-changing nature.
The freedom of the individual to aim high is a deeply rooted part of the American ethos but we rarely acknowledge its flip side: failure. If people are responsible for their individual successes, is the same true of their failures? The Failed Individual brings together a variety of disciplinary approaches to explore how people fail in the United States and the West at large, whether economically, politically, socially, culturally, or physically. How do we understand individual failure, especially in the context of the zero-sum game of international capitalism? And what new spaces of resistance, or even pleasure, might failure open up for people and society?
How creativity makes its way through feeling—and what we can know and feel through the artistic work of Black women
Feeling is not feelin. As the poet, artist, and scholar Bettina Judd argues, feelin, in African American Vernacular English, is how Black women artists approach and produce knowledge as sensation: internal and complex, entangled with pleasure, pain, anger, and joy, and manifesting artistic production itself as the meaning of the work. Through interviews, close readings, and archival research, Judd draws on the fields of affect studies and Black studies to analyze the creative processes and contributions of Black women—from poet Lucille Clifton and musician Avery*Sunshine to visual artists Betye Saar, Joyce J. Scott, and Deana Lawson.
Feelin: Creative Practice, Pleasure, and Black Feminist Thought makes a bold and vital intervention in critical theory’s trend toward disembodying feeling as knowledge. Instead, Judd revitalizes current debates in Black studies about the concept of the human and about Black life by considering how discourses on emotion as they are explored by Black women artists offer alternatives to the concept of the human. Judd expands the notions of Black women’s pleasure politics in Black feminist studies that include the erotic, the sexual, the painful, the joyful, the shameful, and the sensations and emotions that yet have no name. In its richly multidisciplinary approach, Feelin calls for the development of research methods that acknowledge creative and emotionally rigorous work as productive by incorporating visual art, narrative, and poetry.
"One of the most readable books on early cinema I have ever encountered. . . . Rabinovitz ably brings together a wealth of information about the exciting era of social change that marked the beginning of U.S. cinema."
--Gaylyn Studlar, atuhor of This Mad Masquerade: Stardom and Masculinity in the Jazz Age
The period from the 1880s until the 1920s saw the making of a consumer society, the inception of the technological, economic, and social landscape in which we currently live. Cinema played a key role in the changing urban landscape. For working-class women, it became a refuge from the factory. For middle-class women, it presented a new language of sexual danger and pleasure. Women found greater freedom in big cities, entering the workforce in record numbers and moving about unchaperoned in public spaces. Turn-of-the-century Chicago surpassed even New York as a proving ground for pleasure and education, attracting women workers at three times the national rate. Using Chicago as a model, Lauren Rabinovitz analyzes the rich interplay among demographic, visual, historical, and theoretical materials of the period. She skillfully links cinema theory and women's studies for a fuller understanding of cultural history. She also demonstrates how cinema dramatically affected social conventions, ultimately shaping modern codes of masculinity and feminity.
The Kamasutra is best known in the West for its scandalous celebration of unbridled sensuality. Yet, there is much, much more to it; embedded in the text is a vision of the city founded on art and aesthetic pleasure. In Foucault and the "Kamasutra", Sanjay K. Gautam lays out the nature and origin of this iconic Indian text and engages in the first serious reading of its relationship with Foucault.
Gautam shows how closely intertwined the history of erotics in Indian culture is with the history of theater-aesthetics grounded in the discourse of love, and Foucault provides the framework for opening up an intellectual horizon of Indian thought. To do this, Gautam looks to the history of three inglorious characters in classical India: the courtesan and her two closest male companions—her patron, the dandy consort; and her teacher and advisor, the dandy guru. Foucault’s distinction between erotic arts and the science of sexuality drives Gautam’s exploration of the courtesan as a symbol of both sexual-erotic and aesthetic pleasure. In the end, by entwining together Foucault’s works on the history of sexuality in the West and the classical Indian texts on eros, Gautam transforms our understanding of both, even as he opens up new ways of investigating erotics, aesthetics, gender relations, and subjectivity.
Consulting an extensive archive of early modern literature, Joy of the Worm asserts that voluntary death in literature is not always a matter of tragedy.
In this study, Drew Daniel identifies a surprisingly common aesthetic attitude that he calls “joy of the worm,” after Cleopatra’s embrace of the deadly asp in Shakespeare’s play—a pattern where voluntary death is imagined as an occasion for humor, mirth, ecstatic pleasure, even joy and celebration.
Daniel draws both a historical and a conceptual distinction between “self-killing” and “suicide.” Standard intellectual histories of suicide in the early modern period have understandably emphasized attitudes of abhorrence, scorn, and severity toward voluntary death. Daniel reads an archive of literary scenes and passages, dating from 1534 to 1713, that complicate this picture. In their own distinct responses to the surrounding attitude of censure, writers including Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, and Addison imagine death not as sin or sickness, but instead as a heroic gift, sexual release, elemental return, amorous fusion, or political self-rescue. “Joy of the worm” emerges here as an aesthetic mode that shades into schadenfreude, sadistic cruelty, and deliberate “trolling,” but can also underwrite powerful feelings of belonging, devotion, and love.
Kant scholars since the early nineteenth century have disaxadgreed about how to interpret his theory of moral motivation. Kant tells us that the feeling of respect is the incentive to moral action, but he is notoriously ambiguous on the question of what exactly this means. In Kant and the Role of Pleasure in Moral Action, Iain Morrisson offers a new view on Kant’s theory of moral action.
In a clear, straightforward style, Morrisson responds to the ongoing interpretive stalemate by taking an original approach to the problem. Whereas previous commentators have attempted to understand Kant’s feeling of respect by studying the relevant textual evidence in isolation, Morrisson illuminates this evidence by determining what Kant’s more general theory of action commits him to regarding moral action. After looking at how Kant’s treatment of desire and feeling can be reconciled with his famous account of free maxim-based action, Morrisson argues that respect moves us to moral action in a way that is structurally parallel to the way in which nonmoral pleasure motivates nonmoral action.
In reconstructing a unified theory of action in Kant, Morrisson integrates a number of distinct elements in his practical philosophy. Kant and the Role of Pleasure in Moral Action is part of a new wave of interest in Kant’s anthropological (that is, psychological) works.
In Nightwork, Anne Allison opens a window onto Japanese corporate culture and gender identities. Allison performed the ritualized tasks of a hostess in one of Tokyo's many "hostess clubs": pouring drinks, lighting cigarettes, and making flattering or titillating conversation with the businessmen who came there on company expense accounts. Her book critically examines how such establishments create bonds among white-collar men and forge a masculine identity that suits the needs of their corporations.
Allison describes in detail a typical company outing to such a club—what the men do, how they interact with the hostesses, the role the hostess is expected to play, and the extent to which all of this involves "play" rather than "work." Unlike previous books on Japanese nightlife, Allison's ethnography of one specific hostess club (here referred to as Bijo) views the general phenomenon from the eyes of a woman, hostess, and feminist anthropologist.
Observing that clubs like Bijo further a kind of masculinity dependent on the gestures and labors of women, Allison seeks to uncover connections between such behavior and other social, economic, sexual, and gendered relations. She argues that Japanese corporate nightlife enables and institutionalizes a particular form of ritualized male dominance: in paying for this entertainment, Japanese corporations not only give their male workers a self-image as phallic man, but also develop relationships to work that are unconditional and unbreakable. This is a book that will appeal to anyone interested in gender roles or in contemporary Japanese society.
How should we weigh the costs and benefits of scientific research on humans? Is it right that a small group of people should suffer in order that a larger number can live better, healthier lives? Or is an individual truly sovereign, unable to be plotted as part of such a calculation?
These are questions that have bedeviled scientists, doctors, and ethicists for decades, and in Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good, Cathy Gere presents the gripping story of how we have addressed them over time. Today, we are horrified at the idea that a medical experiment could be performed on someone without consent. But, as Gere shows, that represents a relatively recent shift: for more than two centuries, from the birth of utilitarianism in the eighteenth century, the doctrine of the greater good held sway. If a researcher believed his work would benefit humanity, then inflicting pain, or even death, on unwitting or captive subjects was considered ethically acceptable. It was only in the wake of World War II, and the revelations of Nazi medical atrocities, that public and medical opinion began to change, culminating in the National Research Act of 1974, which mandated informed consent. Showing that utilitarianism is based in the idea that humans are motivated only by pain and pleasure, Gere cautions that that greater good thinking is on the upswing again today and that the lesson of history is in imminent danger of being lost.
Rooted in the experiences of real people, and with major consequences for how we think about ourselves and our rights, Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good is a dazzling, ambitious history.
Plague and Pleasure is a lively popular history that introduces a new hypothesis about the impetus behind the cultural change in Renaissance Italy. The Renaissance coincided with a period of chronic, constantly recurring plague, unremitting warfare and pervasive insecurity. Consequently, people felt a need for mental escape to alternative, idealized realities, distant in time or space from the unendurable present but made vivid to the imagination through literature, art, and spectacle.
On a summer night in 2007, the Azure Party, part of Sydney’s annual gay and lesbian Mardi Gras, is underway. Alongside the party outfits, drugs, lights, and DJs is a volunteer care team trained to deal with the drug-related emergencies that occasionally occur. But when police appear at the gates with drug-detecting dogs, mild panic ensues. Some patrons down all their drugs, heightening their risk of overdose. Others try their luck at the gates. After twenty-six attendees are arrested with small quantities of illicit substances, the party is shut down and the remaining partygoers disperse into the city streets. For Kane Race, the Azure Party drug search is emblematic of a broader technology of power that converges on embodiment, consumption, and pleasure in the name of health. In Pleasure Consuming Medicine, he illuminates the symbolic role that the illicit drug user fulfills for the neoliberal state. As he demonstrates, the state’s performance of moral sovereignty around substances designated “illicit” bears little relation to the actual dangers of drug consumption; in fact, it exacerbates those dangers.
Race does not suggest that drug use is risk-free, good, or bad, but rather that the regulation of drugs has become a site where ideological lessons about the propriety of consumption are propounded. He argues that official discourses about drug use conjure a space where the neoliberal state can be seen to be policing the “excesses” of the amoral market. He explores this normative investment in drug regimes and some “counterpublic health” measures that have emerged in response. These measures, which Race finds in certain pragmatic gay men’s health and HIV prevention practices, are not cloaked in moralistic language, and they do not cast health as antithetical to pleasure.
Critics often chastised the twentieth-century black press for focusing on sex and scandal rather than African American achievements. In Pleasure in the News, Kim Gallon takes an opposing stance—arguing that African American newspapers fostered black sexual expression, agency, and identity.
Gallon discusses how journalists and editors created black sexual publics that offered everyday African Americans opportunities to discuss sexual topics that exposed class and gender tensions. While black churches and black schools often encouraged sexual restraint, the black press printed stories that complicated notions about respectability. Sensational coverage also expanded African American women’s sexual consciousness and demonstrated the tenuous position of female impersonators, black gay men, and black lesbians in early twentieth African American urban communities.
Informative and empowering, Pleasure in the News redefines the significance of the black press in African American history and advancement while shedding light on the important cultural and social role that sexuality played in the power of the black press.
The Pleasure of Miss Pym
By Charles Burkhart University of Texas Press, 1987 Library of Congress PR6066.Y58Z597 1987 | Dewey Decimal 823.914
When British writers Philip Larkin and Lord David Cecil named Barbara Pym one of the twentieth century's most underrated authors in a 1977 Times Literary Supplement survey, they started a Barbara Pym revival that continued unabated in Great Britain and the United States. Barbara Pym's delightful tales of jumble sales and parish meetings, her ironic insights into the relationships between women and men, have won a devoted following. Indeed she is often compared to that most accomplished author of comedies of manners, Jane Austen. The Pleasure of Miss Pym is a critical study of Pym as comic writer and of the links between her life and autobiographical writings and her fiction, written with a liveliness of style and tone that matches Pym's own. Not only does Charles Burkhart provide perceptive discussions of Pym's life and novels, he also illuminates the worldview represented in her work, the unique nature of her comedy, her religion, her place within the history of the novel, and her penetrating insights into male-female relationships. All of Pym's work, including the 1986 posthumous publication, An Academic Question, is intelligently surveyed here. Scholars of contemporary English literature will derive both instruction and pleasure from this elegantly written study, as will Pym's admiring readers, for whom it is also intended.
A provocative history of the changing values that have given rise to our present discontents.
We pursue power, pleasure, and profit. We want as much as we can get, and we deploy instrumental reasoning—cost-benefit analysis—to get it. We judge ourselves and others by how well we succeed. It is a way of life and thought that seems natural, inevitable, and inescapable. As David Wootton shows, it is anything but. In Power, Pleasure, and Profit, he traces an intellectual and cultural revolution that replaced the older systems of Aristotelian ethics and Christian morality with the iron cage of instrumental reasoning that now gives shape and purpose to our lives.
Wootton guides us through four centuries of Western thought—from Machiavelli to Madison—to show how new ideas about politics, ethics, and economics stepped into a gap opened up by religious conflict and the Scientific Revolution. As ideas about godliness and Aristotelian virtue faded, theories about the rational pursuit of power, pleasure, and profit moved to the fore in the work of writers both obscure and as famous as Hobbes, Locke, and Adam Smith. The new instrumental reasoning cut through old codes of status and rank, enabling the emergence of movements for liberty and equality. But it also helped to create a world in which virtue, honor, shame, and guilt count for almost nothing, and what matters is success.
Is our world better for the rise of instrumental reasoning? To answer that question, Wootton writes, we must first recognize that we live in its grip.
In her forties, Erica Rand bought a pair of figure skates to vary her workout routine. Within a few years, the college professor was immersed in adult figure skating. Here, in short, incisive essays, she describes the pleasures to be found in the rink, as well as the exclusionary practices that make those pleasures less accessible to some than to others. Throughout the book, Rand situates herself as a queer femme, describing her mixed feelings about participating in a sport with heterosexual story lines and rigid standards for gender-appropriate costumes and moves. She chronicles her experiences competing in the Gay Games and at the annual U.S. Adult National Figure Skating Championship, or "Adult Nationals"; Aided by her comparative study of roller derby and women's hockey, including a brief attempt to play hockey herself, she addresses matters such as skate color conventions, judging systems, racial and sexual norms, transgender issues in sports, and the economics of athletic participation and risk taking. Mixing sharp critique with genuine appreciation and delight, Rand suggests ways to make figure skating more inclusive, while portraying the unlikely friendships facilitated by sports and the sheer elation of gliding on ice.
Music has long been an avenue for protest, seen as a way to promote freedom and equality, instill hope, and fight for change. Popular music, in particular, is considered to be an effective form of subversion and resistance under oppressive circumstances. But, as Nomi Dave shows us in The Revolution’s Echoes, the opposite is also true: music can often support, rather than challenge, the powers that be.
Dave introduces readers to the music supporting the authoritarian regime of former Guinean president Sékou Touré, and the musicians who, even long after his death, have continued to praise dictators and avoid dissent. Dave shows that this isn’t just the result of state manipulation; even in the absence of coercion, musicians and their audiences take real pleasure in musical praise of leaders. Time and again, whether in traditional music or in newer genres such as rap, Guinean musicians have celebrated state power and authority. With The Revolution’s Echoes, Dave insists that we must grapple with the uncomfortable truth that some forms of music choose to support authoritarianism, generating new pleasures and new politics in the process.
Surveying a wide range of cultural controversies, from the Mapplethorpe affair to Salman Rushdie's death sentence, from canon-revision in the academy to the scandals that have surrounded Anthony Blunt, Martin Heidegger, and Paul de Man, Wendy Steiner shows that the fear and outrage they inspired are the result of dangerous misunderstanding about the relationship between art and life.
"Stimulating. . . . A splendid rebuttal of those on the left and right who think that the pleasures induced by art are trivial or dangerous. . . . One of the most powerful defenses of the potentiality of art."—Andrew Delbanco, New York Times Book Review
"A concise and . . . readable account of recent contretemps that have galvanized the debate over the role and purposes of art. . . . [Steiner] writes passionately about what she believes in."—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"This is one of the few works of cultural criticism that is actually intelligible to the nonspecialist reader. . . . Steiner's perspective is fresh and her perceptions invariably shrewd, far-ranging, and reasonable. A welcome association of sense and sensibility."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Steiner has succeeded so well in [the] task she has undertaken. The Scandal of Pleasure is itself characterized by many of the qualities Steiner demans of art, among them, complexity, tolerance and the pleasures of unfettered thought."—Eleanor Heartly, Art in America
"Steiner . . . provides the best and clearest short presentation of each of [the] debates."—Alexander Nehamas, Boston Book Review
"Steiner has done a fine job as a historian/reporter and as a writer of sophisticated, very clear, cultural criticism. Her reportage alone would be enough to make this a distinguished book."—Mark Edmundson, Lingua Franca
How women in turn-of-the-century Chicago used their consumer power to challenge male domination of public spaces and stake their own claim to downtown.
Popular culture assumes that women are born to shop and that cities welcome their trade. But for a long time America’s downtowns were hardly welcoming to women. Emily Remus turns to Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century to chronicle a largely unheralded revolution in women’s rights that took place not at the ballot box but in the streets and stores of the business district.
After the city’s Great Fire, Chicago’s downtown rose like a phoenix to become a center of urban capitalism. Moneyed women explored the newly built department stores, theaters, and restaurants that invited their patronage and encouraged them to indulge their fancies. Yet their presence and purchasing power were not universally appreciated. City officials, clergymen, and influential industrialists condemned these women’s conspicuous new habits as they took their place on crowded streets in a business district once dominated by men.
A Shoppers’ Paradise reveals crucial points of conflict as consuming women accessed the city center: the nature of urban commerce, the place of women, the morality of consumer pleasure. The social, economic, and legal clashes that ensued, and their outcome, reshaped the downtown environment for everyone and established women’s new rights to consumption, mobility, and freedom.
The Slow Food movement was set up in Italy as a response to the dominance of fast food chains, supermarkets and large-scale agribusiness. It seeks to defend what it calls 'the universal right to pleasure' and promotes an alternative approach to food production and consumption based on the promotion of 'good, clean and fair' local products.
This is the first in-depth study of the fascinating politics of Slow Food, which in twenty years has grown into an international organisation with more than 80,000 members in over 100 countries. With its roots in the 1960s and 1970s counter-culture, Slow Food's distinctive politics lie in the unity between gastronomic pleasure and environmental responsibility. The movement crosses the left-right divide to embrace both the conservative desire to preserve traditional rural communities and an alternative 'virtuous' idea of globalisation.
Geoff Andrews shows that the alternative future embodied in Slow Food extends to all aspects of modern life. The Slow Food Story presents an extensive new critique of fast-moving, work-obsessed contemporary capitalist culture.
The antagonists—oiled, shaved, pierced, and tattooed; the glaring lights; the pounding music; the shouting crowd: professional wrestling is at once spectacle, sport, and business. Steel Chair to the Head provides a multifaceted look at the popular phenomenon of pro wrestling. The contributors combine critical rigor with a deep appreciation of wrestling as a unique cultural form, the latest in a long line of popular performance genres. They examine wrestling as it happens in the ring, is experienced in the stands, is portrayed on television, and is discussed in online chat rooms. In the process, they reveal wrestling as an expression of the contradictions and struggles that shape American culture.
The essayists include scholars in anthropology, psychology, film studies, communication studies, and sociology, one of whom used to wrestle professionally. Classic studies of wrestling by Roland Barthes, Carlos Monsiváis, Sharon Mazer, and Henry Jenkins appear alongside original essays. Whether exploring how pro wrestling inflects race, masculinity, and ideas of reality and authenticity; how female fans express their enthusiasm for male wrestlers; or how lucha libre provides insights into Mexican social and political life, Steel Chair to the Head gives due respect to pro wrestling by treating it with the same thorough attention usually reserved for more conventional forms of cultural expression.
Contributors. Roland Barthes, Douglas L. Battema, Susan Clerc, Laurence de Garis, Henry Jenkins III, Henry Jenkins IV, Heather Levi, Sharon Mazer, Carlos Monsiváis, Lucia Rahilly, Catherine Salmon, Nicholas Sammond, Phillip Serrat, Philip Sewell
When Marsellus in the film PulpFiction asserts, "I'm gonna git medieval on your ass," we know that he is about to bring down a fierce and exacting punishment. Yet is the violence of the Middle Ages that far removed from our modern society? Suspended Animation argues that not only is the stereotype of uncontrolled violence in the Middle Ages historically misleading, the gulf between modern society and the medieval era is not as immense as we might think. In fact, both medievals and moderns live within a social tension of "suspended animation" engendered by images and acts of violence.
Just as in medieval times, Robert Mills argues, it is the threat of violence—not the reality—that continues to structure our lives. To illustrate this "aesthetics of suspense," Mills draws on extensive and disturbing examples from medieval iconography, contemporary philosophy, and even pornography, ranging from the vivid depictions of Hell in Tuscan frescoes to Billie Holiday's famously wrenching song "Strange Fruit". Mills reveals how these uncomfortable images and texts expose a modern self-deception, and he further explores how medieval images evoked a pleasure revealingly close to that found in modern depictions of sexuality. Suspended Animation also makes a fresh contribution to theoretical debates on pre-modern gender and sexuality. Mills's comprehensive analysis demonstrates that—as wartime prisoner abuse incidents at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay have recently indicated—our notions of ourselves as not-medieval (that is, civilized) not only fail to prepare us for modern torture and warfare but also lead us into complicity with self-proclaimed moral and civic leaders.
Whether considering a medieval painting of a Christian martyr or the immense popularity of grotesque historical tourist attractions such as the London Dungeons, Suspended Animation argues that images of death and violence are as pervasive today as they were in the Middle Ages, serving as potent reminders of the link between the modern and the medieval era.
When her parents died and her marriage disintegrated within the span of a few months, art historian and performance artist Joanna Frueh entered a painful period of grief and mourning. This book is about how she healed herself and in the process explored the range of her potential as a woman.Swooning Beauty is an intimate memoir of discovery and healing. Frueh’s path to recovery lay through a profound examination of her intuitions, desires, fantasies, dreams, and emotions, her capacity for pleasure—visual, sensual, intellectual, gastronomic, and erotic—and her sense of her own heroic female identity. Hers is the passionate voice of a creative, intelligent woman scrutinizing the nature of love in all its forms and the ways of being that make us free, flexible, more fully real and more fully human. The result is an engaging view into the rich and colorful inner life of a woman at the threshold of middle age, of the blossoming of mind and spirit that comes after suffering and self-realization. Pleasure, she concludes, “is the absence of lack. Self-love is a necessary plenitude. Vigilance in love brings us freedom. Freedom is not an absolute whose attainment is humanly impossible. Yogis say that the self that is not ego is free. That self is the spacious heart, the spacious mind.” Frueh offers us wisdom and comfort for the journey into middle age, and the deep pleasure of encountering a generous, lively spirit and a remarkably spacious mind.
Techniques of Pleasure is a vivid portrayal of the San Francisco Bay Area’s pansexual BDSM (SM) community. Margot Weiss conducted ethnographic research at dungeon play parties and at workshops on bondage, role play, and flogging, and she interviewed more than sixty SM practitioners. She describes a scene devoted to a form of erotic play organized around technique, rules and regulations, consumerism, and self-mastery. Challenging the notion that SM is inherently transgressive, Weiss links the development of commodity-oriented sexual communities and the expanding market for sex toys to the eroticization of gendered, racialized, and national inequalities. She analyzes the politics of BDSM’s spectacular performances, including those that dramatize heterosexual male dominance, slave auctions, and US imperialism, and contends that the SM scene is not a “safe space” separate from real-world inequality. It depends, like all sexual desire, on social hierarchies. Based on this analysis, Weiss theorizes late-capitalist sexuality as a circuit—one connecting the promise of new emancipatory pleasures to the reproduction of raced and gendered social norms.
In The Tragedy and Comedy of Life, Seth Benardete focuses on the idea of the good in what is widely regarded as one of Plato's most challenging and complex dialogues, the Philebus. Traditionally the Philebus is interpreted as affirming the doctrine that the good resides in thought and mind rather than in pleasure or the body. Benardete challenges this view, arguing that Socrates vindicates the life of the mind over the life of pleasure not by separating the two and advocating a strict asceticism, but by mixing pleasure and pain with mind in such a way that the philosophic life emerges as the only possible human life.
Benardete combines a probing and challenging commentary that subtly mirrors and illuminates the complexities of this dialogue with the finest English translation of the Philebus yet available. The result is a work that will be of great value to classicists, philosophers, and political theorists alike.
Prominent components of Louis XIV’s propaganda, the arts of spectacle also became sources of a potent resistance to the monarchy in late seventeenth-century France. With a particular focus on the court ballet, comedy-ballet, opera, and opera-ballet, Georgia J. Cowart tells the long-neglected story of how the festive arts deployed an intricate network of subversive satire to undermine the rhetoric of sovereign authority.
With bold revisionist strokes, Cowart traces this strain of artistic dissent through the comedy-ballets of Jean-Baptiste Lully and Molière, the late operatic works of Lully and the operas of his sons, the opera-ballets of André Campra and his contemporaries, and the related imagery of Antoine Watteau’s well-known painting The Pilgrimage to Cythera. She contends that through a variety of means, including the parody of old-fashioned court entertainments, these works reclaimed traditional allegories for new ideological aims, setting the tone for the Enlightenment. Exploring these arts from the perspective of spectacle as it emerged from the court into the Parisian public sphere, Cowart ultimately situates the ballet and related genres as the missing link between an imagery of propaganda and an imagery of political protest.
In the early 1960s, the Hungry Generation revitalized Bengali poetry in Calcutta, liberating it from the fetters of scholarship and the fog of punditry and freeing it to explore new forms, language, and subjects. Shakti Chattopadhyay was a cofounder of the movement, and his poems remain vibrant and surprising more than a half century later. In his “urban pastoral” lines, we encounter street colloquialisms alongside high diction, a combination that at the time was unprecedented. Loneliness, anxiety, and dislocation trouble this verse, but they are balanced by a compelling belief in the redemptive power of beauty.
This book presents more than one hundred of Chattopadhyay’s poems, introducing an international audience to one of the most prominent and important Bengali poets of the twentieth century.
In the 1970s a group of pioneering feminist entrepreneurs launched a movement that ultimately changed the way sex was talked about, had, and enjoyed. Boldly reimagining who sex shops were for and the kinds of spaces they could be, these entrepreneurs opened sex-toy stores like Eve’s Garden, Good Vibrations, and Babeland not just as commercial enterprises, but to provide educational and community resources as well. In Vibrator Nation Lynn Comella tells the fascinating history of how these stores raised sexual consciousness, redefined the adult industry, and changed women's lives. Comella describes a world where sex-positive retailers double as social activists, where products are framed as tools of liberation, and where consumers are willing to pay for the promise of better living—one conversation, vibrator, and orgasm at a time.
The nature of well-being is one of the most enduring and elusive subjects of human inquiry. Well-Being draws upon the latest scientific research to transform our understanding of this ancient question. With contributions from leading authorities in psychology, social psychology, and neuroscience, this volume presents the definitive account of current scientific efforts to understand human pleasure and pain, contentment and despair. The distinguished contributors to this volume combine a rigorous analysis of human sensations, emotions, and moods with a broad assessment of the many factors, from heredity to nationality, that bear on our well-being. Using the tools of experimental science, the contributors confront the puzzles of human likes and dislikes. Why do we grow accustomed and desensitized to changes in our lives, both good and bad? Does our happiness reflect the circumstances of our lives or is it determined by our temperament and personality? Why do humans acquire tastes for sensations that are initially painful or unpleasant? By examining the roots of our everyday likes and dislikes, the book also sheds light on some of the more extreme examples of attraction and aversion, such as addiction and depression. Among its wide ranging inquiries, Well-Being examines systematic differences in moods and behaviors between genders, explaining why women suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety than men, but are also more inclined to express positive emotions. The book also makes international comparisons, finding that some countries' populations report higher levels of happiness than others. The contributors deploy an array of methods, from the surveys and questionnaires of social science to psychological and physiological experiments, to develop a comprehensive new approach to the study of well-being. They show how the sensory pleasures of the body can tells us something about the higher pleasures of the mind and even how the effectiveness of our immune system can depend upon the health of our social relationships.