• 13.11.07
    A Plea for Eros
    (An appetizer)

    «A few years ago a friend of mine gave a lecture at Berkeley on the femme fatale, a subject he has been thinking about for years. [...] When he finished speaking, he took questions, including a hostile one from a woman who demanded to know what he thought of the Antioch Ruling – a law enacted at Antioch College, which essentially made every stage of a sexual encounter on campus legal only by verbal consent. My friend paused, smiled, and replied, “It’s wonderful. I love it. Just think of the possibilities: ’May I touch your right breast? May I touch your left breast?’ [...]
    It is safe to assume that the Antioch Ruling wasn’t devised to increase sexual pleasure on campus, and yet the new barriers it made, ones that dissect both sexual gestures and the female body (the ruling came about to protect women, not men), have been the stuff for erotic fantasy for ages. When the troubadour pined for his lady, he hoped against hope that he would be granted a special favor – a kiss perhaps. The sonnet itself is a form that takes the body of the beloved apart – her hair, her eyes, her lips, her breasts. The body in pieces is reborn in this legal drama of spoken permission. Eroticism thrives both on borders and on distance. It is a commonplace that sexual pleasure demands thresholds. My philosopher made quick work of demonstrating the excitement of crossing into forbidden territory – the place you need special permission to trespass into. But there is distance here, too, a distance the earnest crusaders who invented the ruling couldn’t possibly have foreseen. The articulation of the other’s body in words turns it into a map of possible pleasure, effectively distancing that body by transforming it into an erotic object.»

    (Siri Hustvedt)

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