Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Origin of the World

Prolepsis is the attempt to anticipate a question or an objection. So even though the question hasn’t been asked, the answer is yes. Yes, it is true that people think about sex all the time. A cursory review of the magazine rack at your local newsstand will reveal this—and this does not refer to Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler or any of the porn magazines that have had ignominious deaths at the hands of Internet sites that have usurped their sleaziness. Take, for instance, the current issue of People, with a bikini clad babe on the cover and the headline, “My New Body,” or the headline on a neighboring celebrity mag: “Ashton Cheats Again.” The question is not whether sex is on everybody’s mind, but whether there are any minds in which some form of sexuality is not present. One is hard put to find glossy magazines whose front pages are devoid of the mention of sex. One might have thought that elderly people, with their dying libidos, would have other things on their mind, but dementia has a disinhibiting effect that has made STD’s a major problem in nursing homes. Now, what about that category of people who disagree with the notion that sex is always on their minds, and still finds offense in Freud’s notion of infantile sexuality? No one can tell them what they are thinking, though an fMRI might easily show the brain lighting up in those areas dealing with sexual stimulation at precisely the moments when “the lady doth protest too much.” Sublimation is the process by which sexual energy is turned into art. So, if you claim you couldn’t possibly have been thinking about sex when you were looking at Courbet’s “L’Origine du Monde,” since you were interested only in the beauty of the artist’s spread-legged rendering, then you were thinking about sex anyway.

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

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