“Urge and urge and urge,” Whitman intoned. “Always the procreant urge of the world.” These words signal the life instinct, eros, that innate, libidinal drive for pleasure and survival.

Humans are compelled by life, attracted to it and aroused by it. The procreant urge motivates us to act, stimulates our choices and actions, shapes our personal identity. There’s no subjectivity, no consciousness, absent coital awareness. The properties of life — what it means and how it appears to be alive — are conditions for their own perpetuation: to love life is to make it.

We are drawn to life, that inner bloom within the verdant body. We seek intimacy with the animated, energetic fertile parts, the warm, electric, pulsating body that’s flowing with blood, propelled by agency and personality. The sensual qualities of living flesh stir up an intense and unconscious desire for the continuity of our kind. More… “Sex with the Dead”

Allen Mendenhall is an associate dean at Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and executive director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty. Visit his website at


During an undergraduate English seminar, our professor got frank with us about her multiple miscarriages. It wasn’t completely out of sorts — the seminar was centered around the body and we had spent a lot of time with the concept of madness as elucidated by Elaine Showalter in The Female Malady. After more than 10 years, I don’t remember much about that course, but I do remember our instructor’s confessional moment, what felt like at the time, an incredibly intimate detail in her life. It wasn’t the first time I had come across the concept of miscarriage. At age four, I was told I was going to be a big sister and then not long after, was told I wasn’t. But I was struck by her openness and matter-of-factness. These weren’t situations we were supposed to discuss. It felt almost indecent and out of line at the time. More… Lost Time”

Melinda Lewis has a PhD in American Culture Studies. She knows more celebrity gossip than basic math and watches too much television.


Despite its familiarity, vitamin D is pretty puzzling. Not really a vitamin at all, it is actually a fat-soluble nutrient that is a prohormone (a precursor substance to a hormone). Milk is fortified with it, but it does not come in most other dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, and it occurs in significant levels naturally in only a few foods like fatty fish and fish oils. To fulfill the recommended daily intake with milk alone may take as much as 6 to 8 glasses, far more than most people drink, and so most people get the majority of their vitamin D from sun exposure. But wearing sunscreen significantly impairs the sun’s ability to activate vitamin D — wearing SPF 8 can reduce the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D by about 95 percent.

Until recently, nobody thought much about whether they got enough vitamin D from drinking… More…

The Oregon Convention Center hall had the artificial lighting and concrete walls of a nuclear fallout shelter and not a very cozy one. It was a space used to accommodating big shows for attendees making big decisions about college, holiday gifts, or RVs, but this weekend it was exhibiting three equally grand concepts: the body, the mind, and the spirit. According to the program for the Body, Mind, and Spirit Expo, the $10 entry fee entitled entrants to “Free Aura Photos!” and the chance to go to lectures, one put on by a pet psychic called “Listen to your Animals Talking!”

When I entered the convention hall, in the first visible booth a man stood with his eyes closed and his hand over a woman’s head. According to the literature on his table he was performing Jyorei: “a five minute purification of the spirit session consisting of spiritual light transmittal… More…

There’s something about those medical paper gowns that just might be sexy. But sitting on the crinkly sterile paper of the plastic surgeon’s table, his eyes level to my nipples and his hand massaging the tissue of my left breast… it was not. In fact, I felt qualified to join a sideshow alongside the bearded lady and the freak who hangs heavy objects from his testicles. Show me to my bed of nails.

“Well, she’ll certainly like them better than a used car.”

As he said this he was looking at my mother, who sat watching in the corner, oddly impassive. She nodded and smiled, agreeing with him. I could practically see the wheels spinning in her head. She had always suggested that I go to medical school or law school since those were the places to get a husband with the best earning potential. I knew that she had… More…


Fall brings the beginning of a new marathon season. I’ve bought a new pair of sneakers, for $75, and I spent $80 registering for the Baltimore Marathon. My wife, who had once encouraged me to do this, is no longer completely sure whether it’s actually all that good for me. She may have a point. Jim Fixx, after logging all those miles and writing all those books, died prematurely of a heart attack. The latest edition of Runner’s World includes an interview of two-time New York Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, in which he discusses his recent cardiac arrest. While interviewing writer Stephen Dixon, I learned about his brother Don, who started running at 44, reigned for a decade as champion in his age group, and then died four years ago on a long run when a large tree branch fell on his head. A year ago, in the Chicago… More…