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“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 AllenMendenhall.com

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If you happened to be wandering the streets of ancient Rome at dusk (or, in the summer months, the seaside resort of Baiae on the Bay of Naples), you might be accosted by a slave inviting you to an imperial banquet.  All rich Romans were expected to be fabulous entertainers — the more extravagant their feasts, the more powerful they were perceived — and the emperors were obliged to be the most over-the-top hosts of all. On most evenings, hundreds of complete strangers — males and females of all social classes, although with a bias towards the well-dressed and the good-looking — would be lured to events in splendid, marble-floored villas, where they would be bombarded with food and wine to the accompaniment of flute music and erotic Asian dancers. Prostitutes of both sexes would be on offer… More…

 

Not long after the Renaissance doctor Gabriello Fallopio invented a silk prototype for the condom in 1564 (see “Columbus Discovers the Clitoris”), European men-about-town took to wearing so-called “gold-beater skins” woven from the dried intestines of sheep, calves, and horses. The learned scholar H. M. Hines speculates that it was a slaughterhouse worker who first came up with this technological advance, aiming for a more durable yet still sensitive sheath. The finest quality examples, produced by skilled Italian artisans, were hand-sewn at one end and tied by an elegant ribbon at the other; they were wickedly expensive, but could be washed, dried, and reused.

Acceptance of the invention was slow all over Europe. In 1671, the French noblewoman Madame de Sévigné warned her daughter that condoms were worse than useless in the bedroom, “armour against enjoyment, and… More…

 

Renaissance men could barely keep up with all the exciting discoveries of their era, not least in the field of anatomy. Sixty years after Christopher set off for the New World, another Italian by the named of Renaldus Columbus (no relation) announced to his spellbound colleagues that he had finally discovered “the seat of a woman’s delight.” A lecturer in surgery at Padua University, this Columbus was part of a new wave of scholars that was exploring the inner-workings of the human body, mostly by dissecting cadavers. Obviously Columbus was also doing some field work: In 1559, he announced in his textbook De Re Anatomica that he had identified a female appendage that would “throb with brief contractions” during sexual intercourse, causing a woman’s “semen” to flow “swifter than air.” Columbus named his discovery amor Veneris, vul dulcedo,… More…