Friday, March 21, 2008

18th Century Naughties

This totally awesome picture comes to us from Timofey Usikov and The Ones We Love photo project, which is pretty cool. This picture, obviously, is super ultra totally cool and appropriate in all circumstances. This morning as I was walking to work I was thinking about what I might blog about today, given my vow, and for some reason (my brain is weird) I started thinking about this time I stumbled into the pornography section of the library at the august and dignified Art Museum where I used to work.

I worked in the education division and occasionally I got to go to the library and look stuff up, which was sweet, even though I felt kind of awkward up there being as how I was only making stuff with kids as opposed to being occupied by High Scholarship (there were a lot of High Scholars in that library, particularly the manuscripts curator) but that was mostly my own insecurity in action. Anyway, I always reserved enough time for wandering blissfully around the stacks with no particular destination in mind, which is something I like to do in libraries. Well. It turns out that pornographic art is art, after all, and so there were a couple of shelves of naughty books from centuries long gone by. Now, these weren't super valuable manuscripts or incunabula (be impressed. Do you think I know that word from having a fancy art history degree and working in museums and all? Nah, I know that word from Dorothy Sayers because Lord Peter Whimsy, one of those fictional characters with whom I am in love, collects them. Just goes to show you that detective novels too can lead one to a better vocabulary.) or at least I don't think they were - they were just books. So I sat down on the floor and opened a couple, keeping meanwhile a wary eye out for any loose curatorial assistants or other denizens of the library.

Did you know that there are ancient Greek and Roman dildoes? Now imagine the look on the face of the 19th century German archaeologist digging them up, if you will. Hee. Yeah, I like that image too. However, that wasn't what really caught me - what got me was this early 18th century book of pr0n with lovely anatomically correct engraved illustrations and, gods help us, couplets. I should have written some down but I can't remember them - although from what I read, then, as now, good pornographic writing seems to be a well nigh impossible task. What I mostly remember is one image of a naked woman with an accompanying ode of joy about triangles - the pubic triangle, of course, and then what the author considered the fabulous sexiness of the triangle consisting of two tufts of hair at the armpits and then the pubic hair. Think Leonardo but with more hair and va va voom and also a guy in a wig but no pants having an orgasm next to it on the page. Brilliant stuff, summing up all pr0n over the centuries, really: the more things change; the more they stay the same.

And now for something completely different:
How many cannibals could your body feed?

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