Fleming_04-1994
Perspective

Turn Out the Lights

It must have been Sigmund Freud who observed that whenever a new technology appears it is applied almost immediately to some sexual purpose. The dirty old man of Vienna was thinking of such inventions as the photograph and the moving picture, which gave a new impetus to the production and consumption of pornography, but he might just as well have been describing his own métier. As soon as experts appeared, claiming to have invented a science of the human mind, some of those experts began work on the first "scientific" treatises on sexuality. Freud, who was himself more sex-obsessed than his patients, devised a theory of psychoanalysis that is a mere projection of his need to reduce all human life to the sexual dimension. No wonder people found it so titillating. For most people psychoanalytic theory is nothing more than highbrow pornography, and the process of analysis, although designed as an exercise in self-abuse, turns all too frequently into a sexual relationship between the supposed doctor and his patient. Therapists have taken one step past even Casanova, who is said to have seduced women before robbing them. Now, they take the money as a down payment.

The 20th century has been the century of gimcracks, a remarkable number of which have been sexually exploited. Henry Ford's motor cars may have spattered the highways with blood, but who knows how many children were conceived in them? The automobile,...

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