Just hours before the original manuscript of the Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom was due to be sold at auction, France declared it a “national treasure”, meaning that it can no longer be exported from the country.
Written on a 39-foot scroll smuggled into his Bastille prison cell in 1785, the Marquis de Sade called his work “the most impure tale that has ever been told since our world began”. When the Bastille was stormed in the 1789 Revolution, Sade wrote that he had “wept tears of blood” over its loss. The parchment was later recovered from a crack in the cell wall, but remained unpublished for more than a century and was banned in Britain until the 1950s.
Described as “a catalogue of 600 types of perversion from orgies to humiliation, torture, rape, bestiality and murder”, it was part of a larger haul of historical documents recovered after the collapse of a Ponzi-style pyramid scheme headed by Gerard Lhéritier, president and founder of the Institut des Lettres et des Manuscrits and of the Aristophile society.
If you’ve never read the story of the four wealthy men, their 8 well-hung studs and the 16 children they play out their perversions on, the full text is available online in English and in the original French.
Princeton University is the latest Ivy League school to officially host a club for students wishing to explore BDSM. Called Princeton Plays, it has been an informal club on the campus for over 2 years, but got the official seal of approval this month when Princeton’s Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students and the Undergraduate Student Government voted to officially recognise it. It joins Columbia’s “Conversio Virium,” Cornell’s “Crunch” and Harvard’s “Munch” clubs as active student BDSM groups in the Ivy League.
If you’re looking for a way to start your new year with a bang, Reddit’s 30-Day Sex Challenge is trending on the internet at the moment, and it really is an interesting challenge. Day 7 challenges you to do it in 10 minutes or less, Day 16 is advanced Karma Sutra and Day 29 is flip a coin, pick a dominant. If you get all the way to there, then prepare for a big night of no sleep on Day 30.
The polyamorist aspiration to replace sexual jealousy with “compersion” (a delight in one’s partner’s sexual delight with someone else) is just that: an aspiration. People often end up in open relationships out of a desire to propitiate restless lovers, rather than through any interest of their own — with predictably miserable results. And no amount of expanding or softening the boundaries of fidelity will ever outwit the human desire to transgress. The conventional bourgeois marriage invites adultery. The earnest polyamorous setup, in which every new lover is openly acknowledged and everyone’s feelings are patiently discussed at Yalta-type summits, invites some more imaginative trespass: not using a condom, or introducing the lover to your parents. “In the realm of the erotic,” Perel writes, “negotiated freedom is not nearly as enticing as stolen pleasures.”
So says this week’s review of Esther Perel’s latest book The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity in The New Yorker, and although it’s my experience that the motivation for most polyamorous relationships is far purer than “propitiating restless lovers”, it does prompt an interesting thought bubble. If cheaters are always going to be cheaters, does it make a difference whether they are in monogomous or polyamorous relationships?
If you’re polyamorous, there’s a lot to disagree with in this review, but perhaps it does wind to a logical conclusion:
There is no “affair proof” marriage, she warns, whatever the self-help industry tries to tell you. To love is to be vulnerable. Relationships can inspire varying degrees of trust, but trust is always, as the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips puts it, “a risk masquerading as a promise.”