Human-ities · Science

How sex rules our dreams

When I was a hormone-addled adolescent in the late 1960s and early ’70s, I would often look up at a poster of Sigmund Freud on my brother’s bedroom wall. The title on the portrait – something like ‘Freud: explorer of the unconscious and discoverer of the meaning of dreams’ – depicted a hero of intellectual freedom and creative thought. When you looked at it closely, the portrait seemed to writhe and come alive. In the drug-fueled style of those decades of ongoing sexual revolution, the artist had depicted the nose as an erect penis, the cheeks as a female behind, and the eyes as female breasts. One side of the face was a voluptuous female whose legs wrapped around the body of a muscular male on the other side of the face and, of course, both heads were thrown back in dramatized ecstasy. I recall some of my brother’s stoned friends gazing at the portrait with bewildered looks on their faces, apparently unsure if the writhing torsos they saw were really there or not.

Right from the start, I saw Freud as a kind of secular saint because he was willing to take an unbiased look at himself through the raw material of his dreams. If he found in those dreams a mass of broiling sexual impulses, so be it. Those impulses had to be accepted, understood and explained within a larger picture of the human mind.

Continue this article at AEON.

Eco/Adaptable · Film/Video/New Media · Human-ities · Performativity

Fuck for Forest

Anarchic eco-charity Fuck for Forest wants you to get horny, get naked and save the world. Dedicated to the belief that personal sexual liberation can radically alter humanity’s relationship to the earth, Fuck for Forest’s modus operandi is to mix the serious business of survival with pleasure—they sell self-produced erotica online to benefit the environment. Despite enormous success (with over 400,000 euro in the bank) the members live a largely frugal existence, wandering through Germany without a cent in their pockets, playing music, converting passersby and exuberantly staging public sexual demonstrations. But the Western privilege that enables the group’s excess and devil-may-care optimism is precisely what throws their project into turmoil when the time comes to turn beliefs into actions. Fuck for Forest is a barely believable real-world story from director Michał Marczak (winner of the Emerging Artist Award at Hot Docs 2011) detailing a calamitous meeting of optimism and reality.

Written by Eli Horwatt. Via HotDocs

Education · Human-ities · Social/Politics

Eulogy for a Sex Radical: Shulamith Firestone’s Forgotten Feminism

A utopia without pregnancy or childbearing? That was the dream of the controversial Dialectic of Sex author, who was found dead on Tuesday at 67.

It’s hard to imagine that Shulamith Firestone and Helen Gurley Brown thought very highly of each other. Gurley Brown wore immaculate make-up and had a driver. There were needlepoint pillows in her office. She had sex. She told other women that they should have sex, too.

Firestone, on the other hand, did not have sex. In fact, she was a political celibate. She encouraged other women to become celibate. Some of them did. She wore owl glasses; she looked like the 70s radical she was.

Firestone, whose death was reported yesterday, will not receive a fraction of the encomia Gurley Brown did after her death earlier this month. Why? Both women were feminist pioneers. Both wrote canonical feminist texts that became bestsellers when they were published about a half century ago. Both shaped absolutely the ways we think about gender, education, and the family today. Both put sex at the center of their analyses.

Excerpt of an article written by Emily Chertoff, at The Atlantic. Continue HERE

Human-ities · Performativity · Science

Separate beds are liberating: “Sleep is a selfish thing to do, no one can share your sleep.”

The kicker was the scientific suggestion that sharing a bed with someone you care about is great for sex, but not much else. Stanley, a well-regarded sleep researcher at the University of Surrey whose gray-thinning hair hinted at his more than two decades in the field, told his listeners that he didn’t sleep in the same bed as his wife and that they should probably think about getting their own beds, too, if they knew what was good for them. As proof, he pointed to research he conducted with a colleague which showed that someone who shared a bed was 50 percent more likely to be disturbed during the night than a person who slept alone. “Sleep is a selfish thing to do,” he said. “No one can share your sleep.”

There just wasn’t enough room, for one thing. “You have up to nine inches less per person in a double bed than a child has in a single bed,” Stanley said, grounding his argument in the can’t-argue-with-this logic of ratios. “Add to this another person who kicks, punches, snores and gets up to go to the loo and is it any wonder that we are not getting a good night’s sleep?” He wasn’t against sex, he assured his audience — only the most literal interpretation of sleeping together. “We all know what it’s like to have a cuddle and then say, ‘I’m going to sleep now,’ and go to the opposite side of the bed. So why not just toddle off down the landing?”

Excerpted from “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep” by David K. Randall. Via Salon. Continue HERE

Bio · Digital Media · Technology · Vital-Edible-Health

Facebook, Twitter Activate Brain’s Reward Regions

Many people constantly update about their lives on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter mainly because of the “kicks” that self-disclosure offers, according to a new Harvard study.

The study found that sharing personal information is as good as eating food or even having sex. The nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA), regions that are associated with reward, were active when people talked about themselves.

Continue article at Medical Daily

Design · Digital Media · Performativity · Projects · Public Space · Social/Politics · Technology

Bar-Coded Condoms that Track Where You Have Sex

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW) recently distributed 55,000 condoms with QR codes that track, through their website,, when and where people have had sex.

“Condoms are an essential tool in preventing unintended pregnancy and stopping the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV,” PPGNW New Media Coordinator, Nathan Engebretson, said in a press release. “We hope the site promotes discussions within relationships about condoms and helps to remove perceived stigmas that some people may have about condom use. “Where Did You Wear It” attempts to create some fun around making responsible decisions.”

Distributed around community colleges and universities, the condom’s bar code can be scanned by smart phones that connect users to the website and allows them to upload their location, along with general details and anonymous reviews of their sexual experience. Users can rate their rolls in the hay on a scale from “things can only improve from here” to “ah-maz-ing — rainbows exploded and mountains trembled.”

Excerpts from an article written by Nic Halverson, Discovery News.

Bio · Human-ities · Science · Technology · Vital-Edible-Health

The Virgin Father

Trent Arsenault has never had sex, but he’s the father of fifteen children—and counting. The more he antagonizes the FDA, and unnerves television audiences across America, the more his in-box is flooded with requests for his sperm.

Trent Arsenault was in the Borg Cube when he heard the knock. “Trent,” his father called through the door. The Borg, tucked into a canyon southeast of San Francisco, consists of a modest two-­bedroom ranch house plus a few tents Trent has erected in the backyard. It’s a warren of floor-to-ceiling modular shelving built to hold all of Trent’s worldly property, which he stores in 800 bins weighing 24,000 pounds. In what was designed to be the living room, a Tempur-Pedic adjustable bed is situated within the shelving units, and an identical second bed next to the first serves as a workstation, with swing-out hospital trays for a desk.

A flat-screen TV is mounted face down, directly over Trent’s pillow, and another is mounted in his shower. Wires snake everywhere. A hose system on a timer automatically refills the birdbaths outside. Behind the house, near a lemon tree, a 50-foot antenna collects radio-­astronomy data from solar flares and broadcasts Trent’s ham-radio signal. Inside, there is a low, near-constant murmur of electronic machinery: radio static, conference-call chatter from Trent’s IT security work, digital chimes, a dulcet computer voice announcing Trent’s next appointment. It is an elaborate system, and it reminds Trent, in a good way, of the devouring cybernetic empire in Star Trek. “The more complex the better.”

Written by Benjamin Wallace, NYMag. Continue HERE

Architectonic · Bio · Design · Performativity · Science · Sculpt/Install · Shows · Technology

The Extreme Environment Love Hotel. Carboniferous Room

The Extreme Environment Love Hotel, by Ai Hasegawa, simulates impossible places to go such as an earth of three hundred million years ago, or the surface of Jupiter by manipulating invisible but ever-present environmental factors, for example atmospheric conditions and gravity. A love hotel is a place for discrete intimacy but also a place for intensive physical and mental exercise. How might our bodies change, struggle or even adapt with varying conditions around us? For example, during the Carboniferous period, ancestors of the dragonfly Meganeura grew up to seventy-five centimeters due to the huge concentration of oxygen in the air, a tremendous boon to the insect but high levels of oxygen would be toxic to our fragile bodies.

Recent figures speculate that around 10% of children are now conceived by In Vitro Fertilization. The world around us and our reproductive technologies have given rise to new ideas of what sex is or could be and where it stands between our biologically-programmed needs and inclinations and our human fetishes and desires. Perhaps the Extreme Environments Love Hotel might give rise to new evolutions and mutations of the human body and sex and give it a brand new role away from any of these historical precedents.

Ai Hasegawa studied computer graphic animation and interactive media art at the International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences, Japan. On graduating I created animations for educational TV programs in Tokyo. After moving to London I began working as an animator, character designer, illustrator and interaction designer.

Human-ities · Social/Politics

On the Invention of Money – Notes on Sex, Adventure, Monomaniacal Sociopathy and the True Function of Economics

David Graeber: Let me begin by filling in some background on the current state of scholarly debate on this question, explain my own position, and show what an actual debate might have been like. First, the history:

1) Adam Smith first proposed in ‘The Wealth of Nations’ that as soon as a division of labor appeared in human society, some specializing in hunting, for instance, others making arrowheads, people would begin swapping goods with one another (6 arrowheads for a beaver pelt, for instance.) This habit, though, would logically lead to a problem economists have since dubbed the ‘double coincidence of wants’ problem—for exchange to be possible, both sides have to have something the other is willing to accept in trade. This was assumed to eventually lead to the people stockpiling items deemed likely to be generally desirable, which would thus become ever more desirable for that reason, and eventually, become money. Barter thus gave birth to money, and money, eventually, to credit.

2) 19th century economists such as Stanley Jevons and Carl Menger [1] kept the basic framework of Smith’s argument, but developed hypothetical models of just how money might emerge from such a situation. All assumed that in all communities without money, economic life could only have taken the form of barter. Menger even spoke of members of such communities “taking their goods to market”—presuming marketplaces where a wide variety of products were available but they were simply swapped directly, in whatever way people felt advantageous.

3) Anthropologists gradually fanned out into the world and began directly observing how economies where money was not used (or anyway, not used for everyday transactions) actually worked. What they discovered was an at first bewildering variety of arrangements, ranging from competitive gift-giving to communal stockpiling to places where economic relations centered on neighbors trying to guess each other’s dreams. What they never found was any place, anywhere, where economic relations between members of community took the form economists predicted: “I’ll give you twenty chickens for that cow.” Hence in the definitive anthropological work on the subject, Cambridge anthropology professor Caroline Humphrey concludes, “No example of a barter economy, pure and simple, has ever been described, let alone the emergence from it of money; all available ethnography suggests that there never has been such a thing.”

Written by David Graeber from his book Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Continue the read at Naked Capitalism.

Book-Text-Read-Zines · Human-ities · Social/Politics

The first sexual revolution: lust and liberty in the 18th century

We believe in sexual freedom. We take it for granted that consenting men and women have the right to do what they like with their bodies. Sex is everywhere in our culture. We love to think and talk about it; we devour news about celebrities’ affairs; we produce and consume pornography on an unprecedented scale. We think it wrong that in other cultures its discussion is censured, people suffer for their sexual orientation, women are treated as second-class citizens, or adulterers are put to death.

Yet a few centuries ago, our own society was like this too. In the 1600s people were still being executed for adultery in England, Scotland and north America, and across Europe. Everywhere in the west, sex outside marriage was illegal, and the church, the state and ordinary people devoted huge efforts to hunting it down and punishing it. This was a central feature of Christian society, one that had grown steadily in importance since late antiquity. So how and when did our culture change so strikingly? Where does our current outlook come from? The answers lie in one of the great untold stories about the creation of our modern condition.

When I stumbled on the subject, more than a decade ago, I could not believe that such a huge transformation had not been properly understood. But the more I pursued it, the more amazing material I uncovered: the first sexual revolution can be traced in some of the greatest works of literature, art and philosophy ever produced – the novels of Henry Fielding and Jane Austen, the pictures of Reynolds and Hogarth, the writings of Adam Smith, David Hume and John Stuart Mill. And it was played out in the lives of tens of thousands of ordinary men and women, otherwise unnoticed by history, whose trials and punishments for illicit sex are preserved in unpublished judicial records. Most startling of all were my discoveries of private writings, such as the diary of the randy Dutch embassy clerk Lodewijk van der Saan, posted to London in the 1690s; the emotional letters sent to newspapers by countless hopeful and disappointed lovers; and the piles of manuscripts about sexual freedom composed by the great philosopher Jeremy Bentham but left unpublished, to this day, by his literary executors. Once noticed, the effects of this revolution in attitudes and behaviour can be seen everywhere when looking at the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. It was one of the key shifts from the pre-modern to the modern world.

Written by Faramerz Dabhoiwala at The Guardian. Continue HERE

Human-ities · Performativity · Social/Politics · Theory · Videos · Vital-Edible-Health

SEX: An Unnatural History

Australian network SBS aired Sex: An Unnatural History over the course of six weeks. ‘Sex: An Unnatural History’ is a six-part factual series exploring the last 50 years of Australia’s sexual landscape. Presenter Julia Zemiro brings her wit, intellect and humor to each episode starting with an exploration of why we started having sex and how we became hardwired to monogamy.

Humans started copulating to procreate but if we can make a baby in a test tube and even get someone else to carry it for us where does that leave sex? Is it now just purely about pleasure?

The introduction of the pill sparked a revolution that is still happening, but where are we headed? Julia explores what taboos are still left to us and why societies require sexual boundaries. We’re moving towards more liberated attitudes about marriage, homosexuality and personal fetishes but is everything up for grabs? When it comes to fashion many of us use what we wear to signal what we are looking for, but what does fashion also tell us about the sexual attitudes of the day? And how are our sexual lives affected by our churches?

Julia delves into the complex world of how and why the Catholic Church became so fixated with what we do between the sheets and how one little pill may have led to the demise of confession.

Julia takes a look at how and why humans fall in love and what role chemicals play when Cupid’s arrow strikes. But isn’t there more to it than neurotransmitters and serotonin? Isn’t it all about the romance? How can we explain the metaphysical aspect of love and how it transforms not only our sex lives but also every other part of our lives?

We end the series with a look at sex and the future. All sorts of people have opinions on what sex will be like in 2060. Sure, we can imagine robot lovers, virtual partners and sex without gravity but will we ever invent something better than a condom?

Episode 1: The Revolution

The 1960s was an era that heralded the birth of feminism, civil rights, free love and gay liberation – a sexual revolution that changed our attitudes towards sex and relationships forever.

Episode 3: Fashion

Does how we dress tell us what we’re like in the bedroom? If you see someone wandering around in fetish gear it’s safe to say they’re doing so to attract potential mates of like minds. But what else can fashion tell us about sex? A lot, it seems.

Episode 4: The Church

Why do people cry out “oh God!” during sex? Is it because sex transcends our mind and bodies? Religion has been getting between the sheets since it became organized, but it was the sexual revolution of the ’60s and birth control that brought matters to a head.

Episode 5: Love

Sex existed long before the idea of love but somewhere along the annals of history the two became entwined. Many humans then started selecting their partners based on this emotion.


Future Sex: Beyond Gay and Straight

In most parts of the world, homophobia is in decline. The global trend is for the repeal of anti-gay laws and for greater public understanding and acceptance of sexual difference. Overall, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are gradually gaining respect and rights – not losing them.

There are, of course, frightening examples of intensified homophobic repression in parts of Africa and the Middle East. But taking the long view, in world historical terms, anti-gay attitudes and laws are on the wane.

This begs the question:

As homophobia diminishes and as future societies eventually embrace a post-homophobic culture, how will this transition to equality, dignity, understanding and acceptance affect the expression of sexuality?

If human civilization evolves into a state of sexual enlightenment, where the differences between hetero and homo no longer matter, what would this mean for the future of same-sex desire and same-sex identity?

We already know, thanks to a host of sex surveys, that bisexuality is an fact of life and that even in narrow-minded, homophobic cultures, many people have a sexuality that is, to varying degrees, capable of both heterosexual and homosexual attraction.

It is also apparent that same-sex relations flourish, albeit often temporarily, in single-sex institutions like schools, prisons and the armed forces – which suggests that sexuality might be more flexible than many people assume.

Research by Dr Alfred Kinsey in the USA during the 1940s was the first major statistical evidence that gay and straight are not watertight, irreconcilable and mutually exclusive sexual orientations. He found that human sexuality is, in fact, a continuum of desires and behaviors, ranging from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality. A substantial proportion of the population shares an amalgam of same-sex and opposite-sex feelings – even if they do not act on them.

Written by Peter G Tatchell for The Huffington Post. Continue HERE