The Object of My Affection

Pygmalion by Jean-Baptiste Regnault, 1786, Musée national du château et des Trianons

Pygmalion by Jean-Baptiste Regnault, 1786, Musée national du château et des Trianons

Pygmalion was a talented Greek sculptor from Cyprus. After becoming disgusted by some local prostitutes, he lost all interest in Pygmalion-And-Galatea1-300x357women and avoided their company completely. He saw women as flawed creatures and vowed never to waste any moment of his life with them.

Instead, Pygmalion created Galatea, a beautiful ivory stature of a woman, and he fell in love with her. He prayed to goddess Aphrodite to give him a wife just like his statue. Aphrodite did  him one better — she brought  his statue to life. Galatea became a real woman, they got married and had two children. The end.

The unusual love that blossomed between Pygmalion and Galatea enthralls all. Falling in love with one’s creation and then getting the desired object as wife — a dream come true, indeed.

57-year-old Everard Cunion, from Dorset, UK,  had always been fond of shop mannequins, but since they’re as hard as rock, he decided to go for something that looked as good as that, but was more flexible. He now lives with nine realistic looking dolls

Everard bought Rebecca, his first artificial woman, in 2000. It wasn’t until 2004 that he decided to get his second doll, not because he had been trying to stay faithful to his first, but he simply couldn’t afford to buy another one until then. The man admits that when he first saw the price tags on these things he almost fell off his chair, but he goes on to say that this kind of dolls are the best things that you can buy, for any amount of money.

Everard created none of them, and, sadly, there isn’t a breath of life in his dolls. Still,  he got a desired object as wife. Nine objects, to be precise.

Cunion

Everard Cunion isn’t the only one with a thing for artificial women. Bob Gibbins, a happily married man,  shares his home with  a harem of  240 love dolls.

Object sexuality or objectum sexuality, in German Objektophilie (OS),[1] is a pronounced emotional and often romantic desire towards developing significant relationships with particular inanimate objects. Those individuals with this expressed preference may feel strong feelings of attraction, love, and commitment to certain items or structures of their fixation. For some, sexual or even close emotional relationships with humans are incomprehensible. Some object-sexual individuals also often believe in animism, and sense reciprocation based on the belief that objects have souls, intelligence, and feelings, and are able to communicate.[2] Contrary to sexual fetishism, the object to an OS person is viewed as their partner and not as a means to an end to enhance a human sexual relationship.

This is a Wikipedia definition. Pygmalion lovingly admiring a piece of ivory he carved into Galatea illustrates the article. Everyone whose heart isn’t made of ivory can understand Pygmalion, praise Aphrodite for performing a compassionate miracle. 

In love with the Berlin Wall

And this is Erika Eiffel. She received worldwide media attention because of her love and subsequent commitment ceremony with the Eiffel Tower in 2007 – hence her last name. But it’s actually the Berlin Wall that has always been there for her.

Erika is polyamorous, which means she can have more than one relationship at a time.

“My attraction to the Berlin Wall has always been there. I always felt a strong connection to objects that are misunderstood. The Eiffel Tower is this great symbol of love, but people around her are just in love with each other – not with her. The Berlin Wall was hated, I wanted to give it a chance to be loved.”

With the Berlin Wall she sees am,” sh strong personal similarity. “I was always hated for who I am,” she says shaking her head.

Objectum-Sexuality: ABC News — The Object of her Affection

The Berlin Wall is a popular object of affection, indeed. Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer, who’s last name literally means “Berlin Wall”, married the Berlin wall in 1979. Mauer states that she was just seven years of age when she fell in love with the Berlin Wall after seeing it on television. Mauer, who currently lives in Leiden, in Northern Sweden, said “I find long, slim things with horizontal lines very sexy” but states that the Wall of China is “too thick” for her. After the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Mauer never returned to see her partner, although she does keep replicas of it in her home. She is said to have a new affection for a garden fence.

Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer and the Berlin Wall

Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer and the Berlin Wall

Babylonia Aivaz's bride-to-be is a 107-year-old warehouse in Seattle

Babylonia Aivaz’s bride-to-be is a 107-year-old warehouse in Seattle

Babilonia Aivaz was calling her wedding with a 107 year old warehouse a ‘gay union’. The ceremony took place in January 2012. Aivaz says she fell head over heels in love with the building after joining a 200-strong Occupy Seattle protest inside the building. Admittedly, Babilonia’s OS (Objectum-Sexuality) is not your “typical” OS love story. She is in love with the cause (SAVE THE BUILDING) rather than the elderly groom — 107 year old warehouse.

South Korean Lee Jin-gyu fell in love with his body pillow of his favorite animated heroine, Fate Testarossa from the animated TV series Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. The two were dating for six years before Jin-gyu took her to Japan to get married, where Fate-the-pillow even donned her own wedding dress. Jin-gyu later confessed that the wedding was a publicity stunt, although marriage isn’t completely out of the question and stated that, “My love for Fate is unchangeable, but I will take more time to think about our marriage.” His friends have said that the couple often go out together to parks and fairgrounds and the pillow gets its own seat when they dine together.

Lee Jin-gyu and a Dakimakura (Japanese body pillow)

South Korean Lee Jin-gyu fell in love with his body pillow of his favorite animated heroine, Fate Testarossa from the animated TV series Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. The two were dating for six years before Jin-gyu took her to Japan to get married, where Fate-the-pillow even donned her own wedding dress.

Jin-gyu later confessed that the wedding was a publicity stunt, although marriage isn’t completely out of the question and stated that, “My love for Fate is unchangeable, but I will take more time to think about our marriage.” His friends have said that the couple often go out together to parks and fairgrounds and the pillow gets its own seat when they dine together.паровоз

41-year-old Joachim A. realized that he had an unusual sexual attraction when he was just 12 years old. His first relationship was with a Hammond organ in which he shared “an emotionally and physically very complex and deep relationship, which lasted for years.” His current partner is a steam locomotive. He admits that he has been unfaithful over the years because “a love affair could very well begin with a broken radiator”. Joachim’s   previous love affairs were often sparked by an object experiencing a technical issue and the necessary repairs made him sexually attracted to the object. He is adamant, however, that these days he is monogamous with the steam locomotive.

Well, then, is objectophilia a paraphilia (a condition characterized by abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities), a disorder, a sickness? People who claim to have it also say that they couldn’t fall in love with a human being because they don’t feel attracted to them.

LOVE AMONG THE OBJECTUM SEXUALS is an article in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, by Amy Marsh. The authors argues that objectophilia is not a paraphilia but a sexual orientation. If you are in love with a tree, a radiator, a garbage can or falling for a chunk of clay about to be sculpted into your Galatea, or simply curious — check it out.

Meanwhile, I’ll go and have a meaningful conversation with a doorknob I find extremely attractive for a few days already…

From Strangers To Mates In 15 Minutes

Fruit-flies-matingThis article first appeared in The Daily, digital news of Case Western Reserve University 

Single gene enables female fruit flies to choose (Mr.) Right

Ah, to be a fruit fly. No meddling matchmakers, creepy dates or frog kissing.

Females process the sights, smell, sounds and touch of love to choose Mr. Right in 15 minutes. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University discovered the neural circuitry that allows females to make this decision. The work was published in the journal PLoS Biology and is featured on the cover of its October issue.

That’s just one finding from the first-ever map of the brain circuits involved—an effort more than 40 years in the making.Fruit_flies

The mapping enabled the scientists to identify the single gene responsible for the network and the neurotransmitter that mediates the “yes” or “no” response—and confirm a 50-year-old hypothesis on decision-making.

By the way, humans have the same gene, but whether it works in us the same way is unclear.

A female’s choice of mate is a key factor in the survival or evolution of a species. She is deciding which traits will be passed on to the next generation.

“It’s a complex decision, “said Rui Sousa-Neves, a research professor in the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences, who led the research and is senior author of the study published in the online journal PLoS Biology.

r718740_5689998During courtship, “the female fruit fly is listening to love songs from the male and taking in the color of his eyes, how he dances and smells, and she’s getting cues from the way he touches her abdomen,” he said.

Sousa-Neves worked with PhD student Joseph Moeller Schinaman; biology and Spanish major Rachel Lynn Giesey, who graduated in May; and assistant biology professor Claudia Mieko Mizutani from Case Western Reserve; and University of California at Irvine researcher Tamas Lukacsovich.

Scientists have been working with fruit flies for more than 100 years. The University of Tennessee’s Benjamin Hochman isolated mutations on the fly’s fourth chromosome, a tiny chromosome compared to its three others, more than 40 years ago.

But the resource sat on a shelf because no one could link mutations to genes, Sousa-Neves said.

To link the mutation to a gene, Sousa-Neves previously developed a series of tools to molecularly map it and more recently developed a method to generate mutant neurons using a fluorescent color code.

They showed that the gene datilografo (dati), a transcription factor, is essential to organizing and maintaining the neural circuitry in the central brain that enables a female to accept a mate.

The gene is required in an excitatory circuit involving just a few neurons in the olfactory lobe, the first entry point for odor processing in the brain. The neurons express acetylcholine as their neurotransmitter.

In addition, dati is required in two other brain centers: a region where olfaction and other senses are integrated; and a novel region.

Monitoring females that were being courted “provides the first evidence for a hypothesis made 50 years ago,” Sousa-Neves said. “To make decisions we don’t balance all options like a computer does…. Here females made decisions based on a sum of stimuli that came from outside.”

Further testing showed that if they removed the dati gene, female flies made no decisions and never accepted to mate with males.

“Genes similar to dati are not only found in flies,” said Sousa-Neves. “It’s a conserved gene present in marine arthropods to humans.”love

Does the gene play the same role in humans? Do humans actually make such a decision in 15 minutes?

“Nobody knows,”Sousa-Neves said. Finding the answers will take time.

But, now that they’ve discovered the players involved, “it opens up investigating decision-making at a brand new level,” he said.

The researchers are looking further into how dati establishes the circuits for decision-making in flies and what decision-making involves.

View the paper online.

Rewards of Bad Sex

Картинка

André Martins de Barros

I can’t promise this post will be as enticing as its title, or as compelling as the picture above. It’s about sex, all right. Bad sex for sure, but meant literary rather than literally.

Presented by the Literary Review every year since 1993, the the annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award is bestowed upon authors who have written overly flowery or otherwise ridiculous sex scenes.

Per Wikipedia article, it is awarded “… to the author who produces the worst description of a sex scene in a novel. …The award itself is in the form of a “semi-abstract trophy representing sex in the 1950s”,  which depicts a naked woman draped over an open book. The given rationale is “to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it.”

Curiously, after an exhausting search, I couldn’t find a single image of the trophy. Odd, no? I suspect the “semi-abstract trophy representing sex in the 1950s” looks appropriately crude and tasteless to be deemed inappropriate for family-friendly internet sites.

Manil Suri was declared the winner of the 21st BSFA for The City of Devi (Bloomsbury).  Joan Collins presented the prize  at a ceremony in London on December 3rd.

The novel is set in Bombay. The city is in dire peril — under  the threat of being nuked any minute now. Sarita, her husband Karun and a young gay Muslim named Jaz are involved in a threesome. Here is the climax of a lengthy sex escapade of cosmic proportions:

“Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands – only Karun’s body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice.”

The City of Devi is Suri’s third work. He has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Thus he is a good writer, writing sex badly, for which he was properly rewarded. Dr. Suri is a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland. Any wonder his winning sex scene involves more than two participants? Perhaps a mathematician in him loves complex configurations and big numbers, such as number 3. Statisticians the world over rejoice.

Dr. Suri’s publisher, Bloomsbury, said: “In accepting this award we challenge everyone to make up their own mind about Manil Suri’s The City of Devi. As Tolstoy said in Anna Karenina, ‘There are as many kinds of love as there are hearts’.”

Indeed, if this ain’t the truth, what is?

The City of Devi won over Susan Choi’s My Education:

“I seemed to come right away, with a hard, popping effervescence, as if her mouth had raised blisters, or an uppermost froth; but beneath, magma still heaved and groaned and was yearning to fling itself into the air”

Woody Guthrie’s House of Earth:

“And as she sucked the last drops of his blood and his seed into the folds of her innermost soul and self, she felt her whole body lift, pull, squeeze, then lift again, tremble, shake, and quiver, and in her fires of her stomach she strained and moved to bathe his blood into the rumble and the thunder of her own”); and Eric Reinhardt’s The Victoria System (“The zip of her skirt sputtered between her fingernails like a motorboat on a waveless sea … My erection beat time in my underwear.” 

Eight passages of raunchy prose were in contention.  See excerpts in the Telegraph if you are in the mood for some more bad sex.sex

Immaculate Conception — Like a Virgin

S. G. Bannikova. Virgin Mary

S. G. Bannikova. Virgin Mary

There was an interesting study,  published in the respectable BMJ and “seasonally” titled Christmas 2013: Strange Nativities. Like a virgin (mother): analysis of data from a longitudinal, US population representative sample survey. It’s a rigorous work done by a group of 5 researchers: Amy H Herring, Samantha M Attard, Penny Gordon-Larsen, William H Joyner and Carolyn T Halpern.

The study delivers on its promise and its premise: to find, observe, interview and analyse our contemporary American “Virgin Marys”, bless their little hearts. Seriously.

John Collier. Annunciation (fragment)

John Collier. Annunciation (fragment)

Objective of the study was to estimate the incidence of self-report of pregnancy without sexual intercourse (virgin pregnancy) and factors related to such reporting, in a population representative group of US adolescents and young adults.

7870 women participated, enrolled at wave I (1995) and completing the most recent wave of data collection (wave IV; 2008-09).

The study measured self-reports of pregnancy and birth without sexual intercourse.

Results:  45 women (0.5%) reported at least one virgin pregnancy unrelated to the use of assisted reproductive technology.

Conclusions: Around 0.5% of women consistently affirmed their status as virgins and did not use assisted reproductive technology, yet reported virgin births.

The authors note that among  participants who experienced Immaculate Conception,  percentage of those who believe in the importance of preserving virginity until marriage was significantly higher. The “immaculately conceived” girls also admitted that their parents talked to them very little or hardly at all about sex and prevention of pregnancy. The average age of “pregnant virgins” giving birth was 19.3, which is lower than those who conceived in the usual way ( 21.7 ).

Curiously, most of the Immaculate Conceptions happened on Christmas Eve and 60% of them resulted in the birth of male babies.

I abstain from remarks of any kind here. Instead, in the spirit of Christmas sharing, I’m posting these two “Virgin-related” images.

Madonna and Child by Scargeear on deviantART

Madonna and Child by Scargeear on deviantART

Richard Hamilton (1922 – 2011) was often described as the founder of Pop Art – much to his frustration, by the way. From the exhibit Richard Hamilton: The Late Work comes this one:

Richard Hamilton, ‘The passage of the angel to the virgin’, 2007.
Private Collection. © Courtesy of the Estate of Richard Hamilton.

Sex And Fruit Flies


love

These cute bugs aren’t fruit flies. Fruit flies don’t do photogenic love on daisy petals.

A male fruit fly - Drosophila melongaster

A male fruit fly – Drosophila melongaster

This little guy, indeed, is a fruit fly. Let’s call him Fred. He resides at the laboratory of Ulrike Heberlein at the University of California, San Francisco.

Does Fred appear drunk to you? Hard to say, because we don’t know (at least I cannot say) whether  Fred is postcoitally happy or pissed off, having been rejected by “a girl”. If Fred is a snubbed sad sack, then, indeed, he might be drunk. The research  suggests that fruit-fly-lads just like Fred drink significantly more alcohol than those that have plenty of great sex. What the scientists have done that pushed Fred to become a low-life drunk?

In Sex-starved fruit flies turn to drink, researchers tell it all. It has to do with the level of neuropeptide F (NPF) chemical: alcohol stimulates Fred’s brain to compensate for lack of sex by giving him “high” in a way good fruit-fly orgasm would.

Sexual frustration is bad for your health, particularly if you are Fred. Sex-starved fruit flies live shorter, more stressful lives. Scientists found that male flies who were stimulated to mate but prevented from doing so, had their lives cut short by up to 40%.

What this new finding tells Fred?  Chin up, Fred! If she said no, don’t sulk. Go and get drunk.

Interesting.  Sex topics often are.

Let’s leave Fred to live long and happy life as a drunk for now  and turn to Jack an Jill. They are humans. For the sake of this post, they are British. If what is true for Fred is true for Jack and Jill, then “statistical” British Jack and Jill are in big trouble. Not so much from sexual frustration or rejection but of indifference to sex. Whatever happened to Jack and Jill?

Love

Modern life is “turning people off sex“, that’s what.

“People are worried about their jobs, worried about money. They are not in the mood for sex. 
…But we also think modern technologies are behind the trend too. People have tablets and smartphones and they are taking them into the bedroom, using Twitter and Facebook, answering emails.” (Dr Cath Mercer, from University College London)

Read my blog

Get yourself a toddy, Jack and Jill.

Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?

Japanese too? What’s going on in the world!?   The title of this article in the Guardian says it all. The bi-line — What happens to a country when its young people stop having sex? Japan is finding out —  is even more telling. Japanese

 45% of Japanese women aged 16-24 are ‘not interested in or despise sexual contact’. More than a quarter of men feel the same way.  …Millions aren’t even dating, and increasing numbers can’t be bothered with sex. For their government, “celibacy syndrome” is part of a looming national catastrophe. Japan already has one of the world’s lowest birth rates. (From the article.)

That’s sekkusu shinai shokogun for you. Japanese Jacks and Jills suffer from  “celibacy syndrome”, losing interest in conventional relationships.

Say, how about them Russian folks? How do Vanya and Masha fare, compared to Jacks and Jills elsewhere?

love1

Low standard of living , the total criminalization of life in the country , the destruction of the public health system, threat of AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, …  threat of death associated with such cultural and historical dispositions such as fatalism , social and masochistic helplessness are recognized as factors, affecting individual aspects of modern sexual culture in contemporary Russian society… (fromFactors of sexual culture in modern Russia: sociological analysis” by Tatiana Pichugina.)

Oy! Let’s make us a stiff drink in a really tall glass. Wanna get drunk, Fred?

Stellar Moments of Humanity, Part III: Humanzee

Remember the nightmarish human-like Beast Folk, created from animals via vivisection, in The Island of Doctor Moreau?  Herbert G. Wells wrote this science fiction novel in 1896 as “an exercise in youthful blasphemy”. It seems that his youthful curiosity about varius Beast Folk persisted at least until 1934. That year, on his third visit to the Soviet Union and his second meeting with Ivan Pavlov, H. G. Wells asked about the late Professor Ilya Ivanov, particularly his secret experiments on apes… and got uncomfortable silence for an answer.

Professor Ilya Ivanovich  Ivanov

Professor Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov (1870 – 1932)

Who was Professor Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov and what H. G. Wells was hoping to hear about his experiments?

As his image suggests, I. I. Ivanov was your proverbial crazy scientist, possessed and obsessed by the idea to change the world. An eminent biologist, he had perfected the technique of artificially inseminating mares, and also produced cross-breeds between various different species. Ideas of eugenics were very popular in Europe at the turn of the 20th century, and the Soviets were out to prove once and for all that Darwinism had superseded religion.

In 1926, Ivanov decided that the most compelling way to do this would be to breed a humanzee: a human-chimpanzee hybrid.

The financing was provided by the Soviet Russia and Prof. Ivanov’s contacts and earlier collaboration with the Pasteur Institute in Paris made it possible to set up experiments at the botanical gardens in Conakry, French Guinea. Ivanov set off for a French research station in West Africa.

Interesting that I.I. Ivanov was well acquainted with Dr. Voronoff of the Stellar Moments of Humanity, Part II: Monkey Nuts. They even collaborated in performing a few famous monkey nut-graft surgeries together. Profit driven Dr. Voronoff, who became multi-millionaire sawing ape glands into the genitalia of super-rich, declined Ivanov’s invitation to participate in his project. All give and take, Ivanov was driven by the idea…

To catch a suitable chimp, as it happened, wasn’t an easy task. Obviously, Ivanov and his crew lacked imagination of the 95 year old Grandpa of Bertram Gayton’s The Gland Stealers.

Armed with clubs, rifles and bows, Conakry warriors tracked down the family of chimpanzees and drove it to the tree, scaring them with loud noises. A bonfire was built around the tree. Suffocating in the smoke, terrified monkeys jumped down, injuring themselves in the fire or under the batons of the catchers. Many died, some managed to escape, and a few were caught. Usually those that got caught were adolescent chimps. Their parents were either killed or let go, for adult enraged chimps are very dangerous.

Such barbaric methods could not be tolerated for long. Professor Ivanov arranged a delivery of specialized nets from Paris. Hunters were promised 1,000 francs for each humanly caught chimp.   But no reward could get Africans to go against the monkeys with such unreliable “weapon” as nets. The native hunters still preferred to catch monkeys with their bare hands, hunting in large groups.  The results were mostly disastrous, now for the pursuers. Several hunters were killed and seriously injured by the monkeys fighting back.

Thus far, three female chimpanzees  were  inseminated with human sperm. It is said that none of Professor’s own sperm was used in his experiments. Although he was a 100% Darwinist, Ivanov, nonetheless, shared the prevalent belief that Africans were related to apes a bit more closely than he was.

The following slideshow, unfortunately of an inferior quality, has number of screenshots from the Russian video Люди-обезьяны. Секретные опыты доктора Иванова (People-apes. Secret experiments of Dr. Ivanov).  In spite of its sometimes biased and politically slanted narrative, it contains some unique documentary footage and serious “talking-heads”, historians of medicine, Russian as well as French.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Professor Ivanov’sscientific ambitions went further yet. He resolved to try inseminating human female with the chimpanzee sperm. Both the money and the chimps were needed. He turned to a Cuban heiress, Rosalia Abreu.
Signora Abreu was the first person to breed chimps in captivity and had a large menagerie outside Havana. Ivanov asked if any of her male chimpanzees might be available to inseminate a Russian volunteer known to posterity only as ‘G.”

At first Abreu was agreeable. But Ivanov made the mistake of approaching Charles Smith of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism for fund-raising support. Smith was something of a showman – he liked to appear in public with a chimpanzee dressed in a business suit – and went to the newspapers with Ivanov’s proposal. The New York Times thundered, “Soviet Backs Plan to Test Evolution.”

The resulting publicity brought the case to the attention of the Ku Klux Klan, which threatened Abreu with retaliation if she took part in Ivanov’s experiment, calling it “abominable to the creator.” Abreu withdrew her consent. (From Kissing Cousins by Clive D. L. Wynne )

Yet another scandal broke when a notoriously nosy French journalist started snooping around the Conakry lab and came up with the sensational report.

Unable to change human nature through Communist indoctrination, Soviet leaders are trying to create New Soviet human species – race of ape-people, 2 meter high, fast growing, impervious to hardship and hard work…

HumanzeeSensationalist and far-fetched as it was, the scandal had its immediate effect: Professor Ivanov was recalled from West Africa. He departed Conakry with three female chimpanzees, artificially inseminated with human sperm, two monkeys who have not yet reached puberty, as well as several males. The experiments supposed to be continued back home, in Sukhumi’s Institute of Experimental Pathology and Therapy, the first primate testing center in the world, created in 1927 especially for the purpose of Prof. Ivanov’s experiments.

Scientists at the institute today admit that these experiments did go on at the institute, though they deny it was part of any overarching plan for the creation of a new race.

“Professor Ivanov started these experiments in Africa and continued them here in Sukhumi,” says Vladimir Barkaya, who started at the institute in 1961 and is now scientific director. “He took sperm from human males and injected it into female chimpanzees, although nothing came of it.”

Professor Barkaya vehemently denies monkey sperm was used on human females, although he admits that letters were apparently received by the institution by people of both sexes offering to participate in the experiments.

Stellar Moments of Humanity, Part II: Monkey Nuts

Bertram Gayton. The Gland stealers. Jenkuns; London, 1922

Bertram Gayton. The Gland stealers. Jenkuns; London, 1922

In Bertram Gayton’s book The Gland Stealers, published in 1922,  a 95 year old remarkably preserved Grandpa learns from the newspaper about a successful “rejuvenation” procedure — implantation of monkey’s testicular glands into a man.  Grandpa is determined to give it a try. He buys a gorilla and undergoes the transplantation surgery.

The result is short of a miracle. The old man is young again, now looking half his age. Forever an American go-getter, Grandpa is ready to immediately rejuvenate everyone. Selecting 100 candidates for the trial, he establishes a lab in Africa for treating them. All Grandpa needs now is to catch 100 male gorillas by the balls, which isn’t as easy a task even in Africa.  An entrepreneurial Grandpa dons an alluring gorilla suit, gets into the cage and does tricks to lure male gorillas into the cage. Frisky “gorilla” attracted 20 suitors thus far and 20 surgeries are performed… and so on.

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Creeping Man, one of Sherlock Holmes short stories, published in 1923, the old professor is engaged to a much younger woman. Shortly after his trip to Prague, professor starts behaves oddly. Apparently, he continued with the rejuvenation treatment he first received in Prague — an extract obtained from  monkey testes. Professor’s energy level was now comparable to that of a young langur, but… well, the guy got more than he bargained for. As Sherlock put it, “When one tries to rise above nature one is liable to fall below it.” 

Dr. Serge Voronoff

Dr. Serge Voronoff

These books — and several others, published around the same time  — were literary responses to the widely publicized  practices of famous Dr. Serge Voronoff (1866-1951), the Russian surgeon, living and working in France.

Dr. Voronoff  have learned the importance of the testicular glands in men’s health through the observation of the eunuchs in Egypt. According to him, the removal of the testes produced physical decline in old age, thus implantation could be an appropriate treatment against aging.

Between 1917 and 1926, Dr. Voronoff tested out his theory on animals, doing more than 500 homo-transplants on rams, goats, and even a bull. He observed that older animals implanted with the testicles of younger ones regained lost vigor.

Serge VoronoffVoronoff’s “rejuvenation” was so popular that by 1930 there were thousands of men around the world who underwent it. And these men were no paupers. Gonads demand was such that Serge Voronoff  built a large park with chimpanzees and baboons to maintain the supply.

During the operation a man and a monkey were places next to one another on a separate  operating tables. The monkey’s glands were removed, cut in pieces of about two centimeters long by a half centimeter wide and a few millimeters deep. The surgeon would then introduce two grafts in the scrotum, which he fixed with stitches taken off after eight days.

 Dr. Voronoff operatingAnatole France, renown French playwright and Nobel Prize laureate, undergone the treatment at age of 61. His health was failing, he felt old, ill and impotent.  Dr. Voronoff used the testes of a huge baboon and made a total of 8 grafts with remarkable results, which manifested itself in 23 days. The operation was claimed to be a resounding success.

Reliable rumors” suggest that Pablo Picasso might also have gone under Dr. Voronoff’s knife.

Voronoff and Monkey

Accomplishments

Most of the images in this post came from the site Interstitial Immortality.  As it often happens, I was researching an entirely different subject, which might one day become Stellar Moments of Humanity, Part III.

Shock And Awe: OPER…AHHHHH!

Do you like opera?

No?

I understand.

Would you like to watch semi-naked women in various stages of dishabille, prancing on the stage, while some of them sing in decent (sometimes fabulous) soprano voices?

Try not to let your gaze slide to the image below – it might impair your impartiality.

All right, since you looked at the picture anyway, your answer might be somewhat affected by it. You might say, I don’t know. Or It depends. Or I’ll be darned.

I understand.

The image accompanies a New Yorker article in the Music Events section by Alex Ross, New Yorker’s music critic. The article, very tellingly, called Shock Tactics: Smaller opera companies break the routine.

“This year, opera on the East Cost has taken a turn toward the lurid, the sordid, the subversive, and the cryptic – in short, toward theatrical values that are more commonly found on European stages than on American ones, where patrons still expect Tosca in a tiara.”

EliogabaloNow, try not to look at the second image and read on. Last February, the New York City Opera staged a production of Thomas Adès’s opera Powder Her Face. The libretto is based on the salacious scandal erupted in 1963 Britain.  As became apparent during the divorce proceedings, Lady Margaret Campbell, the Duchess of Argyll, had a few extramarital affairs… with some eighty-eight men.  Powder Her Face reproduces the Duchess’s extravagances in as many tantalizing details as uncomfortably fit into the show’s run-time.

 Most of the media chatter about the production has reliably focused on the blowjob scene, which comes about halfway through the first act. 25 naked men literally come out of the woodwork for this vignette—out of wardrobes, bathtubs, and any available stage wing—all in an effort satisfy Campbell’s insatiable appetite. The Duchess, played by Allison Cook, heroically sings throughout the entire job.

It’s a great scene, in no small part, because as an audience member, it’s nearly impossible not to ogle over all those dicks in various states of fluffery. You’re implicated in the scale of the media scandal reproduced here, and you feel that immediately. Powder Her Face: An Opera without Empathy or Soul by Paddy Johnson.

Wow, I wanted to chew my fingers off just copy-pasting it.

Now, you may look at the second image. Nothing to it, given what it could’ve been. Either the photographer carefully censored the content, or the magazine editor did.

Powder Her Face

If the only thing you can remember about the opera is that there were 200 topless (or bottomless) extras in it – the production probably sucked. That what you can say to yourself if the only thing… Well, could it have been ALL YOU could see, staring at the screen, petrified with fascination?

In 1987, the Swedish Director Claes Fellborn made film version of Grand Opera Aida. It’s hard to find today, unfortunately. I was lucky enough to have a chance of seeing it. The few reviews were rather dubious. Vehement objections were expressed regarding costuming: Aida (Margareta Ridderstedt) was topless, as well as a number of “Ethiopian slave” extras.

This gimmick designed to increase the audience by combining the appeal of the opera with that of burlesque! Verdi’s opera, performed topless! Skin flick meets Grand Opera! Joe Green (Giuseppe Verdi that is) would’ve turned in his grave…

Well, knowing Joe Green, it’s unlikely he’d have fully approved of the work of Fellborn, or any other film director for that matter. After he achieved success, Verdi became increasingly autocratic and wanted to control every detail of the presentation of his works. Unfortunately for critics, his likes or dislikes of naked bodies are rather poorly documented. Little did those critics know that in some 25 years even Verdi’s bones wouldn’t rattle all that much, settling in a disgusted dust.

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings. 

Russian OperaEnglish speakers know and use this colloquialism. It was coined by Ralph Carpenter, the sports commentator and an opera lover. He said, “The opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings.” The reference is obvious –  the stereotypically corpulent buxom opera diva (think Wagnerian valkyrie Brünnhilde with braids, horned helmet etc.) singing in the opera’s finale.

For the last 10 generations at least, fat lady of the opera was its symbol and its pride. Opulent productions of Grand Operas of the world — Metropolitan and Bolshoi being more conservative than others — had this old-bronse-tarnished-tassled-gilt look, feel and sound.

It isn’t easy bringing opera to new audiences.  It’s boring to cater to the calcified or predictable tastes of “traditional” opera aficionados. This year, Alex Ross says, the Met mounted a Rigoletto in a Rat Pack Las Vegas and a Parsifal set in a blood-drenched wasteland…”

Thus we made a full circle. Next, Mr. Ross would mention the more risqué productions, such as “Eliogabalo” and “Powder Her Face” and admit that having 27 even most glorious penises on the stage at the same time, might be too much even if the aim is to bring a new, lively crowd into the audience.

How many bare breasts and asses would it take to entice people who never spend a night at the opera to buy a ticket? Would people interested in shows featuring blow jobs be looking into the repertoire of the opera houses?

My opinion? There must be a fine line somewhere between a proverbial fat lady singing her aria at the opera finale and, well, you know… 

Note to Self regarding ARS NUDA: Revise your attitudes. Less sensationalism. More subtlety. Ah… maybe not.

Of Love As A Drug And Mule As A Peculiar Animal

Online datingA Boy falls in love with a Girl. Let’s call them Paul and Denise. Paul is smitten and in love. Wouldn’t you be, if your girl looked like Denise? She is a glamour model. We are talking maximum constitutionally allowed number of Ds in her breast size!

Paul is dreaming of marriage and children. Denise finally agrees to meet him. What? Well, yes, they’ve never met in person, but Paul has her image on his monitor screen all the time!

He’d never seen a woman in the flesh! He’d never even heard her voice! What a dumbass… Aha! Must be one of those stories! The boy is probably underage… The internet… the cougar-vamp… No?

Denise is at a photo-shoot in La Paz, Bolivia. Long way, baby, but, what the hell, come and join me!

All fired up, Paul is packing up and ready to go. He’d fly to Bolivia, meet Denise, bring her back to North Carolina and, god help them, they’d start a life together — the forever kind of life, kids and all. Unfortunately, Paul cannot leave his job for very long – no more than a few days, he has to teach, you see. Oh, yes, the Boy has a job. He is a professor of physics  at the University of North Carolina. As a matter of fact, he had been one for the last 30 years.  Which is no surprise — Paul is 68.

Paul FramptonAha! One of those stories! Now we know! The boy is an old coot, salivating over sexy young thing! Wants to buy love… No?

By his own admission, Oxford educated, titled and honored for his contribution to his field (a particle physics phenomenology), Distinguished Professor of physics and astronomy, Paul Frampton, is also endowed with certain character peculiarities.  For once, he has colossal ego. The history of science in general, and physics in particular, has known a great number of no lesser minds in possession of greater modesty. “Well, I have been accused of having a huge ego,” are Paul’s own words.

Divorced, he was looking for a wife, hoping to find a woman between 18 and 35 — whose physical looks would closely match his physicist’s brains.  About Denise in the interview: “…to start with, she’s in the top 1 percentile of how women look.” In an email to Denise he wrote, “… I realize that we are the perfect couple in all respects.”

Model Denise MilaniOn the other hand, why someone like Denise would be interested in a 68 year old physics professor? Is he an oil tycoon on the side? No?

Toronto, Santiago, Chile, La Paz, Bolivia. There, and not without setbacks. That is, Paul is there, but Denise is not. She was urgently called away to Brussels. Another photo-shoot. No wonder, with the body like hers! Jesus Christ!

She arranges for him to fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina. He should wait there for a ticket to Brussels. And, by the way, wouldn’t it be a terrible inconvenience if he’d bring along a bag she carelessly left behind?

Paul Frampton

 Dum de dum dum… Now we can guess where exactly all of this is going, don’t we?  Remember the airport security warnings about packing your own bags, no?

Someone whose face Paul couldn’t see in the dark – the transaction took place on the unlit street in front of the hotel – hands him a black bag.  It’s a stock variety, not some fancy item Paul would expect Denise to have. It has a tremendous sentimental value to her, Denise assures in an email. The bag is empty.

Paul’s friend, a physicist and a lawyer, learns about the suitcase from the exchange of emails with Paul. He warns Paul that he might’ve stepped into a deep doo-doo, given his present situation, the events that preceded it, and the direction the story might turn next.

Paul shrugs off the warnings as melodramatic. He rarely paid attention to the opinions of others before and has no inkling to change his ways now…

Away from home for 15 days already, Paul finds himself stuck at the Buenos Aires airport with 2 suitcases, one of which is Denise’s, by now filled with his dirty clothing. It’s time to head home and report for work. He decides to abandon the chase of his Fire Bird for the time being — after all, she might come to North Carolina on her own… to retrieve her bag.  After all, it has a sentimental value to her.

Argentinian authorities  arrested Paul Frampton  at the Buenos Aires Ezeiza airport as he was boarding a flight to Raleigh.  2 kilos of cocaine was recovered from the secret compartment of Denise’s suitcase.

On 19 November, 2012, in Argentina, Paul Frampton, professor with aspirations for a Nobel Prize in physics, was sentenced to four years and eight months for drug smuggling.

Model Denise MilaniWhat a terrible story! Aha! He must be — and, undoubtedly, he is! — simply one of those geniuses, superb in science but total and complete idiot-savants in everything else, easily deceived, duped and confused… No?

Paul’s ex-wife, whom he married at the age of 50 and divorced a decade later, admitted that although genius in science, Paul lingers in the emotional age of a three-year-old.  Here we go! Exactly!

However… there is always that annoying however…

Frampton’s defense – [claiming] that he was duped because he had a childlike understanding of the ways of the world – began to unravel. The prosecutor opened his cross-examination by citing a text message retrieved from Frampton’s confiscated phone.

On 22 January at 9.46am,” he said, “you wrote from Ezeiza airport to the person you understood to be Denise: Was worried only about sniffer dogs but more.

As his interrogation continued, he read other text messages sent from Frampton’s phone. One at 9.52am: Need to know if your loyalty is with the bad guy-agent & bolivian friends – or good guy, your husband?  And another at 9.56am:  SIRU [the Hotel Siru, where they were planning to meet in Brussels] “IS AMBUSH.  10.14am:  Your naivety is bad for me, us. This is millions. NO SIRU, OK?  At 11.19am, Frampton sent Denise an email:  This stuff is worth nothing in Bolivia, but $Ms in Europe. You meet me at the airport and we do not go near the hotel the ‘agent’ suggested. Stay at another hotel.  At 11.47am, there was another text message:  Monday arrival changed. You must not tell the coca-goons. At 12.16 pm, Frampton wrote: WHY ARE YOU IGNORING ME? AT THIS LAST MOMENT. WE DID NOT DECIDE HOW TO MEET TOMORROW IN BRUSSELS AND KEEP COCA & LIVES. AT SIRU WE MAY LOSE BOTH!!  At 1.06pm:  We may do cool 1,000,000. (Maxine Swann The physicist, the glamour model and the suitcase of cocaine)

Bummer!

What about the beautiful Denise, a girl of Paul Frampton’s dreams? There is, indeed, a woman by this name (Denise Milani) and this body somewhere in the world. It came as shock to her that her identity was used in a drug trafficking scam and, naturally, she is extremely distressed over the whole situation and concerned for her own and her son’s safety.

This story, as told at length by Maxine Swann, who made a trip to Argentina and met with hapless professor, amused me a great deal. As I read it, my thinking was constantly shifting from one Aha! to another, and every Aha!  that followed seem to have totally negated the previous one. Happens… And when it does, it’s really worthy of note.

Speaking of foreign travel, take a look at my Smile page. There is a new item there — a slide show of celebrity passports… John Lennon looks like an insurance salesman, Marilyn Monroe — your local grocery store clerk,  Katharine Hepburn — a tired housewife. Ernest Hemingway, surprisingly, looks better than on his publicity photos and Albert Einstein… well, he looks exactly like  Albert Einstein.

Butterfly Catcher And Pedophile Too?

180px-Nabokov2

“Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.” 

Lolita is famous, not I. I am an obscure, doubly obscure, novelist with an unpronounceable name.”

― Vladimir Nabokov

“The Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, was vandalized recently by a group calling themselves the St. Petersburg Cossacks.” Early in January, a vandal threw a bottle through a window of the museum with a note inside that threatened “God’s wrath.”

Earlier this week, vandals spray painted “pedophile” on the walls of the museum.”

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The graffiti reads PEDOPHILE in Russian

Joyce Carol Oates, by far the America’s most prolific writer, in her Revisiting Nabokov’s Lolita, laments that far more people have an opinion about the book than have actually read it. I wonder how many of St. Petersburg Cossacks have.  Dissecting Humbert Humbert’s sexual obsession, J.C. Oates is somewhat disappointed that Lolita makes lousy porn, despite its salacious subject matter. 

It didn’t take me long to find a peculiar post on BookTalk.org forum. The topic: Nabokov, a closet Pedophile?

The author, scarlet31 seems to know quite a lot about Vladimir Nabokov’s life and writing. St. Petersburg Cossacks, who, I assume, not quite as knowledgeable, would be happy to hear her out.

I quote some of what scarlet31 says verbatim, save a few typos MS Word wasn’t happy about:

I find it most intriguing to look beyond the solipsism, abuse, puns, and allusions and delve into the reason Nabokov spent decades writing about child molestation and rape. His penchant for literary intimacy with very young pre pubescent girls exposes a man who chose to ignore the sexual slavery of a twelve year old girl and violate deep rooted sexual and social taboos.

He first developed the theme of the hidden pedophile in his novel “Dar”, written between 1935-37. Then expanded the theme into a novella “The Enchanter” in 1939; wrote the 300 plus page “Lolita” between 1949-1954; drafted a full length screenplay in 1960; singlehandedly translated Lolita in Russian over a two year period, 1965-67; followed by “Ada” in 1969.

To stop undesirable speculation, Nabokov insistently portrayed himself as naive on such matters of pedophilia and that he had to do extensive research simply to be able to write about the subject with any credibility.

He claimed he read so many case histories, traveled America, collected butterflies or whatever. An excellent maneuver, but there was just one little problem: Ten years or more before “Lolita”, Nabokov had written two or more portrayals of pedophilia that between them demonstrated unequivocally that he had complete mastery of child kidnapping, rape, and intimate details of pre-pubescent girls bodies.

I might not be following the above logic just as it was intended, but isn’t it the same as to say that the writer, narrating from the point of view of a psychotic serial killer, must be a closeted psychotic killer himself, for why, otherwise, he  described seven murders in his book so skillfully?

V. Nabokov said this about Lolita,

Lolita is a special favorite of mine. It was my most difficult book—the book that treated of a theme which was so distant, so remote, from my own emotional life that it gave me a special pleasure to use my combinational talent to make it real.

And something else, too…

“I always call him Lewis Carroll Carroll, because he was the first Humbert Humbert.”

But I won’t go there, where Lewis Carroll Carroll dwelt…

book loverBefore Lolita, Nabokov was just another writer with a rather peculiar bio. He considered himself an American writer, born in Russia, educated in England, where he studied French literature before moving to Germany for fifteen years… “My head speaks English; my heart speaks Russian and my ear – attuned to French.” That alone didn’t make him famous. He taught at Cornell and netted butterflies, both with moderate success.

After Lolita, everything changed for Vladimir Nabokov — Fame came and claimed him  as his own.

When asked whether he ever felt that his protagonists dictate the plot development to him as a writer, Nabokov looked puzzled, even annoyed. He called the question utter nonsense and insisted that writers who claim such things happening to them were either a second-rate or mentally unwell.

One of his students at Cornell University ran into her professor as he was hurrying with a net to hunt butterflies. She said she was very worried, because she didn’t have time to do all the necessary reading for the test. He blithely replied, “Life is beautiful. Life is sad. That’s all you need to know.”