Friday, September 02, 2016

Love and Terror: Sex as a weapon...

Sexual relations – along with giving birth and death – are probably the most profound physical acts that human being’s engage in. In the act of making love, each person lives out the deepest, most primal truth of the human condition, that people are creatures of nature.

However intimate or casual, sex between humans, like that between other animals, serves primarily one purpose, to reproduce — and perpetuate — the species. Everything else – from the pyramids to the atomic bomb and to the latest presidential election – are mere sideshows, what we call civilization.

But humans are sophisticated creatures of nature that can, like bonobo apes, enjoy sex for both procreation and pleasure. And pleasure comes in every conceivable form. Sadly, the same human desire for intimacy can drive sex into an act of rage ending in abuse, violence and terror. Such sexual terror can be experienced personally (e.g., self-mutilation, suicide), inter-personally (e.g., rape, pedophilia) or socially (e.g., prison rape, war crimes). The complexity of such relations is a testament to the still deeper complexity of sexual desire.

A recent New Yorker review by music critic Alex Ross, “The Sound of Hate,” analyzes the role that music and, more generally, sound plays as a weapon of war. Summarizing a fairly large body of scholarly writings, Ross reports that music was a feature at the Auschwitz death camp, noting, “the Nazis were pioneers of musical sadism.” Like Auschwitz, today’s prison camps are among the gravest environments for audio terrorism. Full story...

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