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Category Archives: Psychopathia Sexualis

The Anatomical Unconscious (Dery lecture at the National Library of Medicine)

WHAT: Dery lecture in Bethesda, Maryland, at the National Library of Medicine’s “History of Medicine Seminars” series: “The Anatomical Unconscious: X-Ray Specs, Visible Women, and the Eros of the Unseen.”

Copyright Jason Freeny; all rights reserved.

Open to the public.

WHEN: November 4, 2010 (Thurs) 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.


National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
(301) 402-8878

Bldg 38A, NLM Visitor Center.

Directions here.


What do 18th-century wax “anatomical Venuses” doing a striptease in which they expose their internal organs; cutaway views of the imaginary anatomy of Loony Tunes characters; the X-Ray Specs and Visible Woman toys familiar to boomers; and artist Wim Delvoye’s X-rated X-rays of people performing sex acts have in common?

Mark Dery makes these and other provocative connections in his lecture “The Anatomical Unconscious: X-Ray Specs, Visible Women, and the Eros of the Unseen,” a cultural critique of the eroticizing of the scientific gaze. In his hour-long lecture/slideshow, Dery will touch on the pornographic fantasies that swirled around the X-ray from its inception; adolescent dreams, fueled by comic-book ads for X-Ray Specs, of the potential uses for Superman’s X-ray vision; current fears of the potential for abusive use of airport scanners that penetrate clothing; and the artist Wim Delvoye’s series of pornographic X-rays.

He’ll theorize the eros of anatomy revealed, with digressions into the weird cartoon subgenre of imaginary anatomies (of everything from Star Wars At-Ats to Loony Tunes characters) and the premonitions of X-rated X-rays inherent in the baroque medical mannequins on display at the Museum La Specola in Florence, Italy—wax Venuses whose uncanny seductions Dery reads as examples of the abject aesthetic he calls the Pathological Sublime.

Along the way, Dery will explore the idea of X-ray as metaphor for our socially networked Age of Oversharing, when the polarities of public and private are reversing themselves, and the Death of Shame prepares the way for End of Privacy and the Transparent Self, whose innermost thoughts (and bodily functions) must be Tweeted, Facebooked, and blogged.

“Sex Times Technology Equals the Future”—J.G. Ballard

What: Arse Electronika 2007, a conference about pornography in the Digital Age.

Speakers: the usual roundup of sexperts, theory jocks, gadget fetishists, smoke-shoveling cyberpundits, and hairy-palmed hangers-on.

When: I’m delivering a keynote lecture on Saturday, October 5, at 11 A.M. PST. Conference schedule here.

Where: Porn Palace, 415 Jessie St. San Francisco, CA 94103.

What I’m Talking About: “Humanimal” Porn in the Age of Xenotransplants and Genetic Chimera.” Executive Summary: “Humanimal” porn is calculated to blister the mind of even the most been-there, done-that pornsurfer. Armed with image-manipulation software, morph auteurs are conjuring up images worthy of a medieval bestiary or a postmodern Decameron. The result is Dr. Moreau’s idea of Web porn: Hyperreal cheesecake in which nude babes with cow ears, tails, and udders suckle each other and naked werewomen flaunt donkey ears straight out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Is this an absurdist attempt to push the envelope of fetishism to the point where not even devotees of this obscure desire can take it seriously? Or an earnest attempt to feed the fantasies of a vanishingly obscure market niche that would have flown under radar cover in the lost world before do-it-yourself Web porn? Or is it something more profound—a campy, tongue-in-cheek exorcism of our cultural anxieties about genetic hybrids and human-animal transplants in the age of pigs with human hemoglobin and babies with baboon hearts?

Caveat: That’s what I’m contracted to speak about, in any event. As always, there’s a better than even chance I may just go off on some hairy-eyed rant about one of my current obsessions, such as: pathological masculinity in America, the country that brought you warporn, gorenography (a.k.a. “torture porn” in the Saw and Hostel vein), The Passion of the Christ (considered as Foucauldian fever dream), Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, and 300, that dyspeptic mix of homophobia and homophilia whose target demographic seems to be the sweet spot between Michael Savage and Tom of Finland.

Consider yourselves forewarned. And come up and tug on my sleeve if you make it to this thing.

Brasil ’69

You are cordially invited to…

Another (!) lecture on Netporn, the subject that has captivated minds and moistened loins around the world.

This talk is part of the Frontiers of Contemporary Thought series, jointly produced by the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), the University of the Sinos River Valley (UNISINOS) and Copesul, a private chemical company located in Porto Alegre. According to Copesul’s website, confirmed speakers for the series include Bernard-Henri Levy, Peter Greenaway, Pierre Levy, Marshall Berman, Christopher Hitchens, Camille Paglia, and Michel Houellebecq. I am reliably informed, by one of my hosts, that I’ll speak before “a selected audience of Brazilian scholars, journalists, and decision makers.” In other words, I’ll have the Ear of Power as I talk, preposterously enough, about…

“Humanimal” porn in the age of genetic chimera and xenotransplants; the cultural crosstalk between warporn and gorenography (Saw, Hostel, et. al.); pathological masculinity in Dubya’s America; male bonding in the military, stalked by the ever-present specter of the Queer Within; Theweleit; Sontag; Foucault; Zizek; and what happens when Matrix “bullet time” meets PhotoShopped cumshots, among other things.

When: June 26, 2007
7:30 pm

Where: Porto Alegre, Brazil
Federal University
Federal University Lecture Hall

Stop by and say hello, if you’re in town.

Paradise Lust

Believe it or not, people are still having sex. The religious right’s jihad against sexual expression hasn’t put a lid on the American libido.
Erotic wallpaper, Sandstone Ranch, 2004. Photo: Darren Smith.


Toe Fou

Heavy-breathing devotees of subliminal seduction, start your engines.



Is that an unnaturally well-hung big toe?

Or an ordinary digit, digitally inflated to Jeff Stryker proportions?

Or am I just having my own clam-plate orgy, here?