Archive of Affinities

"Privacy, mirrors, heated rooms: these things transformed full-blown love-making from a seasonal to a year-round occupation: another example of baroque regularity. In the heated room, the body need not cower under a blanket: visual erethism added to the effect of tactile stimuli: the pleasure of the naked body, symbolized by Titan and Rubens and Fragonard, was part of that dilation of the senses which accompanied the more generous dietary, the freer use of wines and strong liquors, the more extravagant dresses and perfumes of the period. Flirtation and courtship created those movements of suspense and uncertainty, of blandishment and withdrawal, that serve as safeguards against satiety: a counterpoise to the regimentation of habit. These lusty men and women were never so much at home as when they were in bed. Ladies received callers in bed; statesmen dictated their correspondence in bed; an undercurrent of erotic interest thus permeated the household, sometimes bawdy, sometimes brutal, sometimes romantic, sometimes tender - every shade from the bedroom of Juliet to that in which Joseph Andrews almost lost his virtue."

-Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities




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