Saturday, June 9, 2018

A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis Hardcover – October 30, 2001 by David M. Friedman (Free Press) , a review by the Bard of Bat Yam (#BardOfBatYam) , Poet Laureate of Zion (PoetLaureateOfZion) , Stephen Darori

No David M. Friedman is not the current Ambassor to Israel, rather his namesake. His wikipedia summary needs editing .

David M. Friedman has written for Esquire, GQ, and Rolling Stone, and was a reporter for New York Newsday and the Philadelphia Daily News. His first book, A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis, was published in more than a dozen countries. He is also the author of the widely acclaimed The Immortalists: Charles Lindbergh, Dr. Alexis Carrel, and Their Daring Quest to Live Forever. He lives in New York.

David M. Friedman

David M. Friedman 

 With chapter titles such as The Demon Rod, The Gear Shift, The Measuring Stick, The Cigar, The Battering Ram--how can you loose with giving this book as a gift to yourself, if you own a penis. Or to a spouse or lover if he has one.
"A man can hold his manhood in his hand, but who is really gripping whom?" The book is worth it for this Big Question alone.
As a retired priest I was a bit surprised that Friedman was spot on with the Roman Catholic theologian, Augustine:
"Augustine, the sainted Bishop of Hippo, found his answer sixteen centuries ago in a man's lack of control. It was a proof of man's alienation from the sacred, and a punishment for Adam's insult of God in Eden that original sin passed from one generation to the next through semen. In a culture where the Virgin symbolized all that was pure, the penis stood for all that was evil. What defined Mary's sanctity was her lack of contact with a penis."
This book seems as much poetry, humor and history as it is a polemic. Are you an all power to the penis type person? Then read this book. I'm glad I bought it.

Over time, the penis has been deified, demonized, secularized, racialized, psychoanalyzed, politicized and, finally, medicalized," declares freelance journalist Friedman in a serious yet entertaining book that weaves together an enormous amount of material. In the Greek and Roman worlds, statues of figures with erections were commonplace, he observes, though by the Christian era, the penis had become a source of evil and weakness. Doctors and scientists from da Vinci onward "deflat[ed] the religious rhetoric" and scrutinized the male organ sometimes with untoward results, as when American "semen science" led to the creation of antimasturbation products such as Graham crackers. Western man's fear of the African phallus undergirded colonialism and slavery, and resonates to this day, Friedman argues, as was evident in the case of Clarence Thomas. If some of Freud's case histories might be questioned, Friedman notes how the psychoanalytic interpretation enduringly places the penis and associated anxieties at the fulcrum of society. The rise of feminism put the penis in its place, as The Hite Report pointed out the limits of conventional intercourse in moving women to orgasm, and as Andrea Dworkin exposed penile pathology though the author concludes that male sexuality arises more out of evolutionary strategy than misogyny. His final and liveliest chapter concerns the medicalization of the penis, culminating in Viagra. Even though Friedman quotes a (female) sex therapist on the limits of such drugs, he concludes optimistically that "the erection industry" has performed a paradigm shift, allowing man to impose his will below his belt. The book has a few gaps -- there's little about the gay penis -- but it should reign as the seminal treatment of this topic (and inspire many more puns.
This is a wonderful book.A good and unusual read  Endulge yourself . Buy it . 

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