Posts From Author: james cantor

How can it be wrong when it feels so right? Daniel Bergner’s “The Other Side of Desire”

Tragedy is full of forbidden desires: the love of Phaedra for her stepson Hippolytus; of the dying Aschenbach for the beautiful Tadzio; of Martin Gray for his goat in Albee’s play. In tragedy, so in life. Daniel Bergner’s┬áThe Other Side of Desire: Four Journeys Into the Far Realms of Lust and Longing (HarperCollins, 2009) describes a series of intense, unorthodox and in some cases forbidden lusts, many of which have the stamp of the tragic. There’s Roy, who couldn’t resist his twelve-year-old stepdaughter. Jacob, for whom women’s feet “were the breasts, the legs, the buttocks, the genitals”. The Baroness, an East Village dominatrix who once┬áliterally spit-roasted a man for three and a half hours. Ron, an advertising artist drawn erotically to amputees. In the course of his sexual odyssey across America, in which he meets a Kinseyan gallery of fetishists, sadists, masochists, psychiatrists and sex offenders, Bergner explores possible answers to big questions: How do we come to have the particular desires that drive us, how do we become who we are sexually, whether our lusts are common or improbable? How much are we born with and how much do we learn from all that surrounds us, how much can […]
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