It's Sex Week over at at Slate: The online magazine is featuring two days worth of articles on "the unavoidable presence of sex in science and culture." Included in the mashup is a review of In Praise of the Whip, a recent Zone title by Niklaus Largier. The review is by Thomas Laqueur, himself the author of the Zone title Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation.
Laqueur's review focuses on Largier's contention that the history of flagellation is a story not only of religious or erotic arousal, but of human subjectivity more broadly:
Largier's central insight is that both before and after 1700, the purpose of the lash, and of reading about the experiences of others being beaten, has been to excite passion, desire, and fantasy—to arouse the imagination. It is a challenge to the confines of flesh, a mobilization of the body in the interests of transcending ordinary space and time, whether it is God or a more sensual self that the flagellant finds there. After Largier, the lash can no longer be identified as merely a tool of either piety or pornography.
Read the whole of "The Allure of the Whip" here.