Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Friday, February 26, 2016
Portrait of Sigmund Freud by Max Halberstadt
You hear a lot about agoraphobia, deriving from the Greek
word for marketplace, agora, and which Dictionary.com defines as, "an abnormal fear of being in crowds, public places, or open areas, sometimes accompanied by anxiety attacks." But
meanings change and one could easily think of agoraphobia as a kind of stranger anxiety you were unlikely to experience unless you anticipated failure in the marketplace. In
short, if you feel ugly and horrible you’re not going to enjoy walking into a
party filled with people you don’t know and you certainly aren’t going to feel
comfortable trying to sell something to, say a novel. On the other hand you
don’t hear much about agoraphilia, which The Free Dictionary defines as "Sexuoeroticism that is contingent on being outdoors or on having sex in public places." If agoraphobia is fear of crowded public places, then agoraphilia would be a level of comfortability in these spaces such that one is capable of making love in them. In short if you feel like a slick cat, you're going
to love walking into that room and will anticipate dominating most of the
conversation, selling your script to Steven Spielberg, say he’s one of
the guests at the gathering in question and then getting laid in front of everyone. The only thing that makes you
apprehensive is that every outing feels like rape to the extent that people allow you to take complete advantage of them. In one sense agoraphilia
is what we’re all after; it’s what a person is enjoying when they’re at the top
of their game and feel happy, joyous and fee. But agoraphobia tends to be a condition that approximates the
experience that most human beings have from about the time of birth, when they exit
the womb and lose the all powerful "oceanic " feeling of oneness with the primal
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.