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Monday, March 24, 2014

The Eulenspiegel Society & Prometheus Magazine

                            The Eulenspiegel Society &  Prometheus Magazine

The Eulenspiegel Society &
Prometheus Magazine

  The Eulenspiegel Society is the oldest and largest BDSM support group in the United States, founded in 1971 as a society specifically for Masochists. Named after a character derived from German Folklore, Till Eulenspiegel.

  Their "house organ" is Prometheus Magazine.  I was in a friends apartment in New York City last Winter (2013), killing some time on the Upper East Side between a museum visit and dinner, when I saw some Prometheus magazines sitting on the coffee table of my host.   Post 50 Shades of Grey it is perhaps difficult to conceive of the BDSM community as something that is in any way transgressive or "underground" but the 70s roots of The Eulenspiegel society and their literature reflects a subculture that struggles to be fully embraced by mainstream culture.

  At the same time I think it's clear that BDSM is increasing in popularity as a result of the increase in interest in the underlying concepts of sexuality and "alternative" conceptions of sexuality.  You can see the growth of interest in sexuality and pornography from the N-gram below:

 If you narrow the same chart down to the 20th century, you can see an explosive rise in interest in sexually related terms like pornography, homosexuality and sexuality itself that largely dates from the 1970s.  If you narrow the N gram down to compare Sadism and Masochism, it is clear that the two terms basically didn't exist until the 20th century (though their roots go back to the 18th century and beyond) and then peaked in the early 1950s:

If you were to continue the chart into the next two decades, there can be no doubt of a rebound.  Thus, I think the subjects of S&M are pretty fertile artistic terrain- if only because they were at such a low point at the turn of the 21st century.

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