Sunday, January 08, 2012

Passage of the day

From Jeremy Jennings' magisterial Revolution and the Republic, A History of Political Thought in France since the eighteenth century, pp 410-11:

"[W]e might turn our attention to Charles Fourier's Theorie des Quatre Mouvements, first published in 1808. With its accounts of copulating planets, the sea tasting of lemonade, and the nine degrees of cuckoldry, this is undoubtedly one of the strangest books ever written... There is no need to analyse Fourier's taxonomy of what he took to be our 'luxurious,' 'affective,' and 'distributive' passions, nor to dissect his classification fo the 810 personality types which derived from it: the point was that Fourier believed that it was a mistake to repress the passions. This explains why he allotted such a central place to 'amorous freedom' and what he termed 'combined gastronomy.' If, as Fourier believed, sensual pleasure was the primary and immutable source of human activity, the trick was to so arrange society that it should be maximized. Exquisite food and a rich diet of sexual partners would secure social harmony."