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always preserving them in a gold casket, is mentioned by
Brantome. Mantegazza knew a man who kept for many years on his
desk the skull of his dead mistress, making it his dearest
companion. "Some," he remarks, "have slept for months and years
with a book, a garment, a trifle. I once had a friend who would
spend long hours of joy and emotion kissing a thread of silk
which _she_ had held between her fingers, now the only relic of
love." (Mantegazza, _Fisiologia dell' Amore_, cap. X.) In the
same way I knew a lady who in old age still treasured in her
desk, as the one relic of the only man she had ever been
attracted to, a fragment of paper he had casually twisted up in a
conversation with her half a century before.
The tendency to treasure the relics of a beloved person, more especially
the garments, is the simplest and commonest foundation of erotic
symbolism. It is without doubt absolutely normal. It is inevitable that
those objects which have been in close contact with the beloved person's
body, and are intimately associated with that person in the lover's mind,
should possess a little of the same virtue, the same emotional potency. It
is a phenomenon closely analogous to that by which the relics of saints
are held to possess a singular virtue. But it becomes somewhat less normal
when the garment is regarded as essential even in the presence of the
While an extremely large number of objects and acts may be found to
possess occasionally the value of erotic symbols, such symbols most
frequently fall into certain well-defined groups. A vast number of
isolated objects or acts may be exceptionally the focus of erotic
contemplation, but the objects and acts which frequently become thus
symbolic are comparatively few.
It seems to me that the phenomena of erotic symbolism may be most
conveniently grouped in three great classes, on the basis of the objects
or acts which arouse them.
I. PARTS OF THE BODY.--_A. Normal:_ Hand, foot, breasts, nates, hair,
secretions and excretions, etc.
_B. Abnormal:_ Lameness, squinting, pitting of smallpox, etc. Paidophilia
or the love of children, presbyophilia or the love of the aged, and
necrophilia or the attraction for corpses, may be included under this
head, as well as the excitement caused by various animals.
II. INANIMATE OBJECTS.--_A. Garments:_ Gloves, shoes and stockings and
garters, caps, aprons, handkerchiefs, underlinen.
_B. Impersonal Objects:_ Here may be included all the various objects that
may accidentally acquire the power of exciting sexual feeling in
auto-erotism. Pygmalionism may also be included.
III. ACTS AND ATTITUDES.--_A. Active:_ Whipping, cruelty, exhibitionism.
_B. Passive:_ Being whipped, experiencing cruelty. Personal odors and the
sound of the voice may be included under this head. _C. Mixoscopic:_ The
vision of climbing, swinging, etc. The acts of urination and defecation.
The coitus of animals.
Although the three main groups into which the phenomena of erotic
symbolism are here divided may seem fairly distinct, they are yet very
closely allied, and indeed overlap, so that it is possible, as we shall
see, for a single complex symbol to fall into all three groups.
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