The untold story of Wilhelm Reich and the dawn of the sexual revolution. An illuminating, startling, at times bizarre story of sex and science, ecstasy and repression.
Adventures in the Orgasmatron is the untold story of the dawn of the sexual revolution in America – an illuminating, startling, at times bizarre story of sex and science, ecstasy and repression.
In the middle of the 20th century, the United States became an adoptive home for dozens of expatriated European thinkers, who saw this rich, young country ripe for sexual liberation. One of the most left-field of them was the Viennese psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, a disciple of Freud’s who had broken with the master. Reich’s own approach was based on his theories of the orgasm and sexual energy, which he dubbed ‘orgone energy’. Instead of the couch, he made use of a tall, slender construction of wood, metal, and steel wool, which he called the orgone box. A highly sexed man himself, Reich thought that a person who sat in the box could elevate their ‘orgastic potential’ ridding the body of repressive forces, improving sexual potency, and enhancing overall health.
After World War Two, Reich’s theories caught on among writers and artists, the early adopters of the counter-culture. Norman Mailer and Saul Bellow were amongst those for whom the orgone box represented a yearned-for synthesis of sexual and political liberation, and of physical science and psychology.
Meanwhile, Reich himself faced one debacle after another. Albert Einstein heard him out before rebuffing him. The FBI investigated him as a Communist sympathizer: it turned out that they were hunting the wrong man. The federal government banned the orgone box and tagged Reich as a fraud. There were claims of sexual misdeeds, and bouts of Reich’s own mental instability.
This is the story of the blossoming of the 20th century’s sexual revolution, and the unshackling of a repressed society, and sex before science.
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"How [Reich] went from being one of the inspirational figures of the psychoanalytic movement, as a clinician, a teacher and a writer, to being a cult figure on the margins of 1960s America is an extraordinary story, and Turner tells it with subtlety and panache. Turner has interviewed many people who knew Reich well, and he casts his net wide, setting Reich's quirks and crimes in their historical context so that a portrait of the man emerges rather than a diagnosis." --Adam Phillips, "The London Review of Books "" Very amusing and intelligent . . . This book will change the way in which we employ that increasingly lazy phrase 'thinking outside the box.'" --Christopher Hitchens, "The New York Times Book Review ""Christopher Turner's smart, thorough, wholly engaging book takes the reader on a tragicomic adventure of the history of an idea that became an object: Wilhelm Reich's orgone box. What began in Vienna with Sigmund Freud's belief that the sexually repressive mores of society can make people sick evolved into a utopian, quasi-scientific fantasy that spread through Europe as fascism rose and eventually crossed the ocean to the United States, where it would play a crucial role in what is now called the sexual revolution. Turner's measured account, bolstered by interviews with various characters close to the action, is a study in charisma, belief, and mental contagions that infected an entire culture, and which are still with us today." --Siri Hustvedt, author of "The Summer Without Men ""Turner has created a masterful synthesis of social history, psychosexual theory, obsession, and farce. The narrative is a madcap parade: Freud and Einstein, Leon Trotsky and Mabel Dodge, the Red Scare and UFOs, Ginsberg and Burroughs, Bellow and Mailer, Dwight MacDonald and James Baldwin, Woody Allen and Kurt Cobain--and Wilhelm Reich's quixotic hunt for the ideal orgasm." --David Friend, Creative Development Editor at "Vanity""Fair, " and author of "WatAbout the Author:
Christopher Turner lives in London and writes for The Guardian, the London Review of Books . He is an editor at Cabinet magazine. This is his first book.
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110007181574