On Kissing: Travels in an Intimate Landscape
A kiss can be an expression of parental affection or the focus of an erotic experience, a defensive social maneuver or an admission of vulnerability. In legend, a kiss can turn an ugly witch into a great beauty; in Hollywood, a kiss can transform a great beauty into a legend. Few gestures bring so much pleasure or play such an important role in our lives, as Adrianne Blue demonstrates in this funny, sexy, and eye-opening book. She explores every dimension of kissing, from the purely physical to the artfully abstract. Physiologically, it takes only two muscles to purse the lips, but a passionate kiss can involve all thirty-four facial muscles, and the rest of the body as well. Psychologically, kissing develops an infant's need to suckle, and it picks up a great deal of symbolic emotional baggage throughout our lives. Socially, it all depends on context: in Provence, three kisses are expected as a friendly greeting; in Japan, even a single peck can be a grave affront. One of Edison's first films was devoted to the kiss, and Blue offers her candidates for the silver screen's hottest kisses, reflecting along the way on the changing ideals of the sexy mouth, from Garbo's delicate thin line to Julia Roberts's fulsome fleshiness. She describes the kiss in other visual arts as well, such as the famous sculptures of Rodin and Brancusi, and she gathers a richly varied collection of poems, from those by Catullus ("the Elvis of ancient Rome") to the Song of Songs, assembled here for lovers to share as they explore the many dimensions of kissing.
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A Natural History of Kissing
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