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Foucault and the KamasutraThe Courtesan, the Dandy, and the Birth of Ars Erotica as Theater in India$
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Sanjay K. Gautam

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226348308

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226348582.001.0001

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The City Dandy and the Vision of the City Based on Art

The City Dandy and the Vision of the City Based on Art

(p.181) 6 The City Dandy and the Vision of the City Based on Art
Foucault and the Kamasutra

Sanjay K. Gautam

University of Chicago Press

Chapter Six goes against the assumption that unlike the discourses of moral law (dharma) and political power (artha), erotic-aesthetic pleasure (Kāma) failed to give birth to a larger vision of society: in the Kāmasūtra there is embedded a vision of a city based on art and aesthetic pleasure. In the nāgaraka or city dandy as the patron, connoisseur, and master of arts, the Kāmasūtra found an agent for its vision of the society anchored in art and aesthetics as a discourse of love. The chapter argues that art in the Kāmasūtra was less about creating great works of poetry or drama and more about a medium of socialization in a city that otherwise found itself caught in the logic of commerce and exchange. As a discourse of love, art also functioned as a form of public pedagogy in erotics; art was a tool to de-virilize masculine sexuality, which reduced women to objects of sexual pleasure and sex to a purely sensual experience without a discourse of love. According to the Kāmasūtra, a society would not be able to construct and sustain a discourse of ars erotica in the absence of art and aesthetics as a public discourse of love.

Keywords:   art, city, city dandy, courtesan, nāgaraka

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