Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty  

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Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty (Fr:Présentation de Sacher-Masoch: Le Froid et le cruel) is a 1967 book on Masoch by Deleuze. It offers a detailed reconstruction of masochism that challenges Freud's reductionist 'sado-masochism'.

Gilles Deleuze examines the work Leopold von Sacher-­Masoch and shows that masochism is something far more subtle and complex than the enjoyment of pain, that masochism has nothing to do with sadism; their worlds do not communicate, just as the genius of those who created them - Masoch and Sade - lie stylistically, philosophically, and politically poles apart.

It was published by Les Éditions de Minuit and translated into English by Jean McNeil. In the Foreword Deleuze says that Masoch has a particular way of "desexualising love while at the same time sexualizing the entire history of humanity". The book attempts to "cut through" the various forms of expression and content that are the artistic creations of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. It also attempts to develop a problematic of masochism in contradistinction from sadism, concluding that the two form of pornology are non-communicating, and cannot be integrated into Sadomasochistic entity.


The Language of Sade and Masoch

Deleuze starts off by first moving from the clinical practice of associating proper names to diseases (Parkinson's and Roger's disease for instance). However, sometimes it is the patient's name that denotes the illness, as in the case of Masochism and Sadism. History of medicine, says Deleuze, can be regarded as a history of the illness (leprosy, plague) that dies and changes over time, and a history of the symptomatology. However, it is difficult to attribute a disease to Sade and Masoch, but a symptomatology and signs that they describe. It is no longer a matter of pain and sexual pleasure only but of bondage and humiliation as well. Therefore the project is one that moves beyond the purely clinical realm.

However, the differences in Sade and Masoch are not of complementarity but of constituting completely different worlds. Sade uses a language of descriptions that aim at demonstration, whereas Masoch uses the description for a higher function, one of persuasion and education.

The Three Women

Father and Mother

The Art of Masoch

Humor, Irony and the Law

Contract and Ritual

Sadistic Superego and Masochistic Ego

See also

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