The History of Sex: Graz and Vienna -- And Venus Laughed: How Siggie & Co Got Us All Jiggy -- (Chap. VIII, Pt. 1)

Chapter Eight 
AND VENUS LAUGHED 
How Siggie & Co Got Us All Jiggy 
in Fin-de-Siècle Graz and Vienna 


'Things have become livelier. The sexual business attracts people who are all stunned and then go away won over after having exclaimed, "No one has ever asked me about that before!"'

--Sigmund Freud, in a letter to his mentor, Wilhelm Fliess, 1893 


While the French elevated decadence to an art form, their Teutonic counterparts turned it into a science.

A German pioneer in 'sexology' championed the Marquis de Sade's work, and a certain Austrian shrink popularized the term 'sadism' and its pain-loving partner in 1890—naming 'masochism' after a fellow academic (much to his colleague's chagrin).

Even now, the West is struggling with the fallout from fin-de-siècle Austria and its role in inspiring not one but two 'Sexual Revolutions.'

Like Istanbul and Venice before it, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was a nexus of East and West, controlled by a sclerotic ruler and legions of bureaucrats.

Economically powerful but politically impotent, the moneyed classes focused on pleasuring themselves during the 'Gay Apocalypse,' an era combining Klimt's erotica and the timeless waltzes of Strauss, initially described as 'African and hot-blooded, crazy with life.'

And when the whirl of life ended, the elite insisted on leaving eine schöne Leich: a 'beautiful corpse.'

A modern take on the theme
by Martin Schmid

At the top of society, the young heir to the Empire killed himself and a mistress (conspiracy theorists maintained they were murdered), and the death of the Crown Prince—and the succession of a cripple to the German throne—seemed to prove that Western civilization was breeding itself into extinction.

Nietzsche had declared God dead, and in the midst of this nihilistic, eroticized milieu—where the demimonde was 'everywhere but unseen like the sewers'—a fame-seeking Viennese neurologist with a messiah complex began obsessing about the sex lives of children.

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