This book is about a basic paradox of movies: on one hand,
we screen moving images to lose ourselves vicariously in the
bigger, more glamorous, more vivid world we see and hear
on the screen; on the other hand, we screen moving images
to reencounter our own immediate sensuality in that more
vivid world. Much has been written about the way we lose
ourselves or identify with those glorious, magnified images
of human bodies in movement on the “silver” screen; much
less has been written about the ways we reencounter our own
bodies, and our own sensuality, in that process. Though it
has recently become possible to speak of the sensuous plea-
sures of embodied viewing and of the shock of cinematic
“attractions,” it has not been easy to understand the sensual
experiences of cinema outside the often crude parameters of
the vocabulary of shock and sensation. This has been espe-
cially the case when the shock and sensation are caused by
moving images of sex.
Movies move us, often powerfully. Sex in movies is espe-
cially volatile: it can arouse, fascinate, disgust, bore, instruct,
and incite. Yet it also distances us from the immediate, prox-
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