By Morgue Anne
Why is the Penis Shaped Like That is probably not a book I would recommend to read on the bus, or any other form of public-transportation, really. Yes, you could point to the “Scientific American” on the spine and reassure everyone giving you funny looks that it is, in fact, a collection of legitimate scientific studies about…weird and fun sex stuff. Or you could buy it for kindle and save yourself the embarrassment of only reading this particular book in the privacy of your own home. Or you could just not give a rat’s ass, because if you’re reading Why is the Penis Shaped Like That then you probably are not someone who’s overly concerned with grandmother’s giving you disapproving glances on the subway.
Let’s be honest - why wouldn’t you want to read a book with this title? If you have any inkling of something resembling a sexuality, you’ve probably had some questions over the years that your high school health class, church group, or grabby uncle just never got around to answering for you, most likely because they didn’t know. Jesse Bering dives into everything from the purpose of the female orgasm to the neurology of people who are sexually attracted to animals and evolution of bodily fluids, leaving no stone unturned in his search for answers.
Bering does a fantastic job of bringing his own voice to each essay while also staying fairly objective in a celebration of science at it’s best. While most people stop searching for answers as soon as they’re uncomfortable, Bering makes a point to dive even further and look at things from an objective viewpoint. This attitude may frighten a lot of people away, but consider that the more we understand something the better equipped we are to handle instances such as pedophilia. There is a lot of stuff in there discussing “vanilla” sex as well, such as the title essay and a few other pieces concerning male and female genitalia (with one of my personal favorites on the psycho-therapeutic aspects of semen). This is guaranteed to be a fantastic ice-breaker with all the strange information you will gain. I can’t count how many conversations I started with “So I’m reading this book about strange sexual studies…” and then went on to tell someone about foot fetishists. Or female ejaculation. Or the different scientific terms for blow jobs.
This is not a book I recommend to someone without a sense of humor, or anyone who is unable to get past the ‘ew ew ew’ part of their brain and take a look at something that might make them a little uncomfortable. This is for the curious, the scientist inside all of us who takes a look at the world around and wonders “Why?”. If you are still hesitant, consider this - if a gay man can suck it up and write an entire section of his book on vaginas for the sake of being fair and balanced, you can give Why is the Penis Shaped Like That a chance.
Written by Grace Ibrahim
Benjamin Linden is a photographer from Virginia with a unique vision (and often times twisted) of contemporary portraits. He is fascinated with outrageous themes and exquisite fetishism. His work is a broad spectrum of the bizarre, creepy and gothic.
Grace Ibrahim for Extollere: It has now been six years since you started Benjamin Linden Photography How are you feeling about it now?
Ben Linden: Damn. Has it been that long? I’m still feeling pretty psyched about it. I always love shooting with people that I’ve worked with before, but I always look forward to meeting and shooting with new people. There is always fresh ideas or concepts that I want to do. I’m still loving every minute of it
GI: Are you happy with the way things have gone?
BL: Very much so. Things have progressed naturally and at a good pace. Every once in a while, there is a new skill that I want to learn, either on the computer or on location with certain settings. I learn them on my own time and it’s much easier learning that way for me.
GI: Have you learned anything cool lately?
BL: I’ve been learning how to create space/planet landscapes digitally in Photo-shop. Some of those images that others have created are absolutely breathtaking. I hope to be as good one day.
GI:Anything to tell your self from six years ago?
BL:Get a Mac now instead of waiting 3 years! Lol
GI: How about 6 years in the future?
BL: In six years, I hope that I still love doing photography. Photography and music are my main outlets for being creative. I can’t imagine not doing either one, so I really hope that my passion never goes away.
GI: Who would you say has influenced you most musically and in your art ?
BL:I would say musically: Metallica, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Tom Waits, VNV Nation, Rammstein and many others more. Artistically, I am influenced by Charles Gatewood, Eric Kroll, Collin J. Rae, Chad Michael Ward, David Hilton, H.R. Giger, David Lynch, and Philip K. Dick. I never really know where to stop when asked that type of question.
GI: Where are you from?
BL: I spent my first years near Arlington, VA but I spent most of my time growing up in King George, VA.
GI: How was it?
BL: Good, but boring at sometimes. King George was so small that you had to travel to the next county just to get to a Wal-Mart. But it was safe for the most part. I met a lot of my dearest friends during my time in KG. I’m now living with my wife in a small town in Virginia called Scottsville, which is about 17 miles south of Charlottesville.
GI: Where are you going or do you think you are here to stay?
BL: I think we’ll be in Virginia for a good while to come. We spent about 4 years in Colorado and while it was a great experience to go there, there’s no place quite like home.
GI: Why photography and music?
BL: Most of my family have been musicians, so I was always around it growing up. I learned how to play trumpet in 5th grade and continued playing trumpet until 12th grade. When I discovered Metallica, I knew I wanted to play guitar. A lot of friends I knew were also interested in playing guitar, so I made a choice to learn bass guitar instead of a regular six string. I picked up my first bass when I was 14. Haven’t stopped since. My father in addition to playing music was also a hobbyist photographer and I first got introduced to the world of photography by him when I was around 13 or so. I never really got back into it again until 2005 when I bought my first camera. The rest as they say is history.
GI: what is a message you have for our readers?
BL: Be excellent to each other! Life is nothing if you have to go at it alone. Being around good people has saved my life many times. Be good to people, and you’ll never be alone.
GI: Is there a memorial set up for your nieces ? (Read the article here)
BL: Any memorial donations can be made out to the Cherub School 3263 Old Church Rd. Mechanicsville, VA 23111. This is where they went to pre school.
GI: The out pouring of support from the area for your family was quite large, and I understand that you made a tribute video for the girls is it on your website ?
BL: I can’t thank everyone enough for all of the love and support. It really meant the world to my family and I. I did make a video. It’s only on my Facebook page right now.
GI: Has this tragedy effected your art or has your art helped you to deal with this?
BL: It has helped me deal with it more, particularly through music. My band mates have been especially supportive during this time and through music, I am able to release a lot of anger and rage that I can’t release anywhere else.
GI: What is the name of your band?
BL:I’m currently doing vocals for Sawbone Suicide.
GI: Our goal at Extollere is to showcase independent art in all forms. We seek to present a Sex positive view but not a sex-centric one, believing that all things can be created with love. Many of your photos are shot beautifully in a sex positive light. Do you have any thing to say to our readers about this?
BL: Many things are beautiful in this world, even things that arouse our body as well as our minds. I would say that one should always remember that things, no matter how erotic or plain, should be seen as a beautiful thing first.
GI: How can our readers contact you about your work, do you have a website?
BL: I’m currently working on my own website, but you can also find my work at facebook.com/benjaminlindenphotography and at modelmayhem.com/benjaminlindenphotography.