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192                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            Introduction: The Leatherman’s Handbook
            The Controversial Best Seller

                Leather Dolce Vita, Pop Culture,
             & the Prime of Mr. Larry Townsend

            When principles collide with issues, principles win. The Declaration of
            Independence survives because it is a document of principle, not a docu-
            ment of issues current in 1776. Principle clarifies issues. Civil rights is a
            principle. Gay rights is an issue. Pursuit of issues per se causes political
            myopia. Abortion, suicide, and same-sex marriage are hot-button issues
            solved by the cool-button principle of free choice.
               Give a person an issue and he will eat fire for a day; give a man a
            principle and he may think clearly for a lifetime. It takes common sense
            to raise a village. Common sense is precisely what professionally trained
            psychologist Larry Townsend offered the emerging world of leathermen
            in his original Leatherman’s Handbook, 1972.


            New Leather, as ancient as Eden when Lucifer pulled on a snake skin,
            presented the young Larry Townsend the same self-defining task Adam
            had in the Garden: naming nameless things. Leather is twice the love that
            had dare not speak its name, and an out-of-the-closet vocabulary had to
            be invented. Leather itself is a code word for domination and submission
            in the human condition. The Greeks and Romans often made names
            pars pro toto where part of something identified the whole — as in calling
            a man a “dick.” So the word leather has come to symbolize more than its
            literal meaning which is skin, toughened skin.
               Leather, as a concept, raises from the mists of pre-history, archetypes
            of conquerors and captives, masters and slaves, in literal and existential
            tableaux of sublime power and of human bondage. With the fall of bar-
            barism and feudalism, and with the rise of enlightenment and democracy,
            humans evolved toward self-consciousness. Ask Freud. Ask Jung. Yet the
            psyche of many, even in this millennial new age of equality where no one
            is unworthy, remembers and requires the ancient rituals of the human
               What scenes there be in ancient Greek theater — Ask Euripides — or
            in  modern leather  bars  and  postmodern  leather  play  rooms,  date
            back — whether or not the players acknowledge it — to the moment Eden

          ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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