We can, of course, date the first pornographic representations back to the Venus of Hohle Fels—in other words, 35,000 before the present day. She nevertheless retains signs specific to fertility, despite the obscenity of the sexual parts. Ancient Greece then, in turn, consecrated the concept of erotic scenes, whose sole justification was the pleasure of observing fellow human beings giving themselves pleasure. Pornography has no other aim than to reduce divine urges to the principles of flesh and lowly humanity. Cast your mind back to mythology: only Baubo, by showing her genitals disguised as a face, succeeds in calming the anger of Demeter, whose daughter Persephone, a.k.a. Kore (which means maiden), had been abducted by Hades to become the goddess of the underworld. Later on, as the book “La Chair et le Sacré” by Alexandre Leupin showed, the representation of Christ often conceals an erect penis. Pornography initiates deconsecration. This gives way to fascination (from fascinus, which in Latin describes a man’s erect penis, the phallos in Greek). Man is all by himself, alone. This is also what pornography is.
I grew up in France with the birth of the encrypted channel, Canal+. It showed porn films. Every child of my generation would watch these blurred films in which more was guessed than seen. It left space for a perhaps weak, but entirely real, imagination.
In some ways we were lucky.
It is surprising to see just how much each country has its own brand of pornography—in their own image, perhaps. Today, with the Internet and hashtags, we can study the preferences of each. With regards to France—and it’s completely unique compared to other countries—the most popular hashtag doesn’t refer to a particular practice, but an ethnicity: #beurettes (which means young French-Arab women). It would be interesting if a serious study one day analysed the repressions that are specific to each country (for the French in this instance: colonisation and its latent racism) and the anthropological links with contemporary pornography. The most hideous pornography can be ordered thus: German, French and Swiss. I think that the effects of World War II—the German offensive, French collaboration and supposed Swiss neutrality—have a lot to do with it. By the same token, Italian pornography is the most aesthetic: you can’t help but see something in it from the Quattrocento— colours, perspective and the play of light and shade.
There is a psychology of pornographic forms.
#teen #gay #lesbians #cumswapping #threesome #cuckold #mama #strapon #trany #bisexual #spank #double or even #compilation. Practices are being cut up. The hashtag #compilation was even a mise en abîme of things being cut up. We cut up what has already been cut up to lean towards a kind of performative hypnosis. We know in psychoanalysis that cutting up a woman is the preserve of the (heterosexual) male. Cutting up has been inflicted on the whole planet by pornographic channels. We categorise, we order, we cut up. There are no more films, no more stories, no more narratives, no more colours. It is like depriving the painter of their palette. It makes no sense. It means abolishing depth and off-camera; it means no longer appreciating colours. Brigitte Lahaie, French porn star from the early 80s, tells of how, behind the films, there were always more or less hidden messages, references to art, cinema and political ideology—even if, as she says, the final goal was to jerk off. Today there is none of that. Not even the meaning anymore. Pornography, in its cutting up as a principle accepted by all, in the same way as Twitterised thoughts on the news, stops us from seeing the whole picture. The “depths of the worlds” that Georges Bataille held so dear no longer exist.
Perhaps we must evolve on the Darknet?
Sexual exhibition of whatever sort always has a strong symbolic value. We might find that surprising. We can also get tired of “performances”, even today, in the style of Deborah de Robertis, who exposes herself in museums. It is like an old, warmed-up dish of slightly annoying post performance. And yet this artist was nearly convicted. But even more surprising is to understand why it works. What is at play in this representation? Why does the porn industry create more revenue than the dream machine that is Hollywood? Why is it ahead of video games? Why does humanity, men and women combined, not become bored with this infinite repetition of coitus? Why is it an event each and every time? What is so fascinating about it? What is it that makes so many people psychologically dependent? What is at work with this pornolepsia? What do we cut up with our eyes when we look at the screen? Where does our gaze go? In what place does it lose itself? How has technique paradoxically made concept recede, even in a happy porno? Who are these thousands of camgirls heaped up by mafiosi in post-soviet hotels?
To understand the world, one must follow the pornographic vein that is both sensory and intellectual. This Herculean task must exorcise the existential and relational collapses of the human soul.
Text and collages by John Jefferson Selve, editor of the arts review Possession Immédiate.
Originally published in Dapper Dan 15, 2017.