Utopia And The Law

This text was published first on Ruby Day’s blog.

Today’s illustration shows the world-wide legal status of pornography. Green: pornography is legal, yellow: pornography is subject to some restrictions, red: pornography is forbidden, grey means missing data. The international legal situation knows only two extremes: pornography is completely forbidden, or it’s completely open (usually with age restrictions and explicit bans on criminal practices like bestiality and rape-, child-, and violent pornography).

The distribution of countries with a strict prohibition policy is rather patchy. There is every kind of government, reaching from socialist to theocratical states. Owning pornographic material can lead to severe punishment in some of these countries, including several years of imprisonment. A few years ago, Saudi authorities claimed they were “winning the war against pornography on the internet”.

What’s making them so angry?

Last week I have emphasized the quasi-religious aspects of porn. So it would be easy to identify allegedly backward societies on the basis of their porn policy. But it’s not that easy. Porn is forbidden in most Islamic countries, but also in China. The sturdy defence against porn can’t be based on its echoes of religion solely.

Porn polarizes. This kind of reaction is true for things that are touching somebody to the quick. Love it or hate it; legalize or prohibit it. Porn is provoking an emotional reaction. Watching people having sex, people that are not meant to kill each other nor hide their beauty evokes a feeling of paradise or Utopia in the spectator (or makes him feel uneasy, according to his preferences). And here things become political.

Wait – first religion, now policy?

Imaginations of a better world have long traditions in the history of mankind. In many societies they have become part of the political agenda. This is especially true for extremely conservative countries and societies, where strict religious laws define the basis of morality, and it is true for socialist countries, too, because there must be only one Utopia: the era of communism. Alternatives which are strictly apolitical are breaking these aspirations. They are disturbing public safety. They have to be opposed.

This is the reason why porn is still so subversive: porn is making the promise of satisfaction (the little sister of redemption). But it’s satisfaction without purpose. Porn has no real agenda, and this is making strict societies nervous: if it’s neither leading to a political Utopia nor consolidating the authorities, then it must be wrong and dangerous. The interpretative souvereignity of the system leaders is getting questioned, and this must not be tolerated.

This is the political environment of pornography. The thing itself isn’t political, but the question of its meaning definitely is. And please don’t think this could never happen in the country you’re living in.

Stay alert!

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Iconic

This post appeared first on Ruby Day’s blog.

Last week I’ve described my pornographic awakening and the first moments of porn arousing me. I’m deliberately using the term awakening, because this moment had a quasi-religious feeling in retrospect. Okay, let’s hold our breath for a moment.

Porn and religion? Serious?

Please forget your Calvinistic or Puritan socialization for a while. This is about the religion your iconoclastic forefathers were fighting: the old one, with portraits of Godfather in the clouds, Jesus, and the saints. The depiction of human beings has an even longer tradition, of course, but after the fall of the Roman Empire and the following Migration Period, the art of portrait painting had to be learned all over again, and early medieval portraits were usually depicting important people – and saints.

Basically, there were two types of sacred paintings: the older ones, being regular portraits, and the narrating ones, depicting scenes from the Bible or from the saint’s life. Usually something extraordinary was happening in the latter group of images: dramatic moments of enlightenment, of ordeal, rapture, and triumph. Imagine what these images added to the holy words people were listening to (but usually weren’t understanding, because the mass was celebrated in Latin language). Since most of these people were illiterate these images gave them an understanding of the stories in the Bible and the lives of the saints.

Showing the intangible

The difficult task of Christian art is to depict the unspeakable and unrepresentable: a man walking on water. The creation. The Ascension. Visions of heaven and hell. Designs of different qualities have been made, and many artists have set an example. Study the works of Hieronymus Bosch and you know what I mean.

Depicting the unspeakable and outrageous: you can breathe out now, we’re back into our time. Religious art means depicting things that are beyond expression. Extraordinary things that are bigger than life, that are changing one’s life and even the whole world. Towards a better future, even a better world.

Where’s the porn, you ask?

There are numerous examples for religious pattern in pornographic imagery. Regular visitors of this website know that Ruby Day has been portrayed twice as a porn saint. See here and there. Even more obvious references to Christian iconography can be seen in this portrait of Bobbi Starr.

While religious art describes a spiritual act, pornographic imagery is purely carnal. Both arts are like an object and its mirror image. While religious art depicts the apotheosis, a spiritual ecstasy, the sublimation of all human desires, pornography is depicting the ecstasy of the physical body in all its manifestations, including the orgasm as a kind of redemption. Both arts are failing at this, though: the spectator doesn’t get the real experience, just an idea of it. But both of them give an idea of the absolute climax, the neverending and pure bliss, be it a spiritual or a carnal one. Studying both kinds of imagery will result in a ritual act: masturbation and prayer. Both of these are getting you closer to the depicted content.

Spiritual vs. carnal ecstasy, porn with roots in art history: that’s strong stuff. Share your opinion in the comments.

Stay curious!

(Post Image: Anthonis van Dyck, Susanna and the Elders, 17th century. Source: Wikipedia)

Only for me

This text appeared first at Ruby Day’s Blog.

Remember last week’s post when I told you about my discovery of that porn magazine collection hidden in a cabinet down in the cellar?

Viewed in retrospect, this episode provides a lot of psychology. The descent into darkness, the discovery of forbidden secrets, the defilement of my naive mind. It was a step towards maturity by salvaging a hidden treasure.

The main actor – besides me – in this story is pornography. Porn. My story would have been far less interesting if it was just a collection of Popular Mechanics magazines. In that case I would have run upstairs and yelled: Mommy, I’ve found something interesting, look here! But these were porn mags, and I knew that I should keep them being a secret. But why?

It was the message that porn sent me!

Porn is breaking the fourth wall. Whatever happens, it is happening for me, the spectator. Curiosity, arousal, perplexity, and finally pleasure is porn’s raison d’être. It all happened at once for me, one single moment in this lonely place. This was happening just for me. And I didn’t want to share this. It was a secret consent between porn and me.

Many years later, a bit of this feeling is still there. A pornographic image is still extraordinary, a sensation in the plethora of images that is flailing at us every moment. Taken out of its context of a porn magazine (or web site), the pornographic image still develops a subversive power, provoking the spectator. This experience shaped my concern with porn. And it is still developing further.

Entertainment, bad conscience, filth: what’s your main feeling about pornographic imagery? Leave your story right here!

Stay curious!

Image Source: Public Domain, taken from Wikipedia

The Secret Treasure

The kink started early. I popped my porn cherry when I was nine years old.

There was this cabinet in the cellar, a shoe box inside. I discovered it one day, always curious as I was (and still am). This discovery opened the mirror to a strange wonderland: naked grown-ups doing things I’ve never seen before. Porn magazines. Sex, rough and unprettified. Most of them in full colour, many of them in four languages. (Image: One of my very first porn magazines, Private #25)

I wasn’t prepared for this, it made me shiver with excitement.

I was a boy at the age of nine when porn got hooked me ever since. I was still in a pre-masturbatory phase of my life, and in the first years I enjoyed porn just by watching the photos. I didn’t understand anything: why these people did what they did and what their emotions were. But what I’ve understood was that something meaningful was happening here. Something that happened in secret places, hidden from the public. And something that was rewarded with a climax and complete satisfaction – concepts that were unknown to me at that time.

Several years later, being crossed in love, being pubescent to the roots of my hair, I deliberately massaged my member for the first time. With the pictures in my mind and that small blots sloshing on the floor, I finally understood.

What was your first porn encounter? How did it feel? Send it my way, would love to see what you come up with.

Stay curious!