[Milton-L] Re: porno vs. art?

James Rovira jrovira at drew.edu
Sat Nov 26 12:28:58 EST 2005

Carrol, I very much appreciate the attempt to clarify this discussion, 
but I think all these points intersect.

I don't think any given reader should enjoy whatever he/she enjoys.  I 
don't think you do either; I think there are scenes which any response 
other than disgust would be disturbing to you, that you'd think  any 
reader who enjoyed watching such a scene would have something very wrong 
with him/her, that his or her aesthetic or interpretive sensibilities 
needed some training or education.

I don't think this discussion is really a matter of what is "legal." 
Pornography is legal.  "Legal for whom" is the real issue legally, and 
for that we need some kind of working definition of "pornography" that 
distinguishes it from "art."

Which leads us to the question of genre.  "Intent" can be defined in the 
broadest possible terms: is this work intended to provide only sexual 
titillation, or  is there more going on?

Jim R.

Carrol Cox wrote:
> James Rovira wrote:
>>Do you really think Picasso's intent was the same as the director's of
>>Debbie Does Dallas?  Really?  Pure sexual arousal...that the only goal?
>>  Or is it commentary on sexaul arousal as well, or perhaps the
>>demonstration of a different way of seeing?
> Let's distribute this. Are we talking about what should or should not be
> legal. If that is the case, then it is necessary to insist that "pure
> sexual arousal" is as legitimate as any other goal.
> If we are talking about what a reader should or should not enjoy, then
> it is not an appropriate topic for public discussion. A given reader
> should enjoy whatever he/she enjoys.
> Now, if we shift to the realm of literary criticism, we do have a
> question of genre. And in that discussion "intention" may or may not be
> relevant. That too is an appropriate question for discussion.
> Carrol
> P.S. Most discussions of pornography (leaving aside those that are
> merely moral fits) assume that it differs from other forms of erotic
> material in that its aim is as an aid to masturbation. I doubt that Book
> IX ever performed that function, but one never knows.

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