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

Richard Strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Sat Nov 26 16:12:10 EST 2005

I'm not sure how much further I want to pursue this because I have 
said most of what I have to say.  I will reiterate that I believe 
that there is no definition of "pornography" that is not also going 
to be applicable to some great art.  So I believe all attempts at 
censorship to be misguided.  Was Picasso's intent in his erotic art 
-- have a look at some of his late works on paper! -- the same as 
that of the director of Debbie Does?  I don't know, and neither do 
you.  And what if it wasn't exactly the same?  My point is that part 
of Picasso's aim was to be erotically stimulating, so that "intended 
to be erotically/sexually stimulating" cannot be used as a definition 
of "improper" art or "non-art."  Maybe the director of Debbie Does 
had a high aesthetic sense, and the thing is really nicely 
photographed or choreographed or whatever (I haven't seen it; have 
you?).  That some material is covered over by store owners, etc means 
nothing.  Think of all the fig leaves painted onto statues of "nude" 
(that is, naked) people, especially males.  I'm not sure that the US 
Mail will deliver postcards of Michelangelo's David.  That's the kind 
of thing that definitions of "the improper" produce.  I guess I'm 
just not as sure you are that it's so clear that "X is pornography 
and Y is not."  And surely anyone who has read Wittgenstein knows 
that to "know it when you see it"  -- whatever that means -- does not 
require or suggest that you can provide a definition of "it."
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