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

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Mon Nov 28 15:01:35 EST 2005



Richard Strier wrote:
> 
> I think something can be BOTH "art" and "pornography -- like much of
> Book 4 and some of book 5 of PL (to return where we started, and to
> get everyone's blood flowing!).

Certainly some (self-labelled) pornography is carefully crafted, which
is the core sense of art I believe. One could, then, speak of the "Art
of Pornography." But in any case, pornography as such (assuming for the
sake of argument that it is definable) ought still be protected speech.
And secondly, its legitimacvy being granted, it is neither more nor less
difficult to define than any other literary genre. 

See _The Invention of Pornography: Obscenity and the Origins of
Modernity, 1500-1800_, ed. Lynn Hunt.

FROM THE PUBLISHER In this groundbreaking collection of essays,
historians and literary theorists examine how, between 1500 and 1800,
pornography emerged as a literary practice and a category of knowledge
intimately linked to the formative moments of Western modernity and the
democratization of culture. The first modern writers and engravers of
pornography were part of the demimonde of heretics, freethinkers and
libertines who constituted the dark underside of the Renaissance, the
Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. From
the start, early modern European pornography used the shock of sex to
test the boundaries and regulation of obscene behavior and expression in
the public and private sphere. As such, pornography criticized and even
subverted political authorities as well as social and sexual relations.

----

Unless it is possible to offer _some_ definition (even if inexact) of
pornography (and to distinguish it from other forms of erotic writing)
it would not be possible to write its history. (Court cases concern
_obscenity_, of which pornography is only one variety, if the most
common one.) We might as well have some concrete instances to deal with.
Below are three, Donne's Elegey XX,  Rochester's great "Imperfect
Enjoyment," and an excerpt from a (self-identified) pornographic web
site. I think each requires a slightly different classification?? 

And the scenes from PL differ, I think, from any of these three. One
discussion of pornography I vaguely recall argued that its basic plot
was always the loss of virginity, in which case Book IV rather than Book
IX would most resemble pornography.

Carrol

John Donne Elegy XX To His Mistress Going to Bed

         COME, madam, come, all rest my powers defy ;
         Until I labour, I in labour lie.
         The foe ofttimes, having the foe in sight,
         Is tired with standing, though he never fight.
         Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glittering,
         But a far fairer world encompassing.
         Unpin that spangled breast-plate, which you wear,
         That th' eyes of busy fools may be stopp'd there.
         Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
         Tells me from you that now it is bed-time.
         Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
         That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
         Your gown going off such beauteous state reveals,
         As when from flowery meads th' hill's shadow steals.
         Off with your wiry coronet, and show
         The hairy diadems which on you do grow.
         Off with your hose and shoes ; then softly tread
         In this love's hallow'd temple, this soft bed.
         In such white robes heaven's angels used to be
         Revealed to men ; thou, angel, bring'st with thee
         A heaven-like Mahomet's paradise ; and though
         Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know
         By this these angels from an evil sprite ;
         Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
       Licence my roving hands, and let them go
         Before, behind, between, above, below.
         O, my America, my Newfoundland,
         My kingdom, safest when with one man mann'd,
         My mine of precious stones, my empery ;
         How am I blest in thus discovering thee !
         To enter in these bonds, is to be free ;
         Then, where my hand is set, my soul shall be.
         Full nakedness ! All joys are due to thee ;
         As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be
         To taste whole joys. Gems which you women use
         Are like Atlanta's ball cast in men's views ;
         That, when a fool's eye lighteth on a gem,
         His earthly soul might court that, not them.
         Like pictures, or like books' gay coverings made
         For laymen, are all women thus array'd.
         Themselves are only mystic books, which we
         -Whom their imputed grace will dignify-
         Must see reveal'd. Then, since that I may know,
         As liberally as to thy midwife show
         Thyself ; cast all, yea, this white linen hence ;
         There is no penance due to innocence
         To teach thee, I am naked first ; why then,
         What needst thou have more covering than a man?

	The Imperfect Enjoyment
		John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

Naked she lay, clasped in my longing arms,
I filled with love, and she all over charms
Both equally inspired with eager fire,
Melting through kindness, flaming in desire.
With arms,legs,lips close clinging to embrace,
She clips me to her breast, and sucks me to her face.
Her nimble tongue, Love's lesser lightening, played
Within my mouth, and to my thoughts conveyed
Swift orders that I should prepare to throw
The all-dissolving thunderbolt below.
My fluttering soul, sprung with the painted kiss,
Hangs hovering o'er her balmy brinks of bliss.
But whilst her busy hand would guide that part
Which should convey my soul up to her heart,
In liquid raptures I dissolve all o'er,
Melt into sperm and, and spend at every pore.
A touch from any part of her had done't:
Her hand, her foot, her very look's a cunt.

Smiling, she chides in a kind murmuring noise,
And from her body wipes the clammy joys,
When, with a thousand kisses wandering o'er
My panting bosom, "Is there then no more?"
She cries. "All this to love and rapture's due
Must we not pay a debt to pleasure too?"

But I, the most forlorn, lost man alive,
To show my wished obedience vainly strive:
I sigh, alas! and kiss, but cannot swive.
Eager desires confound my first intent,
Succeeding shame does more success prevent,
And rage at last confirms me impotent.
Ev'n her fair hand, which might bid heat return
To frozen age, and make cold hermits burn,
Applied to my dead cinder, warms no more
Than fire to ashes could past flames restore.
Trembling, confused, despairing, limber, dry,
A wishing, weak, unmoving lump I lie.
This dart of love, whose piercing point, oft tried,
With virgin blood ten thousand maids have dyed
Which nature still directed with such art
That it through every cunt reached every heart -
Stiffly resolved, 'twould carelessly invade
Woman or man, nor aught its fury stayed:
Where'er it pierced, a cunt it found or made -
Now languid lies in this unhappy hour,
Shrunk up and sapless like a withered flower.

Thou treacherous, base deserter of my flame,
False to my passion, fatal to my fame,
Through what mistaken magic dost thou prove
So true to lewdness, so untrue to love?
What oyster-cinder-beggar-common whore
Didst thou e'er fail in all thy life before?
When vice, disease, and scandal lead the way,
With what officious haste dost thou obey!
Like a rude, roaring hector in the streets
Who scuffles, cuffs, and justles all he meets,
But if his king or country claim his aid,
The rakehell villain shrinks and hides his head
Ev'n so thy brutal valour is displayed,
Breaks every stew, does each small whore invade,
But when great Love the onset does command,
Base recreant to thy prince, thou dar'st not stand.
Worst part of me, and henceforth hated most,
Through all the town a common fucking-post,
On whom each whore relieves her tingling cunt
As hogs do rub themselves on gates and grunt,
May'st thou to ravenous chancres be a prey,
Or in consuming weepings waste away
May strangury and stone thy days attend
May'st thou ne'er piss, who did refuse to spend
When all my joys did on false thee depend.
And may ten thousand abler pricks agree
To do the wronged Corinna right for thee.

And from  http://www.amatory-ink.co.uk/shop/system/index.html

Chapter 1

[clip]

She disrobed slowly, watching his eyes, knowing his excitement. Her soft
white skin, heavy full breasts with large nipples, her plucked pussy,
something surely no 17th century man had ever seen, were good for all
men. His eyes grew wide and a hand reached out to touch her quim,
sliding over the silky whiteness, amazed. 

"I have never seen such things, not even in my furthest journeyings." 

"It is for you and you alone," she whispered, drawing closer to him. He
reached out again, hands sliding over her full hips, touching her
breasts, the nipples coming erect at his touch. She drew in her breath
sharply as one hand found her spine, a finger tracing the length,
cupping and smoothing and turning to admire her shape from all angles. 

Then he stood up, held her close, kissed her deeply, his breath smelling
and tasting of ale and strong meat, a smoky, musky smell and taste that
thrilled almost as much as the look of his hard muscular body. She moved
cautiously against him, not wanting to hurry but wanting him to please,
please fuck her and soon. Wet now, wet and willing. 

Lord Danverson moved suddenly, pushing her down onto the bed and parting
her legs, staring at her as he swiftly undressed, tossing his clothes
onto another wild heap on the floor. He stood erect, strong, gleaming
with lust. 

She held out her arms, almost groaning at the sight of him. She had
waited, had schemed to get back here, and it had been worth every moment
for the sight of him alone. 

He climbed onto the bed, knelt between her legs, touched with both
hands, letting his fingers slide down her thighs, back up around her
hips, up to her navel, under her shaved armpits. He raised his eyebrows
but said nothing. 

[CLIP] 

The length and thickness of his member surprised, shocked and thrilled
her as it slid home into her warm waiting body. It filled her
completely, pressed against every nerve ending she had. He thrust hard,
grunting with pleasure, holding both cheeks in his large hands, again
and again finding every part of her. She cried out in sheer pleasure,
clawing nails down his back. Every atom reacted to the feeling, shaking
her to her toes as she all but swooned. 

He thrust harder and yet harder, pushing her into the mattress of
feather and down. She cried out again, climaxing twice in a blinding
sweep of feeling that shut out all thought, all consideration and then
swept over her again as he finally came shuddering into her. 

[CLIP] 

"You pleased me, but there is something wrong, something I dislike." 

"My Lord?" 

He appeared to come to a decision and turned toward the bedroom door.
"It is the boldness, I think. I can deal with that and I will. Page!" 

The door sprang open as if by magic and a small boy stood there,
blinking sleep from his eyes. 

"Sire?" 

"Fetch me a birch!" 

"A birch?" stammered Abigail, pushing herself up the bed, getting away
from the gleam of pure malice which had replaced the one of lust. 

"A birch, my lady, a birch. For the pretty cheeks which were so keen to
be dealt with in one way must be dealt with in another." He leaned
across the bed and caught hold of her wrists with hands as hard as iron,
dragging her toward the bedpost. Then she was on her feet, both hands
being held together on one side of the post, shivering with post
orgasmic pleasure and a touch of fear. Events were taking a turn she had
not anticipated and it was a bit scary. 

Lord Danverson grinned as he slid the girdle from his robe and bound her
wrists tightly with the silken length.[CLIP] 

Suddenly she remembered the woman from the ball: 'Not I, for they say he
is a cruel man with a taste for hurting women.' 

"I do not know from where you came, or why you are here with me, but
those who offer their bodies are wanton hussies and are dealt with in
the time-honoured way, madam." The last word was said with sarcasm and
malice. The gleam of lust was back again - this man did indeed have a
taste for hurting women. Abigail was suddenly very cold. His cum
trickled down her thigh, cool and sticky and she became aware of a real
tinge of fear for the first time since she had started visiting Castle
Danverson. 

But underneath the fear was the excitement of yet another new experience
and she knew that, even if she could see herself in the mirror, she
wouldn't. Wouldn't send herself dizzyingly flying forward through
hundreds of years. To safety. 

Your choice. You vowed to take whatever was given to you in this time,
no matter what. 

But a birch? Fear sat coppery-tasting in her mouth, her body shivering
despite the fire. She could not see Lord Danverson but she sensed him
standing very still, very tense, very exited and wondered again what was
to happen. One thing was sure: she could not twist this man around her
finger as she had the others, oh so many others. 

[CLIP] 

"Now, madam, we will deal with wanton hussies who offer themselves to
their Lord." A thousand bees stung her at once as the birch connected
with her bare bottom. She cried out, gasping in pain and shock as it
landed, again and again. 

"On my territory, women are taught to obey their men in all things and
that, madam, includes the question of who he is to take to his bed." The
many strands found her, tiny buds causing their own pain, sharp wet
twigs flexible enough to bend on impact, to send fire through her. 

[CLIP] 

Abigail bit her lips, afraid of spilling the truth. Not that Lord
Danverson would believe she had come from hundreds of years in the
future, anyway. 

He began to birch her again, this time finding her thighs and legs. The
pain was intense and gave her superhuman strength. Even as she cried out
her despair and fear, the girdle gave way and she was free. She looked
at Lord Danverson, registered his surprise, shock and outrage, cast one
despairing glance into the mirror and was 



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