Friday, December 18, 2009

Erotic or Pornographic

The warning here is that this entry is more personal in its opinion than usual. Don't let the XXX fool you; there are no pictures or descriptions here of people engaging in sexual activities for your 'prurient' pleasure.

I do want to take a little space to explore the porno-erotic question, not as a legal matter but as it applies to my own writing. Some of my more socially conservative friends think my poems and stories that have a more or less sexual basis are "pornographic." If writing or portraying any and all sexual activity is so then what they do in their bedrooms is not love but pornography (or prostitution, to revert to the Greek root of the term.)

Sex is a natural daily part of human life. Talking about it, writing about it, depicting it in any of the arts, is just as natural. It is the diverting of the relationship to a not inherent purpose that, in my eyes, makes pornography.

The matter arose some time ago when I answered a call for erotica with three poems and a short story. In due time they were returned to me with a note that my entries were not explicit enough. Oh, I agreed with that, but the editors had asked for erotica; I consider erotica to be suggestive rather than descriptive, a lyrical treatment rather than a prosaic one.

A good poet and a good story teller presents more than one level of meaning. My poems do that by approaching the actions and emotions from a certain point. My short stories will often use sexual activities to explain and explore character rather than be the total focus of the plot.

So, what does it all boil down to? The main fact as I see it is that both sides of the presentation of the material have to be in agreement for the work to be either erotic or pornographic. Let me explain. If I write something that I think is erotic but you read it, treat it as though it were pornographic, then it has lost its eroticism. But vice versa, if I write something with only pornography in mind and a reader finds it erotic instead, that too has lost its purpose.
Heaving a tired sigh, I will remark: one man's eroticism is another man's pornography.

At least as I see it.


Carolyn said...

I think a rule may be that if a thing is erotic, no-one gets injured in any way, pornography doesn't care who gets hurt.
Abuse of position, violent acts, sexual acts with these elements are pornographic.
This subject requires a lot of thought to come to a useful conclusion. Got to go think some more.

Vamzee said...

i really enjoyed reading ur the sense, my wrong notions have been erased and new ones, have been framed! and i liked this:
"I consider erotica to be suggestive rather than descriptive, a lyrical treatment rather than a prosaic one."