French Porn

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Although I generally like to research a topic before writing on it (to make sure I'm fully "informed"), for this post I purposely avoided doing so. Why?

Well, ultimately, this whole area seemed so subjective to me—the criteria used for distinguishing between the erotic and pornographic is so steeped in personal moral, aesthetic, and religious values—that I feared immersing myself in the controversial literature might end up "diluting" my own viewpoint.

Even though many people regard these two orientations to human sexuality as overlapping (and some even as identical), I see them as existing on essentially different planes. And in this brief essay, I'll attempt to explain why.

It's not a coincidence that when scholars reflect on eroticism in the fine arts, they're frequently considering the human form as the artist has more or less idealized it. Whether the visual medium is drawing, engraving, lithography, painting, sculpture, photography, or film, they view the creator as striving to capture a certain almost inexpressible beauty about the human anatomy, or the act of love.

And since the very perception of beauty—or that which is aesthetic—is ultimately subjective, they're generally aware that one artist's sense of the beautiful might actually be another's plain or homely. Further, they can appreciate that an artist's perception of beauty might have as much to do with inner attractiveness, charm, or loveliness than with any outward glamour or seductiveness. What is laudable may not be "skin-deep" at all.

The key element here isn't whether the composition of the face or figure is anatomically correct, or whether the art object's style is realistic, impressionistic, expressionistic, or anything else. If the work has been executed erotically, it's generally assumed that the creator viewed the subject matter as praiseworthy. Something to take pleasure in, celebrate, exalt, glorify. And in this sense, the erotic and the aesthetic merge.

Not to say that the artist's work—similar to pornography—isn't also evocative. But, unlike pornography, it doesn't appeal exclusively to our senses or carnal appetites. It also engages our aesthetic sense, our judgment about how this or that figure illustrates an ideal of human beauty. The rendering may border on the abstract, or be as real as an untouched photograph. It may be black and white or in color. Male or female. The humans portrayed may be contemporary and real, ancient or mythic. What finally determines the work's eroticism is how the artist (or, for that matter, author or composer) approaches their subject.

All art is interpretive, just as what's perceived as erotic is interpretive. And if eroticism represents a kind of beauty--though of a more alluring, provocative sort, and one that can engender a certain longing or desire—then erotic works actually can be seen as a "subset" of art in general. And if artists don't view their subjects as erotically beautiful—don't in some way betray their love (even lustful adoration) for them—it's unlikely that you'll be so moved either. But assuming their creative intentions have been realized, you may be made privy to a joyful sensuality that feels at once exciting and enriching.

There's substantially more overlap between the aesthetic and the erotic than the erotic and the pornographic. Unquestionably, erotica and pornography both present the human organism in a manner that's sexually compelling. But the aim of the pornographer is hardly to help his or her (most likely his) audience rejoice in the human form—or in some way honor physical intimacy, or the joys of the flesh. Rather, the objective (typically leaving little or nothing to the imagination) is to "turn on" the viewer. It's less evocative or suggestive than exhibitionist. The unabashed goal is simple and straightforward: titillation and immediate, intense arousal (skip the foreplay, please!). Or, to put it even more bluntly, an instantaneous stirring of the genitals.

Admittedly, the erotic might end up having the same effect. Still, the ideal behind erotica is to transcend its literally provocative subject--to add a third dimension, if you will. In aspiring to celebrate the varieties of sexual bliss, and the universal desire for carnal union (which, deep within, just might carry hints of the divine), the eroticist seeks to portray a vision of both human pulchritude and the potential ecstasy that humans—through sexually joining—can share. One that won't grow old, or become stale over time (as pornographic images generally do).

Also, with pornography, it's basically "sex for sale." Artists pursue eroticism, I think, as they pursue beauty. It may sell, but if their goal is genuinely to transmit what they apprehend as almost ethereal in its beguiling sensuality (i.e., is fine art rather than commercial art), then the work's monetary value must remain a secondary consideration to them. Pornographers, on the other hand, are far less motivated by the desire to faithfully represent what they may (or may not) regard as beautiful or aesthetic. Rather, their undertaking is contrived to "produce" what they believe will turn the largest possible profit.
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Written by lana12455
Uploaded February 8, 2020
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