Stealing of the Gopis’ clothing by Lord Krishna : A 19th Century wood cut art )
While writing my last blog on Kafka’s book, my American poet /painter friend Ed.Baker advised me not to use the word ‘porn’ but to use ‘erotica’ instead. So this will be the theme of this blog: porn v. erotica.
For many, the topic of sex still remains a ‘forbidden text’ and I have noticed readers feel hesitant to post their comments on it. Those who are not hesitant have posted comments on my last blog and I thank them for their responses. How societal we are!
Alan Moore: Comic Book Author or Pornographer?
British writer Alan Moore (born November 18, 1953) is one of the most critically acclaimed authors in the field of comic books. Besides his novel Voice of the Fire,
In 2006, he published an eight-page article tracing out the history of pornography and argued that a society's vibrancy and success are related to its permissiveness in sexual matters. In 1992-93, he published few chapters of his novel Lost Girls and in 2009 the novel has been released in book form. It is a graphic novel, which includes some graphic presentations of
Gebbie, a graphic designer and
Lost Girls describes the sexual fantasies of three important female fictional characters of the late 19th and early 20th century: ‘Alice’ from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, ‘Dorothy Gale’ from The Wizard of Oz, and ‘Wendy Darling’ from Peter Pan. The three women are separately on holiday at an expensive mountain resort hotel in
Alan Moore has described this work as ‘pornography.’ While talking to Kurt Amacker , and Daniel Robert Epstein , he never uttered the word ‘erotica’ but always claimed the novel as ‘pornography’ or ‘sex comedy.’
And in an interview with Noel Murray, the author further related “…though probably the Victorian erotica played a bigger part than the estimable Robert Crumb. I looked at a relatively small amount of contemporary erotica and found that it didn't really appeal. None of the filmed or photographic material did anything for me because there's such a lot of emotional human baggage that comes with anything that involves real models, real actors. You're too aware that this is somebody real, and that they might not have actually wanted to do this for a living. There's an air of disappointment or sadness that hangs over the material. So I tended to gravitate toward literary and artistic pornography of the Victorian and Edwardian period, simply because it's a lot better. It was a kind of golden age of porn.”
In that interview with Kurt Amacker, the author said, “I know that there has been sort of an argument that, 'Oh, well, pornography causes rape' because most rapists have read pornography at some point in their lives. I should imagine that they've also drunk milk. But, whether there's a direct connection, I doubt it. And it has to be said that in countries where they have a more liberal approach to pornography, such as Denmark or Holland, that they have far, far less raped and murdered children thrown into the canal as we do over here in England.”
And in an interview with Pádraig Ó Méalóid, the author said, “If we’d have come out and said, 'well, this is a work of art,' they would have probably all said, 'no it's not; it's pornography.' So because we're saying, 'this is pornography,' they're saying, 'no it's not; it's art,' and people don't realise quite what they've said.”
What’s In A Word?
What then, is the difference between ‘erotica’ and ‘porn?’ This question has been discussed many times, and still had never been completely answered. A majority of the people, though, still consider either erotica or porn as their ‘private matter’ and show reluctance to make it ‘social’ subject.
When the’ Nudist movement’ started in
Nudity: What Is It, Really?
For centuries, nudity has been one of the most common art subjects. In art, being naked and nudity are not same. It is interesting to note that in all our art forms, only female nudity and never masculine nudity has been considered as any form of artistic milieu. A few years back, Saroj Bal, an Oriya writer and editor published his own nude picture in a self-edited magazine in
But in ancient art forms, especially in Greek art and in Hindu sculptures found on temple walls, we find masculine nudity to be a common feature. But still the question remained unsolved: What is the difference between the artistic nude and someone being naked? Can we count a Playboy centerfold as a nude or a painting of Aphrodite as naked? I think an artistic nude is a portrait of someone who is untouchable and unattainable. And for this reason, pictures of naked Greek gods and goddesses or Hindu sculpture on temple walls are not counted under the guise of naked portraiture. That means nudity is a far away concept from our lives, as conventional patriarchal society has adopted and fixed it as a universal norm.
Someone once wrote (I forgot who) that most of the time, ‘erotica’ has explicit sex scenes and portrays sex in a positive light. For us, we want erotica that is story-driven, although the story doesn't necessarily have to be a romance. Sex must be in a positive light and between consenting adults. Porn isn't about being sensual nor is it erotic. On the contrary, ‘porn’ is all about instant, sexual gratification and is often derogatory and demeaning toward women.
But defining these differences remains difficult.What will be the criteria to decide the ‘positive light?’ Subjective attitudes make it more complicated. Why won’t we refer to Kama Sutra as porn rather than erotica when there is no dealings with the human heart and soul in the text? In that historically wide accepted book Vatsayan, the author has divided women in four groups with respect to sexuality. Why doesn’t the author categorize men with their sexuality? Where do we find ‘sexual gratification’ towards woman?
There are many examples in our myths where we find erotica is placed on the same plane with spiritualism. Lord Krishna is considered as one of the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. In Bhagwat Purana, the Lord Krishna had stolen the clothes of the Gopis (the women of Gopa Pura) while they were bathing at the river Yamuna, leaving them naked. This stealing of the Gopis’ clothing is treated as a highly devotional phenomena and inspired many of the medieval poets of Bhakti Yuga.
If I have to admire the Shringar poems of medieval Hindu poets, I will appreciate Jaydev even more because in no sense did he paint sexuality with gender inclination. He painted the lust, the passion, and the love of both male and female. And he was not afraid to write a masculine character,
And In Closing...
It is interesting to note Radclyffe Hall’s Well of Loneliness has been declared as obscene and pornographic. I have never found any sexually explicit descriptions or the so-called ‘obscene words’ in that book. Nowadays, it is unbelievable to think that 80-90 years ago, the author was taken to court.
I am never a supporter of ‘porno’ and I always believe that it makes woman a ‘product’ always associated with male-dominant consumerism. But it is also true that every sexually explicit topic is not ‘porno.’ I would be happier if Alan Moore would have used the word ‘erotica’ instead of ‘porno’ for his novel Lost Girls.