January 24th, 2010

Pornography And Eroticism

They were talking about pornography on TV last night-  about how it has transformed society in the last few decades. Martin Amis- a person I instinctively dislike- said we no longer know the difference between pornography and eroticism. Well, I don't think we ever did. I certainly never did- and still don't.  A naked bod is a naked bod is a naked bod.  When I was a kid I got turned on by old master paintings because they were the only images of flesh that were freely available. And lets not pretend that Titian or Ingres or any of those guys painted their nudes in a spirit of chaste high-mindedness. No, they did it because it sold or because lascivious Medici cardinals had commissioned them to do it or because it gave them a hard on. The only difference between a Venus by Titian and the centrefold in a top shelf magazine is that the Titian is very well made.

Also- one might add- that the Titian is worth a hell of a lot of money and the centrefold is so much discardable wastepaper. One of the things that's going on here is that the rich and educated are gilding their vices.  

Renoir once told Modigliani that he painted with his prick- and Modigliani- the younger man but also a painter of porny nudes- was terribly, terribly shocked. The old man had let the cat out of the bag. Shame on him.

Incidentally Amis has just published a novel which contains- according to an interview I read this morning- "a 200 page sexathon". My jaw drops. 

A Short History Of Pornography

The reference to Pokemon cards dates it......



The Greeks went in for some really hardcore

Tableware. They had plates and beakers
Painted with well buff, grinning, big boys

Doing it every whichaway

To common whores with frizzy hairdos.


Not a whole lot of respect for women

There one feels.

                        But some of it’s sweet

This lovely couple- with her on top-

Look equal, and they’re having fun,

Gazing into each other’s eyes.

I’d have no qualms about eating my bread

And grapes off them.


                                      The Romans painted

Scenes of congress on dining room walls

Where women, kids and servants could see ‘em.

I call that civilised.


                             When Pompeii

Was dug from its tufa the dilettanti

Kept all the good stuff out of sight.

And traded phalloi and dinky statues

And prints of the same in small editions

Like Pokemon cards.


                             And only men

With properly elevated minds

(Which meant, in practice, a private income)

Were in on the game.


                             I proffer “cum”

To my search engine and after a handful

Of jolly sites in devotional Latin,

We’re into the good old bizarre bazaar-

A billion pictures of what you like,

But none, I think, painted on crockery.


If I had kids I could put a lock

On the engine, keep their scrabbling minds

From the fundamentals.


                             When I was a kid

I’d scrape up my peas and potato to get

At the bunnykins pattern underneath.

Just think how big an incentive your Greek

Or Roman kid had to clear its plate.

What's A Grecian Urn

Vaguely related to the last two posts- and written before Dan Brown gatecrashed the party...

            WHAT'S A GRECIAN URN?


            Not quite my favourite Poussin painting:

            I've been a little suspicious of it

            Since I learned it was linked to Rennes le Chateau

            And its ever so slightly too blatant message

            Is there to blind the plebs while the smug

            Illuminati  go, "Haw, haw, haw

            We know what gives."  So is it the Christ-

            Progenitor of those long-haired, has-been

            Kings- whose body lies in the tomb

            In Arcady?


                                    I used to care.

            I don't, not now- and I'm tired of the crack

            About death in Arcady.  Leave that stuff

            To the young.  In the San Fernando Valley

            The new Arcadians are getting it on

            In their seventies.  Why, Channel 4

            Showed us a woman purporting to be

            A centenarian, having sex,

            A little gently because of her bones,

            With boys of twenty.  One actor said

            She smelt of death.  No, son, that smell

            Was the smell of life resisting death,

            Fending ole Joe Black off.


                                                            Here comes

            Our title.  What's a Grecian urn?

            O, lots of dollars doing it

            On camera.


                                    I like Poussin best

            When he isn't being so damn illumined,

            When it's a lovely day and the chaps

            Are up enjoying the fleshly pleasures

            (Decorous ones like verse or dancing)

            Centre stage and ominous boding

            Is kept in the corner, like condiment

            At the edge of the plate.  A blue-grey corpse

            Is hidden in shade where you peer to see it,

            A distant citadel gives off smoke.