The distinction between pornography and erotica has always seemed both vague and false to me. It's as if there's something proper or "classy" about erotica, but pornography is dirty and shameful; or erotica is artistic and pornography is mechanical and crude. The line between the two is so arbitrary as to be meaningless.
In my first-year university English class, we read a poem about the distnction between "naked" and "nude". I must dig that out again.
There's a poem by Robert Graves on that subject, which is probably the one you mean.
Re Martin Amis - yeah, I don't like him either.
I'll confess I've never read any of his books- there's just something about him that repels me.
I felt the same way about his dad.
Probably that he's a philandering creep.
I was reading the serialisation of Antonia Fraser's memoirs of her hot 'n' heavy thing with Pinter and god she sounds like a vapid, silly woman.
It doesn't reflect particularly well on Pinter that he fell for her. But then he was a vain man too- and apparently under the impression that he was a poet.
They say he wrote his best work when he was unhappy and after his marriage to Fraser he churned out political pap. A bit like John Lennon only to be fair to Yoko he had quite a few good songs after the Beatles split up.
Yes, I'm a fan of post-Beatles Lennon- well, maybe not of "Beautiful Boy".
Did you see the Digested Read
? God, I love John Crace.Edited at 2010-01-24 06:26 pm (UTC)
You bad woman! I am laughing out loud on the train!
That's a good one.
Who needs to read any new book when there is Crace?
Interesting... I don't like either of them either.
Re the 200 page sexathon, is Amis hoping to win the Bad Sex award? :)
The only way to write about sex is obliquely.
Obliquely, eh? What's wrong with the good old missionary position?
Actually, scratch "obliquely". The only way to write about sex is with your tongue in your cheek (oooh, missus!)
I felt the same way about his dad.
I've had Kingsley recommended to me, especially his, The King's English.
Have never got 'round to reading him, though.
Maybe a useful distinction between erotica and pornography is simply the distinction between good art and bad art, well made and poorly made?
I read and write fanfic, much of it featuring handsome naked men getting it on together. I freely admit that this is much the same as a man watching porn of two women, but I would argue that a lot of fanfic is far better made of its kind than most porn videos.
Yes, that way it becomes an aesthetic not a moral distinction.
The thing about sex is that, no matter how good it feels, it always looks kinda silly. And the more you try to dress it up- with fine writing or artistic lighting- the sillier it becomes.
Well, I'm not inclined to disagree. *g* I prefer depictions of sex and romance that are comedic rather than solemn--to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, more Papageno and Papageno than Tristan and Isolde.
The comic sidekicks are almost always more entertaining than the hero and heroine.
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.
Pornography gets you off. Erotica gets you off and is actually well-written. I think that's about it.
a novel which contains- according to an interview I read this morning- "a 200 page sexathon". My jaw drops.
Call the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards!
Yes, the distinction has to be aesthetic rather than moral.
I can't imagine how anyone could possibly drag out an "erotic" passage for 200 pages.
Titillating erotica gives me the creeps, whereas honest porn puts on no airs: it does what it says on the tin. Rowan Pelling and the Erotic Review make me shudder with their over-ripe over-arch attempt to make pornography middlebrow.
Anyway, art is pornographic at its best: it should give you a sexual shock anyway, on some level. No need to make pornography 'artistic'.
I like that idea- that all true art is pornographic. I need to go away and think about it.
I wouldn't touch The Erotic Review with a bargepole.
I think the distinction is this.
"Erotica" is titillating material that I enjoy.
"Pornography" is titillating material that gets other, lesser beings off.
It's about people wanting to feel highbrow about their masturbatory material. And wanting to believe it has some artistic value other than being masturbatory material, which it usually doesn't. I've read some extremely well-written erotica, and it certainly takes talent to write it, but at the end of the day it's value lies in getting me hot and bothered.
Hmm, maybe "erotica" is porn that pretends it's something else?
What the writers of erotica forget is that sex is a comical- even absurd- activity.