Art, Beauty, and Pornography: A Journey through American Culture

Art, Beauty, and Pornography: A Journey through American Culture

Art, Beauty, and Pornography: A Journey through American Culture

Art, Beauty, and Pornography: A Journey through American Culture

Synopsis

When viewing the picture of a beautiful sunset, how many of us realise that, while we admire it as a work of art, we have just taken the very first step toward pornography? And that both the beauty in the sunset and the senses that recognise such beauty are very likely to be anti-art? Making a radical departure from the conventional wisdom on art and beauty, this book presents the startling thesis that things of beauty are not only unrelated to art but often responsible for pornography.

Excerpt

When Attorney General Edwin Meese's Commission on Pornography completed its work, two main conclusions were widely discussed: first, that law-enforcement against pornography must be strengthened, and second, that there is a link between pornography and violence. While neither of these points is new, as many people predicted — myself included — the Meese Commission's task has added a new twist to government studies of pornography: the report itself has become pornography. An American Civil Liberties Union official, reacting to the report, commented:

The explicit nature of several sections should guarantee that this report will be one of the hottest-selling government publications in history. . . .

I cannot imagine why a commission which claims to believe that distribution of sexual material is a national menace would reprint what amounts to a national bibliography of pornography, complete with graphic description of every conceivable — and some inconceivable — sexual practices.

This ironic twist tells us more about American culture and its ambivalence toward the issue than it does about pornography.

In this book the reader will journey through American culture, beginning with art, detouring through the conceptual labyrinth known as beauty, and ending finally in the land of pornography. A few words about art and beauty and about how they lead us to that land of pornography may serve as a helpful guide. The central point can be stated very plainly: art is not beauty and beauty does not become art. Art has always been conceived and executed . . .

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