PORNOGRAPHY, A MODERN PLEASURE
Civilization is one long insult to human dignity.
If one accepts the interpretation of modernity offered in the previous chapter, as do most (though not all) of those who make up and live in that society, there is little that is surprising in pornography. It was inevitable that sooner or later sex would, like everything else in our society, take on new meaning by transforming itself into a commodity reserved for industry and a few highly specialized boutiques. Despite all opposition, sex had to become commercial (just as the retail trade was becoming sexy), since the rules of the marketplace no more prohibit the selling of sex than they do the selling of talent, expertise, or sincerity. Sexuality has thus appropriated to itself the status of particular knowledge, one that is acquired and put into practice according to well established norms. And since sex dwells at the margins of public morality, pornography quickly became very good business, as would any other commodity that occupies the social frontier between the legitimate and the criminal.
For many people, the situation is clear: pornography appears when a society loses its moral sense, when it can no longer control is own waste products, when it goes into decline ( Paul Virillio even talks about the "putrefaction" of societies 1). Societies lose all reserve and no longer