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Some time ago Kieran Daly noted with wonder and amusement that artist Stefan Brüggeman’s website contained numerous porn adds (didn’t have a proper look, but they seem to be gone now).

Then recently, in a state somewhere between squandering and procrastinating I Googled ‘Radical Left’, thinking this might lead to a site devoted to, why not, some heavy duty radical left theory.

So that sort of turned out to be true. There is a site at Radicalleft.net . At first sight however, this looks like a porn site, albeit a ‘clean’, stylized one. But at second glance there is (slightly) more to it than that, in that they do link to politically leftist articles elsewhere on the web (this seems to be mainly, or only to a sister blog Politicalleft). (No theory though, only political analysis, commentary, journalism type of thing).

I like the idea of trying to incorporate radical (thinking about, portrayal of) sex(uality) as part of a radical leftist political stance. But am not very convinced by the approach taken here; why do they only depict women (type: centerfold)?, also the separate websites might unnecessarily give the impression that they don’t really seem to be doing anything with their vague, unstated politics, aside from using it as an angle to put up a lot of porn.

I am intrigued though, must say. I think sex is an area that is often seen as separate from everything else we get up to (the ‘dirty little secret’). What I find interesting here is that it is put on the same footing as politics (although, again, I do not necessarily like the way that it is done).

I think parallels can be drawn here with other spheres of life that are kept separate, cordoned off from ‘the rest of it all’. Take, for example, writing. Graham Harman, in his sehr wertvolle advice posts tries to demystify the process of writing and argues that writing is a constantly evolving process that should not be seen as separate from the ‘outside’ world of social interaction. To wit:

…my goal in all of these posts is to demystify productivity. Why? Because I hate to see talented younger people suffer under the assumption that there is something wrong with them. There isn’t anything wrong. That doesn’t mean you won’t blow it, but if you blow it, it won’t be because there’s some narrowly distributed mystical power that you lack.

There are two sorts of people who might want the writing to remain mystified.

1. The slick magicians who get a lot done but want it to seem like the result of some sort of superhuman talent. However, this is probably a fairly small percentage of productive people.

2. More commonly, it is the masochists who self-destructively mystify it for themselves. As repeatedly stated, I went through this phase myself for much of my 20’s, and thus have a pretty detailed understanding of the multi-faceted psychology that is involved. I was lucky enough to pull out of it, through a combination of hard work and good fortune, and wish that everyone would do the same.

In the same way, Richard Dawkins and cohort have been arguing (not always in ways I agree with) that religion should be placed on the same footing with any other social sphere, or public debate, so that religion is no longer on a separate plane.

What these three examples share is a rejection of treating these different areas of life as divorced partitions that seem to have very little to do with each other, while in fact they (like all things) are of course interconnected, existing ‘flatly’, or immanently alongside each other.

A similar point is made on Political Left:

In observing American fundamentalism for more than a decade there is one common thread that runs through the movement. It is the romanticized idea of purity, particularly sexual and doctrinal.

An idea of purity can be called romanticized simply because it is denying the fact that we are quite obviously not pure, and placing an idea of purity on some alternative plane that has nothing to do with our reality.

The idea of applying purity to human beings – who are impure by definition – creates an impossible standard that can’t be met.

The result is that millions of people are haunted by perceived moral failure and tortured by unnecessary guilt.

Instead of producing healthy spiritual lives, this concept can create neurotic people with various complexes, who view themselves as worthless sinners.

Such a damaging belief system may have a corrosive affect on self-esteem and creates needless internal conflicts.

I think there is a lot of potential for exploring a kind of approach to sexuality (or for that matter religion and writing) that avoids categorization and instead opens and unpacks these categorical boxes. Just not sure how to go about it regarding sexuality. Which is not to say that there are some worthwhile, thought-provoking posts on the Politicalleft blog, and I appreciate the straightforward language with which they are written. From ‘Free form sexuality: if it feels good, do it’:

We are not born with a fixed and stagnant sexuality. We are told what we should want: heterosexual, monogamous, missionary style sex. But how many people are truly satisfied with this model of sexual expression? Few, if any.

As we develop as human beings we move through spaces and stages, meeting people and seeing things that turn us on and off, confuse us and our ethical sense of sexual desire.

But to fight our desires and box our sexual experience, as though it is a fixed point in a time line, is the most ridiculous thing we can do.

When we pick a checkbox of sexuality we give credence to the limitations that we have been offered as a society and as individuals. Sexual preference should depend on which way the wind blows, not some pre determined idea of right and wrong.


2 thoughts on “Porn, politics, writing, (religion)

  1. Read Eros and Civilization (1955) by Herbert Marcuse. A classic. You can find most of it via Google Books. Enjoy 🙂

  2. Pingback: More sex and everything else « transversalinflections

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