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Here ya go then Dylanfanatic - 19/04/2004 01:24:14 PM

I don't know if you've ever happened to see a pornographic movie. I don't mean movies with some erotic content, a movie like Last Tango in Paris, for example, though even that, I realize, for many people might be offensive. No, what I mean is genuine pornoflicks, whose true and sole aim is to stimulate the spectator's desire, from beginning to end, and in such a way that, while this desire is stimulated by scenes of various and varied copulations, the rest of the story counts for less than nothing.

Magistrates are often required to decide whether a film is purely pornographic or whether it has artistic value. I am not one of those who insist that artistic value excuses everything; sometimes true works of art have been more dangerous, to faith, to behavior, to current opinion, than works of lesser value. But I believe that consenting adults have the right to consume pornographic material, at least for want of anything better. I recognize, however, that on occasion a court must decide whether a film has been produced for the purpose of expressing certain concepts or esthetic ideals (even through scenes that offend the accepted moral view), or whether it was made for the sole purpose of arousing the spectator's instincts.

Well, there is a criterion for deciding whether a film is pornographic or not, and it is based on the calculation of wasted time. A great, universal film masterpiece, Stagecoach, takes place solely and entirely (except for the beginning, a few brief intervals, and the finale) on a stagecoach. But without this journey the film would have no meaning. Antonioni's L'avventura is made up solely of wasted time: people come and go, talk, get lost and are found, without anything happening. This wasted time may or may not be enjoyable, but it is exactly what the film is about.

A pornographic movie, in contrast, to justify the price of the ticket or the purchase of the cassette, tells us that certain people couple sexually, men with women, men with men, women with women, women with dogs or stallions (I might point out that there are no pornographic films in which men couple with mares or bitches: why not?) And this would still be all right: but it is full of wasted time.

If Gilber, in order to rape Gilbertina, has to go from Lincoln Center to Sheridan Square, the film shows you Gilbert, in his car, throughout the whole journey, stoplight by stoplight.

Pornographic movies are full of people who climb into cars and drive for miles and miles, couples who waste incredible amounts of time signing in at hotel desks, gentlemen who spend many minutes in elevators before reaching their rooms, girls who sip various drinks and who fiddle interminably with laces and blouses before confessing to each other that they prefer Sappho to Don Juan. To put it simply, crudely, in porn movies, before you can see a healthy screw you have to put up with a documentary that could be sponsored by the Traffic Bureau.

There are obvious reasons. A movie in which Gilbert did nothing but rape Gilbertina, front, back, and sideways, would be intolerable. Physically, for the actors, and economically, for the producer. And it would also be, psychologically, intolerable for the spectator: for the transgression to work, it must be played out against a background of normality. To depict normality is one of the most difficult things for any artist - whereas portraying deviation, crime, rape, torture, is very easy.

Therefore the pornographic movie must present normality - essential if the transgression is to have interest - in the way that every spectator conceives it. Therefore, if Gilbert has to take the bus and go from A to B, we will see Gilbert taking the bus and then the bus proceeding from A to B.

This often irritates the spectators, because they think they would like the unspeakable scenes to be continuous. But this is an illusion on their part. They couldn't bear a full hour and a half of unspeakable scenes. So the passages of wasted time are essential.

I repeat. Go into a movie theater. If, to go from A to B, the characters take longer than you would like, then the film you are seeing is pornographic.

Umberto Eco, How to Travel with a Salmon and Other Essays (1994, English trans.) pp. 222-225.

I hope you enjoyed this informative reading! Voyeurs!


Illusions fall like the husk of a fruit, one after another, and the fruit is experience. - Narrator, Sylvie

OF Blog of the Fallen


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What do you consider pornography? - 18/04/2004 03:36:05 PM 299 Views
Never really thought about it... - 18/04/2004 03:45:06 PM 36 Views
my definition is simple - 18/04/2004 03:45:31 PM 82 Views
hmmm... effect, or intention? - 18/04/2004 04:08:05 PM 39 Views
both - 18/04/2004 07:30:21 PM 24 Views
well, I'm a minor, but here are my views - 18/04/2004 03:45:55 PM 58 Views
So, then... - 18/04/2004 06:26:42 PM 25 Views
- 18/04/2004 04:15:41 PM 11 Views
Oh ... my.... I have to vomit now. - 18/04/2004 11:29:48 PM 19 Views
- 19/04/2004 02:49:54 PM 15 Views
visible entry - 18/04/2004 04:15:56 PM 31 Views
Hey, Brad *nods* - 18/04/2004 04:52:38 PM 24 Views
Re: What do you consider pornography? - 18/04/2004 05:13:51 PM 41 Views
artisistic nudity is usually people you wouldnt want to see nude *NM* - 18/04/2004 06:03:52 PM 6 Views
there's that "intent" I had in mind. - 18/04/2004 07:31:27 PM 16 Views
If the only value is sexual, it's porn. So, why does porn offend you? *NM* - 18/04/2004 06:14:19 PM 8 Views
never mind. - 18/04/2004 07:22:19 PM 25 Views
I said value, not content, though. *NM* - 18/04/2004 07:31:35 PM 6 Views
I know - 18/04/2004 08:58:42 PM 12 Views
Re: What do you consider pornography? - 18/04/2004 07:39:19 PM 33 Views
Commission of Porn? That was the SUPREME COURT... - 18/04/2004 08:03:53 PM 25 Views
yeah..but i still like the name Comission of Porn. - 18/04/2004 08:13:49 PM 11 Views
So, when I was in Florence - 19/04/2004 12:37:53 AM 13 Views
com'on - 18/04/2004 10:13:09 PM 15 Views
Nah, if I was doing that I'd have included a link. *NM* - 18/04/2004 10:19:11 PM 6 Views
Television. Commercials. - 18/04/2004 10:46:29 PM 14 Views
Do I need to repost Umberto Eco's definition of porn? - 18/04/2004 11:02:46 PM 24 Views
Don't ask. just do it. *NM* - 19/04/2004 12:36:31 PM 5 Views
Here ya go then - 19/04/2004 01:24:14 PM 16 Views
Very informative... and very true in many cases..... - 19/04/2004 04:43:01 PM 8 Views