aesthetic standpoint, erotica, genre, literature, new erotica, porn, pornography, sexual literature, writing
Welcome to my new erotica blog. Do come in! Take off your shoes, or your pants, or whatever makes you comfortable in the privacy of your own computer. All settled? Good. Let’s get to know each other. I’ll go first.
I write erotica. There was a time a few years ago when I didn’t know why I write erotica. I’ve had friends ask me over the years why I don’t write something “mainstream,” and for the longest time I didn’t have an answer. The best I could come up with is asking why Agatha Christie didn’t write cookbooks, or why Danielle Steele never wrote a spy novel. They have genres that speak to them, as do I. It’s kind of simplistic, but it’s the best I could do.
Then one day I read this comment in a forum by a fellow erotica author, someone whose opinions and ideas I’ve found both challenging and enlightening. And he writes some of the best erotic fiction I’ve ever read. In a response to the question “What’s the difference between erotica and pornography?” he said:
“The law’s never been very good at making objective standards for subjective judgments. And etymologically there isn’t, at least as far as I can tell. All the dictionaries I looked at make no distinction between pornography and erotica.
“But from a literary and aesthetic standpoint I think there’s a world of difference and that it’s very significant. Porn is aimed at the genitals; erotica is aimed at the mind. Porn deals with concrete sex while erotica deals with the abstract of sexuality. The fact that we’ve lost sight of this distinction for the last 200 years or so is the reason why we have next to no serious sexual literature in the West to this very day (though things have gotten better over the last 20-30 years or so). It’s also one of the main reasons we live in such a puritanical and sexophobic society, because the erotic has become so tightly associated with the obscene.
“A man and a woman meeting for coffee has no pornographic content. A man and a woman meeting for coffee does have a huge erotic content, though, and a good artist can bring that out and make us see how it works. And that’s the point of literature (or one of them, anyhow): to reveal the world to us and help us see things we wouldn’t notice on our own.
“To the Greeks, Eros was a powerful force, and didn’t just rule things sexual. You had an erotic relationship with anything you were attached to deeply and viscerally–a place, a person, even an object–and even patriotism was considered an emotion rooted in eroticism.
“Eventually the Philosophers–Plato, chiefly–decided the erotic way of knowing the world was inferior to the intellectual methods they favored, and the seeds of the exaggerated mind-body dualism that would infect early Christianity were sewn, based on the supposed superiority of spirit over matter (intellect over emotion). But eroticism as a way of relating to the world was rediscovered and embraced with a vengeance by the neo-Platonists of the Italian Renaissance, which is one of the reasons for all those chubby Cupids in Italian art. They represent eroticism, sexual feelings without the sex.
“Today we still live in a very anti-erotic culture. It’s very sexual, but not very erotic. The great authors we think of as treating with sex in their works–Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, Erica Jong–really just titillate rather than examine. Anais Nin maybe comes closest to capturing the real spirit of eroticism that infuses our lives, and she’s considered a pornographer. I think Pauline Reage (”Story of O“) is up there too, though not many people are comfortable with her brand of eroticism.
So that’s my take on it. We all fuck, we all have sex, and anyone with at least some literary ability can describe a sexual act and voila! — they’re a porn author. But to discern the threads of eroticism that run through our lives, to be able to know them when you see them, to understand how sexual feelings are generalized and applied to the mundane, how we apply them in our relations with ourselves… That takes a special kind of talent and perception.
He describes how I see things. I can see the erotic content in the mundane. I do it all the time. It’s like he was looking right at me when he wrote that. And here I thought I just had a dirty mind.
If you’re reading this, someone somewhere has probably accused you of having a dirty mind. Let’s talk about that for a minute, shall we? What does the word “dirty” mean when it comes to sex? It means “obscene”. What is obscene? Who defines obscenity? The most accurate definition (according to Wikipedia, and if you can’t trust them to be accurate…) is “offensive to current standards of decency or morality.” And there you have it. It seems obscenity is in the eye of the beholder, or as another writer put it, “People with freaky kinks think that other people with different freaky kinks are disgusting perverts.”
By my own definition, I don’t think my mind is dirty or my thoughts obscene. But since obscenity standards are clearly subjective, my stories might well be considered dirty to lots and lots of people. Mind you, there are lots of things I find offensive, but when I run across them, I just click away. It doesn’t occur to me to have them banned or their voices silenced because I was offended. If what you see offends you, move on.
Having said that, this blog is under the radar. Incognito. Under an assumed name. Most of my friends and family have not been invited to view it and know nothing about my erotic proclivities. Maybe someday I’ll feel comfortable coming out to them. Maybe the idea of being accused of having a dirty mind won’t bother me. Hell, maybe I’ll have some ’splainin’ to do when my erotic novel hits the bestseller list and they all go “Why didn’t you tell me you were a writer?” Maybe then they’ll understand.
In the meantime, the stories keep coming. In this brave new world, self-publishing is simple and the invention of the eBook has made erotica more popular than ever. No need to worry about what’s on the cover of the book giving you away: you can sit in a coffee shop or at a little league game happily absorbing tawdry tales to your hearts content. This blog is a great place for me to talk about writing erotica, and I can pimp out my books in one neat and convenient location. You’re welcome to come back any time and see what’s new. You can even sign up to follow my blog for updates by clicking a button way down at the bottom of the page.
So welcome! It’s nice to have you playing along!