Porno-graphy & Literature: Henry Miller Inspired Reflections

Calling Henry Miller as medium…awaken!

If etymology serves without a look up in the old dusty Websters (or a digressive search online), porno-graphy has to do with drawings or pictures of prostitutes (perhaps in action, in the trade, not sure). I think it’s fairly apparent that the relativity of definitions makes some kind of fixed basis for defining pornography rather hopeless, helpless and hapless. Maybe that’s because rules of etiquette are sought, meaning some sort of civility or kindness of intention. A steady benchmark from which precedent and deductive logic can be applied; that seems to give Western, legalistic society fodder for yet another textual industry. But again, intentions are often misread, and aggressiveness in sex for example is sometimes favored, even welcomed. The Greeks celebrated homosexual art and practice and cultivated the love of young boys who often bore the wine and food to the symposia. Arguments were made that homosexual love was the only true expression of friendship as there was no procreative relation in the mix. These are hotly debated and contentious issues today, and the practice of pedophilia acts lands one in jail. Consider the liberality of dress in Rio during Carnival! We know what Philip Roth’s character did with the liver. We’ve read Updike’s sweaty suburban scenes…his first wife commenting after Couples, “I thought I would drown in pubic hair.” Or take Norman Mailer and his fascination with anal sex as the only true empowering sex between men and women! (See the famous scene of his main character buggering the maid after tossing his wife off the condo ledge!)…or return to the steamy days of Henry Miller’s shocking of the American middle classes from his Bohemian taunts from Paris. My uncle hid his copy of Ulysses in the closet…making it that much more interesting to me. Ridiculous! Thank you to Bennet Cerf of Random House for getting the Supremen Court of the US to lift the ban on its import to this low-brow country.
My point is the simple one that relativity of cultures dominates the standards of sexual practice. As a cultural anthropologist, having at least traveled armchair wise, around the globe in many domains of curious culture, nothing surprises me anymore. I think we have to judge these behaviors in the wider, open frame, that all these behaviors however bizarre, are human, all too human. Each society must make its way as it sees fit. I’m not sure there exist universal rules of morality, only contextual interpretations.

Okay, Henry, you can go back to sleep now.

PS. See my own work of flash fiction erotica, DIFFICULT PEOPLE: 

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