Industrialised intimacy

 

the dream

the dream

Twitterings from Number Ten have been heard recently, with regards implementing “filtered feed” broadband internet to UK households. ISP have been quick to clarify that the system would only apply to new contracts on an opt-in basis.

Any discussion about “the sex industry” must begin with the acknowledgement, at least, that the term is a contradiction in terms. Isn’t sex something intimate and delicate? Industry is something machinistic, mass produced, relentless. Ergo, the industrialisation of intimacy is dia-bolical. Sex was something intimate and delicate, once upon a time.

While there are more and more ‘Facebook of Sex’ type websites, whereby people meet up for anything from a straightforward shag (if such a thing still exists) to group sadomasochism, this wave of ‘sexuality’ is not bringing people together, it is, as researchers have been warning for some time, moving us further and further apart. The coming together is highly conditional – boxes must be ticked: tattoos, fetish, threesome, group, gay, lesbian, bi, hardcore, anal. No doubt there is a growing number of couples who met via these sites. Perhaps the dimensions of their relationships are limited. Perhaps love finds a way.

Defenders of porn, be they unreconstructed ‘respect the cock’ testesauruses, animus-ridden ‘inspect the cock’ ‘feminists’ or closet addicts, generally drag in old arguments about liberty, freedom of expression, assertion of female power, outlet for male sexual tension without which there would be more sexual assault, more rape. Defenders of porn will say: It’s always been the same; ancient times, medieval times, there was mad stuff going on; these days it’s just because we have the cameras and the internet that we see it.

Like any addict who denies there is a problem, the porn addict must continue the self-delusion of control, must insist that the relationship between psyche and media is one way. As much as porn might be an expression of parts of the psyche, it also leaves an impression.

Like all media, porn is psychoactive.

From the naked bodies piled one atop the other in Abu Ghraib to the murders of Meredith Kirchner and Joanna Yeates, we see actions in the world resembling those simulated in pornography. These examples are extremes, yes, but are they extremities, tips of the iceberg of mass dynamic?

With increased exposure to porn many men need higher and higher levels of stimulation, or more and more extreme situations, in order to become aroused.

Naomi Wolf, quoted by TowerTales on Tmblr

Like all media, porn is subject to the dynamic Jean Baudrillard called the Precession of Simulacra.

In other words, reality is hidden/buried/preceded by its simulation. The simulation is then simulated. As Kevin says in We need to Talk About Kevin, “People on TV – they’re watching TV.” Further layers are laid down, until we are quite removed from the original, from reality, and still removing.

Porn, once upon a time, was a relatively simple visual simulation. A painting of a couple having sex. A black and white photograph of a woman with her breasts exposed. A crumpled page from a magazine found in the undergrowth. Today, porn consists of many more layers. It has moved – we could even say ‘evolved’ – rapidly through its classic stages of bared body parts, through the utopian stage of bikini and heels by the pool, through the hardcore stage  to what I will call the biodegrading plastic stage. Here things get all mixed up.

The confusion is due in large part to the mass availability of the tools of the trade: cameras, webcams, computers and physical privacy (itself the diabolical result of the destruction of intimacy). Anyone can live the dream via simulation. The simulation –inside the screen – has more power than the real event. Hence the teenage muggers and rapists who film their victims on mobile phones and mass-publish the videos on the internet. Hence the men sexually diminished by overexposure to porn.

It doesn’t stop there. Because the simulation is more powerful than the real event, the real event is diminished. The actual fetish, lesbian, group, anal or whatever event is accessory to the simulation. Therefore the ethics and sensibilities of the simulation – which are nil, because it is a simulation – apply to the accessory. The rapist, the date rapist, the sexual abuser, the sexual tyrant operates inside a simulation in which other parties are only accessories. Women who assert themselves sexually in the biodegrading plastic phase must do so by wearing the simulation layer. “Stripper” heels and so on.

Sure, it can be a turn on.

Vagus nerve pulse trains are a powerful business. The vagus nerve connects pretty much all the major organs, including the reproductive ones. We are passionate, fun-loving, sensation-loving creatures. The rush of sexual arousal is all-consuming. We are on fire, at the apogee of physical being. Naturally, such intensity, such abandonment cannot be always available.

Porn tells us it is. Porn, like other diabolical devices like cocaine and its cracked derivatives, lift the neurological lid on old limbic pathways. The reptilian brain. Cold blooded. Seeks rushes of heat. At the extremes, Abu Ghraib, sex crimes. In the middle – well, anything goes, it’s only simulation. Knock yourself out.

Thing is with neural pulse trains is they attenuate. You need a bigger and bigger hit. Eventually you blow a fuse. And once you blow your fuse it takes a long time to recover – for the women degraded, the men hooked, society in general.

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Industrialised intimacy

  1. I feel sufficiently stimulated to reply. As far as I know, this aspect of post-modernity referred to very largely afflicts the Western world, where the retreat into a left-hemispheric ‘re-presented’ version of reality is increasingly prevalent (see Iain McGilchrist’s The Master & His Emissary for much, much more on this). So the further we proceed down this existential, egoic cul-de-sac in terms of an abstracted, re-presentated, context-free take on reality the more we disable ourselves from experiencing the essence of love, truth and beauty. Thankfully the post-modern virus has not yet infected the whole of humanity. But who will cure us of this pathology?

  2. Pingback: Defenders of porn « nizami thirteen

  3. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

    Very thought provoking. Interesting to read about the basic human level of connection.

    Vincent Tabak case has been horrifying – the layers are peeled off to reveal the direct damage porn can do.

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