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.




Naming the Earth Demons

BP are hoping that everyone has forgotten about the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, and are quietly putting in place plans to drill in the deep waters off of the west of Shetland, risking an even bigger disaster.

[Greenpeace 12 October 2011]

BP faced fresh condemnation from environmentalists on Thursday after it got the go-ahead to invest £4bn to develop one of the North Sea’s largest oilfields off Shetland.

[Guardian 13 October 2011]

What can possibly be going through Dave Cameron’s domed head when he signs of BP’s latest application to destroy the Atlantic? How does he weigh these matters up? On the one hand, a thousand or so new jobs. On the other, high risk of outright destruction of the Atlantic Ocean, with all the job and livelihood losses that implies (apart from anything else).

Extracts of BP’s own risk assessment document are posted on the Greenpeace site. The document is of course a masterwork of ‘scientific’ assimilation. Graphs and tables and various axioms of oceanography are displayed, and risks summed in statements like “Oil spills may also have a direct impact on the amenity value of the coastline.”

And now we have a clue to what is going through Cameron’s domed head: The fact that this document covers these risks is enough. 

It is a curious inversion of the business of naming the demons. Their power is annulled as soon as they are named. Naming the demons is a basic (and very useful) technique of Buddhist meditation. By noticing the various distractions (demons) as they arrive – sore knee, thinking about tomorrow, thinking about dinner, about sex – we dissimilate from them. We gradually cease to identify with the distracting thoughts, and increasingly identify with that which meditates.

Lizards are doing exactly the same thing, just in an uproariously inverted manner. Cameron is able to dissimilate from Florida, from scenes of oceans covered in dead birds and fish, from black sands, from the enormous WRITING ON THE WALL…simply because the BP ‘scientists’ have named the demons. Cameron can roll the dice, approve the drilling, announce thousands of new jobs, collect serious dollar, move on six places.















David Cameron has been accused of allowing a secret rightwing agenda to flourish at the heart of the Conservative party…

[Guardian, Saturday 15 October 2011]


Hardly surprising, of course. Nor is the fact that we will only grasp just how much we’ve been had, when there is literally nothing more to be had out of us. That point, unless it recedes infinitely a la Xeno, is rapidly approaching. Meanwhile, a little triptych to soothe the triplethink (just look at the faces on ’em!):


Bliar, Brown, Amercon

British Broadcasting Conspiracy