philosophy of art — can pornography be art?
haider saleem

I wrote a response recently offering some of my thoughts on pornography which can be viewed here:

I agree with you that pornography is indeed an art form, and perhaps it is an art form which is being regularly consumed by an extremely large portion of the population, given its ubiquity. As such it is a very important social medium with the capacity to influence and shape attitudes of those who regularly view it.

While many people may imagine that the popular tropes of pornography are somehow inherent to the form, I beg to differ on that. Why does so much of pornography depict violent and derogatory words and actions towards women? Is this not a sad cultural snapshot that only serves to degrade relationships between the sexes?

I imagined once making an art house porn film. It was called “Morning Glory,” named for a flower that blooms each day in the morning light.

It would start with the male protagonist dreaming of a his lover walking towards him in the guise of a beautiful goddess. She is naked or wearing a small bit of sexy lingerie, yet she is spectacularly bejeweled and flowers adorn her hair. She is in a room lit with many candles and beautiful objects, bowls of flowers floating in water, spiritual symbols and offerings. She glides towards him in a sensuous manner, reaching for him…he awakes and you see his obvious erection propping up the sheets of his bed. He looks at his phone which has pinged, it shows a text from his lover saying “I dreamt of you last night.” A naughty smirk lights up his face.

Cut to him driving along the coast in the early dawn light, and he arrives at his lover’s house. As he walks to the door, the camera focuses in on a vine of blooming morning glory flowers that frame the entrance. His lover opens the door and greets him scantily dressed, wearing a cute ruffled apron, and invites him in; she is in the process of cooking breakfast. As she stands by the stove, he comes up behind her, grabs her ass, begins kissing her neck; she leaves the cooking and they go at it making passionate love to each other all over the house. When they have enthusiastically fucked in every position, both cum and are feeling satisfied, they return to the kitchen. In quick artful shots, he helps her with cooking, they eat breakfast together, he helps clean up, and gives her a sweet kiss goodbye and she tells him to have a great day at work. He drives off into the morning sun on a sunlit highway by the ocean. While he is driving, the camera shows his phone ping in the driver’s seat with a text from his lover, it says “thank you for a delicious morning ;)”. He drives away, contemplative, dreamy, a subtle smile on his face.

I share this story here to explain one of my own personal visions of a pornography that I consider to be arousing yet tasteful, as well as supportive in its depiction of men and women. I ask what distinguishes erotica from pornography? Need there be a difference? Why is not more attention being paid to making pornography of a higher artistic value? Supposedly men don’t want that, but is that really true?

While I understand that some people apparently have a very compartmentalized view of sex, that will never be the case with me, and my goal in my poems, stories, and healing work, is to convey that holistic view, in which sexuality is a foundational element of life experience, united with body, soul and nature into a divine whole. There may be those who never understand my perspective, but there may be many who do resonate.