“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Friday, July 13, 2007

meditation on Infinite Thought's modernist porn

IT continues her interesting series on porno today. I’m not sure where she is going with this. She has consistently interrogated the money shot as the truth of cinematic porn, finding it even back in the days of vintage porn (filmed). One aspect that she has not explored, however, is one that seems obvious to me from a narrative level. To film a man and a woman or a man and several women or several men and a woman or several of either sex fucking is to have a narrative problem. How do you keep this interesting. Now, there is an interest we all feel in fucking (wasn’t it Jane Austin who said that it is a truth universally acknowledged that we all like to watch some dick and pussy action on whatever screen is handiest, given favoring circumstances?), but the interest in art divides neatly into two registers. There is the interest of the artist in the art, and the interest of the spectator or audience. And while it is hard to imagine an artist working without any sense of what interests an audience – what conventions, what tropes, what narrative arcs - the artist has to also look to the limitations and possibilities of his materials. Thus, for instance, mystery writers can mix up their mystery, they can vary the crime involved, they can make the narrator the ultimate perpetrator, they can be as careless of clues as, say, Raymond Chandler is, but one of the things one knows about mysteries is that they generally tend to murder and some solution because those have become convenient templates for the writer.

In cinematic porno, the question is: is the money shot that has become the solution to the fucking sequence a template that makes it easier to organize the film, or are we talking about a convention that the audience imposes on the film? How could we tell? My own instinct would be that the money shot, like the murder in a mystery, solves several interest problems with the least cost to the creator. So, in essence, I'm saying the presence of the money shot derives from the direction of the creator, not the audience. I'd say that, on the audience side, we have evidence that there is less interest in the money shot. That evidence has to do with the state of porno itself, a medium in which fast forward has become the constitutive principle that has, essentially, destroyed the old movie pornos – a technological effect that is even more dramatic than the effect of the sound track on film in the late twenties. What has been left gives the creator an orientation problem. To a certain extent, you could play your average vid porno backwards and it wouldn’t make any dramatic difference. While the rite of cock sucking and pussy licking, etc., is as predictable as the liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church, it exists to cover all the bases and to extend the time. Fucking, in other words, which used to be the endpoint of a fantasy, has now dispensed with the fantasy to the greatest extent possible. This means that, in a sense, pornos have accidentally converged on the minimalist mindset of one subgroup in modernism – which at various times threw off Victorian rhetoric, dispensed with figuration in painting, and dispensed with enduring materials in conceptual art. Although there are those who are sexually attached to the money shot, to my mind, the money shot is already archaic in the fast forward universe. It is a last desperate stab at giving fucking an orientation and drama. If it were simply cut out, would it be missed by the audience? I don’t know if anybody has made the experiment. I do think that it would be missed by the filmmaker and the players. Removing cum removes a dramatic anchor. Would that removal also destroy the premium experience of porn – the audience’s own money shot, the spurting end of viewer response?

My sense that the audience could get along without it has to do with the history of still image pornography. Which actually brings me back to the question of volupté and the epicurean tradition and the pictures of Pompeii. About which I will have more to say in another post.

PS - check out Alan's post on happiness, in reply to my attack on happiness triumphant, at his blog, Milinda's Questions.

8 comments:

northanger said...

AQ 518 = BARELY TOLERATED SPINSTERS (Tennessee Williams) = A DISSERTATION ON JANE AUSTEN (Sarah Raff) = LA PHILOSOPHIE DANS LE BOUDOIR (Marquis de Sade).

roger said...

North, I wonder, have you ever read any of the detective novels, if that is what they are, of Tim Powers? Writes them from a heavy tarot point of view. I'm reading Last Call and probably missing half the clues, but YOU would get them. The guru gambler in the book treats the cards like daemons. There's also a game called Assumption that has a few odd rules, 'a game with a weird deck, all pictures', as one of the Nevada gamblers says.
You might like this guy.

northanger said...

hey, thanks for the tip, Roger. Last Call, By Tim Powers

AQ 1268 = A REALITY WHERE POWERS GREAT AND UNKNOWN LURK JUST BEYOND PERCEPTION = CONVERSION FROM SKEPTIC TO BELIEVER IS QUINTESSENTIAL URBAN FANTASY (AQ-370 VEGAS ON THE HALF SHELL).

ahfukit said...

You could organize it around Sting. He never cums.

ahfukit said...

philosophy in film, assignment 2, summer 2006

(2.10) In Boogie Nights Jack describes his dream of the ideal porn film thus: " It is my dream, it is my goal, it is my idea to make a film that the story sucks them in, and when they spurt out that joy juice, they just got to sit in it. They can't move until they find out how the story ends.... it's my dream to make a film that is true and right and dramatic." Is such a transcendent work of porn possible? Can a porn film also be "true and right and dramatic"? Write a 3 page (at least) essay on this very interesting question. Your goal should be to help Jack out, to show him the way to create his ideal film, or to realize that such a film is impossible and therefore he should give up now. Along the way you should also help us understand better some of those issues that Socrates and his friends addressed in the Symposium: love, sex, beauty, attraction, goodness, desire, possession, etc.

roger said...

ahfuckit, I believe that film is called Infinite Jest! aka The Entertainment Made by James Incandenza, the film is not only so fascinating that you have to see it to the end, it is so fascinating that you have to see it until you die. That's the joy juice indeed. I loaned my fucking copy of IJ to somebody, so I can't find the passage describing this.

roger said...

Ah, I did find, on the web, Incandenza's filmography. Got a quote a couple of films:

"Cage III - Free Show" - B.S. Latrodectus Mactans Productions/Infernation Animation Concepts, Canada. Cosgrove Watt, P.A. Heaven, Everard Maynell, Pam Heath; partial animation; 35 mm; 65 minutes; black and white; sound. The figure of death (Heath) presides over the front entrance of a carnival sideshow whose spectators watch performers undergo unspeakable degradations so grotesquely compelling that the spectators' eyes become larger and larger until the spectators themselves are transformed into gigantic eyeballs in chairs, while on the other side of the sideshow tent the figure of Life (Heaven) uses a megaphone to invite fairgoers to an exhibition in which, if the fairgoers consent to undergo unspeakable degradations, they can witness ordinary persons gradually turn into gigantic eyeballs. INTERLACE TELENT FEATURE CARTRIDGE #357-65-65

"Mobius Strips" - Year of the Whopper. Latrodectus Mactans Productions. 'Hugh G. Rection', Pam Heath, 'Bunny Day', 'Taffy Appel'; 35 mm; 109 minutes; black and white; sound. Pornography-parody, possible parodic homage to Fosse's All That Jazz, in which a theoretical physicist ('Rection'), who can only achieve creative mathematical insight during coitus, conceives of Death as a lethally beautiful woman (Heath). INTERLACE TELENT FEATURE CARTRIDGE #357-65-32 (Y.W.)

And, of course:

"(The) Desire To Desire" - Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad. Poor Yorick Entertainment Unlimited. Robert Lingley, 'Madame Psychosis', Marla-Dean Chumm; 35 mm; 99 minutes (?); black and white; silent. A pathology resident (Lingley) falls in love with a beautiful cadaver ('Psychosis') and the paralyzed sister (Chumm) she died rescuing from the attack of an oversized feral infant. Listed by some archivists as unfinished. UNRELEASED"

ahfukit said...

Thanks, Roger, that is very rich. I think many people have no idea just how rich the world is, still. And sometimes just knowing it is rich is as far as you'll ever get. And that's enough. Peace