Pornography at the Edge: Depiction, Fiction, & Sexual Predilection

In Hans Maes & Jerrold Levinson (eds.), Art and Pornography: Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press. pp. 137-160 (2013)
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The primary purpose of depictive works of pornography, we take it, is sexual arousal through sexually explicit representations; what we callprototypical pornography satisfies those aims through the adoption of a ceteris paribus maximally realistic depictive style. Given that the purpose of sexual arousal seems best fulfilled by establishing the most robust connections between the viewer and the depictive subject, we find it curious that not all works of pornography aspire to prototypical status. Accordingly, we target for philosophical scrutiny several non-standard but putatively pornographic forms: Tijuana Bibles, hentai manga, and slash-fiction. We find that works of these genres possess certain depictively or fictively oriented properties that appear at least prima facie incompatible with prototypical pornography, and thereby to pose two pressing questions that anyprima facie viable analysis of pornography must answer: the depiction question and the fiction question. By answering these questions, we can not only arrive at a deeper understanding of the aims of pornography and the reasons for which significant sub-genres of pornography might diverge from the prototypical ideal, but also perhaps better understand what lies at pornography’s edge, and so better understand the ways in which pornography might relate to what lies beyond.
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