An Experimodern Coda To Human Sexuality 1
by David Pocknee
Rosy fingered Dawn
on a couch.
Also, the sun was coming up.
And so begins our odyssey - in the cavedark of nightrooms where their cavorting images call like sirensong to those vigorously strapped to their own masts, straining to the moment of bellywet-kleenex. The blackmirror on which their choreographed lust plays out is not only the reflection of desire projected onto it, but the Pavlovian bell conditioning it.3
“We are not born with desire – we must be taught to desire”, so says Slavoj Å½iÅ¾ek at the start of The Pervert's Guide To Cinema (2006). If cinema teaches us love, then pornography teaches us lust – each one not the manifestation of desire in a weddingdress-pure naturalism, but a concupiscence filtered through media – not the white noise of an unbounded and infinite lust, but a single feedback-frequency that bears the scars of its journey – the sound of a microphone pointed directly at its loudspeaker.
In behavioural conditioning, there are two things that are the easiest to condition – fear and sexual arousal. Pornography is a method of behaviourally conditioning sexual desire – the images are combined with masturbatory activity which conditions a connection between the pornographic stimulus and sexual desire in the subject. The overlap in content between the stimuli provide the nexus of the subject's sexual desire, which is reinforced through regular masturbation whilst viewing the stimuli.
What is this overlap? It is found not in the hotbody-bothering of those filmed, but in the camera's crippled eye. The camera is fucking useless - the cavernblack smudge of glassdamp lust spewed out by christmasparty photocopiers provide a more compelling rendering of human sexuality than the camera's retarded gaze.4 Yet its uni-ocular disability has come to define our sexuality, the product of desire conditioned by the limitations of cinematic technique. There is barely anything in contemporary pornography that isn't the direct result of how ill-suited cameras are for recording it - sexual positions are chosen based solely on the ability of the camera to see the points of entry, pubic hair is removed in order to better let the ill-equipped mechanical voyeur record the propylaeum and its penetrations zonder kleren, ejaculation occurs in Plinian spurts outside of the body in order to provide a visual shorthand for orgasms unrecordable within, large breasts are preferred due to their kineticism whilst in motion, and so on and so fucking on...
I would have to stoop to the enemaic levels of banality frequented by the Guardian's opinion columnists to point out that pornography and reality are different – instead I will propose that, due to the way in which pornography conditions our desires through the connection between image and masturbatory release, the limitations of the medium are encoded back into our sexual preferences, firstly as byproduct and then, increasingly as the object of desire. We find ourselves increasingly aroused by cinematic shortcuts stemming from the limitations of the filmic process (e.g. lack of pubic hair, outer-body ejaculation etc.). This desire is then re-encoded into pornography as an element of desire – in a feedback loop in which it becomes ever more amplified and its surrounding characteristics become ever more attenuated – a microphone pointing at its loudspeaker... This process loops to the point at which the human body can no longer serve as the container for desire5 and, following this trajectory, it becomes so reinforced that this mutated and acephalous lasciviousness prosopopeiacally rejects the human body6, our desire being outsourced outside of our species, perhaps to robots whose body shape can exceed the physics of homo sapien construction, or onto other animals.7
Throughout Europe, the outside of cigarette packets show images of diseased and cancerous organs, in order to deter smokers. However, the combination of the relaxing effects of the dopamine released whilst smoking the cigarettes from these packets, coupled with a simultaneous exposure to these images, has a conditioning effect that has left some smokers in a state in which they can only relax by looking at photographs of leatherblack alveoli or an undergrowth of tumours coating the inside of a trachea... a relaxation CD of the sounds of haemoptysis...8