Apologia Pornographica


VINCENT: I can't help feeling that too many people are perverting themselves through pornography of one sort or another these days.  You can't enter a newsagent’s shop without encountering various manifestations of magazine pornography, from soft to hard or, at any rate, moderately hard.  For many men, such magazines must be a glaring temptation!

MICHAEL: Indeed!  And I have been tempted by various magazines myself, in the past.

VINCENT: Doubtless with the fatal consequence of perverting yourself thereafter!

MICHAEL: Primarily to avail myself of the pictorial services of such sublimated whores as caught my eye, if you must know.

VINCENT: Sublimated whores?

MICHAEL: Yes, the modern type of prostitute par excellence, the one who offers her physical charms to all who are prepared to pay to see them, though only, of course, on a sublimated basis.  No longer woman in the flesh but woman in the photo, whom one experiences indirectly, as an abstraction, through the eyes.  Pornography is the medium through which the contemporary prostitute reveals herself.

VINCENT: And what about the traditional type of prostitute, whose body is to be had in the flesh?

MICHAEL: She is fast becoming obsolete, an anachronism which the age protects itself against through the law.  She is becoming a member of that old-fashioned club of social dinosaurs.  She no longer commands the prestige of her professional ancestors.  Rather, it is the modern or sublimated whore who stands in the sexual limelight, to be admired by literally millions of men right across the globe.  No traditional whore could boast of such an achievement, not even the great Sarah Bernhardt, who is reputed to have been loved by thousands, taking the word 'loved' in its physically operative sense.

VINCENT: Frankly I have no taste for whores, ancient or modern!  My wife is all I need and, fortunately, she prevents me from following the example of those millions of men who buy pornography and inevitably pervert themselves, becoming voyeurs, masturbators, and hell-knows-what-else besides!

MICHAEL: Permit me to say that your standpoint is quite misguided.

VINCENT: Oh, in what way?

MICHAEL: You look upon proper, sane behaviour from a naturalistic point of view, and are consequently led to infer that any deviation from the natural, no matter how exciting or engrossing, is a perversion, to be avoided at all costs.  But such a point of view is only compatible with a rural or provincial mentality, a mentality which has been shaped by nature's abundant proximity ... in the guise, needless to say, of assorted vegetation.  It is incompatible, if I may say so, with an urban mentality, or one shaped by the comparative scarcity of external nature and the corresponding abundance of the artificial, as manifested in the man-made.

VINCENT: True.  But to live in the city is to live in a perverted context and not to assess life through nature's immutable criteria.  If it leads to one's treating perversions of the natural as a mark of progress, as your standpoint would seem to imply, then all I can say is that one would be better off living in the country, like me, where nature is never very far away and one can therefore relate to what is, after all, the most sensible and sane view of life.

MICHAEL: I'm sorry, Vinny, but this bourgeois complacency of yours just doesn't work with me!  What you're effectively saying is that to live in the country is to live as man should live - not cut off from nature.  But such a point of view is at best relative, at worst downright mistaken!  Evolution, you see, is a fact, and because life is essentially an evolutionary struggle, those evolving are the ones who really live.  The others, tied to their rural or provincial environments, become in the course of time social dinosaurs, with views that reflect not evolving man but static man - man who has reached a certain point and refuses or is unable to go any further, largely because his environment conditions his thinking and thereby prevents him from taking a more progressive stance.  You would appear to be one such man, trapped, through force-of-habit, in your provincial conditioning.  Rather than viewing pornography as a manifestation of sexual progress, a means of transcending the natural, your environmental conditioning and background lead you to view it as a manifestation of sexual perversion, to be spurned in the interests of 'correct living'.  Given the circumstances under which you live, you are perfectly entitled to this view.  But considered from any higher and more radical standpoint, one can only conclude it to be severely limited, in accordance with the relative criteria of static man.

VINCENT: All right progressive man, since you are resigned to your city perversions and have no use for provincial criteria, what exactly is it about these pornographic magazines that renders them agents of progress?

MICHAEL: Precisely what one of my earlier statements led you to infer - namely, that they contribute towards the overcoming of the natural and are relevant to an environment in which nature, in its external forms, has been largely overcome, in any case.  What one gets from the alluring spectacle of pornographic images is the substitution of sublimated sexuality for concrete sexuality and the consequent elevation of sex from the body to the head, which is to say, from the flesh to the intellect.

VINCENT: How can you possibly speak of the 'consequent elevation of sex from the body to the head'?

MICHAEL: Because I live in an environment which enables one to grasp the meaning of life from a post-dualistic rather than a dualistic angle, and thus to see what the necessary outcome of evolutionary progress must be.  And that outcome, believe it or not, must be the complete overcoming of the flesh ... in the attainment of the transcendental Beyond.  For if there isn't a spiritual climax to evolution, then evolution is a mockery - nay, a myth, a fiction!  Fortunately for evolving humanity, however, evolution isn't a fiction but a fact, and one that presupposes our evolving away from the flesh in the direction of greater degrees of spirituality.  Pornography is, I believe, a stage in this direction, and the more men experience 'sex in the head', to use a phrase the reactionary D.H. Lawrence found so abhorrent, the less they will experience it in the body, and the closer will they draw to the complete overcoming of sex in the future post-Human Millennium.

VINCENT: Including, presumably, the sublimated variety?

MICHAEL: Yes.  For, at that more fortunate juncture in time, men will have been programmed for the transcendental Beyond and accordingly be elevated to the blessed status of so many static units of potential transcendence, freed from everything but the brain and, ultimately, just the new brain, which will be artificially supported and sustained through the agency of a highly-sophisticated technology.  Without a body, even sublimated sex would cease to be relevant, and so, eventually, the mind would be purged of sexual preoccupations.

VINCENT: The mind positively boggles!

MICHAEL: Doubtless yours more than mine, since we live in somewhat different environments.  But I sincerely believe that my prophecies will be vindicated.  For there is only one way to attain to salvation, and that is by overcoming the flesh.

VINCENT: And how do you suppose these artificially-supported brains will be arranged at that 'more fortunate juncture in time', when man is set directly on course for his Final End?

MICHAEL: Not separately but collectively, in accordance with the tendency of evolutionary progress to manifest itself in increasing degrees of approximation to the projected unity of the transcendental Beyond.  I envisage entire clusters of brains being supported and sustained from a single central source, so that the analogy with a Christmas tree comes to mind, in which the tree's branches act as supports for the many coloured lights being sustained from a single external source.  One can view the Christmas tree as an intimation of things to come, a projection of post-Human Millennial life.  The brains will correspond to the electric lights, their supports to the tree's branches, and what sustains them to the electricity source.  They will be clustered together as the closest possible approximation, on earth, to the envisaged spiritual unity of the transcendental Beyond, and will doubtless have a greater capacity for cultivating spirit on this collective basis than ever they would have on a separate or individual one.  Thus the linking-up of numerous brains in this Christmas tree-like fashion will result in a being far superior in essence to a man, with his single brain, and therefore closer to the Supreme Being which transcendence will ultimately engender - a supreme level of being composed of all the transcendent spirit the evolving Universe can furnish.  Furthermore, there is a distinct technological advantage to be gained from linking numerous brains together on a single support apparatus, which is that everything can be run from one energy source, thus minimizing or even eradicating the possibility of individual malfunctionings ... such as might accrue to separate sustains.  Besides, evolutionary progress presupposes centro-complexification, to use a term favoured by Teilhard de Chardin, so it is virtually inconceivable that numerous separate sustains would be brought into action when one central sustain-system could do the job so much more efficiently, thereby making possible the closer arrangement of the individual brains on a single, many-branched support.

VINCENT: One is reminded of a light sculpture by Otto Peine, the German artist, in which numerous small electric-light bulbs, sprouting from a central support, form a kind of large globe of light.

MICHAEL: Yes, I think I know the work you are alluding to, and a fine example it is, too, of the way in which contemporary art, when truly significant, anticipates the future, serving as a guide to subsequent development.  If you substitute brains for light bulbs, then you have an inkling of what highly-civilized life will amount to in the millennial Beyond, that precondition of the transcendental Beyond.... Not that there will be only one large support for our envisaged conglomeration of brains.  In all probability, there will be many such supports right across the world, each city having its own support or supports, depending on the size of the population and the number of brains any given support can manage, not to mention the number that can reasonably be sustained from a central sustain-system peculiar to each support.

VINCENT: And if the support would be a kind of many-branched apparatus, of what, exactly, would the sustain be comprised?

MICHAEL: Principally a large powerful artificial heart, or pump, which would serve to pump blood, or some substitute thereof, through the brains via artificial blood vessels, or plastic tubing, which would convey fresh oxygen to the brains from oxygen tanks positioned in the immediate vicinity of the support.  Whatever nourishment, in the form of synthetic stimulants, the brains required could also be pumped into them in this manner.

VINCENT: And who would supervise these arrangements to ensure that nothing broke down or that the oxygen containers didn't run out?

MICHAEL: Presumably everything would function autonomously under the supervision or, rather, surveillance of special computers assisted, where necessary, by robots.  There would be scant need for men to concern themselves with the proper functioning of the sustain apparatus, at any rate, since theirs would be the brains being supported.  All they need concern themselves with would be the cultivation of pure spirit in the superconscious and the eventual attainment to transcendence.  They wouldn't be conscious of their physical environment in this more advanced stage of the post-Human Millennium, since egocentric consciousness would have been outgrown following the surgical removal of the old brain, which, in psychological parlance, may be equated with the subconscious.  But getting to that more advanced stage would take some time; it couldn't be brought about overnight.  A state of mind approximating to the clarity of the transcendental Beyond couldn't be embraced prematurely, as oriental mysticism has adequately confirmed through the twin doctrines of reincarnation and karma - doctrines which, though not to be taken literally, do underline, in a metaphorical kind of way, the necessity of gradual self-improvement.  However, gradual self-improvement isn't something that can be effected though meditation techniques alone.  One must also bring technology to bear on the problem, so that self-improvement may be seen to extend to the gradual phasing-out of the natural body through artificial replacements.  The Orient has been traditionally too lax in this matter, stressing the spiritual at the expense of the technological.  The Occident, in developing technology, has taken the opposite course.  Only the coming together of the two approaches to life into a higher synthesis, with scope for mutual development, will make the goal of evolution in spiritual transcendence possible.  Too exclusive a concentration on either the one or the other, meditation or technology, will simply result in failure.

VINCENT: All this takes us rather a long way from the subject of pornography, doesn't it?  For me, a static man of the provinces, it is all rather baffling and against my middle-class grain.  I cannot force myself to share your opinions, even though there may be some truth in them.  I haven't experienced that Nietzschean 'revaluation of all values' which living in the city apparently encourages.  I still belong to that old world in which nature remains the touchstone for evaluating conduct, and the artificial isn't allowed to intrude to any great extent - certainly not to the extent that it displaces the natural and becomes the leading string, so to speak.  I cannot look upon pornography with the satisfaction you evidently feel on the basis of the fact that it signifies a negation of the natural and, consequently, a mode of sexual redemption.  To me, it remains a temptation to perversion.

MICHAEL: Then I am sorry for you, Vincent.  You are simply a social dinosaur, a man who refuses or is unable to evolve.  Your opinions are gradually being overruled by those of us who live in the majority context, the city, and accordingly feel obliged to carry on the struggle to attain to the supernatural.  You shut yourself off from the city and all it stands for, because it is becoming increasingly enigmatic to you, increasingly fearsome.  You tell yourself, for the sake of a comforting illusion, that the proletariat are poor unfortunate devils who have no option but to live there, largely because they cannot afford such suburban-style accommodation as you, with your bourgeois wealth, inhabit in the country.  Good, tell yourself that, if it helps make your own position any easier to bear!  But don't expect me to share your opinions, as if I were a naturalistic country-dweller too!  Long confinement in the city has taught me to look at life from a more radical angle, and nothing could now convince me that evolution can proceed in any other way than up through the city and city humanity.  The future belongs to the proletariat, of that you can rest assured, even if the present is officially under bourgeois control and to some extent still reflects dualistic values.  Yet even you cannot entirely escape the city's influence on the provinces.  There are aspects of your life, I am sure, which are no longer quite middle class.

VINCENT: Maybe there are, but I never allow them to worry me too much.  I know my essential position and I stick to it.  Maybe that is because I have no real option.  Nevertheless it suits me, given my provincial background.  I wouldn't wish to exchange my concrete sexual habits for the sublimated, spiritualized sexuality to which you apparently subscribe.

MICHAEL: No, and I don't suppose you would wish to exchange your church-going habits for a regular stint of transcendental meditation either?

VINCENT: I don't go to church all that often, actually.

MICHAEL: Really?  I am surprised at you!  You consider yourself a bourgeois and you don't go to church all that often?  Bad form, old boy!  The twentieth century would seem to have undermined your class integrity and deprived you of an essential ingredient in the composition of your nobility.

VINCENT: What-on-earth are you talking about?

MICHAEL: Well, you know that bourgeois nobility is confirmed by dual allegiance to parliamentary democracy and Christianity, particularly of the nonconformist variety, don't you?


MICHAEL: To be properly integrated as a bourgeois noble, you’ve got to be both a dependable voter, preferably for the Tories, and a regular church-goer, or Christian.

VINCENT: Then I'm afraid that I may not be properly integrated, since I lack faith in Christ.

MICHAEL: Dear me!  That can only mean you are a decadent bourgeois, an all-too-prevalent species of modern bourgeois who has fallen under the malign influence of neo-barbarism and consequently come apart from the Church.  You cling to your class on the tenuous basis of property and a periodic vote in the ballot box.  But your nobility is severely tarnished by the absence of the faith!  One might almost say it no longer exists.  You are caught-up in the evolutionary no-man's-land between past and future as a kind of religious nonentity, hanging on the barbed wire of disbelief.  The more orthodox members of your class would certainly frown upon you.  There are still quite a number of fastidious bourgeois nobles around, believe it or not, whose lifestyles would be incomplete without at least one appearance in church a week.  Their faith may not be as strong now as it used to be, but at least they know who they are and what they must do if they are to remain respectable members of their class.  There is no-one who could point a finger at them and say: 'You're no longer genuinely noble because tainted by neo-barbarism!'  They will always say 'Our Lord' when referring to Christ.  For that is essentially what Christ is or should be - namely, the religious focus of bourgeois nobility.

VINCENT: Well, perhaps I am a little out-of-focus these days, since influenced by the city in some ways.  How about you, are you in-focus?

MICHAEL: You know perfectly well the answer to that question, since I lectured you quite extensively on the nature of future religion, which will be a combination of high technology and meditation.  Like you, I am also a lapsed bourgeois, though, unlike yourself, I have spent so much time living in the city that I am almost a proletarian; probably am a proletarian, even though I never rub shoulders with the workers or speak with a cockney accent spiced with four-letter expletives.  My upbringing was strictly suburban, strictly Christian.... Even now, I occasionally find myself slipping into middle-class views.  But I know that my nobility, if ever it existed, no longer exists in any strictly bourgeois sense, and that some time ago I joined the ranks of those who live in the evolutionary no-man's-land between one nobility and another.

VINCENT: And what, exactly, will this other nobility be?

MICHAEL: In a word, proletarian.

VINCENT: Proletarian?

MICHAEL: A type of nobility compatible with an urban environment, which will only come into being with the future adoption, by the proletariat, of transcendentalism as the complementary religion to the politics of socialism.  Until the people are regular and earnest practitioners of transcendental meditation in an institutionalized context, they won't be civilized but ... relatively uncivilized, which is to say, less than noble - in a word ignoble or plebeian, with an overly objective stance in life.

VINCENT: I see!  Well, if that's the case, they are likely to remain uncivilized for some time to come, aren't they?

MICHAEL: Until such time, in fact, as the next civilization gets properly and officially under way, which won't be until after the new Dark Ages of materialist barbarism have passed and proletarian man turns away from the materialistic view of life towards a view embracing religion.  But when this final nobility comes to pass, you can be certain that it will be superior to any previous kind of nobility, whether bourgeois or aristocratic.  It will be a nobility from which transcendent spirit will eventually emerge, a nobility leading directly to God.  For man, remember, has always been a god-builder, even if he hasn't always been able to build God literally.  In his earliest, or pagan, stage of religion he built towards God in materials - for instance, stone or wood - and took the resulting statue for God, saw God in the statue.  Because at that time life was more under the Devil's influence than subsequently, his religious sense reflected the root nature of evil by being aligned with many gods, numerous statues of different gods.  For the Devil, curiously, is cosmic, and nothing could be more numerous or separate than the stars.  Thus early man's endeavour to build towards God was severely hampered by his close proximity to nature, as by the Devil's influence, including that component of the Devil which is the sun, and could hardly be claimed to reflect a direct, literal route to the Supreme Being, or the creation thereof.

VINCENT: This is presumably during the aristocratic stage of nobility, when allegiance to some form of paganism was required?

MICHAEL: Yes, though it also extends into the Christian stage through early Catholicism, with, of course, the requisite political allegiance to autocratic rule.  Even today the class-conscious aristocrat is more likely to be Catholic than Protestant.  However, with regard to the ensuing Christian stage of building towards God, it becomes apparent that man has acquired a dualistic religious sense and therefore progressed away from the predominating materialism of his pagan forebears.  Now that villages have expanded into towns he is no longer under nature's influence, nor under the Devil's, to quite the same extent, but can detach his worship from the statue and make do with fewer gods.  Thus instead of worshipping God in the statue, the statue becomes merely an image of God, as conceived by the Christians, which serves to remind the worshipper that God's essence resides elsewhere, namely in post-resurrectional Heaven, and should not be imputed to the statue in the manner of pagan idolatry - a principle which also applies to the lesser deities of the Christian pantheon, viz. the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the leading apostles, et cetera.

VINCENT: So at that juncture in time man is set on course for literally building towards God, because he has weakened the influence of materialism over himself and thus found place in his devotions for a separate, spiritual concept of the Divine?

MICHAEL: Precisely!  And in the ensuing Protestant stage of religious evolution man gains a further victory over materialism by cutting-down still further on the number of deities, while simultaneously reducing his dependence on the statue to a bare minimum - in certain more radical sects virtually dispensing with the image altogether.  However, this bourgeois stage of religious evolution is precisely what proletarian man must subsequently transcend, as, thanks in large measure to the extent of his remove from nature in the city, he gets down to the honourable task of literally building towards God through a combination of technology, to phase-out the natural body, and meditation, to directly cultivate spirit.  Thus you can see that religious evolution still has quite a long way to go, and that the inherent God-building tendencies in man will be put to their best, most fruitful use in the future.  Just as Protestant man dispensed with a number of Catholic deities in his struggle away from the manifold diabolic roots of the Universe, so transcendental man will dispense with the remaining Protestant gods in his aspiration towards the unified divine culmination of evolution.  There is a profound logic to life, and no-one, no matter how reactionary, can ultimately deny it!  Vested interests in the worldly status quo won't prevent the truth from triumphing in the end.  For we live in an age when the old gods are either toppling or being toppled, and must accordingly avail ourselves of the truth if we are to survive.  And by 'we' I especially mean the proletariat, those city men who will form the final nobility.  All credit to the bourgeoisie for what they achieved in effecting religious progress.  But theirs is not the last say, believe me!  Progress must continue.

VINCENT: Which presumably implies that city people should continue to have recourse to pornography, as a means of gradually freeing themselves from the natural and evolving towards a condition in which even sublimated sex ceases to apply?

MICHAEL: Yes.  They must disentangle themselves from the sensual in the interests of spiritual progress.  Looking at photographic reproductions of sublimated prostitutes may not be to everyone's liking, but it will certainly suit those of us who are in the vanguard of evolution.  It will suit those of us who don't imagine that, by using such reproductions, we are perverting ourselves but, on the contrary, simply experiencing a higher order of sexuality - one purged, as it were, of sensual dross.  In this respect, sublimated whores are certainly more angelic than their materialistic predecessors!

VINCENT: You have almost convinced me, decadent bourgeois that I am, though I fancy that plastic inflatables, or so-called 'sex dolls', would be more in my line.