Do Not Click on this Pornographic Website
You may not recover. You have been warned.
“Porn” is a term we reserve for the depiction of erotic behavior designed to cause sexual excitement.
Everyone knows this.
But does the depiction of erotic behavior ever extend beyond sexual? I say “Yes” and note that it routinely presents as normal life. Lots of advertising aims for this lustful, must-own tone. Bathtubs, kitchens, lake homes. Cars. Bicycles. Camera lenses. Ice cream sandwiches. Apple is the pre-eminent, undisputed master of desire-manipulation designed to cause ownership lust, as witnessed in yesterday’s watch announcement. It’s a winning persuasion technique that bypasses reason as it reduces the unaware to a quivering mass of…longing.
Really anything can be pornographic—even book ownership. More and more I see piles of books in Tumblrs along with a statement about how reading changes you. Which is true. But so does conversation. So does work. So does life. And so does experience. It’s curious because books seem to be moving to the level of a totem, where we hold them up as having a kind of magic power for wisdom. And all this as more and more of us read less and less. When I teach writing classes, I routinely say that even a paragraph is too much copy (too many words) for many of us.
I’m all for books. And I’m especially fond of reading them. But I’d like to see ads for owning the contents of books. I’d like to see ads that move people toward the deep reading Mortimer Adler defended in How to read a book. Ads that make it sexy to know something and to engage in a conversation about it.
But there’s no money to be made in that.
Maybe book lust is one of the OK-lusts. But I would hope we could grow up to the kind of deep knowing that brings book contents into our daily conversations.
Image credit: Loome Theological Booksellers: “Largest secondhand dealer of theological books in the world.”