Friday, November 2, 2012


Photography and film, out of all the other artistic mediums, present to us the ultimate challenge of illusion. Because photography so closely, or so immediately, represents the physical, and film so closely, or so immediately, represents the physical and time, the spectre of illusion rises up unprecedented and multiplied, rather than recedes.

The greater the claim of the medium to representing instantaneously all aspects, the greater the danger of reducing that which is represented to object irrevocably, and the greater the danger of corrupting entirely, rather than in part.

Certain writers like to play this indifferentist game where they take the example of a person being sexually aroused and entertaining impure thoughts before a work of art that is not pornographic in any way, and then pit that example against the example of someone looking at hardcore photographic pornography without any sexual arousal whatsoever - both examples which can, and maybe do, exist.

I tell you one thing: though that person who fell into impure thoughts before some non-pornographic artwork has committed sin and needs to address seriously this issue, the person who has looked at hardcore porn without a whiff of sexual arousal has committed the greater sin, and has put his soul in the greater peril.


Mary MacArthur said...

Your concluding thought is very interesting and I would like to hear elaboration on it; it sounds right, but I wouldn't be able to explain what sin such a person would be committing.

And it's interesting you label this Christopher West and TOB; I don't know your opinion on West, but from what little I've read of him, he seems to say (though I may very well be wrong) that a virtuous person should look at hardcore porn without sexual arousal.

Paul Stilwell said...

Thanks for the comment, Mary.

I would have to think it through some before elaborating, and I will try.

But first I just wanted to say some things about West. My opinion of West's work is not high.

Yes, you have the right idea of what West says, though he does not say that one *should* look at pornography - indeed, he warns against it, but he ultimately leaves it opened-ended; that is, that the evidence of sexual purity is being able to look at such material and see God. It's rubbish, since pornography is an intrinsic evil: there is no good in it.

And that is some of the reason as to the conclusion that I drew. Pornography, in particular the photographic and filmic, being intrinsically evil, will do nothing to the viewer but corrupt, whether their is corresponding arousal or not.

Paul Stilwell said...

Sorry, "their" should be "there".

Mary MacArthur said...

I see, so the evil of pornography is not so much in titillating the viewer, but in making the viewer objectify and violate the dignity of the model, whether they're titillated or not. Makes sense, but I don't know if that occurs to a lot of folks. Like I said, I don't know much of West's work, but my impression isn't very good either.