Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The eroticism of photography





In my research on sexuality in art, I've been looking at an interesting photographer Lauren Bentley.

I think photography manages to be erotic much more effectively than painting. Why photography captures sexuality when painting only captures form is the question.

16 comments:

Jeannie said...

Perhaps it's because photography captures a "real" moment where in a painting, what we see is the artists view - we are one step removed. The medium dilutes the effect.

Jeannie said...

On an aside - what is so erotic about a woman's armpit? Many paintings and photographs capture the woman with an arm raised over her head - why?

nanc said...

jeannie - i believe it is a form of submission and trust - as a pediatrician and i were having a discussion once about how babies sleep with their hands over their heads - he stated emphatically it was a sign they had absolutely no fear. yet. we could both be wrong.

FJ said...

Why photography captures sexuality when painting only captures form is the question.

Have you ever read Freud's "Jokes and their relation to the Unconscious?"

A libidinal "cathexis" is very similar to that of any other "pleasurable" cathexis, say "laughter". In Freud's "abstracts", Freud explains the "nature" of laughter (which is very similar to that os sex) as follows:

In laughter, the conditions are present under which a sum of psychical energy which has hitherto been used for cathexis is allowed free discharge. Since laughter is an indication of pleasure, we shall be inclined to relate this pleasure to the lifting of the cathexis which has previously been present. If a quota of cathectic energy capable of discharge is to be liberated, there are several conditions which must be fulfilled or which are desirable in order to act as encouragement: 1) it must be ensured that the person is really making this cathectic expenditure; 2) it is necessary to guard against the cathectic expenditure, when it is liberated, finding some other psychical use instead of offering itself for motor discharge; and 3) it is an advantage if the cathexis which is to be liberated in the third person is intensified beforehand.

Lexcen said...

The Japanese find the female nape extremely erotic. I don't think there is any part of the female body that isn't erotic.

FJ,eroticism and cathexis? Never considered that before.

nanc said...

it is always good to laugh during sex. before and after too!

FJ said...

Sometimes there's good reason to laugh...

Plato, "Philebus"

SOCRATES: Very good; but there still remains the third test: Has mind a greater share of beauty than pleasure, and is mind or pleasure the fairer of the two?

PROTARCHUS: No one, Socrates, either awake or dreaming, ever saw or imagined mind or wisdom to be in aught unseemly, at any time, past, present, or future.

SOCRATES: Right.

PROTARCHUS: But when we see some one indulging in pleasures, perhaps in the greatest of pleasures, the ridiculous or disgraceful nature of the action makes us ashamed; and so we put them out of sight, and consign them to darkness, under the idea that they ought not to meet the eye of day.

SOCRATES: Then, Protarchus, you will proclaim everywhere, by word of mouth to this company, and by messengers bearing the tidings far and wide, that pleasure is not the first of possessions, nor yet the second, but that in measure, and the mean, and the suitable, and the like, the eternal nature has been found.

PROTARCHUS: Yes, that seems to be the result of what has been now said.

Lexcen said...

nanc, you're my kind of gal.

FJ, eroticism is visual pleasure?

FJ said...

I don't know about you, lex, but when I see it the dopamine begins to rush into my brain... and I start to "go stupid".

FJ said...

Neurochemicals in the brain always "prepare the way" for what is to follow...

Plato, "Charmides"

That, my dear Critias, I replied, is a distinction which has long been in your family, and is inherited by you from Solon. But why do you not call him, and show him to us? for even if he were younger than he is, there could be no impropriety in his talking to us in the presence of you, who are his guardian and cousin.

Very well, he said; then I will call him; and turning to the attendant, he said, Call Charmides, and tell him that I want him to come and see a physician about the illness of which he spoke to me the day before yesterday. Then again addressing me, he added: He has been complaining lately of having a headache when he rises in the morning: now why should you not make him believe that you know a cure for the headache?

Why not, I said; but will he come?

He will be sure to come, he replied.

He came as he was bidden, and sat down between Critias and me. Great amusement was occasioned by every one pushing with might and main at his neighbour in order to make a place for him next to themselves, until at the two ends of the row one had to get up and the other was rolled over sideways. Now I, my friend, was beginning to feel awkward; my former bold belief in my powers of conversing with him had vanished. And when Critias told him that I was the person who had the cure, he looked at me in such an indescribable manner, and was just going to ask a question. And at that moment all the people in the palaestra crowded about us, and, O rare! I caught a sight of the inwards of his garment, and took the flame. Then I could no longer contain myself. I thought how well Cydias understood the nature of love, when, in speaking of a fair youth, he warns some one 'not to bring the fawn in the sight of the lion to be devoured by him,' for I felt that I had been overcome by a sort of wild-beast appetite. But I controlled myself, and when he asked me if I knew the cure of the headache, I answered, but with an effort, that I did know.

And what is it? he said.

I replied that it was a kind of leaf, which required to be accompanied by a charm, and if a person would repeat the charm at the same time that he used the cure, he would be made whole; but that without the charm the leaf would be of no avail.

Then I will write out the charm from your dictation, he said.

With my consent? I said, or without my consent?

With your consent, Socrates, he said, laughing.

Very good, I said; and are you quite sure that you know my name?

I ought to know you, he replied, for there is a great deal said about you among my companions; and I remember when I was a child seeing you in company with my cousin Critias.

I am glad to find that you remember me, I said; for I shall now be more at home with you and shall be better able to explain the nature of the charm, about which I felt a difficulty before. For the charm will do more, Charmides, than only cure the headache. I dare say that you have heard eminent physicians say to a patient who comes to them with bad eyes, that they cannot cure his eyes by themselves, but that if his eyes are to be cured, his head must be treated; and then again they say that to think of curing the head alone, and not the rest of the body also, is the height of folly. And arguing in this way they apply their methods to the whole body, and try to treat and heal the whole and the part together. Did you ever observe that this is what they say?

Yes, he said.

And they are right, and you would agree with them?

Yes, he said, certainly I should.

His approving answers reassured me, and I began by degrees to regain confidence, and the vital heat returned. Such, Charmides, I said, is the nature of the charm, which I learned when serving with the army from one of the physicians of the Thracian king Zamolxis, who are said to be so skilful that they can even give immortality. This Thracian told me that in these notions of theirs, which I was just now mentioning, the Greek physicians are quite right as far as they go; but Zamolxis, he added, our king, who is also a god, says further, 'that as you ought not to attempt to cure the eyes without the head, or the head without the body, so neither ought you to attempt to cure the body without the soul; and this,' he said, 'is the reason why the cure of many diseases is unknown to the physicians of Hellas, because they are ignorant of the whole, which ought to be studied also; for the part can never be well unless the whole is well.' For all good and evil, whether in the body or in human nature, originates, as he declared, in the soul, and overflows from thence, as if from the head into the eyes. And therefore if the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul; that is the first thing. And the cure, my dear youth, has to be effected by the use of certain charms, and these charms are fair words; and by them temperance is implanted in the soul, and where temperance is, there health is speedily imparted, not only to the head, but to the whole body. And he who taught me the cure and the charm at the same time added a special direction: 'Let no one,' he said, 'persuade you to cure the head, until he has first given you his soul to be cured by the charm. For this,' he said, 'is the great error of our day in the treatment of the human body, that physicians separate the soul from the body.' And he added with emphasis, at the same time making me swear to his words, 'Let no one, however rich, or noble, or fair, persuade you to give him the cure, without the charm.' Now I have sworn, and I must keep my oath, and therefore if you will allow me to apply the Thracian charm first to your soul, as the stranger directed, I will afterwards proceed to apply the cure to your head. But if not, I do not know what I am to do with you, my dear Charmides.

Critias, when he heard this, said: The headache will be an unexpected gain to my young relation, if the pain in his head compels him to improve his mind: and I can tell you, Socrates, that Charmides is not only pre-eminent in beauty among his equals, but also in that quality which is given by the charm; and this, as you say, is temperance?

Yes, I said.

FJ said...

That sensation one gets from the rush of dopamine to the brain is perhaps the "ephemeral" source of love...???

Emerson, "On the Conduct of Life, Beauty"

We say, love is blind, and the figure of Cupid is drawn with a bandage round his eyes. Blind: — yes, because he does not see what he does not like; but the sharpest-sighted hunter in the universe is Love, for finding what he seeks, and only that; and the mythologists tell us, that Vulcan was painted lame, and Cupid blind, to call attention to the fact, that one was all limbs, and the other, all eyes.

I think you'd appreciate Emerson's complete essay.

Lexcen said...

Dear Teacher,
Lex has been a naughty boy and has not read his Plato or Emerson. Even worse, he has been wasting time cruising the net visiting unwholesome sites.
Lex's Mom.

FJ said...

Dear Mrs. Lex Sr.

What are you wearing? Are you dressed, or are you naked? Did you spank Lex when you caught him, or did it excite you to see him enjoying himself in "that way".

Lex's Teacher.

Lexcen said...

Dear Teacher,
You must have me confused with Mrs Oedipus.

nanc said...

dear readers:

i just came to read the articles.

lex

FJ said...

Dear Mrs. Lex,

Nice brooches!

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