The erotic sensibility is a powerful aspect of human nature.

Eros, Cupid, Putti And Cherubs

There is an hypocrisy born of ignorance at the heart of the debate over the naked child in art. Those who condemn some images find others cute. Yet both types have the same origin in classical art. I haven't included many images of Cherubs and Putti simply because they are common. This was readily apparent viewing the collections in the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, the Victoria and Albert, the National Gallery of Britain and so on. Indeed, they were abundant on the architecture and monuments of both Paris and London. I have no doubt that people forget they are there because [...]

The Problem With ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’

It's a publishing phenomenon. It's erotic fiction. Or is it porn? It's the tired old distinction. The double standard. If women like it, it's erotica. If men like it, it's porn. Whilst critics like Gail Dines and Melinda Tankard Reist are the most recent to make a lot of noise about the popularity of porn, or rather, male-oriented porn, they remained silent about a similar boom in female-oriented porn. Oops, I mean erotic fiction. Doesn't female-oriented erotic fiction deal in the same atrocious sexist stereotypes as male-oriented porn? I haven't read Fifty Shades of Grey and honestly, I am unlikely [...]

Q: A Film By Laurent Bouhnik

This film was a surprise. I'm going to Paris in just over a month and I want to polish up on my French. So I thought what better way than to watch a few French movies? I stumbled across 'Q' by Laurent Bouhnik whilst browsing for new releases. I had never heard of it. It was rated R18+ with a warning that it included scenes of 'real' sex. And given that I am familiar with the ground breaking films of Catherine Breillat (Romance, Fat Girl and Anatomy of Hell) I was immediately intrigued. Now, after watching it, I am very [...]

Dr Emma Rush (2): Silencing The Erotic Imagination

Some argue that the first novel was The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatan) written by an 11th century Japanese noblewoman called Murasaki Shikibu. It has been praised as a book of great subtlety and psychological insight. Yet it is also porn. It was written as a series of installments and read to the women of the court to entertain and to titillate. Some of the detail is quite shocking. One of the major plot lines involves Genji's attraction to a beautiful 10 year-old girl who bears the same name as the author, Murasaki. He kidnaps her to train her as [...]

Sex Negative – Sex Positive

I've been meaning to explore the concepts of sex negative and sex positive (sex positive movement) in greater detail because I see considerable confusion amongst those who say they are sex positive yet who still retain some sex negative attitudes. The sex positive person views sex as natural and good. The sex negative person views sex as somehow especially problematic. Obviously there are degrees. It is not black and white. The term sex positive has been attributed to Wilhelm Reich, but whilst Reich might have coined the term, it arose out of the findings of anthropology, especially the work [...]

William-Adolphe Bouguereau 4: Naked Cupids

I have covered this before, but it's worth revisiting in the context of the French tradition of portraying the naked child. Bouguereau made a pretense at some form of innocence by putting wings on what are otherwise, quite luscious paintings of naked boys and girls. The viewer can appreciate the child's beauty and innocent eroticism without guilt because they are mythical - despite the fact that Bouguereau used real children as models. The detail is stunning, we are invited to take a long look - it's okay, the wings tell us this is meant to be read naively, innocently. And [...]

William-Adolphe Bouguereau 3: Classicism

I've covered this theme extensively. One of the ways artists were able to depict sex was by referring to classical myths. This legitimised erotic subjects. There is no better practitioner than Bouguereau, but now that we understand how he used symbolism to eroticise his pictures of girls, we can better appreciate just how provocative his neoclassical works are. In the first, Idyll, 1851, note how young the girl is. In Whisperings of Love, 1889, note the use of the jug symbol. In Work Interrupted, 1891, the girl is distracted by a love interest out of the frame, we know this [...]

Dakota Fanning And The Controversy Over Oh Lola!

Here's a good example of a conservative (and absurd) reading of an image. The British Advertising Standards Authority have censored this image of Dakota Fanning advertising Oh! Lola perfume.

Kore And Shadow

There's a reason both art and psychology consistently turn back to the Greco-Roman tradition for inspiration and that's because the Judeo-Christian tradition is, in comparison, rather narrow and pathological. Indeed, I would say there is no insight in the Judeo-Christian narrative that is not also found in the Greco-Roman - with the Greco-Roman containing greater depth and sophistication.  Of course, many Judeo-Christians will claim that their narratives has made some unique contributions, but I just don't think this stands up to a close examination, especially when you consider that the 'Christian' component was largely inspired by specific Greek ideas. The [...]

The Transgressive Kore

Okay, time to stop pulling my punches... I understand society and culture in terms of hermeneutics. Things are not always what they first seem. A thing may be both its self and a symbol pointing to something else. The 'culture' war is not a debate about things as they are, but things as symbols. The culture war is a debate about meaning. The debate over children is not actually a debate about children as they are (or as they seek to define themselves) but about children as symbols. Jung described the Kore archetype thus: As a matter of practical observation, [...]