VISIONARY REVUE

PROPER AND IMPROPER ART

     Our definition of 'pornography' comes to us from James Joyce. In his Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he quotes Aquinas on the subject of 'proper' and 'improper' art. Proper art has the quality of 'stasis' - it stills the heart of the viewer into a state of aesthetic arrest. As Stephen say in the Portrait, "This supreme quality is felt by the artist when the esthetic image is first conceived in his imagination. The mind in that mysterious instant Shelley likened beautifully to a fading coal. The instant wherein that supreme quality of beauty, the clear radiance of the esthetic image, is apprehended luminously by the mind which has been arrested by its wholeness and fascinated by its harmony in the luminous silent stasis of esthetic pleasure, a spiritual state..."
     Meanwhile, improper art has a 'kinetic' quality - it excites rather than stills the mind: "The feelings excited by improper art," Stepen says, "are kinetic - desire or loathing. Desire urges us to possess, to go to something; loathing urges us to abandon, to go from something. The arts which excite them, pornographical or didactic, are therefore improper arts."
     In the end, Stephen upholds the value of the proper, static art of 'the spiritual' over the improper, kinetic art of 'the pornographic', for here "the mind is arrested, and raised above desire and loathing."
     Certainly, the images of tantra or alchemy must be considered spiritual rather than pornographic. Through depictions of the sexual act (the Bodhisattva in the embrace of his shakti, Sol and Luna in the mysterium coniunctionis), their aim is to still the mind in meditation, so as to illuminate the Sacred Unity at the heart of seeming duality.



 
 
 


PARIS - SUMMER 2001

VISIONARY PORNOGRAPHY

     Pornography, on the other hand, seeks to stimulate our baser instincts, offering only surrogate fulfillment through imagined consummation. It provokes fantasy - transporting us into imaginary situations that offer no simple means of escape. Once sufficiently aroused by the image, we have no choice but to extend the fantasy it offers, and continue extending it indefinitely in our mind until we find some external form of release.
     Dismissing all ethical considerations, what we are left with then is an extended visionary journey into realms of the mind hitherto unconsidered. The viewer has entered into the image, explored its landscape, and participated in situations and events it sought to evoke.
     As Goethe has said, 'There is no crime I have heard of which I have not imagined committing myself.' The same freedom of the imagination may be offered to all variety of sexual acts.
     Sexual fantasies may be provoked by the most vulgar and mundane of pornographic images. What makes Visionary Pornography unique is its attempt to provoke psychic landscapes or imaginary situations beyond the realm of the simply 'pornographic'. Instead, we find ourselves in the world of dreams, where not only the possible, but even the impossible may occur. We imagine forms, angles, situations and positions, even creatures, which physical reality does not permit.
     Over time, a series of Visionary artists have left behind images of this sort for us to ponder. As follows...

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GALLERY OF VISIONARY PORNOGRAPHY





 
 
 


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