Of Deep Throats and Shallow Thought

Excerpt from:Of Deep Throats and Shallow Thought
The Art and Politics of Netporn

by Sebastian Olma

‘There is, however, one nagging question: Where the fuck is Bifo?

Anticlimax: it transpires that Bifo has pulled out at the last minute. This is even more unfortunate as his essay, (perhaps programmatically entitled) The Obsession of the Vanishing Body, that circulated at the conference, could have set the tone for a productive engagement with the matter at hand. In this brief exposé, Bifo suggests a conceptualisation of pornography as index of what he refers to as the contemporary pathology of emotionality. In a sense, he applies the familiar Baudrillardian thesis of the implosion of the real to the phenomenon of netporn, arguing that the compulsively repetitive character of internet pornography reveals the general loss of connection between vision and emotion. As the perception of the image does not yield the desired result, the act of vision is ceaselessly repeated. The desiring body is thus put in a state of permanent electrocution that buries sexual imagination under the mass of repetitive acts of vision. ‘Stimul-hypertrophy’ becomes the instant substitution for emotional elaboration at the level of the body. What results is emotional atrophy.

This might, perhaps, sound a bit old-fashioned. However, it could have delivered a trigger for a debate conceptually on a par with the currents of contemporary theory. In fact, continental thought today does offer a rich and fertile arsenal of tools for critique and exploration of a phenonomenon like netporn. One might think of the renaissance of Bergson’s work on perception (an ontology of affective images acting on other affective images) whose intellectual mutations have quite productively begun to move media and art theory out of their structuralist deadlock. One could also imagine an interesting approach to netporn from the perspective of biopower/biopolitics, for instance in a problematisation of the formation/deformation of the flux of living desire in the smooth flow of internet imagery (and the corresponding economy).’

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment