Goto Thread: PreviousNext
Goto:  Message ListNew TopicSearchLog In
Explicit sex depiction in horror/weird fiction/scifi
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2020 12:11PM
A theme that is sensitive a little bit ... :-)

What do you think about depictions of explicit sex and pornography in weird fiction, horror, dark fantasy, scifi and similar genres? I am no puritan, far from it, I have no problems with love scenes in books but detailed depictions of graphic sex seem unnecesary to me, almost ridiculous.

Re: Explicit sex depiction in horror/weird fiction/scifi
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2020 02:44PM
Minicthulhu, in the way you have framed it, this is a worthy topic for discussion.

My reflections would begin by distinguishing between between legitimate literary treatments of the erotic, and pornography. The former would always recognize that we are dealing with human beings, which, as such, require some respect even in fiction and poetry. Conversely, pornography really does tend to the dehumanization of human beings, by (for example) the isolating of only those things that conduce to the immediate sexual arousal of the reader. So as I'm defining it for the purpose of this present discussion, legitimate literary treatment always deals with the erotic as an aspect of the human; pornography isn't interested in any aspect of human beings' reality except what it can use to give the reader a cheap turn-on.

In ancient literature, the Biblical Song of Songs is an example of the legitimate literary treatment of the erotic. And, whatever the symbolic implications might be, on the literal level is is about two lovers, their desire for each other, and, if you like, what they do in bed. Jewish tradition has been that the books shouldn't be read by someone under thirty. I don't think that is necessarily simple prudery or hypocrisy, but rather a recognition that a mature person, probably a married person who is sexually experienced, will be the best reader of the poetic drama (if that's what it is) here.

In modern fantasy, Richard Adams's The Girl in a Swing is a fine novel of the supernatural with an erotic theme. It might be something to discuss here sometime.

My sense is that very little of the sexual content of modern fantasy, sf, and, perhaps especially, horror is good reading. It's cheap. It cheapens the imagination of readers. It's exploitative. The willing reader becomes an accomplice. He becomes a pimp to his imagination, bringing the whoredom of trash together with it.

Re: Explicit sex depiction in horror/weird fiction/scifi
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2020 02:56PM
The original posting refers to "explicit" sexual depiction. I should say that, in many cases, authors who recognize the fully human dimensions of the erotic will use veiled language. This may be satirized by those who don't have much evident respect for the human, but in fact it is a perennial literary strategy to by "inexplicit" out of respect. I think this was something Arthur Machen understood more than most writers of horror.

An author ought to be realistic about his or her readers. I think of Tolstoy, who often wrote about the erotic; but in his writings the seeker after a stimulus to masturbation will be disappointed. Leskov's "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" deals specifically with lustful passion, but Leskov's intention isn't to give the reader a turn-on.

I don't actually want an author to try to turn me on sexually. It's as if the reader of such stuff is inviting this stranger (the author) to unzip his fly and proceed, or at least as if I'm sitting in a darkened room and some man is sitting there whispering scenarios to try to arouse me. Icky.

Re: Explicit sex depiction in horror/weird fiction/scifi
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2020 06:25PM
Explicit sexuality has its uses; it's an element of human life that has plenty of room for horror, and can serve a purpose in being shocking or "no-holds-barred." That being said, most of the stories that really dwell on it are aiming for something other than horror. I talk about that a little bit in Sex & the Cthulhu Mythos when I discuss Edward Lee's "hardcore Lovecraft" books.

Re: Explicit sex depiction in horror/weird fiction/scifi
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2020 10:53PM
One problem is that an overt sexual element in any literary work can overshadow other more worthwhile aspects. A writer can be very inventive about world building and character, but if his characters are engaging in - say - BDSM, then that is what people will remember most about the work, and the work is diminished as a result. Smith is quite good at introducing a disturbing sexual element into his work but gets away with it because he is rarely explicit, ‘The Empire of the Necromancers’ being a case in point.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 24 Oct 20 | 10:54PM by Cathbad.

Re: Explicit sex depiction in horror/weird fiction/scifi
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 October, 2020 01:41PM
That seems to me a good point, Cathbad.

Re: Explicit sex depiction in horror/weird fiction/scifi
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 25 October, 2020 02:27PM
Thanks very much, Dale - I’m reading ‘Witch Wood’ at the moment btw. I read a lot of Buchan back in the day - ‘Prester John’, ‘The Island of Sheep’, ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’ etc, and always reckoned the latter worked because Buchan knew the setting so well. Ditto for ‘Witch Wood’!

Re: Explicit sex depiction in horror/weird fiction/scifi
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 26 October, 2020 09:30PM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> One problem is that an overt sexual element in any
> literary work can overshadow other more worthwhile
> aspects. A writer can be very inventive about
> world building and character, but if his
> characters are engaging in - say - BDSM, then that
> is what people will remember most about the work,
> and the work is diminished as a result.

I agree with this, and would note that knowing this, as any relatively experienced and competent writer ought to, what does this say about the ultimate motives of those who choose to include it?

> Smith is
> quite good at introducing a disturbing sexual
> element into his work but gets away with it
> because he is rarely explicit, ‘The Empire of
> the Necromancers’ being a case in point.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Explicit sex depiction in horror/weird fiction/scifi
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 27 October, 2020 05:40AM
‘Those that were fairest, whom the plague and the worm had not ravaged overmuch, they took for their lemans and made to serve their necrophilic lust.’

I think the intention is the important thing here - i.e., CAS was trying to provoke a shiver of disgust, rather than to titillate?

Re: Explicit sex depiction in horror/weird fiction/scifi
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 27 October, 2020 01:27PM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ‘Those that were fairest, whom the plague and
> the worm had not ravaged overmuch, they took for
> their lemans and made to serve their necrophilic
> lust.’
>
> I think the intention is the important thing here
> - i.e., CAS was trying to provoke a shiver of
> disgust, rather than to titillate?


Certainly wasn't a pretty picture, was it?

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Explicit sex depiction in horror/weird fiction/scifi
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 28 October, 2020 07:40AM
Nope!



Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
Top of Page