Bohuslav Brouk

Zde trapno existovat

Archiv Leden, 2021

Bohuslav Brouk: On pornophilia

Those who conceal their sexuality despise their innate abili­ties without ever having risen above them. Though they reject human mortality, they arc incapable of liberating themselves from the lugubrious cycle of life – made possible and guar­anteed by the genitals – to achieve the immortality of the mythical gods. And though they have created the illusion of their own immortality, thereby ridding their behavior and even their psyche of any sexual character, they will never elim­inate the corporeal proof of their animality. The body will continue to demonstrate mortality as the fate of all humans. It is for this reason that any reference to human animality so gravely affects those who dream of its antithesis. They take offense not only at any mention of animality in life, but in science, literature, and the arts as well, as this would disturb their reveries by undermining their rationalist airs and social pretensions. By imposing acts both excremental and sexual on their perception, their superhuman fantasies are destroyed, laying bare the vanity of their efforts to free themselves from the power of nature, which has, in assuming mortality, equipped them with a sex and an irrepressible need to satisfy its hunger.

There is nothing as intensely dispiriting for those who have sublimated the substance of the body than their ani­mality spontaneously making its presence felt. Just consider how the signs of uncontrollable shits deject the hero during a triumphal campaign, or how painfully the nabobs bear their sexual appetites towards their despised inferiors. Nothing but the body pulls these haughty folk back to animality, dis­illusioning their superhuman self-confidence. The bodily processes they are unable to shake free of have become their Achilles heel, whose sensitivity has been superbly exposed by pornophiles.

The nature of pornophilia is at heart militant and sadis­tic. Through their activities pornophiles attack any mode of non-animality used by people to elevate themselves over pornophiles. In pointing to human nature, they sweep away all pretensions of human inequality while at the same time proceeding from a new criterion: the creation of new castes distinguished not by social standing but by vital potency. Pornophilia thus collapses the illusions the exalted harbor of their divine nature while exposing their physical decrepitude, the inferiority that they have brought upon themselves through their contempt for the body. The body is the last argument of those who have been unjustly neglected and ignored; it demonstrates beyond debate the groundlessness of all social distinctions in comparison to the might of nature. With the body pornophiles not only abolish social barriers, through the vigor of the non-incapacitated body they also ele­vate themselves above those who scorn them in return. From this perspective pornophilia could, above all, serve as a potent weapon for the socially weak, the materially and culturally oppressed, who might, in this context at least, assert their strength and significance through the potency of their undegenerate body. It is therefore understandable that those who succumb to pornophilia are of a more revolutionary bent than those mired in the prejudices of the moribund bourgeoisie.

Pornophiles use sadistic methods to attack the inflated psyches of the ruling peacocks. Finding their dreams frus­trated, those thus attacked counter in like manner with a sadistically motivated prudishness, a puritanical persecution of the „depraved“. One can discover for oneself the reason for the emergence of pornophilia: When in the company of these flatulent snobs one will have the overwhelming urge to disrupt their prevailing idiotic idyll by roaring „shit, piss, fuck!“ and so forth.

The primal reason for employing obscenity cannot be disguised even in the primitive expression of those barbarians who to this day draw the familiar diamond-shaped pattern and phallus on the walls of a metropolis. If the sadistic impulse of their displays is not directed at the socially conceited, it is aimed at women, at their inferior, memberless sexual organ, threatened with punishment by the penises represented in colossal drawings and sculptures. Present-day pornophilia – whose psychological value lies in the manifestation of obscene works and expression, not in their anxious concealment – has, however, become a weapon even against those of the same sex, unjustifiably inflated though they might be. In other words, it tends towards misanthropy rather than misogyny.

Inasmuch as the biological consequences of one´s sex ultimately adversely affects pornophiles as well – as even they, too, prefer to deny their mortality – the predilection towards pornophilia assumes a particular characteristic that camouflages the general unpleasantness of being reminded of one´s animality. In this specific context, a work of obscenity may serve as a surrogate to sexual gratification, as a direct sexual charge. If of an artistic nature, it retains its militancy, albeit in an especial sense. The sadistic character of pornophilic works, particularly those that are works of art, is of course usually latent, hidden in the authors subconscious, without it ever reaching the level of consciousness proper; a similar meaning is apparent in the vehement aversion puri­tans show towards it. The true motives for their actions are as unknown to pornophiles as they are to puritans, and they are therefore erroneously interpreted. The sadism evident in pornophilic works naturally should not in any way impact on its aesthetic evaluation, and as a drive it isn´t any more per­verse than the impetus to reproduce the obligatory genres.

In pornophilic works of art the sex is liberated from its biological function. Interpreted purely in terms of pleasure without its reproductive consequences, sex does not attack the animality of the conceited per se but the relative inferiority of their animality. The artist does not provoke the puritan for his transience, his mortality, which the artist suffers as well, but for his impotence, his sexual inadequacy, which he has brought on himself by leaving his sexus to degenerate through a foolish desire for superhumanness. By excluding the biological aspects of sex and excrementation from its content, pornophilic art does not conceal the sadistic nature of its unpretentious obscenity; rather, it merely curtails the manner in which its militancy is projected. In pornophilically motivated art, therefore, the conceited are being combatted through sex´s pleasure principle instead of through its biolog­ical purpose – in other words, what this art primarily attacks is imperfect humanity, not the imperfect divinity of the conceited. One could ridicule the desire for immortality for its baneful consequences alone, i.e., sexual degeneracy. Thus art mitigates the sadism of pornophilia only in its exploitation of sex´s biological function, which is as unpleas­ant to pornophiles as it is to pornophobes.

Yet pornophilic tendencies are found even in those who are targeted; they are particularly fond of it as kitsch, the purpose of which is sexual titillation. This mode of trash pornophilia completely suppresses the sadistic impulses found in pornophilic art. As a result pornophilia is rendered acces­sible precisely to that caste of people against whom it is essentially directed. Pornophilia has a corrupting influence solely on those puritans who persecute its militancy and sadism; they have imputed to it the same meaning as their pornographic literature and pictures carefully hidden away in closed drawers until required for that occasional arousal (which as a rule their shabby wives can no longer produce). The only thing this sort of trash pornophilia does not need is a public, in fact, it resists one as any number of people, and not only puritans, find it difficult to reach orgasm in the presence of others.

Divesting ourselves of all prejudices, we should evaluate pornophilic works strictly on their artistic value. If anyone should think that obscene content in itself detracts from the value of a work of art, then we might just as well reject Strindberg´s or Tolstoy´s art for its misogyny. Pornophilia cannot be reproached for being pathological as it is a disease of a similar order to any other manifestation of culture, no different even than the sadistic puritanism of its opponents. If pornophilia can be considered a work of art, it is as much a cultural phenomenon as „humanitarian“ art, and if it limits itself purely to expressing the libido without any connection to other cultural or economic values, then it is no more neu­rotic than the trite expressions of compassion; its pathological manifestations in erotomania and coprophilia are similar to the anthropophilia evident in the masochism of martyrs. Our humanity, culture, and civilization are nothing more than a useful way to utilize neurotic conflicts. So until our patholo­gies give rise to works of value we simply cannot be taken to task for having this nature. The sublimation of the neurotic libido is creative, while the normal libido leads only to play­fulness. Both libidos, therefore, participate in the creative process that is motivated by obscenity. The neurotic libido determines the work´s content while the normal libido gives it its mode or form. If the normal libido looks for a surrogate to instant gratification, it will use obscenity to create kitsch, but if its demands are sublimated, then the result is art.

The titillating, kitchified mode of pornophilic themes has no other value and function than that of artificial dolls designed for onanism (ipsatio). Such works are limited to the sexual act in and of itself and are incapable of disengaging from the atmosphere of the recess without ceasing to perform their function, which is founded on the illusion of a real part­ner and coitus. On the other hand, the artist whose work is not bound to reality sees no need to have naked girls urinate into a chamber pot when he could offer them an alpine valley instead. An ejaculation need not become a yellow stain on the bedding – it can be transformed into a bolt of lightning and used to cleave a Gothic cathedral. A lovers´ bed can be replaced by the cosmos and the globe inserted under a woman´s buttocks. And from her pudenda the artist then has a sun emerging, the most marvelous of miscarriages.

The artist not bound by the rational coordination of perceptions, actual proportionality and syntax releases the sexual organ from its biological function of procreation, which is perhaps too painfully evoked by pornographic kitsch when its titillating function ceases through the orgasm it has produced. Artistic pornophilia can never be glossed by irony and cynicism as real or reproductive sexuality stuck to the bed sheets.

While a different world might have long ago achieved a transvaluation of art, the elaboration of sexuality has been impeded by the censorship of puritans who are incensed by obscene content insofar as it portrays healthy sex, whereas their sexuality is pitifully derelict under their flies. They are aware, even if unconsciously, of their sexual inferiority, and as their rumps are deformed by hemorrhoids as well, they envy the formidable penises and clean backsides of others. What galls them to a far greater extent than pornophilic kitsch are works of art of obscene content, for here the artist has extended the reign of his sexuality over the entire world. Pornophilic kitsch keeps to the recess. The artist, on the other hand, has expanded throughout the world. He pisses a sea, shits a Himalayas, gives birth to cities, masturbates factory chimneys, etc. Nothing is sacred to him, and the associations he makes are, above all, sexual.

His pansexuality carries a double meaning: the first attacks puritan impotence and the second frees sex from its procreative function. Here sex is comprehended in a purely aesthetic sense, voluptuously. The artist´s pleasure, facilitated by the libido, is not dampened by common veracity. The erotic scenes thus created do not stand or fall through an oppressive banality, although the banality and insipidness of sexual gratification cannot be eliminated by perverse infatuations. These, too, are dull and banal. The libido needs a space to play in, a space that diverts the senses from the dismal post­coital condition and deters those rational speculations poison­ing one´s pleasure. Our eroticism must be rid of its depressing connection to plump wives and conjugal beds under which a chamber pot is lurking.

Nevertheless, as poetry is the art of finding the exotic in the mundane, there is no need to discard our inventory of the banal, only banal situations. This can be achieved only through a subjective evaluation of things and actions, liber­ating them from their customary sequencing. Poetry negates reality´s biological and economic meaning; annulling its rationalist context, it creates a new syntax that gives the old content new meaning, a new narrative. In this way the vapid, the graceless, becomes the exceptional, the emotive. Poetry is the art of discovering mundane life´s emotive perspective. The art of living is the art of where and when to have a cup of black coffee, or in the sexual arts, where and when to have an orgasm. If puritans would like to call this a disease, then we shall help them. It is simply a matter of being partial to situations.

From the world of dreams and hallucinations the mod­ern artist enters the world of the most demented lunatics who are exhausted by the wayward adventure into which their reason has led them. Having renounced his reason, the artist is satisfied with the adventure that has freed his libido by liberating his senses. The adventure of reason, of rationality, is pathologically closed off by a psychosis that negates the intellect and by an autism that exempts one from rationally evaluating one´s intuitions and behavior. The freed libido may autonomously reveal itself during this pathological state. Psychosis puts an end to the ravages of neurosis through negation, by gradually inhibiting menial and bodily func­tions. If psychosis is limited only to the negation of reason and does not inhibit perception, movement, and so on, then the natural channels for our emotional, aesthetic, and irra­tional actions and perceptions will eventually surface.

The world the mad have entered through a numbness of mind the artist has attained through a soundness of mind, and has thereby adopted a natural, purely hedonistic stance towards the real possibilities of what might be utilized for his art. If ancient art is analogous to neurosis, then modern art is analogous to the creations of psychosis. The artist of today has emerged from the world of dreams, hallucinations, alcoholic deliriums, and violent, sweat-soaked, symbolic phantasms to a valuation that is unaffected and purely emo­tive, and a perception of the real that spontaneously creates phantasms of the kind ancient art could scarcely imagine. Modern poetry has magically fanned out over all landscapes like the dreamlike atmosphere of an atelier. It has enabled the artist to disregard the socio-economic values of life in favor of a thought and perception that are solely focused on pleasure. The liberated senses and psyche are thus able to see the entire world in its full emotive nature, evanescent though this might be. Pornophilia as a work of art offers the pleasures of life far removed from pedestrian concerns. Having prudently rid our animality of its bleak vision, the artist emancipates the acts of the body from their biological purpose, leading us to revel in delight in a manner that is only allowed us by nature. Asceticism, any sort of renunciation of our sexuality, is inde­fensible. As each person comes into the world at the end of an umbilical cord only inevitably to become dust, we should take pleasure from everything our abilities allow us.

Postface to Emilie Comes to Me in a Dream (1933) by Jindřich Štyrský, published in Edition 69 (Prague: Twisted Spoon Press, 2004, pp. 109–119, transl. by Jed Slast; another volume under the same title, comprising other texts including Brouk´s essay, was published in 2020); translation by Helena Sedláčková Gibbs (New York: Ubu Gallery, 1997) available at     

Bohuslav Brouk (1912–1978), an enfant terrible of the 30s and 40s Czechoslovak avant-garde, was a founding member of the Surrealist Group of Czechoslovakia. Brouk´s provocative, sarcastic and skeptical texts, full of demystifications of social (pseudo)values, conventions and morals, were published since the 1930s when his first article appeared in the Tvorba magazine; his texts emerged in various periodicals such as Zvěrokruh, Erotická revue (famous essay Onanism as a World View), Surrealismus, Dnešek, etc. His works touch upon wide range of topics – psychoanalysis, sexuality, suicide, genius, lingusitics, life style, education, sport, etc. – among others Autosexualismus a psycherotismus (1935), O smrti, lásce a žárlivosti (1936), Patologie životní zdatnosti (1937), O funkcích práce a osobitosti (1938), Jazyková komika (1941), Plants Consumed by Man (1975), Zde trapno existovat (2008) or Životní sloh (2010).