I’m being ripped off. Not for much money, but people are taking something from me that I didn’t say that they could have. My book.
That’s right, I recently found out that my book, Edge Play X, is on a website where people can download it for free. I contacted the site and filled out all their forms, but who knows if it will ever come off of there.
The funny thing is, a couple times a year, I usually do a promotion and give my book away for free anyway, and I don’t have this same feeling when I give the books away as when I realized that my book was free from this site. It’s a control issue. I didn’t say that it was ok for them to do that.
In a strange way, I feel somewhat flattered that my book is good enough to rip off. In every book I write, one of the characters steals a book. So in a way, the people who are downloading my book without permission are like some of the characters I write about.
Once, I stole a book from the library. Actually, I just borrowed it without checking it out and a few months later, I took it back. It was a vintage language book in the special section of the library. For weeks, every day after school, I would go to the public library and hide in the special editions section. Years later, they closed off that room except by permission. I’m not sure why I was so drawn to the Lenni Lenape dictionary. Maybe it was that their words were so different than English with its Latin roots (the only other thing I ever stole was a pair of bowling shoes). Anyway, with the help of a friend, we smuggled it out of the library, and a few months later I put it back out of guilt.
I guess when my characters are stealing books, maybe they are making a statement about art and ideas and the cost of those ideas. But the book I wrote is not a sculpture in a gallery that is selling for more than what most people earn in the course of a year, (“When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires…” Banksy).
Some of the best art is done without a thought to making money, such as Banksy’s graffiti. I want to have readers, and I didn’t write the book to make money. Some might say that just having my book out there and getting my name known is worth what I would lose monetarily. The Grateful Dead, for example, used to let people listen and trade concert tapes for free and then they made a lot of their money from their tours. I don’t have any illusions that someday I will be a well-known writer. Honestly, I don’t really give a crap how well-known or not well-known I am. I like my privacy and I’m going to write whatever I damn well please, and if that gives me an audience, so be it. If not, I’m not going to bellyache.
Yes, I sell my book. Maybe that makes me a word-whore. Mostly, I think of it as just a little token of acknowledgement that the reader is giving me for all the time and effort that I put into the book. But let’s stop raping writers by taking their books for free without their permission. Writer’s are generally a mal-adjusted bunch and don’t usually make much money from their writing anyway. Show the poor schmucks some respect. Or pity at least.
I don’t think it’s cool for folks to take my book for free without asking. Aside from being illegal, it’s just plain rude.
Why do I write? I write for the same reason that Mallory climbed.
He said this about climbing:
The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is no use.’ There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It’s no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.
Erotica: Literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire.
Pornography: The presentation of sexually explicit behavior, as in photography, intended to arouse sexual excitement.
Those definitions are from my Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary. That’s right, call me old-fashioned, but I still have a real dictionary, and sometimes I sit down with it just to read definitions and look at word etymology.
If one goes to amazon.com and types in pornography and then types in erotica, one will find results that are remarkably similar.
Nowadays, pornography and erotica are words that are used interchangeably, but they are not the same. The meanings are not at all the same.
On the surface, the definitions of erotica and pornography are not all that different.
Both definitions contain the words intended, arouse, and sexual.
So both of these words have the core intention of arousing something sexual.
Pornography is people on stage; erotica is people behind closed doors.
Erotica’s intention is arousing sexual desire, whereas pornography’s intention is to arouse excitement.
And here we need to break it down a little more. Desire is a wish, longing, or craving, and excitement is a state of being excited, to raise to a higher energy level.
So pornography is an exciter, since its goal is to arouse excitement, and erotica’s goal is to bring about longing.
Anyone who has experienced excitement and longing knows that they’re not the same. Excitement is the tingling on the surface, and longing is the deep vibration underneath. Desire might lead to excitement, but excitement doesn’t necessarily lead to desire, in the same way that friction causes heat, but heat doesn’t necessarily cause friction.
Pornography, unlike erotica, is a presentation of behavior, and behavior is action. People are doing something (or someone) in pornography. Erotica doesn’t have anything in its definition about action. In erotica, people might sometimes be doing something (or someone), but most of the time, they are wanting someone.
Pornography has no artistic value; erotica has quality.
What is literature? Literature is writing with an artistic value. Here we are watching water evaporating and seeing the grains of salt left behind. Literature is an art. And what is art? Like any good word, it has a lot of meanings. Now we are opening a can of worms, since how does one measure artistic value? Just look at the work Artist’s Shit by Piero Manzoni. As the title suggests, these were cans that were filled with the artist’s shit, and they sold for a whole lot of money at Sotheby’s. When evaluating if something is art, it appears that the value is really in the eye of the beholder, or, what one person sees as a can of shit, another person sees as art worth its weight in gold.
Perhaps the most useful meaning for our purposes is that art involves a high quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty: aesthetic value.
So however this value is determined (and this determination is inherently subjective), erotica has value. Erotica has worth. Take out all of the sexual descriptions (if any) in erotica, and one should still find value in the work. Take out all of the sex in pornography, and one is left with nothing. Pornography is about action (about getting action). Try taking out all the action from a pornographic film and see if the film retains any value other than that it has just been used in an exercise (which was valuable) to prove that it has no value.
Pornography is about sex; erotica is about love.
That’s right, erotica is about love. Sexual love, but love nonetheless.
And here it might be useful to look at the etymology of the words. Both have origins in Greek. Pornography comes from pornographos (writing about prostitutes), and erotica draws its meaning from erõtikos (sexual love).
Erotica is not about familial love, or fraternal love. It is about sexual love, love that is borne out of desire.
Pornography has nothing in its meaning about love.
Why do I care about this?
I care about this because I am a writer of erotica.
As a writer, saying that one writes erotica is kind of like a successful woman saying that once she was a stripper. Even though it was back in college and just for a semester to pay her bills, it is always a label she will wear (unless she can hide it effectively).
Just for the record, Mom, I was never a stripper.
But being a stripper is a lot like being an erotica writer. The writer of pornography is the craigslist hooker who shakes her head when she thinks of the very attractive strippers just shaking it around and getting dollar bills stuffed into their garters.
You mean I just had to show it to them?
That’s right, darlin’. You didn’t have to do it. You just had to make them want it.
If you’d like to read my erotica, you can find it at:
Recently, the Discovery Channel featured a Curiosity episode about the female orgasm. Hosted by Maggie Gyllenhaal, the episode explored the question of why females experience orgasm. After all, female orgasm is not necessary for reproduction, unlike the male orgasm. A woman can get pregnant and have children without ever experiencing orgasm (and what a sad thing that would be indeed). While the show did explore the benefits of the female orgasm, it didn’t go into much detail about why women evolved with this capability.
I thought that this was an odd question, asking why women would orgasm or what its purpose might be. It seems to be common sense that it would have more purpose than to simply facilitate reproduction. Men, after all, don’t reproduce every time they orgasm (we would certainly have quite a population problem if they did). What a masculine, scientific mindset to try to equate the value of the female orgasm with whether it directly impacts conception, acting as if it would have no purpose otherwise. And so what if it didn’t have a purpose other than pleasure? What a frightening idea that would be, the idea that women might experience pleasure without purpose. Chalk it up to proof that God is good as far as I’m concerned (although I do believe that the female orgasm does have other purposes than pleasure). Maybe this hang-up that female orgasm must have a reproductive purpose comes (ahem) from the old Christian belief that there shouldn’t be sex without procreation. Or maybe it originates in the belief of the Seven Deadly Sins, and having an orgasm without any connection to procreation might have something to do with plain old Lust.
Ok. So women don’t need to orgasm to get pregnant. Fair enough. Scientific fact. However, having an orgasm is a good incentive to have sex, and wanting to have sex makes conception a lot more likely. Maybe it is a more roundabout route than is achieved by the male orgasm, but it still achieves the same thing. Men, as far as I can tell, generally want a woman who enjoys sex. That would make a woman who likes having sex a lot more appealing as a sexual partner than a cold fish, so to speak. So way back before humans were quite human, the males dug having sex with the chicks who liked having sex and these were the ones who got knocked up and passed their genes and the clitoris onto us. Thanks ancestors. You rock.
So having orgasms makes a woman more likely to have sex more often which does serve the purpose of helping her get pregnant. That leaves us to question, however, why would a woman continue to orgasm even when she is not ovulating or after she has gone through menopause? Even when there is no impact on conception, a woman can still orgasm. The sex drive is still there. Granted, it’s higher when a woman is ovulating, but the drive is still there even if she isn’t fertile.
The Curiosity program featured a brain scan of a woman that showed what was happening neurologically during her orgasm. It was a fancy way of proving what people have known for eons—orgasms make people happy, male or female. Orgasms feel really good. They improve mood. Maybe, in fact, they are vital for psychological health. Shoot, just look at all the neurological fireworks that are happening during orgasm! That’s gotta be good for something, even if it is just to improve happiness.
The human animal is incredibly driven by sex. Scientists tell us that men think about sex every six seconds. Humans are constantly assessing other human beings, measuring their attractiveness, their fitness, their status. The physical characteristics people find attractive, things like physical symmetry and healthy skin and figures, are all markers of fertility.
There are, however, other characteristics about the opposite sex that are attractive. A few years ago when I was a wedding photographer, I saw a somewhat odd looking couple. The woman was blonde and beautiful and just about as physically perfect as a woman can get. Her boyfriend, well, he was pretty chubby, maybe downright fat, and not exactly the most attractive guy in the world. But the couple was obviously in love. I saw it rather clearly when I watched this homely guy spin the girl around for hours on the dance floor as the woman laughed and smiled and gave him sweet little kisses. Maybe the guy wasn’t hot, but that dude was cool. He could dance. Everybody seemed to like him, so he had been dealt the popularity card.
Maybe other women would get the same thrill out of being with a man with a fat wallet or a famous musician. But it goes to show that there are characteristics other than physical ones that are influencing our choice in mates. And it isn’t a one-way street. Maybe men aren’t as influenced by income as women might be in their choice of mate, but they are looking for specific personality or behavioral characteristics that would help increase their happiness. Because who wants to be with someone if they don’t make them at least a little bit happy. What a drag that is. So maybe the geeks are looking for chicks who play video games or the sports nuts are looking for ladies who can play softball with them or watch the bowls. But across the board, geek or jock, men are looking for partners who want to have sex with them.
Flash back a million years or so to our ancestors. The males are having more sex with the females who like sex and are getting them pregnant. But they are also having a better time with these females. They are bonding with them. The males have a reason to stay with the female other than just having produced progeny. The female orgasm makes their partner more likely to have sex and enjoy sex, and this makes the male more likely to stay around, and the female more likely to want him around. And those highbrowed socio-biologists accept that young are more likely to survive if both parents are involved.
The most important evolutionary influence of the female orgasm, however, wasn’t even touched in the show, and I haven’t seen it mentioned elsewhere. Now, I am not a socio-biologist, but I do confess to reading Desmond Morris books for fun and having an acute interest in the theories of Helen Fisher. Clearly, this is not a research article, just the common-sense thoughts of a writer who loaded up on anthropology classes as electives. So proceed at your own risk.
In my opinion, the female orgasm was pivotal in the development of human culture and society. For many other mammals, the male doesn’t hang around with the females. Take the bear, for example. The male will come around when it is time for mate, but other than that, it generally stays away from the female. It can be downright dangerous for the animal to be around the young, as adult males been known to kill cubs.
In contrast, the human male does not come around for a period of estrus. His poor sense of smell makes it so that he cannot sense when the female is ovulating. Because of the female sex drive, strengthened by the large clitoral structure, the female is open to sexual advances even when she is not fertile. This gives the male a lot of reasons to stay around. Not only does he have a willing sexual partner more consistently than other animals, but the lack of clarity about when the female is fertile makes mating regularly more likely to result in conception.
Having the males around caused social groups to form, helped the young and the females survive better than if they were on their own, and cemented a division of labor between the sexes (the men hunting and the women gathering). This large social group made other advances possible, things that likely wouldn’t have happened so easily if the sexes were living separately, things like tool making, building, and agriculture. Would culture have happened like it did if human females were not having orgasms and were just going through a semi-annual estrus? I doubt it.
So next time you get your rocks off, say a silent thank-you to our pre-human ancestors for making something so fun so darn useful.
Like my writing? Check out my book, Edge Play X, available on amazon.com.