I feel the inclination to mount the pulpit for another Sunday sermon.

Last week I wrote that a cardinal virtue of the erotic arts in whatever form we might create them, is that they allow us to explore and enjoy our “Xs” — those deep sources of pleasure that we discover in ourselves, possibly with the help of those very arts themselves.  And they allow us to do this in a civilized fashion, even if it should happen that our Xs are something that it would be imprudent, immoral, illegal, or impossible to explore in reality.

I write from the perspective of True Virtue, one that I hope my readers share.  I concur in David Hume’s lovely formulation, in which:

“…[s]he [virtue] declares that her sole purpose is to make her votaries and all mankind, during every instant of their existence, if possible, cheerful and happy; nor does she ever willingly part with any pleasure but in hopes of ample compensation in some other period of their lives. The sole trouble which she demands, is that of just calculation, and a steady preference of the greater happiness. And if any austere pretenders approach her, enemies to joy and pleasure, she… rejects them as hypocrites and deceivers…”

And I hold also with John Stuart Mill’s noble and exalted guide to public policy, his “very simple principle…that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection.”  Footnote

True Virtue is most friendly to people who want a sex-positive society.  Let people do what will make them happy, tell them that they being cheerful and happy is right and that pleasure is good and, well…you can figure out the rest.

But we or obliged to face an unpleasant fact, which is not everyone subscribes to the True Virtue.

If you live in the United States certainly, and in much of the rest of the world most likely, you are living alongside a lot of people — let us give them the handy label the “Pokenoses” — who believe they are licensed, whether by religious conviction or secular ideology or just a plain old lust for bossing others around, to tell others that they may not enjoy their Xs, not even fantasy, not even if they harm no one, that they must police even their inner thoughts, that they must throw away pleasure, no matter how badly their lives are otherwise going.

There are not people who believe in living in a sex-positive society.  They clearly believe that everyone else is required to live as if their Pokenose religion is true.

What is to be done?  Oliver Wendell Holmes once remarked that “between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy but force.”   Holmes, who was wounded at Antietam, might have known whereof he spoke.

So if you want a sex-positive society, does that mean that you should pick up the sword and go to war?

I would not so recommend.  The Pokenoses are many and their resolve is strong.  The outcome of any such struggle would be in doubt, and its morality something worse than in doubt.  So great is the suffering that attends war, that rarely is it worth the price.

Happily there is an alternative to picking up the sword, one well worth the effort.

We all have Xs, and the erotic arts are our opportunity to explore and enjoy those Xs.  For whatever your X is, you are almost certainly not alone.  Create art about an X that gives you joy and you will have a means of giving others joy.

We all have Xs.  Even the Pokenoses.  Nature — so stingy in other respects — is at least generous in her provision of oddity and weirdness.

Even the Pokenoses will stumble upon art, however hard they try to shun it.

And when they do, lights might go on.  Even a Pokenose can realize that they have something to lose in a society in which people are supposed to police their inner thoughts.

And then maybe they won’t be Pokenoses any more.  One wins so much more in bringing joy than in threatening pain.

We won’t win everyone.  There will always be a few die-hards.  But few people are entirely dead to joy.

Don’t try to conquer.  Seduce.  Don’t pick up the sword.  Pick up your pen.  Get yourself a copy of Susie Bright’s How to Write a Dirty Story and learn from it.  Write! Create!  Share!

If you want to live in a sex-positive world, get out there and make the world a sexier place.

Footnote: The quotation from Hume is taken from his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Ch. 9, Pt. 2. It is a favorite for Faustus, especially because Hume, contrasting his doctrine with that of his opponents, remarks that “The dismal dress falls off, with which many divines, and some philosophers have covered her [virtue]….”  Virtue standing naked before us is beautiful.  Perhaps if le bon David were with us today, he’d be guest blogging at ErosBlog. (He would most certainly be blogging somewhere.) The quotation from Mill is of course from On Liberty, Chapter One.

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