Quotation by Steven Marcus

Most works of literature have a beginning, middle, and an end. Most works of pornography do not. A typical piece of pornographic fiction will usually have some kind of crude excuse for a beginning, but having once begun, it goes on and on and ends nowhere. This impulse or compulsion to repeat, to repeat endlessly, is one of pornography's most striking qualities. A pornographic work of fiction characteristically develops by unremitting repetition and minute mechanical variation—the words that may describe the process are again, again, again, and more, more, more. We also observed that although pornography is obsessed with the idea of pleasure, of infinite pleasure, the idea of gratification, of an end to pleasure (pleasure being here an endless experience of retentiveness, without release) cannot develop. If form in art consists in the arousal in the reader of certain expectations and the fulfillment of those expectations, then in this context too pornography is resistant to form and opposed to art. For fulfillment implies completion, gratification, an end; and it is as an end, a conclusion of any kind, that pornography most resists. The ideal pornographic novel, I should repeat, would go on forever.
Steven Marcus (b. 1928), U.S. critic, educator. "Conclusion: Pornotopia," The Other Victorians: A Study of Sexuality and Pornography in Mid-Nineteenth-Century England, Basic Books (1966).
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