Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Pornography of Christmas

The entire city is now ablaze with the happy collision of those who crave things and those who sell them, while on the sidelines, the market analysts, like ancient priests examining the daily entrails of beasts, auger the success or failure of this annual battle. Will there be satisfaction by Christmas? Will it be shared by both groups? Are we off to a healthy gallop or has there been some stumbling at the gate?

As I walked through the crowds on the street, I found myself thinking about sexual pornography and my ever-growing immunity to it. Might there be some parallel between that circumstance and my ever-increasing lack of participation in this retail frenzy?

I am not a man without desires. I long for high-ceilinged rooms of classic proportion. The exfoliating rush of white sand underfoot as I run along a beach. Lilac, iris and peony to greet me if and when I am granted another spring. But those fulfillments do not constitute pornography, which addresses a man in his torment and offers respite from an annoying itch. When I brush the last of the snow off the branches of my lilac and inspect its buds for some swelling, I do not itch. I hope.

Pornography provides an amplification of what we see in those dreams that make us restless. The color saturation of its images is ratcheted beyond the natural. The music, the ornaments and the lights of this season certainly fit that portion of the definition.

Pornography also involves speed and the provision of an adequate route to relief. It is always a means to an end. It is volcanic by nature and has no back burner for the simmering. I apply this fact to the racing of the shoppers knocking shoulders while counting the days and I am satisfied with the strength of my comparison.

Red is the official color of sexual pornography and it is also the prevailing color of Christmas. To “see red” is to lose control in either case.

Out of the crowd and waiting for the elevator in the silence of my lobby, I remind myself that pornography is probably inevitable. Until a man has consumed all he can contain, until he has tasted the fruit of each and every tree and until those trees should all be barren, there will be pornography. Its grasp is weakened with the dimming of eyesight, the creaking of joints or the privileges and lessons of a picaresque life. I suppose then that I am the ghost of your Christmas Future, an old man parked under the glittering tree at the center of the mall, telling you that you really do not want that.


Anonymous said...

The esential over promise, and the realization that the tease is better than the aquisition. Christmas and porn both a fleeting memory being chased in order to relive a moment or to create an unrealistic and unlikely perfection. The roast is always dry, the presents lack any luster, the relief after fantasy tinged with futility. All in all an interesting comparison, and I stifle a yawn over both.

Anonymous said...

Proof reading a comment is never futile, and becomes more and more essential as I age.

Homer said...

I remember when I was a teenager and the Sears catalogue was pornography- the studly men in their underwear and the Christmas catalogue that we poured over, lusting for the toys but knowing that most were too expensive to ever have.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful Advent meditation: eschatological in the not-scary-way but rather in the there's-someting-to-hope-for way.
Thanks--I have an Advent homily.

omnia optima.

Tony Adams said...

Dear Father In....valle,
Can it possibly be true that something I have written herein will be used in a pulpit? Ain't that a swell somethin and who woulda thunk it? Not me, that's for damn sure, but I am so pleased to know it. Do let me know how it plays.

dpaste said...


Advocate of the Devil here, again.

I've never been into the Christmas shopping frenzy yet my appetite for porn has only gotten stronger.

I will agree, though, that you are a man who has scratched ever itch you might have had, whereas I am desperately trying to get the lid of the bottle of calamine.

Mike said...

Wouldn't it just be nice to get porn for Christmas? Kills two birds with one bone.

Or something like that.

Tim said...

I quite like the post, thoughtful and poetic.

Stash said...

Padrecito --

Was this post written for me?

Guess whose birthday is on Christmas.


BigAssBelle said...

i think my aversion to porn comes from working with sex offenders and their victims for so many years. i never met a sex offender who didn't have a deep core of untouchable sadness. oh hell, there was also the cache of extremely violent stuff i discovered in the bottom drawer of my high school boyfriend's bedroom. when i later found out how meth can contribute to a hypersexuality, it made sense. but at 16, it just kind of made me sick.

not all of it though: used to climb on a stool to sneak a look at my father's copy of Fannie Hill. it was quite titillating, even in my grade school years.

christmas lost its glitter when i found i could fly again. all of the obsession with the perfect of the day, the gifts, the look of my house, poof! gone. this year, i didn't even plant any paperwhites. i am christmas-free and yes, in part, it's the obsession in this country with shopping and all of that. it just leaves me feeling kind of blue.

on the other hand, a cup of hot tea, snuggled up next to mike on the sofa, puppies lying in the sun, cat curled round my neck, fire blazing: perfection. and the perfect celebration for this stage of life. no trees, no gifts, just deep contentment. that is the best gift.

DJRainDog said...

Wow. This is amazing. You regularly amaze me. And I think you've hit on what's alienated me from what seems to be the American expression of "The Christmas Season" for the past ten years or so. For me, Christmas doesn't begin until Christmas Eve at the evening mass, and it lasts until 6 January, the Feast of the Epiphany. Prior to that, I keep Advent in quiet contemplation -- expectant, hopeful. This year, it's working better than it has in recent memory; I'm happier with my life, busier than ever, more thankful for just about everything. I've been feeling unexpectedly re-connected with something I'd missed quite a lot. I still love porn, but I've sworn off Christmas presents this year. Shopping for the latter was something akin to being expected to "perform" in the former (though I've never done porn); in both cases, the (real or perceived) expectations and pressure from outside strip the joy from something that should be beautiful. For this and all holidays, I wish you much joy (I think you've already found it). ;-)