No, NO! It’s not what you think! I’m not talking about Hemingway writing about a three-way, or Michener writing… well, never mind what Michener might write. The mind boggles.
What I’m talking about is a topic that arose recently on the Dorothy-L listserv, the idea that some people write about particular topics with such passion and descriptive phrases that show a love… nay, a lust for a particular pastime or object. We’re talking about things like car porn, gun porn, airplane porn, food porn, desert racing porn, tool porn and even debt porn. (I have to admit that last one is beyond me….)
One Dorothy-L subscriber mentioned that an article in Washington Monthly said this about Tom Clancy: “Tom Clancy may not be able to write a good love scene between a man and a woman, but he can certainly write a good love scene between a man and a weapons system.”
But, I confess: when someone complained that a few people had labeled his choices of crime fiction as spy porn and he felt aggrieved about that, I was the one who suggested that the people who made that observation were not talking about sex in the traditional sense, but rather that the books he liked glorified the action and technique of spying, revelled in it, got into the depths of it and rolled around in the clandestine nature of it in fits of ecstasy. (Well, maybe I didn’t say it quite that way, but that’s what I meant.) The television show “24″ is a great example of spy porn.
So, in defense of those who may attach a label of “___________ porn” to any form of literature, I offered my own off-the-cuff version of a short passage of literary knife porn. For your reading enjoyment, here it is. (Oh, and unless you are in a strangely controlling work environment, it is Safe For Work.)
“Ronnie held the sleek Gerber Mark II in his hand, feeling the hilt warm to his touch. As he turned it, light from the street lamp outside the window glinted on the blade and seemed to travel along the polished, razor-sharp edge, at last flashing at the needle-like point like a star breaking through the firmament. He smiled and nodded. This was the one. He took up the sheath and slid the weapon into it, his lips slightly parted as the steel slipped home between the snugly caressing folds of leather. He pulled on his jacket, covering the sheath hanging beneath his arm and embraced it to him as a lover. No one else would know it was there… but he would. He could feel it.”
A few people wrote me off-list and told me they really liked it, and a couple said they felt strangely excited by reading it. I made a mental note of those folks and decided not to ever turn my back on them when there were sharp objects lying around. (I don’t have a Gerber Mark II, but I have held one before and they are very nice blades. I have a few knives, though, and probably the scariest one is my latest acquisition, a SOG SEAL Team knife, once called the SOG SEAL Knife 2000.)
Here’s what I’d love: If you are a writer, pick some subject or object you are really passionate about, and write a short “porn” piece about it—maybe 50 to 75 words—and post it here as a comment. Remember, this is NOT real porn, so descriptions of personal plumbing or reproductive/pleasuring are NOT what I’m interested in. I want to see how you can turn your hand to writing a short scene that evokes a feeling of passion… focus… perhaps even an obsession about an object or activity. See if you can make the readers here start to fan themselves.
If you are NOT a writer, I’ll bet you have read a piece somewhere that is a porn piece. Maybe it’s someone waxing rhapsodic about a particular car, or drooling over a certain computer. Show us that piece, either by typing it into the comment area, C&P’ing it in, or giving us a link to it.
Come on people, show us just how much verbal sensuality you can dredge up! And I make this offer: I will send a copy of The Writer’s Journey Journal to one of those who submits a sample of his or her own personal literary porn, chosen by a random drawing from among the names of those who submit samples. I will draw from among those names next week, and announce the winner here.
As someone once said, “Let the bloodbath begin….”
Copyright 2010 Tony Burton