Uses and Abuses of Modern Pornography: Pornography as Aesthetic, Ascetic, Anesthetic


  • Ben Muratovic The New School



Nietzsche, Aesthetics, Pronography, Mass-consumption, Erotic Art, Sexuality, Ecology, Genealogy, sublimation


How should we evaluate the modern day use and abuse of pornography? Modern day video pornography has the hallmarks of film and cinema industry (lights, cameras, sets, actors, etc), but common sentiment is that it doesn’t deserve the status of being called "Art". An exploitative media that gets a bad review may get labeled as “trauma” or “torture porn.”  Calling something pornographic indicates that the creators of a media had poor taste. In the section titled “On the Sublime ones” of Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Z II), [1] Nietzsche states “But all life is disputing of taste and tasting!”  Nietzsche concerns over taste are directly related to his effort to maximize the role of aesthetic judgments in all parts of life. As the early Nietzsche states in the Birth of Tragedy (BT §5) “…the existence of the world is justified only as an aesthetic phenomenon.” [2]

A Nietzschean investigation into the purpose of modern pornography requires a perspectivist and not a moral assessment. Kant’s Critique of Judgement reflected on the topics of both aesthetics and teleology, suggesting the question of aesthetics must include a concern over purposiveness. Thus, what is the purpose of pornography? How does it juxtapose to the actual act of sex itself? To Erotic art? Is it akin to the violent Ancient Greek Doric Frieze? Lastly, in a civilization where pornography is of easy access to all, does this take away the prevalence of sex itself? This paper attempts a Nietzschean investigation on the subject and will touch on the themes of gender, domination, sublimation, and the consumption of media.



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How to Cite

Muratovic, B. (2023). Uses and Abuses of Modern Pornography: Pornography as Aesthetic, Ascetic, Anesthetic. The Agonist, 17(1), 11–21.