[NetBehaviour] Cyber Erotica and the Disappearing Arts.

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Wed Jul 26 16:43:10 CEST 2006

Cyber Erotica and the Disappearing Arts.
Jul 25, 2006

Faced with the question, “And what do you do for fun?”, very few of us 
would think to answer, “Oh, I write erotica.”  But as online 
you-and-me’s engaging in text-based cybersex--heck, even text-based 
flirtying–that’s just what we’re doing.

Of course, most of us probably wouldn’t admit to our internet exploits 
at cocktail parties anyways (Can you say conversation starter?), but the 
point remains: When we use text to get each other off, we’re really 
working together to create a collaboratively-authored story: a form of 
art, however bad.

So why don’t we think of our sex chat as art?  Because it’s fleeting, in 
purpose and meaning. Because it disappears.

And I mean that (more of less) literally. Unless you keep cut-and-paste 
records of your day-to-day chat, that text–be it the hottest cyber sex 
you’ve ever had, or a totally inane conversation about mustard–is gone.

Needless to say, plenty of people approach disposable text with as 
little artfulness as they might approach disposable panties.  Which is 
to say, none.  “Start bring my and down just put against your pussy but 
no rubbing.  Then I jump little as I fell our hand going up and down 
crack.”  This is an excerpt from research sex with a native English 
speaker in Second Life.  As one more gal who goes weak in the knees for 
good writing, I have to say: for shame.

Still, it’s one of those a chicken-and-the-egg dilemmas: Did sex chat 
become throw-away because it’s thoughtless (as in, more often than not, 
there seems to be no thought involved), or did it become thoughtless 
because of it’s throw-away medium?  If we had to write all our smut down 
on paper, would it be more dear?

But back to the idea of a disappearing art: Cybersex certainly isn’t the 
only type.  Any art “act”–like the performance of a song, or of a 
play–is itself fleeting.  But at the same time some element of it–a 
musical score, or a script–sticks around for posterity, for a 
continuation of the art.  What exactly is left behind after the 
performance of erotica (a.k.a. cybersex)?  Or is it’s artistic charm in 
the fact that is really does disappear?  After all, after reading enough 
bad sex transcripts like the one above, you might give up on the idea 
that sex chat is even art to start with.


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