Pornography: More Real than Reality Itself

Pornography: More Real than Reality Itself July 3, 2018

Anton Azbe, “the Kneeling Woman”. Source: Wikimedia Commons

One cold night, a Seattle teenager named Rosie Larsen is found murdered, her body stuffed into the boot of a car pulled from the bottom of a lake. So begins the investigation that takes up the first two seasons of the American crime drama, The Killing.

What makes this more than standard crime drama fare is the exploration of the ways in which the killing of this one teenager figuratively ricochets out to kill others, both people and institutions. Each episode highlights the slow disintegration of bonds in the wake of Rosie’s death, the first of these being Rosie’s parents and siblings. Her death also consumes the lives of the investigators, Sarah Linden and Steven Holder. Sarah’s prospect of creating a new family dissolves in her drive to solve the case, while the body of Steven is literally broken by those he investigates as the case progresses. Rosie’s death also engulfs a mayoral election campaign, unveiling a web of corruption, maiming and death dealing, which permanently marks one of the candidates both physically and politically.

Meanwhile Rosie herself, though murdered, maintains a constant presence throughout the two seasons. Rosie’s presence is maintained, not through her body as such, but through the digitised copies of her body—saved in video footage and audio files uncovered during the investigation. Indeed, what struck me most was how the virtual presence of the victim made Rosie even more present to her family and investigators, revealing more of her life that her embodied life kept secret. We see in the video and audio files a Rosie that associates with gangs, works in casinos and (at least apparently) gets raped by classmates. While the digitised Rosie at the end of a camera or microphone seemed more real than the Rosie of real life, her now lifeless body has become the avatar of the one in the camera lens, DVD, and smartphone.

I bring up The Killing in the context of an essay on pornography because at the heart of the onslaught on the dignity of the human person is the onslaught on the glorious heft of the body. It is an onslaught defined by…

Read the full essay on The Humanum Review’s edition on “The Eloquent Body“.

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