Quote of the Week — Alberge on Kafka

Backstory: Dalya Alberge’s article for The Times, concerns Franz Kafka’s pornography collection. ‘Nuff said? Not quite:

Hawes, an Oxford graduate and university lecturer, emphasises his total admiration for the literary Kafkaesque genius who wrote brooding classics such as The Metamorphosis, The Castle and The Trial, and argues that these discoveries merely show Kafka as more human than the popular image. He believes that “suppressing” them detracts from sensible assessment of his work, and has even led to nonsensical evaluation.

What? Did you catch it? Really, I’m not giving any hints on this one.

Just skip this one

File under “Duh“.

Jeremy Caplan reports for Time:

Apple may be golden because of the iPhone, but the soon-to-be-updated device is also increasingly the source of forbidden fruit. Steve Jobs’ company is keeping a civil, if embarrassed, silence on one of the potentially most lucrative and controversial uses of its handheld jewel: porn.

The technological feats of the 3G iPhone are key to the coming pornucopia. To date, mobile porn has consisted largely of still images, racy text services and “moan tones,” which are sultry-sounding ringtones. In Europe there is an active market for video chatting; customers pay on average $50 a month to exchange dirty messages with actresses. But now, thanks in large part to the iPhone’s video dexterity, short clips are becoming a staple of the mobile porn business ….

…. Leading porn purveyors see the iPhone as a dream come true. Its relatively ample screen size, speedy Web access and ease of use are just part of it. The device’s miniaturized version of Apple’s Safari software simplifies mobile access and streamlines the process of tailoring dirty sites for optimal viewing on the go. “It’s by far the porn-friendliest phone,” says Devan Cypher, representative for San Francisco–based Sin City Entertainment. As evidence of the gadget’s rocketing popularity in California’s porn capital, the San Fernando Valley, numerous iPhone-specific porn sites have been launched in recent months. “There are a few hundred iPhone porn sites now in use,” says Farley Cahen, vice president of business development for AVN Media Network, the adult industry’s trade body ….

Add to that the usual trappings for a story like this. Apple spokeswoman Jennifer Bowcock (seriously) says of course the company doesn’t condone porn distribution, and will take measures to restrict adult content. The development community does nonetheless have certain potential. The porn industry sees a huge new market. And, of course, the children: won’t somebody please think about the children?
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A hard proposition to swallow

Sometimes I’ll poke fun at the firearms advocates by making a porn joke. After all, it is not uncommon when gun control debates flare up in the public discourse to hear the claim that a gun will protect all our other rights. And while I often disagree with those people about what the Second Amendment actually says, that argument is not my point here.

Adults Only ...?Rather, I’ll point out that the First Amendment is constantly violated. I cannot show, say Deep Throat on broadcast television, say, on a Saturday morning. Well, I can’t show it anytime, but it helps the joke, I think, to try to inject the pornography into hours when there might be lots of children watching television. Or maybe on a Sunday, alongside the plethora of church sermons.

So come on, I’ll say. Where are the gun owners defending our rights? Don’t take me wrongly: I really don’t think running Deep Throat on CBS should be something to start a shooting war over. I just think it’s a fun way of making the point that the only right the firearms people are interested in protecting is their right to shoot things. Cans, animals, other people. Whatever.

It’s an argument best left for another day, I suppose. Or maybe not. Rob Kievit notes for Radio Netherlands:

A stale old porn movie is at the centre of a political row involving Dutch public television. Public broadcasting corporations VPRO and BNN are planning to screen Deep Throat, a 1972 vintage production, as part of a themed night on the history of pornographic films. Although the film will be aired after midnight and be embedded in a discussion programme, political parties are clamouring for steps to be taken.

I admit, though, I don’t recall ever making the joke about PBS. Score one for the Dutch. And it’s not like these networks are strangers to comedy. Kievit points out that VPRO was the first Dutch network to show a naked woman during prime time, apparently during the 1960s. BNN pioneered a controversial reality show last year, in which contestants competed for a donor kidney. Amid a predictable uproar, the show played out and revealed itself to be a hoax intended to start a public dialogue about organ donation.

The controversy over Deep Throat includes some rhetoric familiar to Americans—

In online discussion groups, participants suggest that the Christian Union had better turn its attention to the excessive amount of violence shown on TV. They also say that people who do not want to watch explicit sex can always reach for the off button, or change channels.

—and also some notions we might envy:

Dutch public television – government-funded, but editorially independent – is trying desperately to win back younger viewers who generally prefer the commercial channels. If broadcasters break laws in doing so, the government can only intervene afterwards. Trying to stop a show before it has been aired is seen as preventive censorship, and that is anathema to Dutch political culture. Most politicians, the likes of Arie Slob possibly excepted, would rather be seen dead than censor the media.

And I’m not saying a goddamned thing about … er … well, right. At any rate, what the hell ever happened to our First Amendment? And where the hell is Charlton Heston?

(A tip o’the hat and much appreciation to Kit at Words, Words, Words.)