I found the letter from John D., exploring the question of form vs. function, very interesting. While a very efficient "thumbnail sketch" method of defining art vs. pornography, with all due respect to John D., I couldn't help but think it was just a bit too simplified. Those of us with an eye not only for art, but science, may be inclined to find just as much beauty in function as well as form. After all, the one rises directly from the other, and then in turn, contributes to the former all over again. Humans, with our penchant for classification and division, often try to divide the two, but I don't think it's quite that easy, or even necessary.
There is a reason the term "erotic arts" arose, even in ancient times; I dare say any man who has been deeply in love with a woman can attest to finding inspiration in both her form, and her "function." The purity of the experience (if one seeks such things) is a product of the emotional investment one has with her. Empty, meaningless sex, like the meaningless pornography that portrays it, is easily obtained, and for many, just as easily disposable. Art, meanwhile, seems arise from the same part of the mind where one finds love. The feelings one has toward art tend to run deeper, and last longer, than the momentary gratification of bodily urges. In this way, I believe one's intentions toward a given work, or indeed, a living woman, determine its - or her - "definition."
For my part, I have been blessed to see this difference at work with more than one woman with whom I have been involved. One was an inexperienced, sheltered, and virginal university freshman when we met; The other was an older woman who had given up on finding pleasure in her body after years of disappointing experiences. The younger woman came into her own sexual being quite easily and naturally, and was, in every way, a dynamic force of nature. Seeing her psyche grow into her body was nothing short of miraculous. Years later, over the course of my relationship with the older woman, she learned to accept loving, generous attentions more openly, and replace her negative expectations with positive ones. By doing so, she discovered a part of her own womanhood long neglected, and found joy not only in her body, but her heart as well.
To see both of these women awaken and embrace a healthy, positive sexuality, and find happiness in themselves as a result, was not only invigorating in a physical sense, it was awe-inspiring from a spiritual perspective as well. Make no mistake: I am not referring simply to "a great shag." I've had plenty of idle dalliances, and most have been easily forgotten. But a significant part of my experience with these women can easily be paralleled with the amazement I find in Mozart or Monet. All are joys that will stay with me until my last breath. Forgive my saying so, but I would say I've been lucky enough to have not just an occasional "Domai moment," but some "Domai years." I can only wish everyone could find similar fortune.
And so, to return to my point, I say again: Our forms are inexorably tied to our functions, and quite rightly so. To separate them, or deem one unworthy of admiration, is to deny a vital part of our humanity, and a rich source of its natural beauty and wonder. It is tragic that in our "advanced" world, so many find it needful to do so.
In any case, for my own part, the question lurking behind the categories into which we put things is, how much do we employ our hearts and minds in our pursuit or form, function, or both? Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the motive of the beholder should be considered when he or she tells you what they see.
Thank you for your good work, and providing a venue for enjoyable discussion of these things we seldom speak of.