"In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation

Guy Debord



Pornography as Wilhelm Reich conceptualized it was more than sexual images. Pornography is the tendency to make an image of the sexual elements of a person or situation, and relate to the image with the ego or staring eyes alone. The belly, the heart, and the autonomic nervous system is left out. Glamour, whether in movies, magazines, or consumerism, is an example of this broader but important definition. Glamour is objectifying and manipulating basic elements of sexual excitement in order to achieve power or wealth. This is a grave misuse of human sexual feeling.

The biggest danger is that the concept of sexual freedom, which is, at base, the freedom to feel, becomes distorted into the supposed freedom to take, use, stare and insist. But these latter actions are secondary drives. Just as, in an individual, the emergence of secondary drives seems to justify and vindicate the repression, so too in a society does the emergence of secondary drives seem to justify and vindicate sexual repression.

Reich, in his career was bedeviled both by a straightforwardly anti-sexual sentiment in society, and by a pornographic sentiment which mistook his lessons for license to make sex an ego-trip and in his words "an evacuation." Reich and Lowen psychotherapy experienced an explosion in the late sixties and early seventies, perhaps partly for the misidentification with indoctrinate and impersonal sex that was being experimented with at that time.

Related to this concept is the way in which modern life has become the consumption of spectacles rather than the living out of relationships between people and things. Take the evolution of the vacation. Originally it meant a time of restful renewal in a setting of some beauty. Now it has become a splurge of consumption of packaged spectacles which is exciting but exhausting and often ultimately unsatisfying.