On the subject of Science Fiction I’d just like to point out that anyone who doesn’t consider any SciFi literature has obviously never heard of Isaac Asimov, one of the most important and brilliant literary minds of the last couple of centuries.
I thought the Pornographic Imagination was interesting. I have an interesting personal anecdote that involves pornography as literature. My Senior year in high-school I had an English teacher who I absolutely hated. We got along when it came to absolutely nothing, and I made it my short-term goal to make her academic life miserable at every available opportunity (before you judge me, here’s an example of her logic: while all the other Senior English classes read The Picture of Dorian Grey, we read Pride and Prejudiced because she refused to “read anything by that man” because he was gay.) John Milton would have hated this bitch, I assure you.
Anyway, towards the end of the year it was tasked to us to read a “work of literary merit” and write a relatively short paper on it’s cultural implications. I was going to pick A Passage to India, but then my sister gave me the idea to use The School of Licentiousness by the Marquis de Sade. Don’t Wikipedia it, you’ll regret it. This is the epitome of pornography. It involves despicable sexual acts that are hard to imagine or explain. Bestiality, incest, rape, sexual mutilation, torture, you name it, it’s all there. The plot is that four men lock themselves in a castle with 5 prostitutes and some children that they’ve kidnapped, have the prostitutes tell them their craziest stories, and then reenact the stories with their hostages. The paper was easy to write; when the author of the book has a brand of sexual fetish named after him (Sadism) it’s not very hard to figure out the cultural implications he evoked. I wrote a decent paper, turned it in, and waited for all Hell to break loose. To my surprise (and slight dismay) she simply graded and handed back my paper. I got a B-. She only spoke to me when she absolutely had to for the rest of the year. My point is this: pornography can be literature. The simple fact that something offends someone shouldn’t exclude it from being called “art.” If that were not the case, millions of pieces of art, from Picasso’s Guernica to Nabokov’s Lolita, would never have entered the public sphere as “art” of any kind. One of the things that I like about Blue Velvet is the fact that Lynch would rather tell the truth and leave the audience uncomfortable than write some cliché happy ending simply to make everyone happy. Sex is a pretty important activity and it certainly has huge effects on human nature, I don’t see a good reason for people not to write about it. Granted sometimes a cigar really is just a penis (ha), and not all pornography is very substantial or meaningful.