Am I fishing for funky Google searches? Yes.
We spent the bulk of today’s class talking about the fourth scene of J.B., in which paparazzi-style reporters scheme to capture a picture of Sarah, J.B.’s wife, just at the moment when she hears that her children have died. We noted that the language in the scene is erotically charged in a way that adds a visceral disgust to the ethical outrage of selling and buying people’s suffering.
Of course, a play like J.B. doesn’t let things stop with the reporters. On another part of the stage Zuss and Nickles, who are playing God and Satan, also watch on as their own personal Job suffers. And in the theater’s seats (and in my classroom) are a whole mess of people who paid money to view J.B.’s suffering. That conversation led to a discussion of pornography in the broad sense, writing that depicts immorality or whose consumption constitutes immorality. The class agreed that some consumer goods clearly had pornographic intent (the magazines that one unfolds vertically rather than horizontally) and that some artifacts could only serve as porn to the already-depraved (Renaissance sculpture was the class’s example) but that there were plenty of harder-to-decide cases. Some in the class were more inclined to point to producers’ intents and others to consumers’ inner states to define porn, but in all we had a good conversation about the complexity of the category pornography.
In my Bible class.
How could I not love this job?
In other news, I found out that some of my students from last fall’s Plato and Boethius class are now in a freshman comp class revolving around Tolkien’s fiction, and all of them seem to be enjoying being the group’s ready-made Boethius experts. I told them they’d be glad they’d read those books!