Saturday, 8 March 2014

Underground, Overground

This modest book seems like an apt object with which to bid a personal farewell to the Mounds & Circles project, in that a suitably tatty old paperback captures the central theme we have examined during the life of this blog: sex, or rather smut. I found it in a second-hand bookshop in Lyme Regis last summer, a last lingering residue of 20th century British seaside vulgarity.

This book, dragged up to look like some pseudo-psycho-sociological study (look, it's introduced by a real doctor!) was originally published in hardback but propbably didn't sell well so good old Panther picked up the rights and re-issued it in paperback (easy to slip into one's dirty mac) with a suitably salacious cover, (only) partly revealing a dominatrix and slave.

The book looks at various aspects of pornography from respectable jazz mags such as Penthouse and King, through pulp and underground magazines for more 'minority' interest groups, before finishing in a slightly bizarre twist with an examination of the sexual psychology of comic books. It's all entertainingly superficial with plenty of 'spreads' to enlighten readers with limited literacy.

British culture has a long and complicated relationship with matters sexual. Rarely approached openly, we prefer to so sidle up coyly or snigger from a distance. We can't take it seriously, or when we do and judges, politicians and the church get involved, disapproval and censorship are usually the result.

Hard pornography (filth) remains socially unacceptable (quite apart from arguments of moral and economic exploitation) and yet the need for titilation and amusement, coupled with the prurient attitude of the media, forced the British sexual desire to take on a not so subtle guise: smut.

What's the difference between filth and smut? One definition might be filth leaves nothing the imagination; all is laid bare in livid gynacological detail. Smut is more evasive, suggestive rather than graphic; soft porn, saucy postcards, Page 3, Carry On innuendo, tits and arse but no flaps or stiffies.

Filth stays behind the twitching curtain, under the counter, deep in the hard drive. Smut filters into the culture, enriching and undermining society for better or worse. M&C doesn't take a view on these things but we don't want it brushed under the carpet either. The mores of smut interest and entertain us and we hope you've enjoyed it too.

I hope this post sort of sums up Mounds and Circles, some of the things we like, and the cultural marginalia where the dank undergrowth festers in the shadow of the mainstream. Grotty old paperbacks, Penthouse Pets, pseudoscience, Tom of Finland, cross-dressing, the permissive society, BDSM, lesbian perversions, 1960s, The Avengers, guns, rubber, The Bash Street Kids, Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk. Something for everyone.

1 comment:

  1. I have been interested in 'smut' and 'filth' for a very long time. I think that to be a well adjusted person, your mind should be open to everything - as long as it does not take over your life, or make you do something unforgiveable. I'm old enough to remember when smutty mags would put black bars over the eyes of people in photographs, to disguise them, which always struck me as odd. It was like having sex made you into a highwayman or something. I'm always more suspicious of people who say that they are disgusted by porn, and act sickeningly self rightuously. I once worked with one of these people, and it was not a lot of fun. Oddly, he had a large number of children. Weird, that.