Tuesday, January 9, 2007

What's this?

“What’s this? I beg you pardon! Huh? Just some human figures you say. No! Can’t be! It is… Yes, it is vulgar. It is porn! So indecent, so immoral. It should be removed. Or at least it should be covered up.” (This actually happened at the tourist attraction Borobudur, nearby Yogyakarta.) “And the makers should be taught a lesson or two; in jail with them!” (For one this would be post-mortem justice.)

The maker of the sculpture is unknown to us, so are his intentions. This sculpture is part of the Candi Sukuh temple complex, which is on the slopes of the Gunung Lawu mountain, close to the Central Java kraton city of Solo. This temple complex is from the 15th century and exhibits some explicit – and, because of the size of some elements, funny – statues.

The maker of the drawing is known: R.E. Hartanto, who is better known as Tanto (1973 born in Bandung, Indonesia; his online portfolio: www.melsa.net.id/~meritja/).

So what is this? To call it pornography and therefore immoral is to jump into conclusions. What we instead should try to do is to describe the sculpture and drawing. Pornography is used as a qualification, as a subgroup of immorality. But this skips the step of merely describing in a more matter of fact way before drawing up a conclusion. To use pornography as a description is as if one is blind, one does not really see.

This is common in authoritarian regimes; one is trained to use certain categories instead of having the freedom to use one’s own mind to think and try to decipher and define one’s surrounding. And to see the world shaped through only those categories means one cannot see the world different-wise. One cannot shape one’s world by oneself when the world comes as a fixed package.

A moral judgment says something about our perspective towards the world, it says on the other hand nothing about the world itself. The world as-it-is is amoral. It is nonsense to picture morality as a series of laws of nature.

What’s this? I don’t know. Just two nudes. A man with a giant penis. And a girl on her way to ecstasy.

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