Censorship and Artistic Integrity

primal scream

Introducing the first installment of Primal Scream.

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With all the drama going on, I thought I’d scribble down some quick thoughts here (I’m about 50% done with Rockstar — the easier the reading is, the harder the actual writing -_-).

Quick Summary: Amazon started banning/deleting incest erotica in Dec 2010; PayPal suspended my account in March 2011 for selling incest-themed stories directly from my website (that’s my deduction, since none of the retailers give specific reasons for their actions); and B&N is suspected to be currently “fiddling around” with the rankings of erotica books (such that they no longer have high rankings and visibility in the B&N store).

Sooooo to avoid all this trouble, I think I’ll continue to focus on the story > explicit scenes (though I might throw in a little bit of the latter, now and then…).

Fashion Icon is the “special edition” of Incestiable. In the special edition, the characters are established as “step relatives.” Now the fact that they are step relatives cancels out the incestuous relations (they’re no longer blood-related). I include a note to the reader at the beginning of the book to “please use your imagination,” if the reader/customer enjoys incest-themed fiction.

I’ve been feeling quite tired/burned out lately, so I’ve been a bit out of focus for the past week or so.

It was partly due to the Amazon + PayPal “censorship” issues, and re-categorizing/re-branding my ‘erotica’ titles as ‘erotic fiction’ (since most buyers who are seeking commercial erotica are seeking the eroticism in the form of explicit content, which isn’t what my erotic fiction is about).

I sometimes wonder if I wasted all my time writing deliberately deviant / not neatly commercially categorizable fiction, but in the long term, I think it’ll be okay. My erotic fiction contains, maybe, a ratio of 20% of explicit content to 80% of “the story,” so if ALL the retailers decided to ban all “erotica” titles one day, I’ll be able to tweak the material and present it as “contemporary/erotic fiction” (which is what I’ll do with future material).

I like sidestepping / doing new things, and I understand it’s “problematic” for the major retailers.

For this reason, the Primal Scream full anthology will showcase an, uh, interesting “range” of content (from some explicit content, to erotic love, to very subtle/implicit eroticism). It reflects what I started out with (stories with some explicit scenes), to something more “lyrical/complex,” to something less lyrical/less complex (on the surface), but that still deals with contemporary issues in a contemporary way.

The less discerning commercial erotica/smut readers/customers are likely to scoff at my brand of erotic fiction.

But the erotic life is not defined by explicitness. Pornography is. And my goal has never been to produce porn.

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I received three emails this week (won’t name any names!):

Email #1:

Hello, Jess…

Nothing irritates me more than useless crap we shovel into our brains to pretend to forget how fucked we are.

Have Anne Rice’s vampire works stood the test of time? No, and neither will Meyer’s, because they are by no means Bram Stokers. Just another flash in the pan, she’ll be elbowed out by someone else when this Vampy love bullshit fizzles out.

Sad part is, the people in the indie scene who got the attention of the big wigs are writing the same kind of shit they big presses are shoveling.

I took a look at your site, and I must say I find it sad that we, in a modern world in 2011 haven’t figured out what pornography is. I’ll probably face the same amount of shit for my next book. It’s sexually explicit and contains graphic scenes of bondage, blood play and mutilation…I guess we’ll see what happens.

I would like to read a book of yours but at the moment I am finishing up my next book and it will probably another month or so until the final draft is done. I’d like to read your cyberpunk book, though.
– from, A Male Author

Email #2: Correspondence with reader/customer:

Dear Jess C,

I just finished reading “Spinning Around,” and I really enjoyed it.  However, I am somewhat surprised that it was not longer and not more intimately detailed.  I absolutely love Father-Daughter erotica…and I’m not sure why.  Of course I must keep this secret to myself, as no one would understand.  I love finding a good story to read when my wife is not around, (we are lesbians), and slowly start getting aroused, and finally start touching myself, and eventually have multiple powerful orgasms!   I so want to seduce my Dad….he is so freaking hot.

Please write more father-daughter stories!!!!!!!

Sincerely,
A Female Reader/Customer

My reply:

Hi xxxxxx,

Thanks so much for your email — it’s always nice to hear from readers!

I was planning on a longer version of “Spinning Around,” and I might work on it some time in future. I’ll be presenting my future erotic fiction as “contemporary/erotic fiction,” because the major retailers (Amazon, B&N, and PayPal) are always targeting “erotica” books (especially those with incestuous content — I don’t understand how incest is more “offensive” than rape and bestiality, but apparently that seems to be the case).

Amazon started banning/deleting incest erotica in Dec 2010; PayPal suspended my account in March 2011 for selling incest-themed stories directly from my website (that was my deduction, since none of the retailers give specific reasons for their actions); and B&N is currently “fiddling around” with the rankings of erotica books (such that they no longer have high rankings and visibility in the B&N store).

Sooooo to avoid all this trouble, I think I’ll continue to focus on the story > explicit scenes (though I might throw in a little bit of the latter, now and then…).

I’ve had some emails from people who have incestuous desires (but have to “keep it secret because no one would understand”), so you’re definitely not alone! I personally get the biggest kick out of the brother-sister combination. I’m not sure why either, since I don’t have a brother.

Your wife must appreciate your high sex drive ;) Your dad must work out and eat well. That he’s “in better shape than guys less than half his age” = a huge compliment.

Incest can be a very delicious kink (when it’s consensual) — something most people don’t seem to get (but that doesn’t mean they don’t have “underlying desires,” HAHAHA),

Jess.

Her reply:

Hey, thank you for responding as if we are both real people!  I am sorry to hear about the red tape with the major retailers.  And I agree 100% re the “rate of offensiveness” when comparing incest, rape, etc.  It’s probably safe to say that incest,(including consensual), is hitting too close to home for many, so let’s not even acknowledge this topic:  it’s too real.   Anyway, thank you for everything you do and have stood/stand up for.  (Gotta run, wife is calling for me!)  LOL
Sincerely,
A Female Reader/Customer
PS:   My Dad is an awesome kisser! ;-) And…..

Email #3:

I don’t fantasize so much now but when I was young (say 13-33!) every night was a long fantasy for me. I thought it was a mental disease! I looked down on some of my fantasies as childish and shameful, but I remember many of them now with affection.

If you are brought up in a culture of shame it is exquisite torture that you soon learn to accept. I could write pages and pages about that tension between desire and guilt and the complications that arise from it. I could also write pages on the theme of religion and atheism. By the time I was in my teens, I was definitely an atheist and my convictions were unshakable and very deeply worked out.
— 47 y/o male, USA

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These are the emails/perspectives that keep me going, when I REALLY question why I bother to care about anything in life. I can get extremely cynical at times, but I usually channel all my ego and frustrations and “desperation” (according to a recent fortune cookie) directly into my work (productivity = the antidote).

I mean, holy shit, if incest erotica / incest-themed fiction is indeed being suppressed because people can’t deal with it (according to this comment: “Maybe they want to keep it in the family…), then that only motivates me all the more as an artist to “continue my explorations” with regards to love, life, sex, lust, and desires.

I always focus on the characters + storyline. Obscenity is a subjective matter, so I probably will continue writing incest-themed fiction about step relatives (and whatever else I decide to ponder about).

I’ll just attempt a more sophisticated (and sneaky, but legal) route with upcoming projects. I like the challenge of writing “contemporary fiction with erotic elements” (which Lolita, which features a 12-year-old girl,  is categorized as), not “erotica.”

Suppressing an artist’s imagination is never going to work out. It’s just going to backfire ;)

A few people have questioned my morals (I sometimes reply, in a polite, concise, matter-of-fact way). I can summarize my views with the two points below:

1) My morals are related to writing, not sexual acts (as a writer, my top priority is the story, not literary morality).

2) Desire and committing the act are two completely different things. If you’re going to go around and arrest people for THINKING about SEX, I think most of us are going to end up in jail at one point or another. Just because I write about incest (or whatever else) doesn’t mean I’m telling people to act on their incestuous desires. And if I was involved in something “incestuous” (see my reply in “Email #2″ above about the “brother-sister” combination), a person would first need to have tangible proof and evidence of the fact that the ACT was committed.

And I realize that other people may question my morality (or lack thereof) more than I do. Why’s that? It’s my life, and I’ll deal with the consequences of having lived the way I chose to, after I die. The End.

P.S. Most of the nude figures in Michelangelo’s masterpiece had to be covered with drapery, and the St. Blaise-St. Catherine of Alexandria scene was cut out and redone by a different artist altogether. Also, in the ancient world, sex pervaded every aspect of life. The genitals were not considered to be obscene. Sex was considered an important part of humanity’s existence.

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Footnote #1: From an astrological perspective, I’m a Virgo Sun in the 6th House, Aries Rising, and Mars Cap in the 10th House. Work = my life, REALLY, so censoring what I try to do via my work is something I don’t take lightly. I’m also a Venus Scorpio (end of 7th house / beginning of 8th house). Thinking about sex on a daily basis is an important part of my existence.

Footnote #2: If you enjoy sexual astrology, you might enjoy my factual fiction story, Jack in the Box (a personal favourite of mine).

About Jess C Scott

Writer/Blogger/Activist @ www.jessINK.com View all posts by Jess C Scott

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