Whatever are they?
Were you lured here by some vision of pornography? If you were, then keep this sentence in mind throughout the write-up, as it may be relevant later.
Ars erotica and scientia sexualis are two very different and distinct things. They are important, and worthy of note, in themselves, but they become far more opaque when compared with one another.
These two Latin intellectualisms refer broadly to the two different ways in which sexuality can, and has, been viewed throughout history, depending (generally) on geographical location, and through that, culture.
In what can be loosely called Eastern Society (though surely it is not, for in our case it includes China, India, Japan, and indeed the Roman Empire), there is an angle given to sexuality known as ars erotica (erotic art). This should not be identifiable with porn; in ars erotica, sex is seen as an enjoyable art form and a sacred experience, and is not at all sinful. It is not, however, talked about freely. Sex takes on a very private meaning, as it is influenced and maintained by personal experience, and to enter into discourse about sex is to corrupt its meaning.
Enter the dividing stick. In Western Society, sexuality is not spoken about publicly. Yet it is given the status of obsession in the human mind, and the word for this is repression.
Mother: Now Bobby, I don't want you taking drugs or getting blowjobs from Catholic school girls. Such things are bad, perverse and wrong.
Now what is Bobby most likely to do?
The idea of the forbidden is central to the concept of Western sexuality, for it is this that fosters the urge to talk about it, to confess the desires.
Enter Michel Foucault, stage left.
What is it that makes us want to look at pornography? Maybe because it's sinful, naughty...taboo. Maybe because we get turned on by the sight of people in vulnerable positions. But WHY do we get aroused? Because it's something that is wrong, shamful, and so fundamentally argumentative with what we have been told, that we are compelled to act it out. Disgusting, yet very eloquent.
I cannot pretend to understand Foucault, or the true nature of sexuality, but I will offer this: We are compelled to act sexaully in order to discern an underlying truth in sexuality, to know it, to understand it, for without this the concept of sexuality as we know itwould not exist at all.