I’ve been thinking lately about relationships between ectoplasm and porn.
This connection came about when I was brainstorming my article for the Re:turns conference coming up in March and thinking about mediums and affective labour and RealDoll and apps and authenticity, and then it dawned on me when I was casually scrolling through images of séances: ectoplasm is a porn thing.
But it’s more than this. There’s something to the thrill or frisson that the séance situation allowed, especially when we consider that it was the female medium at the centre of the séance whose body was being used as the vessel for channelling (and, especially, teenage girls, who were seen as the ideal mediums, according to Jeffrey Sconce). So I’m asking: was/is being a female medium a position of power? Or was/is being a female medium affective labour that’s exploitative? Or is it not so easy to make this distinction? (And what would Stoya say?)
So I of course googled “séance porn” and “ectoplasm porn” and I had a tough time finding material—surprisingly! There’s this cute vid and I’m sure that if I go into the depths of the Internet there’s a whole niche thing, but I haven’t gone there (yet).
Marcel Mauss in his article “Body Techniques” writes: “Before instrumental techniques there is the ensemble of techniques of the body” (104). He goes on to connect this to mystical states: “I believe precisely that at the bottom of all our mystical states there are body techniques which we have not studied . . . I think that there are necessarily biological means of entering into ‘communication with God.’” (122)
Was the manifestation of ectoplasm a body technique of conjuring the mystical or enacting the sexual? Is entering into a communication with God (or spirits) always somehow sexualized?
In my search for porn, I did manage to stumble across some legit work by author Marlene Tromp who wrote this and this — and that’s definitely for a future weeknote. That and a decent Victorian porn collection. (Movie night anyone?) (I’m stopping now, yes).