PERSPECTIVErnTurn Out the Lightsrnby Thomas FlemingrnIt must have been Sigmund Freud who observed that wheneverrna new technology appears it is applied almost immediatelyrnto some sexual purpose. The dirty old man of Vienna wasrnthinking of such inventions as the photograph and the movingrnpicture, which gave a new impetus to the production and consumptionrnof pornography, but he might just as well have beenrndescribing his own metier. As soon as experts appeared, claimingrnto have invented a science of the human mind, some ofrnthose experts began work on the first “scientific” treatises onrnsexuality. Freud, who was himself more sex-obsessed than hisrnpatients, devised a theory of psychoanalysis that is a mere projectionrnof his need to reduce all human life to the sexual dimension.rnNo wonder people found it so titillating. For mostrnpeople psychoanalytic theory is nothing more than highbrowrnpornography, and the process of analysis, although designed asrnan exercise in se//-abuse, turns all too frequently into a sexualrnrelationship between the supposed doctor and his patient.rnTherapists have taken one step past even Casanova, who is saidrnto have seduced women before robbing them. Now, the}’ takernthe money as a down payment.rnThe 20th century has been the century of gimcracks, a remarkablernnumber of which have been sexually exploited. HenryrnFord’s motor cars may have spattered the highways withrnblood, but who knows how many children were conceived inrnthem? The automobile, in turn, gave birth to the motor hotel,rnwhich has replaced the bordello as well as the hotel, and therernis hardly any need to mention sound recordings, since mostrncontemporary pop music would have been regarded as obscenerneven a generation ago, or the telephone, whose latestrncontribution to enlightenment is the 900 phone-sex that recentlyrnbankrupted a village in Guatemala.rnBut it is audio-visual technology—film and television—rnthat has become the staple of the pornography industry, and nornbackwoods American village is complete without a late-nightrnsex channel and a video store renting X-rated films. The bigrnbreakthrough, however, is virtual reality. In its infant stage arnfew years ago, virtual reality allowed the viewer to imagine hernwas having carnal intercourse with a woman who, in real life,rnwould not let him buy her a drink, but we are a progressive people,rnand by 1993 it was possible to participate in a gang rapernwithout leaving the safety and convenience of one’s own home.rnThink about it. Your next-door neighbor’s teenage lout—rnthe one who occasionally babysits for you—is staying up allrnnight with his senses plugged into sex videos. To enhance thernillusion, he may be smoking dope or snorting coke. Whateverrnis going on in his mind is, in this free Republic of ours, ofrnno consequence since the right to see dirty movies was a primaryrnconcern of the Founding Fathers, who inserted the “freedomrnfrom censorship” clause into the Constitution. You canrnfind it right after the part that says all men are created equal.rnThe constitutional right to perversity only stops at the pointrnof coercion, and it is not too hard to imagine a day whenrnwomen will have the right to be murdered for pay on SNUFFrnTV. “You don’t have to watch” is the inevitable answer, but tornavoid perversity in the 1990’s would mean wearing earplugs andrna blindfold most of the time. Curiosity is one of man’s definingrnqualities, and it is particularly strong in children, whorncould not escape the mercenary eroticism of our culture evenrnif they tried. It is all around them and us, in the 7-Elevenrnstores, in the video parlors, and on cable channels. We cannotrnwatch the evening news or pick up the Chicago Tribune or thernpoor benighted Rockford Register Star without learning the detailsrnof Michael Jackson’s relations with little boys or of thernbroomstick jugglery performed by high-school w restling teams.rnWhat would once have been called hard-core pornography canrnnow be seen in R-rated movies, and it is not at all difficult torn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn