Porn can be both.
At its best, porn gives me ideas. Sometimes it helps me plan. It can lead my mind in new, interesting, exciting directions. It can raise important questions, about the world, about my psyche, about my history. I can use it to enhance, deepen, intensify my sexual connections. It can make me feel even more alive.
I’m grateful for porn when it serves these purposes.
At other times, though, porn works differently for me. There are times I find myself using it to make me feel not so much more alive as less dead. Nothing wrong with that, in and of itself. Less dead would seem to be, if not a good thing, at least a less bad one.
But when I use porn this way, more often than not, it corrodes, even as it enlivens. It tends to insert distance between me and others – those I love, and those I don’t. Over time, even as it provides the illusion of enlivening – a stiffened cock, an orgasm – it does so maladaptively. It substitutes safe solitude for less safe, but far more rewarding, connection, and, by doing so, reinforces loneliness.
(This is an intrapsychic musing – for the purposes of the moment, I consciously disregard the larger societal effects of porn.)