The expression, “softcore,” suggests an analogy to pornography, where softcore is but a censored version of the “real thing.” But, beyond the obvious necessity of censoring our basic instincts in order to live in the modern world, there is still more virtue in softening the “real thing.”
First, start by thinking of the instincts of a wild animal. Imagine how quickly a startled deer goes back to a state of complete calm. There is no in-between — the deer is either in crisis or not. Human beings, on the other hand, take a long while to settle out of a crisis. We have extended that moment of in-between, and that is our gift. That is where consciousness arises. We thrive in the in-between.
Well, the softcore is, or at least arises out of, the in-between. After crisis, but before we settle back into the routine, our consciousness is heightened. We sense the possibilities of the moment. We are open to meaning, receptive to action, and (if we are conscious ritualers) sensitive to qualia.
By contrast, when things are hardcore we are far less conscious and far more physically instinctual. The hardcore is mere animal motion. Any one can hack another person to pieces on a battlefield, and any one can pay for whatever kind of sex they desire. Hungrily devouring a plate a greasy hamburger is easy. Though some hardcore practices may be uniquely human they are examples of where humanity has gone astray.
True humanity discovers its self and lives life in the softcore. The softcore is courtship in romance, political arguments among friends, inspired afternoons among young and hopeful artists, and so on. Softcore moments are ritual moments — special, set aside moments — when we begin to take the leaps of faith that culminate in belief.
There are schools, cultural centers, clubs, families, festivals – all of which provide us with space to act out and express ourselves. These traditions encourage us to play with the softcore and to develop our symbols and symbolic instincts.
Upon reflection, symbols allow us to conceive of things that don’t yet exist. Our symbolic instincts tempt us to take chances on the ideals of religion, the slogans of politics, the romance of love, the hypotheses of science, the visions of art, or even the escapism of games. Only humans, with our softcore construction of reality, can do all this.