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April 28, 2008

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Celeste

I thought this was interesting post. It's something I never really thought about.

My point of view may be a little out of synch with most. Art was always a part of our family heritage on mom's side of the family. There were always piles of paper and books on art around the house. Pencils, charcoal, and crayons were everywhere. There never was anything sexual about it. Books on perspective were no better or worse that books on figure drawing or commercial illustration. It was just skin. No big deal. The walls were always full of art of one kind or another.

I never thought this was unusual until I went to the homes of my friends or those of my family members on dad's side of the family. The walls were bare, or had very little art (and what there was, was just awful). That's when I discovered that it was our family that was not the norm.

I tried to share that with my little nephew during the time he was living with us. We always tried to encourage his art. I always figured if he was old enough to ask a question, he was old enough to get an answer-- appropriate for his age, of course. The same for art. When he was 5, he asked if he could paint my car-- I said sure. (Old car, what could he do, wreck the paint? I drove it for two years with his art work on it before washing it.) He had only two restrictions- no paint on the rubber and no paint on anything glass. Same for anatomy. He asked to see my art books because he had some questions (he was writing a story on ninjas at the time, I think he was 6 or 7, and was illustrating it), so he got to look.

I tried to share the attitude I grew up with-- "It's just skin." I hope that by the time he gets old enough for those hormones to start kicking in and making him nuts, he won't have the additional tittilation that comes from nudity being treated as forbidden or dirty or hidden. Puberty is tough enough.

Celeste

I guess as an aside, I ought to say that what may be an occasion of sin for one person is no big deal for another. Didn't Paul mention something about eating meat and idols?

Nudity is no big thing for me. But boy, keep me away from those horoscopes! For my friends, they are just fun, and nobody takes them seriously. But for me, they are a doorway straight to hell. An old friend of mine has a problem with music. Rock & roll is OK for me, but he had to toss all of his-- it was his Achilles heel.

So, if you have a problem with nudity in art, or rock & roll, or whatever, just let me know. I will do my best to accommodate you, my friend. Just because something is OK for me, I sure would hate to be opening a doorway to temptatoin for my brothers or sisters.

Wolf Paul

My father was an avid naturist (link deleted by blog author) so growing up, nudity was an accepted and normal thing in our home. As a result I find total nudity, and especially the kind one finds in classical art, does not tempt me to impurity nearly as much as the half-clothed/half-naked fashions of today. In other words, a bare bosom I can deal with; an outfit that makes me wonder, "Does she wear a bra under that?" I have trouble with.

On the other hand, as Tim and his correspondent mentioned being very visually oriented, I myself am very "literally" oriented. A year ago McDonalds had an advertisement on billboards here which showed an almost naked woman with a hamburger in her hands and the inscription, "Most men will notice the hamburger last".

Well, I noticed the inscription first, then, because it mentioned a hamburger, went looking for that, and only then noticed the bare beauty which supposedly I should have noticed first.

Needless to say, when I told that story in the company of friends who had just returned from Mt Athos and were commenting on the contrast with the nude imagery at the nearby Greek airport, they guffawed loudly and had a hard time believing it.

But we are all different, different things make us tick and different things tempt us to sin. It is good to be aware of what these things are so we can "flee youthful lusts."

J.R. Stoodley

Ok, first of all

BIG FAT WARNING: I'm not going to check but last I knew Wikipedia's articals on nudity and sexuality etc. were extremely explicit, as in photographs, so don't follow that link Wolf Paul gave unless you are fine with seeing that. Of course it's possible those sorts of images have been taken off.

I'll add that like Tim and apparently this reader I'm a very visual person, and also a male (males have a more visual sexuality than females) so I do struggle with images.

I think part of it is that in an image you have just the static physical apperance. It's not a real person in front of you. Personally I'm much more tempted towards lust and/or objectification of the person I'm seeing if it is a picture than if it's a real life person. As I've mentioned before either here or on Jimmy Akin's blog, I can be in the present of a half naked female friend and be minimally tempted if at all, but a less revealing photograph or even painting is more significant. When I was younger though both cases would have been siginifiant.

I think it comes down to that you can't really lust after someone you fully respect, and for me at this point in my life anyway that kind of respect comes easily when in person but not when it's just an image.

But of course we must allow for differences in individuals. Ultimately nudity is not an intrinsic evil, so its morality is dependent on the likely reaction of whoever sees it.

Images actually intended to incite lust should not be produced in the first place. Images with another purpose but which are likely to incite lust in a large segment of the population should probably not be displayed publicly. Since virually any image of a human could possibly incite lust in some sicko we shouldn't worry too much about images that would incite lust in a small number of people. It's the images that fall in between these catagories that are difficult, and I would suggest erring on the side of modesty for those of us who are weaker in this area.

J.R. Stoodley

I guess like for the original post on this topic I'll also mention that I think there are more reasons than just lust to avoid too much nudity. There is also the mystery and dignity of the human person to protect. I don't know about all of you, but when I see a clothed person I generally have no desire whatsoever to see them get unclothed, because of a general sense that it would take away something of their full, noble humanity, or something like that. It's a general instinct.

Also, perhaps somewhat related, I do think that certain body parts are simply intimate, and therefore should not be displayed in non-intimate situations.

This would be why nudism/naturism even when truely non-sexual is wrong.

It was also part of why I expressed doubt a few months ago or whenever it was about the idea of artistic, sexually disinterested attention to a nude body like in an art class. Sure, there may be no lust involved and model him or herself may not mind (though neither of those is certain of course), but ultimately I feel it is a violation of the person's dignity nontheless and just a different kind of objectification or dehumanization.

Sorry, I know on an artist's blog that is a gutsy thing to say but I think the idea at least deserves consideration.

Tim J

Wolf Paul -

I deleted the link you provided because I don't think it's appropriate for my readership. If they want to find out more about naturism, I'm sure they can figure out how.

Personally, I find naturism (as practiced and promoted in the West) both creepy and gross, and I don't think I'm alone in that.

I mean, I'm glad it all worked out for you, and all, but it was bad enough seeing my dad sitting around in his boxers... I don't even want to imagine him as a naturist.

Adam D

Great post and great comments. Everyone's striving for such a charitable sense of balance on the issue ... how refreshing for an internet chat!

The Aesthetic Elevator

How come I never see trackbacks on your posts from my blog Tim? Trying to give you some luv but it ain't happening *wink* Curious.

Anyway, this post of yours inspired another one on my own corner of the web: http://theaestheticelevator.com/2008/04/29/admiration-or-perversion/

Adam D

Regarding this comment from the solicitous reader, "I want to simply be able to see beauty --including the female form ..." I had this thought to add: it could be a useful exercise for this individual, whether an artist himself or not, to try drawing from some beautiful nude paintings, especially in front of the actual work, in a museum. The act of drawing forces one's mind into visual analysis and, even while a very sensual, even intimate connection can develop, it's been my experience (and I think that of a lot of other artists) that lust just doesn't creep in while drawing. Even if the drawings are terrible, it can provide that point of entry into understanding the work more as the artist understood it and help to shut off the lust part of the mind.

For myself, as I'm viewing a painting I enjoy (nude figure or not) I am so often visualizing the process of the artwork's creation and this virtual, entering into the creative process myself, does the same work of shutting down lust as does the heavily analytical visual analysis in drawing, but I couldn't understand the painting in this way if I hadn't done some analytical drawing in the first place.

Maybe that's a helpful thought.

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