Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Checking the Router

(behind the chair)

It's wonderful how unselfconscious one can be when one is alone. (Really, I feel like a different person). This is one of those instances in which I was in the middle of unscripted, daily life, and I suddenly thought to myself, "gee, I'd really be putting on a show if there were somebody else in this room". Naturally, being who I am, I ran into the other room to grab my camera, so I (and also my pleasantly perverted internet audience - that's you!) could see what it might look like from the other side. At first I tried recreating the pose as closely to the unplanned original as I could - for the sake of realism - but then I couldn't help tweaking it with my photographer's eye (because I can't help myself), for better or worse (that's up to you).

This is another one of those situations that makes me think about "relative erosthetics", as I like to put it. A lot of people would use this as an excuse for why it's not a good idea to let people just roam around naked, because, statistically speaking, most of the people you surround yourself with in your everyday life are not necessarily attractive, or at least not to you. For that matter, just because someone is "beautiful" doesn't necessarily mean you want to stare at their genitals; for example, they might not be your type. Yet, when I look at a photo like this one (apart from the fact that the anatomy isn't my first choice, it's still a nice view), I can't help thinking about how appealing it is, and how much I'd love to just surround myself with beautiful, naked creatures. Does that make me weird? I mean, the reason I ask is because I feel like this is something most people would agree would be desirable, but for some reason, you'd have to be insane to actually pursue it in reality. But I don't see why this should be the case. Why do we insist on refusing ourselves anything that feels good? Are we really anhedonic puritans? These creatures wouldn't even have to have sex with me - I'm not talking about a harem of sex slaves here (necessarily) - I'd just really enjoy the eye candy, and the muse it would provide for my art.

I don't think this really has much to do with nudism, but I feel like nudism is a valuable stepping stone on the path to making more people comfortable being naked, especially around other people - no matter what they look like. Because beautiful people often don't realize how attractive they are (unless they're professionals, and most people aren't). And despite the stereotype that prudes of all stripes love to cite, the wider, non-nudist culture doesn't offer a lot of opportunities for people to look at other, beautiful people naked. I mean, yeah, sex sells, but there's also all that censorship. It's a weird dichotomy, but while you'll have no trouble finding raunchy scenes in television and movies, honest portrayals of even innocent nudity are few and far between.

And while you might think that the lucrative porn industry would provide a counter-example to my argument, it only strengthens my point. Even aside from the fact that beauty (like nudity) is not equivalent with sex (which is what porn is all about), it, too, is a distant form of wish fulfillment, and not real life in the flesh. (Or, when it is - as is the case with much amateur porn - it's still not your life). Plus, it unfortunately occupies a low class niche that higher society absolutely refuses to let it wander from. Its reputation is so soiled, people assume that porn will be trash, and that if a piece of media aspires to be anything better than trash, it can do so only by ejecting the pornographic elements. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, that resurrects itself through a vicious cycle. It's like the difference between a supermodel, and a drug-addled street walker. Sure, if you take sex (the lowest common denominator) out of the equation, you have things like "fine art". But it doesn't infuse our everyday lives. I want to be surrounded by living, breathing art.

So perhaps it's an excuse, but - especially in this erotophobic society - nudism seems like a better justification than my own personal, aesthetic desires for wanting beautiful people to take their clothes off. It doesn't mean I'm an impostor - I practice and support genuine nudist ideals, and I believe it's a freedom we all deserve to have, independent of what we look like. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there was an added bonus for me. And, unlike some, I've long been of the opinion that "having to endure" the sight of unattractive bodies (which is really an insensitive way of putting it) is a small price to pay for the opportunity (rare though it may be) to see the attractive ones.

Are we not allowed to admit that this is one of the perks of a lifestyle that involves people taking their clothes off? It seems kind of silly and disingenuous to me for us to pretend that this isn't part of the experience. If that makes some people uncomfortable, I am genuinely concerned - because, obviously, it will result in less people joining in (especially those who might have good reason to believe that people will be looking at them). But the solution isn't self-deception. It's only human to want to look. We need to start examining ways to make looking more innocuous.

For example: as much as "true" nudists despise them, nudist documentaries are a step in that direction, by outsourcing the looking to people who aren't present in the moment, and thus cannot make the people being looked at feel self-conscious (at least not any more than is caused by the presence of the camera, which isn't going to bother everyone as much as it bothers some - I, for one, would happily volunteer to be a model for the nudist lifestyle). However, this is still removed from "real life in the flesh", which is solved by things like beauty pageants (although I've argued before that there are better, less superficial alternatives - like spectator sports) that involve performances that invite looking, even if just temporarily, within an appropriate context.

This is the discussion I want to be part of - not trying to paddle upstream or make futile assaults against impassive windmills. Admitting this simple fact of reality - that people like to look - and not conveniently sweeping it under the rug, is my most basic requirement for negotiation on this topic. Otherwise, we're just wasting each others' time. And we've only got so much of it before we have to go.

"Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late." - Bob Dylan

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