Philosophical Epiphany ...

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Ed Sukach, Dec 24, 2006.

  1. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Somewhere, in my wandering through "stuff" about photography, I came across "Shekhina" by Leonard Nimoy. This has proved to be a very controversial work; and in the religious tempest that surrounds that work, I found this Review - on Amazon.
    I am NOT proselytizing for ANY religion. If anything, I could describe myself most accuratey as a "Brittle Universalist - Unitarian", and it is not my desire here to evangelize or critique any religion, or the lack of it.
    I offer this as something to consider; to think about. There is much here that delineates my particular, personal philosophy about Nude Photography.


    Author: Erica N. Herron "Erica" (MD).
    Entilted, "Prudes Make Me Mad".

    ...

    2. From a feminist perspective, this work does NOT objectify women, but rather celebrates them. Mr. Nimoy has never been one to objectify women's bodies, as he made so clear with his Full Body Project in which he sympathetically photographed very, very rotund women. His very reference to Shekhina, the female aspect of the Hebrew God Yahweh (if you don't know anything about her, please look her up) shows his deep respect for women. Yes, these women are naked, but they are clothed in their own strength. They are not presented as objects of lust, but rather as beings connected to the spiritual realm. The nudity just serves to add to the poignancy, intimacy, and sincerity of the work.

    3. Spiritually, there is nothing insulting about this work. Nudity is not a filthy thing, just as sex is not (although this work is not even remotely about sex.) Yahweh put Adam and Eve into the garden stark naked, because it was His idea of perfection, innocence, and beauty. It wasn't until sin came into play that clothes entered the scene - Adam and Eve came up with the idea of clothing and Yahweh just went along with it. Clothing is a social construct created by humans in reaction to their own shame. Worshipping before God nude shows our vulnerablity, shows that we hold no barriers between ourselves and the Divine, and that we are come to Him as He created us.
    Simultaneously, this work challenges conservative Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives of women that suggest that they are the originators of sin and evil, and therefore do not have the same right or ability to connect with God as men (and as such are not allowed to be religious leaders.) He particularly highlights women's ability to create and harbor life within themselves, using this as an example of their unique form of spirituality.
    Mr. Nimoy's women approach God without the shame in relation to their womanhood and their supposed original sin, concepts that the religious right tries to pound into them. Their femininity and pride therein is emphasized by their nakedness.

    On all counts. a provocative, artistic, rich, reverent, inspiring work.



    My eyes have been opened - just little wider - and my conception of my own philosophy crytallized somewhat more definitely.

    Comments, Gang? I would expect a *bunch* of them...
     
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Entertainingly, one of the best sellers on the Christmas book list is Richard Dawkins's 'The God Delusion'; a nice idea, that an atheist tract should sell around the time of a religious holiday.

    The Judaeo-Christian-Islamic-Marxist tradition has always seemed to me to be that if reality and The Book (Bible/Koran/Das Kapital) are at odds, reality must be wrong.

    Personally, I find the linking of religion to nude photography to be an interesting example of people's hang-ups; or to quote (from memory) Spike Milligan, in Puckoon, to a priest

    "Is it a sin to look at naked women, father?"

    "Of course it is, my son, or we'd all be doing it."

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Ed,
    An interesting post. I believe that the story of creation. in the bilble, and the Garden of Eden were symbolic of several things. The first and foremost is that the "knowledge of good and evil"...the ability to "judge" if you will is the beginning of the sense of separation from each other and the attachment of our ego sense to our body.

    I say this since the ability to judge must come from an external position since it is impossible to judge from within.

    This attachment of our sense of self with our bodies serves to initiate and propogate the sense of debasement and "sin" with nakedness.
     
  4. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    Has anyone read this yet? Dawkins is a very smart guy, but I find reading him somewhat tedious. I haven't read anything of his since The Selfish Gene. It was an interesting (and important) book, but somewhat long-winded.
     
  5. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Yes. It's the first of his books I really enjoyed as a book, rather than as a polemic.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  6. eddym

    eddym Member

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    Clothing was a technological innovation created by humans in reaction to lack of body hair and cold temperatures. Shame is a social construct created by those who wished to exercise control over others, especially men over women.
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Not necessarily: cf the cache-sexe found in countries where heat renders clothing unnecessary, and the near-nudity of the aboriginal inhabitants of (very cold) Tierra del Fuego.

    Note also clothing as a status indicator (the Pharaoh's slaves were initially naked, and later near-naked) or for that matter the 3-piece suit worn in wildly unsuitable climates today.

    Also note the fact that in many countries, small children run about nude -- to this day on the beach in the less puritanical countries.

    Cheers,

    R
     
  8. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Um, Roger, I've visited Haiti once, in January 1986 just a few weeks before the Duvalier boy departed. Spent most of my time there in the field. Out in the country few of the people I saw had the proberbial pot to piss in. I believe that children and nearly everyone else went near or semi-naked because of poverty. Re poverty, one morning in Les Cayes I inadvertently caused two grown men to come to blows over the opportunity to earn $US 0.25. Oh, my, oh, my.

    Donald, the creation story so many people fight about was invented by my ancestors to explain how we came to be us and why we shouldn't go over to the other side. People who now take it as truth simply no idea how ignorant my ancestors were. Imaginative, yes, but they didn't have the tools, intellectual or measuring, to understand much about anything. I fully expect our descendants, if any, to say the same about us. Why devout intellectual descendants of, um, let's say Abraham, can't bring themselves to say that of our ancestors is a great puzzle.

    Roger, I stopped reading Dawkins' books some years ago because he's entirely too preachy and talks down too much. Both afflictions are characteristic of popularizers.

    Old friend of mine shared an office with Dawkins in graduate school, characterizes him as a very bright arrogant upperclass bastard. Old friend is equally hung up on the evils of religion, by which he seems to mean the christian sects he was exposed to in his youth. I've talked things over with Mike, look forward to reading his memoirs if he lives long enough to complete them, but can't imagine the milieu of the early '40s to early '50s in which that, um, generation of UK biologists came of age. I b'lieve you're not quite old enough to have known it well.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Dan,

    Sure, wouldn't argue about poverty. My only point was that clothes aren't just about cold weather. The nude children bit isn't just about poverty, either: when I was a small boy, children up to (about) 3 were commonly starkers on the beach, and this is something that has only died out in the UK in the last half-decade to decade. In France it still happens (I am told; I seldom go to the beach nowadays). Yes, rich kids wear more in the street, and only the poorest in (say) India go nude beyond about 5, but again, I'd say this was a status thing as much as anything.

    Nor would I argue much about Dawkins. As I say, his earlier stuff was interesting polemically, but not necessarily enjoyable reading; The God Delusion is really rather different, probably because it's only tangentially related to his academic field. I can recommend it.

    There are some books where the title tells you almost everything you need to know, if you have even a modest knowledge of the subject: the classic example is "Why Big Fierce Animals are Rare." A lot of early Dawkins was like that. My (younger) teachers in the 1960s were of Dawkins's generation and his ideas were not uncommon among the more thoughtful (my A-levels were zoology, biology, chemistry and physics; that I went to law school instead of medical school was the result of a series of historical accidents).

    So: as so often, I think we are in either complete agreement, or very substantial agreement.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  10. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    I think a good way to test this theory about nakedness, God and religion would be to go to church (mosque, temple, etc.) in the buff. It might be a better way of settling an intellectual debate about man and God. Merry Christmas, tim
     
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Tim,

    Great idea!

    You go first; send us a report; and we'll toss a coin to try the others...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  12. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    If I'm not mistaken, some religions ... Wiccans, Druids - must be others ... do worship "skyclad" - that is nude. Haven't I read, somewhere, that Quakers were known to worship in the nude as well?
    When you stop to think about it, why should ANY external element ... clothes, fancy car, shamanic tattoo, what have you ... make us more "pure"?
    "Goodness" and beauty come from - and can ONLY come from - within. Possibly, the best expression of that idea would be to divest ourselves of everything else externally possible...

    I have, for a long time now ... well before Mr. Nimoy's work ... noticed what I've chosen to call an "aura of grace" around the models I've worked with - an aura that did not seem to exist when they were clothed.

    The Great Creator, and I certainly will not censure anyone for the use of a diiferent name, even "random chance"... has evolved and refined us over millions of years, and I for one will NOT allow myself to find fault with the result. Why in Heaven or Earth should I? I am certainly NOT ashamed of His/ Her work ... and if it were not for my ... uh ... what would be appropriate ... COWARDICE in the face of social pressure I would NOT deny its existence by hiding it under layers and layers of fabric.

    I write this as a "communication" to kindred souls out there ... Ny nude photography is really not about photography ... not nearly as much as it is a CELEBRATION of the beauty and inherent innocence in this world.

    There is SO much more to be said ... and so much more than that to be photographed.
     
  13. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Ed,

    Personally, I think you're thinking too much about this. Just go out there and shoot nudes. No big deal. Want controversy? Here's a challenge for ya - shoot men nude. I mean show the whole potato spud (or slug depending - if you know what I mean).

    Regards, Art.
     
  14. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I have. Certainly, we have had male modes in Life Class ... and it is not beyond the realm of possibility ... but given a choice I would prefer female models. Talk too much?? Quite possibly, but today is Christmas ... The house is set up for the incoming throng ... I get to pour the aperitifes ... and hack away at a 20 pound (9.0071847 Kg) turkey. So while I wait ...

    Anyway, Ms. Herron's comments hit me like a ton of bricks - much like the effect following the introduction of one crystal into a saturated sugar sollution.

    Ever tried NOT to talk about something when that happens?

    Off to the corkscrew and carving knfe ...
     
  15. eddym

    eddym Member

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    Good idea! If challenged, one could reply, "but this is the way God made me! I was born this way!"
    What could be more perfect?