Philosophical Epiphany ...
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...
Ed Sukach, FFP.
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."
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.
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
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.
Yes. It's the first of his books I really enjoyed as a book, rather than as a polemic.
Originally Posted by Peter De Smidt
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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.
Originally Posted by Ed Sukach
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.
Originally Posted by eddym
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.
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.
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.
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