The Power and the Glory

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by landrum_kelly, May 11, 2009.

  1. As a professional political philosopher, I like to think that I can ask anything. Even so, perhaps I am in trouble from the beginning simply for the title on this one. Still, I will stay with it, since I think that something significant is at stake here with regard to our psychological makeup--or our discontent with what passes for civilization.
    Here is the question: How does one explain the power of what I can only call the "public nude"? Such nudes often do not derive their power, appeal, or fascination from traditional aesthetic considerations, nor even from their capacity to evoke lust. (If they did that, they would be among the highest rated nudes on a popular and accessible site such as Photo.net, but they seldom are.)
    Rather (it seems to me) they challenge an entire social order, or possibly all social orders (although I would not want to claim that, as some have done). Some that I will toss out for consideration will hardly be deemed the "best" (to say the very least) in the traditional sense. Yet, in spite of their obvious limitations as works of art (also to say the very least), one feels the power of whatever it is that they evoke: a challenge to the social order, advancement of a utopian ideal, etc. For example, consider Brian's Grossman's women in graveyards or rail yards, such as this one: http://www.photo.net/photo/8109764 Or consider this one (a minor masterpiece to my eye, and not at all typical of John Peri's work, but strangely more compelling than his more popular fare, with the model sitting self-assured as if she were the CEO calling the board meeting to order): http://www.photo.net/photo/739025 .
    There are numerous variations on what one could call the public nude, from Yuri Bonder's woman on a city street in the rain ( http://www.photo.net/photo/5023676 ) to Beepy's "non-public" shot which almost instantly evokes the thought that she is perhaps practicing for a public performance ( http://www.photo.net/photo/3251073 ).
    The list is hardly meant to be exhaustive, but I hope that others can pick up on it and offer their own exemplars.
    Why ask the question? Well, as George Leigh Mallory said about why he wanted to climb Everest: "Because it's there." In philosophy, too, the question is "there," or perhaps I should say "out there." "Out there" or not, we do ourselves no service to shyly turn away from issues that challenge not only conventional morality but society as we know it.
    --Lannie
     
  2. Interesting question, Lannie. I believe the answer lies somewhere in the realm of what makes us vulnerable as human beings.
    Considering that clothing most likely originated as function first, fashion second, I think of the absence of clothing as a state of vulnerablity. Thus, when confronted by a nude (i.e., vulnerable) body, we are on many levels drawn to it. For example, What power enables this person to not feel shame? What power enables this person to not feel the elements (heat, cold, water, etc)? I think envy plays a part, too, as perhaps we'd like to be that bold!
     
  3. gdw

    gdw

    Landrum, I find your question/premise interesting however your illustrations completely loose me. To a degree you seem lost in your own fantasies. Only two of the photographs have anything to do with photographing nudes in public or semi public places. To say there is anything public in the other two is totally a product of your own imagination, which you pretty much admit in your post.
    A nude sitting at a table with bookcases in the background has no element of "public" unless you are fanaticizing running into her at Borders or Barnes and Nobel. And on the dancer photographed on white seamless hardly questions mores unless you are particularly fascinated with pubic hair.
    A nude sitting at the head of the table at a Board of Directors meeting or a ballet dancer performing in the nude on a street corner or even before a filled auditorium would be interesting captures and worthy of your discussion.
    Of the four illustrations, the nude on the train is by far the most interesting, however it is at best a semi public location. Generally not a lot of people hang out in freight yards other then a few yardhops, hobos and the occasional bull. The nude in the street strikes me more as a capture of an unfortunate deranged individual that evokes more pity than fascination or passion (yes, I read the comments, and more than half would have a go at it.)
    Doug has given an interesting answer regarding the perceived vulnerability of the unclothed body. I am totally in agreement that the aspect of vulnerability can play an important role in creating interesting nude images. However, outside of the poor creature in the rain none of your illustrations, to me, express any degree of vulnerability.
    The last two are very blatant. The woman at the table is looking the viewer directly in the eye with no sense of remorse, regret, shame, or discomfort. She is not a vulnerable person, she is blatantly nude. A man or a woman fully exposing their genital area can be seen as wanton or as free of the usual hangups but definitely not as a vulnerable person.
    When it comes to photographs of public nudes, I am left to conclude something that Doug alludes to and you basically admit to; it is all in the eye of the viewer and whatever personal conflict/thrill they may or may not have themselves with the concept of being nude in public places more than it actually has to do with the image itself.
     
  4. Landrum-
    Yes, stating your profession has almost nothing to to do with this question:) The power of the nude is only effective wherein nudity is a unique perspective. We do live in a post-victorian society where nudity does make a statement. That is changing though- have you seen the huge amounts of nudity and porn in the world? And really, does it need to be said- I like looking at the ladies naked- makes me think about sex baby! Come on, is it really that difficult? All these images are about sex- even if they are masked as something else. Unfortunately the nudes you have chosen are all quite poor in my opinion (as you stated)- if you want powerful images try looking at Helmut Newton for starters, or Albert Watson. You must have a pre-existing position on nudity and therefore are caught up with the images as "powerful".
     
  5. "...outside of the poor creature in the rain none of your illustrations, to me, express any degree of vulnerability." --Gary Woodward
    Gary, with regard to those other shots, my clarificaiton would be that our perception is that we feel they should be more vulnerable, and yet they give no evidence of it, and so that makes us all the more fascinated.
     
  6. How does one explain the power of what I can only call the "public nude"?
    first and foremost there is a biological explanation. Secondly a lot of that is culturally defined. The way nudity in general is looked upon has undergone many changes throughout history. In art nudity has always been present. However, a lot of what we are presented with, especially on sites like this, can hardly be called art while the fascination is still there. Both with the photographer and (some of) the viewers. Despite that it's worth mentioning that a lot of people react very hypocritical towards nudes. That as well is culturally defined (at least to some extent).
     
  7. (In my response, I am NOT referring specifically to any of the posted links here. I am talking generally. I'm a little queazy about linking to other PN members' works, without first asking their permission, as examples to illustrate a sensitive philosophical point and to invite what may be a contentious dialogue.)
    Good points, Ton. To build on that a bit, public nudes may have a titillation factor and all the attending hang-ups that go with often (not always) adolescent-like approaches to sexuality within the human species. Sometimes, in the photos themselves, the titillation factor and the sexuality issues are consciously addressed, which can be interesting; sometimes these factors are significantly utilized, which can be enlightening; sometimes these factors are dispensed with to move to a deeper place; and sometimes they form a trap of silliness and superficiality the photographer him or herself falls right into.
    Then again, photographs of public nudes can be very similar to photographs of other things. They may have Power and Glory, significance, some sort of import, or they may simply be cute or "ironic" juxtapositions. Some bright red cars photographed in front of bright yellow buildings show something more and some show something less.
    An expression of humanity or some view that will alter my way of seeing things or that will hit me in the gut is likely to feel more profound than the presentation of a simple curiosity.
    As far as traditional esthetic considerations, thank goodness not everything derives its power, fascination, or appeal from those, public nudes or otherwise. Part of aesthetics is moving beyond what is already aesthetical.
    Most photos of nudes or public nudes I've seen don't challenge the social order. It's as hard to make a significant private or public nude as it is to make any other significant photograph.
     
  8. "Most photos of nudes or public nudes I've seen don't challenge the social order"
    Actually Fred I suspect that more often than not it's just the other way around because the social order, such as it is, mostly derives its opinions from a set base of preconceptions.
     
  9. The Glory comes from blind faith. The Power is coincidential, a temporary limit of volatility.
     
  10. We must first of all distinguish between the nude as an art form and the nude person when we make reference to "the nude," although I do not doubt that I shall sometimes gloss over this important distinction in what follows.
    Doug, I think that you are wise to bring up the issue of vulnerability at the outset. This was for me a most risky kind of question and comment to pose--at least on a public site, with all of its limitations and degrees of maturity that are commonly exhibited by both commentators and posters of photos. We risk our souls (or, almost as bad, the misinterpretation of our souls) when we attempt to discuss such sensitive things, perhaps even more than when we display our bodies--although that last is debatable. Nonetheless, I have taken the chance and decided to post on this issue, in spite of the fact that persons are likely to read into my own commentary their own perspectives, or to attribute to me motives which are entirely their own. In any case, there is in the public nude (qua the artistic portrayal) a catalyst for tension that is typically evoked in the viewer, a tension between a sense of vulnerability and a sense of security. In actuality (as opposed to art), the nude figure in public (or the model being portrayed with some considerable degree of publicity) has chosen to be vulnerable, or else really does feel secure and thus not particularly vulnerable (not often a likelihood in this culture). The public nude qua nude person in American culture is almost not to be found, and yet I think that this culture does not quite know how to deal even with the artistic portrayal of a nude person in a public setting, much less know how to deal with an actual nude person in public. There is much, much more to be said on the issue of deliberate vulnerability, as well as the trust between artist and model, but for now I shall let these few remarks stand.
    Gary, I would use the word imagination rather than fantasy if I were trying to write from your perspective, as best I can understand it. I am not "fantasizing" (much less "fantasizing about") anything, but I can certainly imagine the implications of the two photos that you have singled out as being about my "fantasizing." I am afraid that you have missed the boat, or at least the point, and I cannot respond point by point to every misinterpretation of what I have tried to convey. The fact that John Peri's model looks directly into the camera while sitting at a conference table surely brings at least one other person into the room.
    Martin, my profession has "everything to do with it" from my perspective, if only because I teach at a church-related college, and I wish to make it clear that I am not here to do other than to gain understanding as I also try to seek clarification on some important moral issues--and they are moral issues, and political issues as well. I almost wish that you were correct in saying that "All these images are about sex- even if they are masked as something else." If that were actually true, then we could lay the entire nature v. nurture debate to rest vis-a-vis the issue of the sources of shame regarding the display of the human body. In fact, however, though sexuality is always relevant to such discussions, it surely is possible to discuss the causes of shame without pandering to the prurient interest--and it is my firm belief that one source of the power and fascination of the public nude as artistic portrayal is that it does raise all of those old issues about the sources of shame, whether that is the goal of the artist or not (and I doubt that it often is). That is, for me at least, the fact that the un-self-conscious public nude (as person, not artistic portrayal) is a great rarity in this culture--but hardly in all cultures--goes to the heart of the disagreements that are already beginning to be voiced, and which are going to come even more to the fore as this thread progresses (assuming that it is going somewhere).
    Tom, I really find myself in agreement with what you are saying (at least so far), and so I shall not comment further on what you have said right now. This thread is, after all, not really mine, and after a short while no one is going to be answering me so much as each other, which is as it should be, in my opinion. My opinion is finally irrelevant, and I do not claim to have answers. In philosophy one does well to get the questions halfway correct. If one failes at that, at least one might have the chance of having stimulated thought on an important topic. I shall be interested in seeing not only what persons' responses are, but in how they rephrase and re-frame the question. I am comforted somewhat by the now near life-long realization (on my part) that persons who respond critically to the ideas of another tell us much more about themselves than they do about the person being critiqued, or even the ideas of fhe person being critiqued. In any case, philosophy is no field for thin-skinned people.
    Fred, this brings me to your comments, since in my own area of moral and political philosophy, almost everything is a volatile topic, or has the risk of going off in a direction that can quickly become volatile. I typically feel pretty good that, at the end of some classes, there are at least no dead bodies lying on the floor, although there is often a lot of evidence of wounded egos, not to mention a plethora of enraged moralists who have had it all figured out since they were five years old--regardless of the topic, and the topic typically is not about nudity, or sex, or anything related to this thread. As I enter my sixty-fifth year, I do not worry too much anymore about my own ego, and I cannot worry about those who are enraged. Their hell is their own. I can now usually anticipate the range of reactions that I am going to get on most issues, and so I am rarely totally blindsided anymore, even by the obvious ad hominem remark directed at me. One comes to expect it after awhile in the classroom, and one can be darned certain that it will come when one ventures out onto the web on some predictably treacherous issues. One reason that I thought more than twice before deciding to post this thread was the realization that some persons might see me as being titillated by the issue--or by the photos themselves. I confess to all the human frailties up front, and I am not going to worry about it, nor claim to be other than what I am. Even so, given how much time I have thought about issues related to nudity, in both life and art, I felt that I had to take the risk, regardless of the consequences. I have yet to summon the courage, however, to hire a model and start posting my own nude photos. Perhaps by the time I am eighty years old I shall have summoned the courage to do so. I am quite sure that, if I do make it that long, I shall still find the issues just as puzzling, and the topic just as fascinating, although I will not say that the topic per se is titillating to me. The emotion that I typically feel when broaching these kinds of issues, in or out of the classroom, is a vague sense of anxiety--and sometimes not so vague. As for getting permission from persons before linking to their pictures, I consider their posting to a public forum to be sufficient de facto permission. Time is too precious for one to be either too timid or too senstive to what someone else may feel or think.
    I wish that there were some way that I could anticipate and head off all the misguided remarks directed toward me which are likely to follow, but I know that I cannot. At some point the thread lives or dies on its own, since I might not even get back to it myself very often--and even then only to shake my head at times, I fear. So, let's make this less about me and more about the issues that I have tried to lay out. I'm just not that interesting, after all, but the issues are fascinating.
    --Lannie
     
  11. Ilia, sorry to leave you out in my acknowledgments. The "glory" that was uppermost in my mind was the glory of the human form itself.
    Indeed, a member of PN who has two personae here is quite modest as one "person" but much less so as the other one. The irony is that she is one of the most liberal-minded persons that I have ever met.
    Ilia, you made me think of her by using that word "glory," for, when she directed me via e-mail to her pseudonymous site about three years ago, I guess, she said something like, "now you can see me in all my glory." Glory indeed!
    Most striking, however, is that, liberal though she may be, she was not willing to be totally vulnerable--thus the two identities. It is simply too risky. God bless her. I hope that she is alright. Here she is in the flirtatious persona , and in that persona she really is playing a role, perhaps one that she would like to play in reality, perhaps not.
    Don't even try to figure out her identity. She is too well made-up to be recognizable, even by her own husband:
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/user?user_id=1442954
    I meant to say that she was not willing to go public at all, at least not as herself.
    --Lannie
     
  12. Doug, I have reread your first post, and I find that word "shame" again: "when confronted by a nude (i.e., vulnerable) body, we are on many levels drawn to it. For example, What power enables this person to not feel shame?"
    Combined with the "Julia von Lippe" pictures that I just linked to in my previous post, I think that we see that the power of shame is enormous. The question remains: from whence does it come? Why cannot "Julia" and her alter ego be one? Is it from shame, or simple prudence? (I'm not buying the fig leaf story in Genesis.) Does shame come from our nature once we reach adolescence? From "nurture" as society and its mechanisms of socialization?
    Although persons often have quick answers on this issue (the nature v. nurture issue), the issue is actually quite complicated to me. It is easy to say that we are taught shame and leave it at that, and there is a lot of truth there, but there is also the fact that the child typically does not feel much shame, but the pubescent teen does typically seem to begin to feel a lot more shame--at the very moment that he or she begins to feel vulnerability--and not just any old vulnerability, but sexual vulnerability, sexual awareness, and sexual self-consciousness. (Maybe that is the valid kernel of the Genesis story, after all: partaking of the fruit of the "tree of knowledge," and all that.)
    Thanks again, Doug, for steering us in a constructive direction, in any case.
    To Gary I can only say that the pubic hair in Beepy's picture would not be of particular note if one did not IMAGINE her so displaying it in a public performance--as she clearly is practicing for, but clothed and thus covered, no doubt. Yes, I do find pubic hair to be quite interesting and beautiful, Gary, as a matter of fact. (I have rather missed it of late as the fashions change.) Perhaps we could ask Beepy for his own interpretation, since it is his photo--and I personally think one of his most brilliant ones, not because the model had pubic hair, but because of the overall composition, not to mention the lighting.
    John and Beepy's relationships to their models also bear examination. The very best nude photographers are able, I think, to put their models entirely at ease. This is me is Peri's real strength. Beepy seems to have the same gift. Google (on this site) Francois B and his "Frida" folder for yet another glimpse into the level of openness between artist and model that can be possible. No, that artist-model relationship most certainly is not "public," but therein lies the puzzle: why do only Brazilian "indians" and a few other tribes manage to preserve that sense of trust on the societal level and not just in pairs? Is such a level of trust in the face of potential vulnerability totally inconceivable in societies such as ours with their highly strucured work roles? (If so, then let us blame capitalism and the pervasiveness of bureaucracy that its extreme division of labor engendered after the Industrial Revolution.)
    There are a lot of good questions here. You guys let me know when you get them all figured out. I'm going to bed now, to dream of what I do not know, although I can certainly imagine. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  13. Doug, once again, da capo , your question at the outset intrigues me:
    "when confronted by a nude (i.e., vulnerable) body, we are on many levels drawn to it. For example, What power enables this person to not feel shame?" (Emphasis supplied.)
    If I were starting this thread again, Doug, this might be the way that I would use your question, but perhaps rephrasing it: "What power enables [some persons] NOT to feel shame?"
    Or one could as easily ask, "Why are the rest of us so burdened by it?" Still, your version is true to the spirit of the thread: what is it about the PUBLIC nude that has such power--and such glory?
    We are more than titillated and fascinated by the public nude, I think. Nor do I do think that Augustine was correct in seeing everything evil as a matter of love of "forbidden fruit." As my students in my political theory class last fall said, almost in unison, "Maybe persons just want to be free!" And they were talking about neither sex nor nudity! They were simply asking what it is that impels some persons to want to push the limits a bit further, if not break them entirely. They did not see it as an evil impulse. The urge to throw off limits gives me pause, admittedly, but I do see the force of their challenge.
    --Lannie
     
  14. Lannie--
    I'm sorry there has been a misunderstanding about my words. Being a philosopher myself, I can only ask you to re-read my post carefully and to see that I did not suggest YOU would be titillated by these photos. I am quite careful not to direct ad hominem attacks against posters. I was speaking of the general public and the motivations of many photographers. Had I wanted to say something about you directly, I would have addressed you directly and made clear I was speaking about you. You stimulated thoughts in me about why people would make such photographs and how others would view them. I don't know you and assume your motivation for the posting was to hear ideas on the subject of photographs of nudes in public. I offered you a serious response and, for some reason, you took it personally. It was not a personal response. The response has nothing to do with your ego or mine. If you can point to a phrase or sentence in my post that suggests YOU would be titillated by such photos, please do and I will explain what I meant and where you've misinterpreted. Otherwise, I'm afraid you've severely equivocated here. As far as the links to others' works, I don't believe you've broken any rules of the site because, had you, your post would likely have been removed. That doesn't stop me from expressing my hesitancy about the practice. Those opening words were the ONLY words directed at your own behavior here and they were less meant to suggest you did something wrong than to explain why I wasn't referring to any of the photos specifically. I did not want to suggest that any of THESE photographers were being purposely titillating any more than I wanted to suggest that YOU were being titillated. I was answering your question. I thought it a good question on other than an abstract topic. It is specifically photographic and, therefore, better than most questions posed in this forum.
     
  15. Actually, Fred, you are one of the most trustworthy posters on the site, and so I never thought that you were attacking me personally for an instant. I am sorry if it sounded as if I might have thought so.
    I was not reading each thread as well as I might when responding, however, and it is possible that I might (or might not) have been responding to someone else--or simply to the common charges about titillation that are often implicit (when not explicit) when discussions of anything related to sexuality and public nudity come around.
    I only remember (at the moment) your raising the issue of linking without seeking prior permission, but I certainly did not take that as a personal attack. I certainly appreciate your sensitivities on that issue, and I definitely did not see you as accusing me of doing or saying anything out of a desire to titillate. The issue of "titillation" is always "out there" when discussing this sort of thing, however, and so I am constantly on my guard for anything that might suggest that in my work--as in my classes, although there, too, one is bound to be misunderstood. Students can also be quite brutal with the ad hominen remark buried in the written comments of student evaluations of professors, as you know too well.
    What does disturb me in at least one of the posts so far is the suggestion that we ought to be documenting the actual display of public nudity in order to tap into the "power" of the public nude, or in order to stay on topic--by someone's definition and interpretation of what precisely is the topic. The topic, like all philosophical questions, keeps changing and being refined. The question will not even stay constant, much less our answers. The public nude is no doubt a challenge to prevailing mores, whatever else it might be, but its power lies in the idea that it conveys, in my opinion, not in its literal portrayal of instances of public nudity. (Again, none of this is directed at you in the least, Fred, but by now you know this.)
    Let me give a few examples--although again let me emphasize that none of this is directed at you, Fred. Gary, for example, does seem a bit wide of the mark in saying this about Gary Bonder's (to me) brilliant shot: "The nude in the street strikes me more as a capture of an unfortunate deranged individual that evokes more pity than fascination or passion. . . ." I daresay that Yuri probably worked very hard to convey the idea of a woman dancing naked in the rain in a public street--without yet letting his model be seen, at least not by many people. Gary seems to feel the need to take the photo literally, as if this were a documentary on Yuri's part, which is as preposterous for Yuri's photo as it would be for Brian Grossman's. Brian in particular speaks at times of the necessity of having someone else present during the shoot as a "lookout" so that one can carry off the shoot without arrest or other harassment. (Explaining an artistic idea to a cop can be a very difficult undertaking, I daresay.)
    If one wanted documentation of nude persons in public places, then one would do better to get permission to shoot in a nudist colony or at Burning Man--not to mention do what Kent Noble has done in his quite incredible documentation of a Harely motorcycle rally, also on this site--and that page is not for the faint of heart where public nudity is concerned. That is one page which I will not link to, although it does a good job of documenting attitudes toward nudity in a subculture.
    Jim Phelps also has a picture of a woman portrayed as hitch-hiking on a public road, when in fact it is a carefully set-up shot apparently on the safety and privacy of a farm:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/6095949
    I yet think that Phelps' shot conveys the idea of public nudity, though it was not really shot in public: there is no car coming down the road, for example, and she is not really hitching a ride, although doing do is what she portrays. It is for that reason that I also chide Gary a bit about his take on the Peri shot that I linked to. From the photographer qua photographer's perspective, Peri's shot was almost certainly part of a private shoot with only the photographer and model present. What it suggested to me was the idea of a woman presiding over a public meeting.
    Again to Gary I would repeat that it is not about fantasy as fantasy while yet being about imagination--artistic imagination.
    I could go on in this vein, but I hope that I have made my point for those who might not understand the point of the thread: the thread is less about portraying nudity in public than it is about presenting the idea of being nude in public, and yet even that does not sum it up or contain it, because the thread itself and what it means keep changing.
    John Peri of late has toyed with this idea of the public nude by actually shooting nudes draped in long coats on busy city streets--with everything but the intent to display the body in public. The whole series reminds me of the Helen Hunt character's line in As Good as it Gets while she is being sketched nude for the first time: "We're being naughty here, pal." But are we, and is John? I will leave that for John to answer if he swings by here. My own take on John's photography is very different, and I think that the entire exercise is quite brilliant. Peri does an even better job, I think, with his "backstage" shots that show how casual nudity can be in private. One wonders what happened on the road to the promised land , such that it cannot be so in public?
    Where Peri really shines (even for those who might not like his photos as photos) is in his plumbing of the artist-model relationship. The ultimate question always presents itself to me in this form: How does he get these strange women to trust him--and so quickly? One could follow that with another: How does he get his wife to trust him with this more or less constant parade of strange and naked women through his home? Yes, I realize that the culture of the artist is yet itself a subculture on the margins of society, but John manages to keep his foot in that subculture and yet manages go out and deal with culture as we know it in order to make a living. How does he do that? Well, of course, he does what "Julia von Lippe" does, more or less.
    --Lannie
     
  16. I was cut off during editing. Here is what I was adding after the following: "Peri does an even better job, I think, with his 'backstage' shots that show how casual nudity can be in private. One wonders what happened on the road to the promised land , such that it cannot be so in public?"
    I repeat, and continue: One wonders what happened on the road to the promised land , such that it cannot be so in public? Even the Bible starts with this question. Whatever did happen to "Adam and Eve," which is all of us, such that we have this incredible capacity to be so ashamed of our bodies? It is a profoundly religious or theological question, not just a philosophical one.
    --Lannie
     
  17. gdw

    gdw

    I greatly enjoy your comments. Chided or unchided, I hang with my original post. I find it incredulous that you post about photographing public nudity then post photographs to illustrate that have little or nothing to do with "public" beyond your own what you call your artistic imagination. I stick with fantasy. I am old enough to find it humorous when grown men attempt to intellectualize their adolescent responses to the naked female body.
    You are still entirely off track and freely admit that the photographers you have referenced go to great lengths to avoid "public." Me thinks thou doest take thyself way too seriously. And that is not an attack, it is simply an opinion.
    All four photographers have posted some worthwhile photographs. I seems I do not worship them or attempt to intellectualize enjoying them quite as much as you. And yes I am literal; she still looks more lunatic than joyful. Enjoy.
     
  18. Landrum-
    "my profession has "everything to do with it" from my perspective"
    Your right, I apologize, I read your statement incorrectly. I still stand by my statement- it all has to do with sexuality- that is to say sex is the single greatest (most important) thing in our lives. It is what makes life. Just because sexuality is part of it, doesn't mean that sex isn't the over-riding statement in nudity and these photographs. We are animals after all and if we didn't have all this other stuff including your "morality" to get in the way, all humans would do is eat, poop and have sex- just like every other animal on earth.
     
  19. Gary, I do not worship these photographers. I use their photographs to make a point.
    Here is the core of your response just above:
    I greatly enjoy your comments. Chided or unchided, I hang with my original post. I find it incredulous that you post about photographing public nudity then post photographs to illustrate that have little or nothing to do with "public" beyond your own what you call your artistic imagination. I stick with fantasy. I am old enough to find it humorous when grown men attempt to intellectualize their adolescent responses to the naked female body.​
    Speak for yourself, Gary, and, if you want pictures that are actually of public nudity, Google (on-site) Kent Noble and get thyself to his photos of a Harley rally. You'll see plenty of public nudity, but no power and cetainly no glory, I fear.
    The point is about an IDEA, Gary, an idea. I'm sorry that you are having trouble grasping that.
    Now I am beginning to see why Fred has suddenly disappeared. This forum holds forth so much promise, but so rarely delivers. Professional photographers like Fred increasingly avoid it, and some have never come near it.
    I always do so with trepidation, and never more so than on a topic of such explosive potential. Still, I think that some persons will get the point, and so I thought that I would risk it. I'm still glad that I did.
    Next time you want to psychologize, however, may I suggest that you turn your lens inward. If you were taking this course for credit, you would get an "F" for failing to get beyond a string of ad hominem remarks.
    --Lannie
     
  20. Lannie--
    You're seeing much more in these particular photographers' works than I do.
    You mention the idea of public nudity and, with that, you have struck on something significant. For me, it's not about whether it was or was not really shot in public or whether these are actually documentations of public nudity (and I agree with you they are not). I execute and like posed shots as much as the next photographer. Before I read your thread here, I was considering posting my own about how and whether we use Illusion in our photographs. I believe Illusion can sometimes be used to express and convey deeper truths than can Accuracy.
    So, if the idea of public nudity is at play here, where does it come in? I think it comes in merely in the content, and not in the execution or the vision. What's happening here, in my opinion, is that we are seeing representations of public nudity and being stimulated to philosophical thoughts about public nudity, shame, power, glory, etc. What I would prefer is if I actually could see some of these things or feel them emanating from the photos rather than from our philosophically curious minds. I like the way you think and I beleive the subject/genre/content of these photos moved you to bring up some compelling issues. I don't experience those compelling issues dealt with in the photos you reference.
    That's why I brought up "curiosity." The nude on the train, to me, shows a curious juxtaposition. Something out of the ordinary. I don't find anything that shows me an intention to say something about power or glory. Like I say, it strikes me no differently from the numerous shots of smoking young men standing next to "no smoking" signs or old women walking below billboards showing beautiful younger women. These types of photos, for me, say nothing about the human condition and don't compel me to think beyond the surface of "cute." I see many "cute" or "strange" sights as I walk around San Francisco, believe me, probably more than in most other cities. I am only moved to photograph them when I feel something about the cuteness or strangeness is momentous or will somehow be transformed or transformative in the capture by the camera. Most of these shots seem more about the photographer having a keen eye for juxtapositions than the photographer expressing something deep. Even street shooting, to be interesting to me, needs to capture more than an incident. (Documentary may limit itself to that.) A good street shot needs to convey some sense of the significance of the shooter's perspective or, since some street shooter's prefer to leave their perspective out of it (which I respect), it should give me some context, some atmosphere, mood, transcendent aspect, something beyond just the idea.
    Now that we're back to idea, there are many stunning shots of sunsets and landscapes. And with any of them -- good, bad, or indifferent -- I could start a deep and serious philosophical discussion about man's relationship to Earth and natural occurrences. How do we stand in relationship to the universe? Are we central or peripheral? Just another member of the biotic community or the steward of the ship? I can use those photos as the stepping off point for such a brilliant discussion. But that doesn't mean ANY of it is in the photos themselves. ANY photo can start a great discussion. As a matter of fact, it's long been a pet peeve of mine that many critique pages here are filled with some great discussions that are sparked by a particular photo. Photos of holocaust memorials, for instance, often spark lengthy and insightful discussions about evil, humanity, history, etc. And there will always be someone who comes along and tells the photographer it must be a great photo to have sparked such discussion. I don't see it that way. A very mediocre and poorly executed photo can spark a great philosophical discussion or debate. And because we come away from a photo with some important and distinctive ideas, does not mean those ideas were actually dealt with by the photographer.
    I don't see John Peri's photos as toying with ideas and don't see him, with what he has given me in his photos, as connecting with his models. To be fair, he may very well be establishing amazing and deep connections with his models. Only he could tell us that and, though I haven't read his comments on his own work lately, I recall him talking about his respect and caring for them. None of that comes through to me in his photographs themselves. That's why accompanying words to photographs can often be a distraction. When I don't see something in a photo, it is usually the case that accompanying words describing what I don't see will sound even more hollow. Occasionally, an artist's statement will provide some key information that will make me look differently at a photo and that can be a great experience. I find John's work objective and distanced, considering he is dealing with such a human subject. I experience it as cold and calculated. Through what I see in the photographs themselves, I get no sense of connection either to his subjects myself or between him and his subjects. When I see a new one of his, I always recognize it as his because of its lack of actual vision, though they are often technically quite fine prints and show a real adeptness of craft. I don't get a difference in reading between his women and his wine glasses, shoes, stairs, rugs, or the rest of the decor in the photos.
    That being said, I recognize I am in the minority and he is a highly-praised and popular photographer here. As you said with our own philosophical musings, I think it's also the case that our critiques often say more about us than about the photographers we are critiquing.
    What I think is that you have picked photos in a genre that is likely to stir emotions, and that talk of mores, morality, shock, power, shame, release seems natural to the subject matter. The subject matter -- as Ton has mentioned, because of society's pre-disposal to deal with nudity and public nudity especially in bizarre and entrenched ways, is driving the train here -- not the photographers or their particular photographs.
     
  21. Martin, I think that you are dead wrong.
    --Lannie
     
  22. I like the way you think and I believe the subject/genre/content of these photos moved you to bring up some compelling issues. I don't experience those compelling issues dealt with in the photos you reference.​
    Thank you, Fred. You understand the question, which is gratifying. I admit that, had I had time, I surely could have come up with better photos, and indeed I remember some, but I don't remember who made them, nor know any quick way to find them.
    Perhaps those who do grasp the question--and the idea behind it--can come up with some examples that better convey the point. My original post was actually quite hurried, my long-winded way of saying things to the contrary notwithstanding.
    --Lannie
     
  23. gdw

    gdw

    Lannie, I apologize. I really meant to wrap it up with that last post but I just clicked on your link to "Hitchhiker." That is undoubtedly the most humorous illustration yet. There is no way you can argue that is anything other than a male's fantasy imposed on the body of a woman. For my literal reading: awkward (look at that right arm), uncomfortable (frowning face), appears to have puppet strings attached to each elbow (who is the puppeteer, yeah quite literally, she is a puppet). If you want something that says nude hitchhiker, for gosh sakes, at least put her on a well paved Farm to Market (you can do that without getting caught). I grew up in the country; weeks go by with no traffic on that there dirt road. It is a fantasy that she is hitchhiking. It's okay if you want to call it artistic imagination. Again, I stick with fantasy.
    And I have to ask a question. Why do naked women wear stilettos? Don't any naked women have flats or even go barefoot? Hey, flip-flops would protect the feet. Yeah, I know why. Because it gives their body a better, less dumpy, shape. And why? For the male. We are back to fantasy. If photographing nudes was as high minded as you seem to imply there would be a lot more photographs of dumpy naked women.
    Being country through and through, I do not feel naughty looking at pictures of naked people. I do not feel naughty being naked, did a lot of that in the country. Been photographed a lot by my wife doing that in a large number of state parks and even in one Houston city park. Would you like to see my wife's photographs of public nudity? Maybe you could use them to illustrate your point.
    And if you read this with a really cornpone country accent (think Andy Taylor) it really will make a lot of sense.
     
  24. Lannie-
    At least you're honest:) - and as a teacher, I think you had better find more suitable reference photography and be less hurried and more specific in your posts. Lead by example, right?
     
  25. If you want something that says nude hitchhiker, for gosh sakes, at least put her on a well paved Farm to Market (you can do that without getting caught). I grew up in the country; weeks go by with no traffic on that there dirt road. It is a fantasy that she is hitchhiking. It's okay if you want to call it artistic imagination. Again, I stick with fantasy.​
    Well, Gary, you left me laughing on this one.
    In addition, as one who never liked nudes in heels, I can see that we are on the same page after all. If you're going to shoot them naked, well, shoot them naked, I say.
    Fantasy it is, then. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  26. [A]s a teacher, I think you had better find more suitable reference photography and be less hurried and more specific in your posts. Lead by example, right?​
    You're dead on, Martin. It's sloppy, hurried work (if work it be). In addition, there are those who think that I should not be looking at nudes in the first place. Bad example, and all that. . . .
    We actually are what you say--but a little more: we think about it more.
    --Lannie
     
  27. And the dancer photographed on white seamless hardly questions [social] mores unless you are particularly fascinated with pubic hair.​
    I love it, Gary. In fact, I think that we need to form a new society, or at least get rich off a new bumper sticker: SAVE THE PUBIC HAIR.
    Ask Forrest Gump. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  28. While we are on the subject, Gary, I think that that little black triangle has its uses, as if it were a signpost planted there by God himself (herself?) pointing downward as if to say, "Down here, fool. HERE!"
    On this hangs the future of the human race.
    God must be a photographer. The leading lines are just too good in that part of the world.
    --Lannie
     
  29. I find a big ol' erection a lot more leading than a patch of pubic hair, but that's just me :)
    An interesting philosophical/sociological question would be why it's a room full of men talking about nudes of women. Why were no nudes of men singled out, especially given that we were meant to be discussing more than sex? And why are no women participating? (Although, to be fair, few women participate in the Philosophy discussions ever.)
    Here's my personal take on what would motivate me to shoot public nudity, because I've done it and thought about it.
    I have a couple of pics of a female protester on Haight Street, topless, holding signs about saving trees and doing cartwheels with a policeman writing her out a ticket and a crowd forming. The nudity seemed so second-nature and non-threatening, no one seemed to be in titillation mode. It seemed political and innocent. I just never felt I got a decent shot of it, though any I would have posted would have been "ironic" and cute, just not very good photographs.
    I have one in my portfolio of a middle-aged guy in kind of a classic pose on a staircase in a pretty public place, but it's by a beach so it was relatively unthreatening. I was doing a portrait and found a good environment. I did it more as a nude study and not with a whole lot of intention at the time as to what the result would be. I certainly was not trying to make a statement about public nudity, nor did anyone actually read it that way. Most saw it for what it was, a male nude on a staircase.
    I have talked about doing more blatant publicly nude shots. I talked about it with exhibitionists. And I have a voyeur streak in me that I am often exploring with my photographs. I have not done this type of photo yet because the right situation hasn't yet presented itself and I haven't yet been moved to make it happen. When I do, I will gladly admit to the titillation factor that will be involved. How heterosexual men will respond to that, I don't know, but the fact that I will hope to be as genuine as possible about the voyeurism/titillation factor for me and for the subject should hopefully translate significantly to any viewer, whether attracted to men sexually or not. One can recognize titillation and voyeurism without being titillated or turned on by voyeuristic situations.
    I think I get into trouble when I head out with the intention of making a philosophical statement, pushing a certain button, with the overt intention of being "edgy," etc. I'm better if I just feel my way as I go and am genuine with what I am doing. That doesn't always mean natural. I can be very artificial. As I said, I can create illusions and set up poses and situations, but they are usually genuinely felt, at least those that result in good photos are. I am a philosopher by nature, so I tend to approach the world as one. That naturally informs my photographing. It's kind of in the background just like being gay is regarding many of my photos. Just like my liberal politics likely inform how I approach the world, nudity and sex in particular.
    I think titillation with nudity is fine, if it's recognized and played with (no pun intended). It's when the audience is titillated and the photographer didn't know or didn't admit he was titillating that a problem of authenticity and intention ensues. It can be acknowledged, it can be harnessed, it can even be denied by doing a photo that somehow throws the titillation up in our face. But if it's just titillation, plain and simple, I'd rather watch porn than seek it out in the dark late-night hours of the nudes section of PN.
    I think shocking with nudity is also fine, but rarely done well. Just like I think sunsets are rarely done well.
    Nudity is a hot button. And when hot buttons are used because they are hot buttons it is sometimes hard to express something genuine, because the hot button is being relied on to do the expressing. When the genre is used personally and expressively, it is a whole other story.
     
  30. The most obvious / strong example of public nudity, meaning both women and man, is of course Spencer Tunick. I think his photographs transcend ' the nude ', and are more about identity and the loss of it than anything else....just like some pretty sunset shots can transcend the notion of ' a pretty sunset '.
    I think one of the most transcendent and strong female nude photography was done by what most would consider a great landscape photographer : Edward Weston. His nudes where fragile yet unbreakable. There was a man who actually understood ( wanted to understand ) the subjects he photographed, but first like a photographer and only secondly as a man. A quality I don't sense in any of the photography in the links provided in the original post.
     
  31. I'm glad I responded to your original question in the beginning, Lannie, because the discussion is way out of my league now.

    You guys are all old enough to remember the Maidenform Bra campaign that featured a woman in public in her bra. The tagline was "I dreamed I was [doing this or that just like I would everyday but in my dream I was] in my maidenform bra". There aren't that many examples online, but here are a couple.

    http://www.divinecaroline.com/article/22262/38533

    That campaign lasted 50 years, I read, which is a long time to drive an advertisement. I think they tapped into what we're talking about. A female acquaintance once commented about the ads, stating how the ads appealed to a fantasy of hers to be open and free.

    I'm pretty sure, if it weren't illegal to make photos of nudes in public places, there would be more of them. If it were legalized today, I'd be out shooting one tomorrow, or as soon as I could book someone willing to do it, money notwithstanding. I think there are plenty of people, male and female, photographers and models, who would be willing to orchestrate a carefully planned 10 second full nudity shot in a public place if there were little to no risk of being arrested.

    Isn't there an internationally known artist who stages mass gatherings of nudes? Like hundreds of people, all nude, and in a large public place; he makes the photo and then every one scrambles for their clothes and scampers off?

    Perhaps speaking for myself, part of the "shame" I refer to is more a realization that my body was abundantly more beautiful at a younger age; and so it wouldn't be inaccurate to say that I, as one example, cover myself not so much out of a shame derived from religion, or culture, but simply out of comparison.

    Was it Martin, who mentioned, if I may paraphrase, that sex is behind it our fascination? I think there's a point there, but I don't take the comment to mean sexual activity, or what we might think of as "horniness", but rather to mean that many of our interests are motivated by subconscious preferences based on procreational behavior, such as preferring attractive nudes over farm tractors since we are biologically predisposed to do so because we can't reproduce with farm tractors, no matter how hard we may try.
     
  32. Spencer Tunik. That's the one. I was composing my comment while Phylo was posting it.
     
  33. If my subconscious preferences are based on procreational behavior, both me and the human race are in trouble. But I vow to keep trying to reproduce with other men instead of farm tractors until I get it right :)
     
  34. I'm sure there's a woman out there who can make you straight, Fred! :-D
    I would imagine, though, that you would prefer nudes of lithe young, rather than wrinkled old, but I am an amateur in this area, and am only babbling what I remember from various discovery channel specials.
     
  35. gdw

    gdw

    Fred, having been raised in the country I can assure you that is a good choice.
    Lannie, I appreciate your candor and do hope that although we seem somewhat apart in our thinking on this issue that we can remain respectfully disagreeable. You are absolutely correct. I am a very literal person. I desire to see the world simply without subterfuge. Just take it as it is. I remake the world enough in my photography. All photographers snap into reality their on flat little worlds. I think that is why we do it.
    I do not address nudes often. The last nude photography I was involved with, I was the nude. Never the less I would love to shoot nudes, both male and female because I feel that the human body is so totally beautiful in not only appearance but also in form and function. I don't for a few very simple reasons. I do not know that I have anything new or unique to say, I would only ape what has gone before or fall prey to the pull of sexuality. The world doesn’t need any more of that, it's well supplied.
    One poster mentioned the Weston nudes. Weston had the ability to step away from the adolescent in us all (and believe me Weston was adolescent when it came to women) and capture the image as pure beauty of form often relating the nude to other beautiful forms. After better than a half century of looking at photographs of nudes I believe that there are very, very few men, or women, that can do that.
    I am not saying that there is anything wrong with being adolescent when it comes to nudes. It is simply our innate nature and a very necessary part of our nature. What bothers me personally about the vast majority of nudes is that they are too often simply creations of our baser side. As I have called it before, a man's fantasy written on the body of a woman. To a significant degree it saddens me because they are so often disrespectful of womanhood. I am also saddened that so many women feel compelled to join in and become what I before called puppets in the game.
    I am always thrilled when I come across a nude on the forum that breaks that mold. Frankly I enjoy the postings of male nudes more frequently for a number of reasons; they are rare, they have not been as over exposed (no pun intended) and truthfully I can relate to the subject because I share at least some of the same nature with the subject. I have been nude in a variety of circumstances. It also gets past the titillation factor, not eliminates, but gets past it.
    A very long time ago, probably sixties but most likely fifties, I came across a photograph in one of the monthly photo mags that fascinates me to this day. And I believe to a great degree it has much of what you are talking about. It was a photograph of a young black man, twenties, good average build. He was walking down a public street, it seems like in Washington DC, that as I recall had a park like background at least park benches lining the sidewalk. He was totally nude (no stilettos). His trousers were neatly draped over one arm like a waiters towel and he was walking very confidently, seemingly with purpose, toward the camera and was just about to pass by the camera at the time of exposure. The positioning of the trousers at the time of exposure obscured his private area but it was clear that was not the view that those around him received. Also on the street were a number of well dressed business men and two or three matronly ladies. He did not strike me as vulnerable but rather confident, assured, at total peace with the world. There was no sense of swagger or intended shock factor, just simply walking down the street as you or I would do but undressed. It was as if he had just arrived from some place in Africa where nudity was a way of life. However, the photograph was not any more about the young man than it was about the reactions of those around him. The reactions were surprisingly very mild, no one covering their eyes, no one in great shock, although no one was missing a peek. Most seemed willing to accept the young man and let him go on his way. Needless to say it was an extremely fascinating photographic capture. That is an example of a photograph of a nude in public that I can enjoy. It was truth, not fantasy, not made up or fabricated, and you knew it from the photograph.
    I have seen similar photographs of both men and women, especially during the most interesting seventies when I was gallivanting about sans skivvies but none has had the strength of the young man and his trousers. And I do not believe that anyone, man or woman, would have seen that photograph as titillating because it was so much more, a much stronger image than if it had been about titillation.
    There is a parade some place in the Seattle area that the participants bike nude through the center of town. That is fascinating. Men, women, young, old with their naked bodies painted, all casually commingling with the dressed. I don't know that I have ever seen a really fascinating photograph of the event, but still, it seems to hold much possibility. I am personally with the poster that suggested he does not appear nude in public out of respect not shame. At seventy, I get his point.
     
  36. LOL, well, whatever wets yer breezy "philosophical" weasel, eh...? :)
     
  37. Doug--
    "I'm sure there's a woman out there who can make you straight, Fred! :-D"
    You don't know the half of it!
    "I would imagine, though, that you would prefer nudes of lithe young, rather than wrinkled old,"
    Check out my portfolio sometime. You may be surprised. Which is not to say that when I flip through GQ I don't stop to appreciate what's offered and when I look at porn on the internet, I don't appreciate the bodies of younger men than myself.
     
  38. Can there be a perl of blessing in residues of sin ?
    The ansver, off caurse, is yes. Where else would buger hide it ?
    But how about common folly in this case?
     
  39. Well, now you guys are opening up as I had hoped you would. I never presumed that my opinions or my examples should drive the discussion--or would for very long. I especially appreciate those of you, such as Gary, who pour out their hearts and souls in surprising ways.
    Yes, Doug, I remember Maidenform ads, although I am not sure that I ever saw one of their products "in use," shall we say.
    As for cultural differences between the U.S. and other places, consider this one by Jana Vanourkova. There's power in this one for me--and I'm straight. That is one reason that I know that my own fascination with the topic is not merely sexual:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/4644505
    Another one that I find powerful for very different reasons is indeed a very revealing shot of a woman. Even here, there is something besides mere lust that drives me to want to see this photo over and over. I personally think that it has something to do with her apparent sense of being comfortable with her body, even as she is not in a comfortable pose. Be advised that some would consider this one to be graphic at the size shown below, but to me she is as pure as the driven snow--and I likewise feel pure when viewing it, regardless of what others might think about my motives:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/6448493&size=lg
    Indeed, it is this sense of purity in such a pose that is part of the "power and glory" of the public nude, even if this one, too, was not shot in public.
    Jana's photo, by comparison, is very public indeed, but it, too, seems to have a sense of innocence, not only on her part, but on the part of the persons captured (not models: her shot was a candid).
    I also think that part of the "power and glory" is the sense that we are indeed in search of lost innocence, and I also believe that we are often shocked that we find it in places (or in photos) where we least expect it.
    We grow tired of hypocrisy. The simple but revealing nude is many things, but it is never, ever a manifestation of hypocrisy, in my opinion.
    --Lannie
     
  40. I think we are better off assuming in this joint nobody is innocent.
     
  41. Doug, I skimmed across the entire thread so quickly when I came back to it that I did not click on the link you provided. I remembered the Maidenform ads in general and so thought that I remembered the specifics of them. Imagine my shock upon seeing them again. Let me post your link again in case anyone else missed it:
    http://www.divinecaroline.com/article/22262/38533
    The ads in the link are wonderful in their own way. On the one hand, they are the ultimate manifestation of that archetypical canard of cynicism: sex sells. On the other hand, they are really quite beautiful and probably capture the female imagination as strongly as they do the male imagination, albeit in different ways.
    In any case, they are loaded with deep Freudian implications, no doubt, and I am astonished in retrospect that a country as conservative as this would have let the FCC approve such ads. No, the bras were not skimpy and thus did not show much skin, but they raised a lot of interesting and provocative--even suggestive--questions, especially for the time.
    I will say this to all the cynics who think that testosterone drives all such inquiries as this: why are we working so hard on this when we could be at ATK Hairy (or Oriental, or whatever) actually looking at bodies, without having to work so hard? There are power and glory not merely in the public qua innocent nude, but also in the philosophical questions that inevitably emerge when we start thinking seriously about the source of both our hangups and our ideals on such matters.
    These are powerfully motivating issues, that is, or else we should not, would not agonize over them so much. We would just look at pictures, or find ourselves a real, live partner and get on with it. With Youporn.com just a few clicks away, who needs all this? The answer, I think, is that we all do. We are both blessed and cursed as human beings with reflexive rationality. We reflect, and see ourselves from outside, as it were. We are self-conscious. We are not like dogs coupling in the street. We ask ourselves whether we ought to want what we want. We are, as someone has said, "the only animal to have desires about desires." We have the capacity for self-restraint, are not mere creatures of instinct, and we usually do restrain ourselves pretty well, within reason. When we do not, we are not pleased with ourselves.
    Ultimately, I think that we seek the divine in sexuality, whether it can be found there or not, and I personally think that it can--but it cannot be found in the cheaper manifestations of eroticism and lust. What we seek is meaning, both in relationships and in habits that define our character, not to mention in answers to questions such as those raised here--questions that go way beyond my own initial question. We want answers, but we are still not sure what the questions are. We are confused, and yet we are still seek purpose and meaning in all things that we do. We are a mess as a race, the human race, but we are also aspiring to be better than we are. We are puzzles, even to ourselves.
    On a lighter note (but sometimes still, oh, so profound), here are the nudes of Robert McCall. Few if any are public, but one cannot but view them and read his comments without gaining some insights on the questions at hand:
    http://www.entrenousphoto.com/galleryindex.html
    This to me is a great thread, thanks to the contributors. I'm glad that I started it, although I shall not have the last word on a single topic in it.
    --Lannie
     
  42. I think we are better off assuming in this joint nobody is innocent.​
    Of course we are not innocent, Ilia. We seek lost innocence. We have got to get ourselves back to the Garden, or so "Woodstock" (the song) told us. I believe it, but I doubt that we shall find it in the rain and mud..
    --Lannie
     
  43. The public aspect of my nude work, where it is significant to the piece, is about freedom. Sometimes the public aspect is irrelevant, such as in my cemetery nudes, which are intended as affirmations of life. My work is not intended to be sexual. Rather, expressing the freedom to be nude is a challenge to what i perceive as a fundamental perversion of values in our society wherein images of violence are glorified and tolerated and available to children virtually without restriction whereas public nudity is shunned and vilified. It is a prudish and adolescent mind which cannot separate nudity from sexuality, and it is this mindset which is responsible for the taboo against public nudity, at least in the united states. i seek to challenge this mindset in those of my images where the public aspect of the nude is prominent.
     
  44. God bless you for showing up, Brian! I invited John Peri, Beepy, and Jim Phelps, too, but so far you are the first to come and explain your photos--and your quest, which is a quest worthy of Jason and the Argonauts, a true odyssey into psychological space.
    --Lannie
     
  45. ¨We seek lost innocence. ¨
    Fundamentally disagree with this suggestion. People dont seek innocence but satisfaction of their desires in all perversity they can master until they realise this way does not lead anywhere ultimatelly.
    The freedom word sounds nice but wouldnt it be better to use word liberation instead -question mark.
     
  46. "We seek lost innocence."

    Fundamentally disagree with this suggestion. People dont seek innocence but satisfaction of their desires in all perversity they can master until they realise this way does not lead anywhere ultimatelly.​
    At which point they/we do what, Ilia, if not seek the "restoration of their souls," "turning over a new leaf," or some other conception of what if not the quest for the fresh start--pure once again?
    Man, you are the cynic tonight.
    --Lannie
     
  47. jtk

    jtk

    IMO there's little weight to this discussion. Its main relevance is to a chasing-the-tail, intentionally self-deceptive game... the anthethis of the aspirations of most photographers...who do seem (IMO) to be interested more in awareness than in theological limitation.
    Ilia brought a breath of fresh air...relief, honesty, not cynicism.
     
  48. Good question, Landrum. Leave it to your meditations.
    1. restoration of souls questionably imply there are souls
    2. `turning over a new leaf` is a metaphor I suppose
    3. from the comforts of self indulgence simple true have got to be seen as something else
     
  49. sorry, gotta think more about what I was going to say, if anything.
     
  50. It is a prudish and adolescent mind which cannot separate nudity from sexuality, and it is this mindset which is responsible for the taboo against public nudity, at least in the united states. i seek to challenge this mindset in those of my images where the public aspect of the nude is prominent.​
    Well said, Brian. Although I have dabbled here in the theological implications of all this (obviously not too effectively in terms of the responses I have received--or failed to), there is that other issue of social order, rules, and taboos, which you claim (and I believe) to be your real purpose.
    I have long thought that the public nude was less about sexuality and titillation and more about an affirmation of freedom, not only moral freedom but political freedom. Some might see that as hypocritical or self-deceptive. I do not. In other words, I see the public nude as fundamentally a challenge to an oppressive and authoritarian moral and legal order, such as we have in the United States where issues of nudity are concerned. The most oppressive social orders--those of Hitler, Franco and Stalin--have invariably tried to enforce a puritanical code, and by the most brutal means, and (as in Franco's case) often by invoking religious authority as an ally in the struggle. Such regimes are also typically the most blatantly homophobic in the worst sense: Franco's pogrom against gay intellectuals (the death of Garcia Lorca being the most widely publicized, but only the tip of a very large iceberg of cold repression), on the one hand, and Hitler's classification of gays as one of the groups that must be wiped out in order for the "master race" to come to its ascendancy.
    Regardless of who is doing the challenge, or the style of their photography, I think that it is a worthy challenge. John Peri's playfulness takes a lot of hits, but there is more profundity in his play than in most pixel-peeping or serious navel gazing. In some ways, I like his "out-takes" better than his "regular" photography that he has traditionally put up for critique--and perhaps his own unique brand of "street photography" best of all:
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=671614
    Then there is Pat Thielen's work, which moves seamlessly between nature and at least the outskirts of civilization, what he calls the "urban environment," but which in fact is merely the periphery of such civilization, not unlike Brian's shots of rail yards and cemeteries:
    http://www.axolotyl-studios.com/figure_in_the_urbanized_landscap.html
    There is indeed a serious anti-authoritarian component and challenge to all this, whether done playfully (Peri) or more self-consciously seriously (Thielen). As a political theorist I find this challenge to authoritarianism very important. My guess is that the internet will likely bring it down in the United States. Whether it will also simply lower our standards in the process is another question, but one's standards are for oneself to maintain, in any case--not for society or its laws and mores.
    --Lannie
    (card-carrying member of the ACLU)
     
  51. Is this play or a serious challenge to the social order?
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8582182
    Well, it is, in my opinion, arguably both, regardless of what might or might not have been John's motives for doing it.
    --Lannie
     
  52. Whether this one by Robert McCall is a "public nude" is debatable, but the criticism of a rather elaborate social ritual is obvious enough:
    http://www.entrenousphoto.com/theimportanceofetiquette.html
    What I also like about this one is its critique of a relic of undue deference to authority: curtsying to the queen, for example.
    (The Free Online Dictionary defines curtsying as "a woman's formal gesture of respect made by bending the knees and bowing the head." Ughh!!)
    --Lannie
     
  53. Lannie: thank you for taking the time to give thoughtful consideration to this topic.
     
  54. Thank you for inspiring me to try, Brian.
     
  55. Lately, I've been lurking on this forum, but feel compelled to break through the thinning ice and get in trouble on this one.
    Ilia, Gary and Fred, I find myself mostly in agreement with you.
    Wow, 23 out of 52 responses in this thread are by the OP.
    The nude, unlike a lot of other subjects, except maybe food photography, (and some Maslovian needs) affects the viewer's autonomic response system. The "public nude" (and, yes, some of LK's examples weren't public except in his fantasies) has to do with recontextualization. It's like Rousseau's red couch, out of a living room or an office. The public nude breaks out of the indoors, which since the Abrahamic religions has been the feminine domain and enters the male-controlled exterior. Any energy there issues from the fusion of disparate subjects/context, and the implicit disruption of the theo- & socio-logical orders. The nude human form in the dystopiary of sterile, brutally functional, industrial, cosmopolitan and urban settings remind us of, as Robert Adams calls it, what we bought. Artistically, it is close to clubbing baby seals, or showing yet another ominous smokestack clouding an idyllic landscape.
     
  56. What's this? A literate critique?! I'm honored, Luis, by your criticism, harsh though it may be.
    Artistically, it is close to clubbing baby seals, or showing yet another ominous smokestack clouding an idyllic landscape.​
    I prefer the metaphor of daisies growing out of cracks in the sidewalk, Luis. Yet, if I had not to deal with metaphors, I would prefer to put the nude literally back in the jungle, where fantasies (both Rousseau's and mine) are rightly called "dreams."
    Since going back to the jungle qua Garden is not an option, however, I think that we shall have to bring the female nude out of the patriarchal tutelage of the legacy of Abraham, and she may dress as she wishes, or not all, as she pleases--wherever she damn well pleases.
    It was that cloistered interior that was male-created and male-dominated, Luis. It is not pretty on the outside, in post-industrial society, but one may at least try to survive in the interstices, whether one be male or female.
    As for the frequency of posts, yes, it is a bit like defending a thesis before a committee. The trick is to keep moving when the cheap shot comes--but to manage to get it said (whatever it is) rather than to try to refute one's detractors and thereby lose one's focus.
    --Lannie
     
  57. "It is a prudish and adolescent mind which cannot separate nudity from sexuality"
    I think there is a lot of prudishness and adolescence in the way many of us relate to and treat both nudity and sexuality. But there is a relationship between nudity and sexuality that is worth not trying to deny. Which doesn't mean anyone is bound to explore it in photos but also doesn't mean that relationship can't be genuinely dealt with in photos. I usually have sex in the nude (though not always) and so it seems reasonable to me that I would feel an intimate relationship between the two. And that fact doesn't mean I have to be either prudish or adolescent about that relationship. I freely admit to times of falling prey to the latter, rarely the former. There is not a causal relationship between nudity and sex though sometimes, honestly, there seems to be. I'm neither afraid of admitting that nor would I be afraid of exposing it (this time, pun intended) photographically.
    I think nudes can be studies of form, studies of beauty, transcendently expressed, or quite down to Earth. For me, nudity is not pure. I'm not sure anything is. So I'm not invested in separating it from its physical, cultural, sexual, and even spiritual aspects. One photographer may choose to explore one aspect while another explores something else. For me, the measure of the photograph is what it shows me in addition to being merely a nude, public or private.
    The fact of its being a public nude, in itself, is of consequence much the same way a war photo tends to have a certain type of effect. But what I lay at the doorstep of the photographer is not so much about the subject he chooses but about the way he handles and presents that subject. I continue to think there's been some conflation of what the photographer offers in these shots and what the combination of subject matter and philosophical minds offers to these shots.
     
  58. A CLARIFICATION
    I did not, of course, offer a thesis at the outset of this thread. I asked a question:
    How does one explain the power of what I can only call the "public nude"?
    If I were to offer a thesis by way of trying to answer the question, however, it would also be similar to the statements that I made at the outset, that the public nude does not derive its power from traditional aesthetic considerations, but from its challenge to the public order. The public nude, that is, a challenge to the social mores and even the political order of society--the power structure of society.
    It is quite obvious from the responses received so far, however, that many persons do not feel the power of the public nude, or, if they do, they experience or interpret that power in negative terms-- as something perverse, or as something which brings out something in us that is perverse or dangerous. For all I know they might be correct. The question as I offered it is ultimately a psychological one, and I have no special credentials or insights for trying to answer it.
    Since I cannot answer my own question and have no basis for offering a firm thesis that I can defend, I am now going to back off and see if anyone can or will take the struggle from here. If not, then the thread can finally die. It was on life support from the beginning anyway.
    --Lannie
    P.S.: I cross-threaded you on my response, Fred, but I will let it go, except to say that your claim that "nudity is not pure" goes to the heart of the even more fundamental question of the morality of nudity in general in social situations (including artistic portrayals). The question remains: is it somehow impure? I will leave the question for others to answer. I finally have to concede that I know nothing.
     
  59. Lannie--
    It is impure, for me, in the sense that it cannot be essentialized to the exclusion of its attending associations, contexts, and cultural understandings. It is not impure, for me, in a judgmental sense.
     
  60. Nowt wrong with a bit of muff'n'stuff, obviously, but with female nudie pics I'm firmly in the "no sphincter, no cigar" camp... Doesn't really matter about the background scenery, TBH. Tennis courts, poolside recliners, sandy beaches, pool tables, office desks...? Not important... Just show me the ringpiece...
     
  61. The question posed, "why are these images so powerful", seems to be a strong function of location. In places where nudity is more accepted, like Europe, the images are not nearly as powerful as they are in the Southeastern United States.
    In places like Europe, the images have very little "shock appeal" and therefore must be evaluated on either their erotic or artistic merits. In the southeastern United States, particularly in the rural areas, the "public nude" has a great deal of "shock appeal". This causes both the erotic and artistic merits to be "glossed over". It is safe to say that the higher the "shock appeal", the more the image challenges the local social norms. This is probably strongly correlated with the overall attitude to both nudity and sex.
    On a different level, it is interesting to look at the "public nude" from the model’s perspective. Most, if not all, of the nude models I have worked with have posed nude in "public". This ranges from highly organized group figure shoots held at national forests in California to walking nude through a local supermarket. Both are obvious displays of exhibitionism. From both the photographer’s and the model’s perspective, in these situations, she is the center of attention, where she and she alone, is the most beautiful object in the "room".
    Regarding the comment on vulnerability, the models I have worked with never seem vulnerable to me. I do make every effort not to put them in a position of vulnerability, because I want more of a strong athletic, aesthetic look (i.e. like an Amazon)
    On a more artistic note, while the "public nude" is an extremely narrative topic, it normally has a significant amount of visual tension because the surroundings are so important to the narrative. This is particularly true when other people are shown in the image. The facial expressions of these other people almost always draw the viewer’s eye. This tends to make for an interesting image.
    In summary, the underlying reaction to the "public nude" is probably the result of women being fundamentally exhibitionist and men being fundamentally voyeurs. The reaction is amplified by the local social norms, which range from mild (in Europe and parts of Asia) to very strong (in the Southeastern United States).
    my 2 cents worth
     
  62. Jim--
    Considerations of cultural context and photographic environment (as you say, "surroundings") seem so relevant here. It's why unqualified or objective statements about so many of these matters don't often hold true.
    I'd love to hear from some models, who might pick up on your points from the model's perspective, because that has been lacking, though I'm not sure just how much it would inform the photograph itself and how the photograph is perceived by the viewer.
    As far as . . .
    "women being fundamentally exhibitionist and men being fundamentally voyeurs"
    . . . can you cite research, studies, or data supporting such a claim?
     
  63. [LK] "I prefer the metaphor of daisies growing out of cracks in the sidewalk, Luis."
    Lannie, I'm not going to use the word "crack" when discussing nudes. :)
    Fred, there's reams of papers, books, etc on the subject of the Male Gaze, relational asymmetries, dominance, objectification, depersonalization, etc., in feminist literature. This comment by Jim is almost a textbook example: "... is the most beautiful object in the "room". Not person, woman, but "object". That means he's comparing her to decorative displays, vegetables, and other objects (women). Look up Laura Mulvey, Berger, Haskell, Rosen and others from second wave feminism.
     
  64. This comment by Jim is almost a textbook example: "... is the most beautiful object in the "room". Not person, woman, but "object". That means he's comparing her to decorative displays, vegetables, and other objects (women).​
    Well, Luis, as Jim's defense attorney, I have to say that I was wondering when the old hackneyed objectification objection was going to raise its head--and here it is coming from you.
    John Peri warned me that it would be coming--just this morning--and pointed out that it was precisely because of claims like that that he would just as soon rather have some fun doing something, almost anything, else besides putting in an appearance on this thread.
    From where I sit, I see women very often enjoying being looked at. As my own friend says, rather modestly, "If you're a woman, you get used to being looked at."
    Getting used to it is one thing. Liking it is quite another, but take a look at this one, for example--especially that last (sixth) frame:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8947039&size=lg
    Nor does it appear to me that John has to kidnap them or bribe them to come up to his place to take their clothes off. I'm not blaming them. It's in their nature. The harder task for John, I think, would be keeping them clothed. I suspect that the same is true for Jim. As a professor, I have seen glitter-covered panties beaming at me from the back row of the class room--when I was sixty years of age. Sometimes white just isn't bright enough.
    I'm sorry, guys, but men don't do things like that, and we wouldn't even if we wore skirts and panties. We keep trying to tell you, but you don't listen: they are different from us, really, really different!
    The defense rests.
    --Lannie
     
  65. When I use the word "object" I mean an "art object", like a painting or a sculpture, an object of beauty that brings the viewer pleasure. In these circumstances, both the model and the photographer are attempting to create something of beauty.
    This has been going on in the art world for hundreds of years, see for example, Goya's "La Maja Desnuda". The "public nude" concept is also very present in the art world, see for example, works by Botticelli (any one of the versions of Venus), or Raphael ("Three Graces" for instance).
    The major difference today is that a camera (digital or film) can be used to record the image. This allows much less post idealization of the model than does painting or sculpture. Therefore, it is much more important how the model actually looks and how she poses. The model's feeling about herself is ALWAYS reflected in the pose. That is why it is so important for her to know she IS the most beautiful object of art in the "room".
     
  66. Lannie, please don't fulfill your cliche'd expectations at my expense. I did _not_ raise the "object" thing. Jim did. I simply quoted him. He needs no defense, because he is not under attack, at least not by me, and not from his own perceptions. If he wants to refer to his models as "objects", that's his prerogative, and it is an undeniable fact that he did.
    No one but you mentioned anything about the motivation of his models. Why did you feel compelled to inform us that Jim's models are doing what they do of their own free will?
    Those Humbert Humbert fantasies of glitter-pantied Dolores Haze clones that you sincerely believe are putting on a show just for you are slightly more interesting.
    Ps. Most of us realized the difference between men and women long ago, but thanks for the reminder (?).
     
  67. "men don't do things like that"
    Hold the phone. Come on, Lannie. Really? Can you allow for the possibility that you're just not predisposed to noticing all the young guys sitting next to the glitter-covered panty-wearing young women whose Calvin Klein or 2(x)1st briefs are exposed because their pants are halfway down their behinds? And I guess you've never read the news items about men exposing themselves to women and children in the park. You've obviously never been to Castro Street or Christopher Street or a Gay Pride Parade with millions of men showing bulges in their crotches that would stop a clock. How 'bout one of the muscle beaches in Los Angeles? And I'm pretty sure you've never placed an ad on craigslist for nude male models and had married heterosexual guys come to your studio, titillated by the thought of showing off for the camera and of doing it behind their wife's back. You've also never met a guy who wears a skirt or panties. Lannie, you gotta get out more!
     
  68. Those Humbert Humbert fantasies of glitter-pantied Dolores Haze clones that you sincerely believe are putting on a show just for you are slightly more interesting. --Luis G.​
    Sonny, I know when I am being flashed. I can read eyes--and much else, and have had to as a mode of survival since I started university teaching in 1974.
    Now you have impugned my integrity as well as Jim's. Is there no end to the viciousness that parades as "philosophy" on this forum?
    I cannot say that I was not warned. When you guys run out of rational argument, you resort to ad hominem attacks. It is the only style of "argumentation" that you know.
    There is no philosophy here. I'm outta here.
    --Lannie
     
  69. "men don't do things like that" --Fred Goldsmith​
    Fred, I was partly joking, but only partly, when I said that. I do think that there is some truth to what Jim says about the differing proclivities of men and women. Sure, members of both sexes like to look as well as to be seen, but, in a reversal of the roles of birds (where the females respond more obviously to bright visual cues), in human beings there is much more of a tendency for men to watch, and more blatantly. There is no song called "Music to Watch Guys Go By," no powder room for guys, no purses full of cosmetics and accessories, etc. Women do not have the wolf whistle or stand around saying "Guapo, guapo, guapo" (Spanish, of course: the male "call" to the female is "guapa," of course).
    These things are so obvious that I cannot believe that you guys want to parrot the worst feminist cant (and there is some good feminist literature, but you guys seek out the worst).
    This has all been very educational. Now I know where not to go when on the site.
    --Lannie
     
  70. Lannie--
    Most of the examples you've given are of men wanting to look. I never questioned that. But men wanting to look doesn't translate to women wanting to be watched, except in the minds of some guys who will project their proclivities and assume their prey is as game to receive as they are to give. Again, sure there are women who want to be seen. But I really think you are not attending to changing styles and mores regarding men. Men are going to the gym in droves, frequenting fancy hair salons, getting manicures, shaving their pubes. The men's cosmetics and accessories industry has been sky rocketing. Women do not generally have the wolf whistle but that doesn't mean men aren't more and more trying to make themselves the bait.
     
  71. I still submit to you, Fred, that it is a matter of degree, and there is a distinct difference--and always has been.
    Women really are very different in more than the obvious externalities. They really, really are quite different creatures.
    --Lannie
     
  72. I hope I've never given you the impression that I don't think women and men are quite different. Indeed, in many, many ways they are. But what's that got to do with the stereotypes that keep being asserted? I mean no one has responded to one of the many examples I've given where men are as interested if not more interested in asserting their physicality and exhibiting themselves. I seriously think that you are a man and you are only noticing women because that's what you do. There are men all around you coiffing and buffing up, primping, and exposing more and more and you're simply not interested in noticing. Which is fine. I wouldn't expect you to in a physical way. But, intellectually, I would expect at least some acknowledgment that a lot is going on that you are simply not tuned into. That's one of the differences. Most men are hard pressed to acknowledge the sexuality and physical presence of other men for fear of being accused, god forbid, of being gay. On the other hand, women will often recognize the beauty and sexuality of other women because they're not nearly as hung up as we guys are.
     
  73. Lannie--
    One more thing. I know you've noticed what happens on these threads. But I've noticed something else. When two people, like Luis and I, are putting forth somewhat similar but really quite different arguments, we get lumped together and our arguments conflated. It's natural but it bugs me. I've read plenty of feminist literature, having specialized for several years in ecofeminist and medical ethics. I have purposely not referenced any of that literature and have not even commented on Luis's mention of some authors. Yet you've referred to "you guys" when talking about the feminist literature we've sought out. I have enough trouble articulating my own points, please don't lay others' arguments at my door step.
     
  74. I also hope that I have not given the impression that I think that women are in any way inferior. Indeed, if anything, I think that they are better than we are.
    I have noticed many of the things that you point out, but I also notice a difference in the way the "looking" ritual plays out. Women look but typically do not want to be caught looking. In addition, half of the time, when they are looking, they are looking to see if they are being looked at. There is a subtle dynamic at work here, one that accounts for the fact that most nudes are also posted by men. I also notice the social changes to which you refer, of course. Even so, in spite of some degree of convergence, I seriously doubt that we shall ever approach each other too closely with regard to the social dynamic of courtship and mating--and that is what all of this looking is about, after all. Sure, women size us up constantly, but they are much more sensitive, I believe, to how we are responding to their efforts to make themselves beautiful. When women work out,they want to be more beautiful. When men work out, it is as often as not to engage in some infantile power fantasy--very much a part of the typical male psyche, I am afraid. We might not be too far apart on our views, Fred, but, again, the differences, although matters of degree, are more substantial than you acknowledge, in my opinion.
    I will post once more the sequence by John Peri that I posted not far above. What we are seeing here is a fairly common type of male-female interaction, although it is perhaps usually played out with clothes on and in a real-life courtship ritual. it is all about looking at and being looked at. There is something similar in the male and female roles, but there is also something different:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8947039&size=lg
    For me, that last frame still says it all. It's that knowledge that they know that we are watching that makes it all worthwhile. I think that, to a significant extent, we are hard-wired along these very different lines, although I could, of course, be mistaken--the first premise of any argument that I offer.
    --Lannie
     
  75. In a somewhat cursory google search, any studies and research I could find on exhibitionism dealt with it as a "deviant behavior" and as a mostly male practice. Though we are not really thinking of exhibitionism as a deviant behavior in these discussions, until someone can show me some research or data to the contrary, I will continue to be skeptical of especially the first part of the claim (which is what I've always been most concerned with) that started all this: "women being fundamentally exhibitionist and men being fundamentally voyeurs."
    Here are two articles I've found on the subject and I haven't researched their veracity but there are many more articles making the same contention:
    http://www.psychologistanywhereanytime.com/sexual_problems_pyschologist/psychologist_exhibitionism.htm
    http://books.google.com/books?id=UTg5cj7UBiIC&pg=PA23&lpg=PA23&dq=studies+on+male+and+female+exhibitionism&source=bl&ots=bkcTVRVySa&sig=wg2k0yj4cqQLQal3KQEi7-mYrQo&hl=en&ei=HrQLSv3zOZK4sgOm8OSNAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7
    Without some responsible data to the contrary, I have to assume that the assertion that women are fundamentally exhibitionist is merely a projection and wishful thinking on the part of voyeuristic men. So far, the anecdotal evidence provided is not at all convincing other than to convince me of the proclivity we men have to delusion when it comes to these things, and that I admittedly know from the personal experience of often being deluded myself.
     
  76. Fred, you are on your own on this one. Jim was clearly not talking about deviant behavior, but natural propensities that (from my perspective) might or might not be in evidence to some degree.
    This thread has long since passed the point of absurdity.
    --Lannie
     
  77. gdw

    gdw

    This is quite educational. Speaking of passing the point of absurdity. I was in no way aware that there were so many men that knew so much about women. I feel certain that I am older than either of you, speaking of Lannie or Fred, and maybe as old as both put together and I have absolutely no idea what women think and not sure I believe half, okay any, of what I read about what women think.
    Personally I think that on all sides here there is considerable projection going on. Actually I am pretty certain of that. We all have a tendency to project our own thoughts, desires, feelings, hopes, beliefs on others.
    I have not pursued the "Jim" link so I may be talking out of turn here but in speaking of "natural propensities" could it not possibly be the "natural propensities" of the women that Jim pursues projected? If I only pursued nymphomaniacs would I not think that all women have a propensity to nymphomania? And I am not saying that Jim pursues nymphomaniacs, I just used that as an example.
    All I know is that I am happy in my ignorance. I don't want to know what or how women think, but simply to respectfully enjoy their existence, with a good deal of emphasis on the respect part. My wife (second, the first was for practice) and I just celebrated our thirty forth anniversary and I can assure you she is still a surprise every day. Just when I think I know I am suddenly made aware that I don't. I wouldn't have it any other way.
    BTW: my wife who is, okay she's not looking over my shoulder right now, in her mid seventies just this past year allowed me to photograph her sans skivvies. It took me thirty years to wear her down. What would Jim say about my wife's natural propensities?
     
  78. One last point is this, Fred: what I am trying to describe might better be explained in terms of the scholarly debate about the existence (or non-existence) of female "coyness." That term is somewhat loaded, too, but nowhere as loaded as the dichotomous terms that Jim used.
    As a philosopher yourself, you know the range of meanings that come with terms. Wittgenstein on meaning and family resemblances should alert you (and all of us who have read him) to the possibility that persons often speak past each other precisely because they assume that they are talking about the same phenomenon simply because they are using the same words. They often are not, in spite of the superficial similarity of the terminology used.
    So it is with Jim's use of "exhibitionist" to describe female behavior, and "voyeuristic" to describe male behavior. These are loaded terms, and I would avoid them, but Jim used them and I think that I know what he means. I still think that dichotomies such as "direct" v. "coy" (or something like these terms might) be more useful, especially as they relate to the present discussion--if only because the other terms have now passed into the literature and even into common parlance as implying a pathological psychological predisposition--a very sick compulsion.
    Nonetheless the fact remains that men are in general "lookers" (without thereby being pathologically voyeuristic about it) and women are in general the ones gazed at or looked upon (again, without implying any kind of pathological compulsive tendency now typically associated with such a term as "exhibitionist").
    In the case of your present portfolio here on Photo.net, what would the casual observer infer upon perusing it? Would you not be appalled if someone inferred that you were a "voyeur" simply because you had male nudes in your portfolio? Yet, those who shoot female nudes are open to that nearly constant charge, if the hate mail that Peri and others sometimes receive is any indication--and that "hate mail" often takes the form of the accusatory public posting, against which there is almost no possible defense.
    This is the problem with that sad, sorry phenomenon that can occur anywhere (but especially on the web) once pejorative and ad hominem labels are used--and allowed to stand unchallenged. It is tough enough to deal with ambiguous and incendiary language in the classroom, but the use of such terms on the web invites the anonymous flame or the too droll troll, such as we have seen above once or twice.
    So, if someone looks at your folder and infers not only that you are a voyeur but also that you are gay, what is going to be your response if that person starts referring to you in the language of perversion or moral depravity? Epithets such as "pervert," "perv," and "pervy" come to mind, among many others.
    Surely you would not like it. Knowing that, please be considerate of those who likewise at this moment might be horrified that you have cited psychology journal articles implying the possibility that they are somehow sick or perverted because of the type of subjects that they shoot.
    When you start citing the literature on psychological pathology, you have really opened a can of worms, and those worms might be crawling over your own dead bones as the discussion further manifests itself as putrification and degradation before our eyes.
    I urge you to be more careful.
    --Lannie
     
  79. I have not pursued the "Jim" link so I may be talking out of turn here. . . . --Gary Woodard​
    If you are commenting on it before having read it, Gary, I would have to say that you definitely are.
    --Lannie
     
  80. Gary--
    I've been arguing a negative, as far as I know. A statement was made about what women think and I asked for some data to back it up. I'm quite conscious that there are a lot of men sitting here deciding what women think and I'm not one of them. Please don't imply, which I think you have in your first paragraph above, that I've been claiming to know what women think. I've been calling on those men who claim to know to put some money where there mouths are, and they haven't.
    As far as my reading goes, the only statement I made suggesting I know what women think is this . . . one little time in all this arguing: "On the other hand, women will often recognize the beauty and sexuality of other women because they're not nearly as hung up as we guys are." Maybe that was imprudent, but I tried really hard to steer clear of making claims about women because I knew all I wanted to do was challenge those men who were doing so. Sorry for the one little slip, but please don't make the claim that because I'm challenging someone's argument and engaging them, I'm guilty of the same thinking as they.
     
  81. Lannie--
    It's been more than inferred that I'm a voyeur several times on the pages of my portfolio by viewers. And I've said it myself on many occasions. No, I'm not offended at all because it's true of me. And I explore that in much of my photography so I'm pleased when it's noticed because it means I'm communicating something personal and signficant. As far as "perv," I've been called it so many times by so many varieties of people for so many different reasons since I was about 11, that I'm pretty used to it by now. Luckily the "but names can rarely harm me" part of the old saying is very true. I'm much more bothered by violence against me or laws passed trying to curtail my humanity.
    As for the articles talking about the pathology of exhibitionism, I clearly stated that in a cursory google search that was all the data I could find, that I knew we were not discussing exhibitionism as a pathology, but wanted to at least get some hard data on the table to try to stop all the assuming that was going on, and once again inviting those making claims to back them up with something substantial. If you can't handle that and you think it's a mucky can of worms, so be it. I thought it was all quite clear.
    And you keep doing this and I keep not understanding why. You keep conflating women being looked at (as in the above: "men are in general 'lookers' and women are in general the ones gazed at or looked upon") with women being exhibitionists. That's been my main point the whole time and I don't know how much clearer I can make it than you have right here. Because men may be predisposed to being voyeurs, meaning by definition women are the ones being looked at, it does NOT follow that women WANT to be looked at or are exhibitionists (whether of the pathological or the benign kind). Because someone LIKES to look, of course it follows that the ones they are looking at are the ones looked upon, but it does not follow that the ones they like to look at WANT to be looked at like that.
     
  82. [LK] "Sonny,I know when I am being flashed. I can read eyes--and much else, and have had to as a mode of survival since I started university teaching in 1974."
    Um, sure.
    [LK] "Now you have impugned my integrity as well as Jim's. Is there no end to the viciousness that parades as "philosophy" on this forum?"
    There's a pea under that mattress, but it's not mine. I did no such thing, and hope Jim knows it. You have (and I can easily go back and quote you) tripped over your own fantasies in this thread. Others pointed it out, too. Quoting Jim's own words is what it is, and nothing more.
    ___________________________________________________
    Fred, I see that I misread what you were driving at with your question on the gaze business and derailed your argument, my apologies. I should have known you'd be well-versed on the subject.
    I agree with Fred that men do what women do, in different, yet similar ways.
    To digress much further, some nude photography, including many of the examples cited by Lannie, have qualities that fit somewhat under Foucault's medical gaze.
    It can also be argued that the power of the outdoors/public nude (if one is nude outdoors, but there is no one around, it's not really "public", is it?) stems from reinforcing the status quo, not subverting it. Where are the examples of male public nudes?
    Because so far it seems like the original question is incomplete and should be phrased more honestly:
    "How does one explain the power of what I can only call the FEMALE "public nude"?
     
  83. " . . . it seems like the original question is incomplete and should be phrased more honestly: 'How does one explain the power of what I can only call the FEMALE public nude'?"
    A point I've tried making several times to no avail. If there is absolutely no sexuality involved in this nude photo making,which is the claim made several times here, then it's an amazing coincidence that the men shooting miraculously happen to pick only people of the gender to whom they happen to be sexually attracted to photograph. My portfolio has only nudes of men, but at least I'm aware that at least to some extent, that's because I'm sexually attracted to men. It doesn't mean all my nudes are about only sex or even sex to a great degree, they're not. But I'd be kidding myself if I didn't recognize that there is some sexuality going on with respect to them. A little sexual charge can go a long way in getting the creative juices flowing. My sense is that it's precisely the fear of being called a "perv" that Lannie has alluded to that is the reason for so many of the denials and claims being made in this thread.
    I happen to think it's a great, although difficult, thread. Because it's mixing the very personal with the philosophical. And whether the claims are true or not, they are very real and I appreciate the honesty being spoken here even if I feel the truth is not being sought because no actual data is being supplied.
     
  84. time for a coffee break....
     
  85. gdw

    gdw

    Lannie, you are right. As I admitted, I did not read the "Jim," whoever that is, link. Truthfully I have not even read most of the posts with much attention. I find the whole argument/discussion humorous and definitely much ado about nothing. So please, Fred, to not take my accusation so seriously.
    There is a saying that in a hundred years it won't matter. I am sure we won't have to wait nearly that long on this discussion. LOL It has narrowed down to a presumably straight guy, a gay guy, and a disagreeable old fart who might go either way with Luis G and Doug breaking in occasionally.
    And so the world turns.
    Everyone can go home a winner. I'm sorry Lannie, I just can't seem to take any of this seriously.
    Least anyone misunderstand and gets their panties in a wad, the "old fart" referenced above is me.
     
  86. Gary, you're always one of the most entertaining old farts I know.
    I know a lot of folks don't take these discussions seriously and, being a philosopher, I'm used to that and not much bothered by it. Though I always marvel at the predisposition of many to come by and throw their two-cents in at the same time trying to belittle those who do engage in it seriously. There is some fascination even by those who aren't serious. Not saying any of that applies to you. I'm thinking of so many of those who like to come by and throw in one-liners about what a waste of time it is and how we should be out photographing instead when, in fact, they are spending their own time telling us what a waste of time it is and not out photographing either.
    All that being said, I think about some of this stuff and like to talk about it, so that's why I come here. The main reason is that it stimulates me and I get to put some of that energy in my photos. Always have. I get careless, but usually try to pick my words very carefully and, yes, I do get bothered when I feel misunderstood or misquoted. But I know you mean no harm. You and I go way back and, interestingly enough, our first PN meeting was a great exchange on one of the first male nudes I ever did, which I have since removed from my portfolio because of the lack of a significant expression or connection between photographer and subject, a concept I talked about a million miles ago in this very thread.
     
  87. gdw

    gdw

    Fred, I do recall our first encounter, it was a self portrait of you lying in bed in what I interpreted as a semi fetal position. I think we disagreed on the vulnerability I saw in the photograph. Truthfully, I was disappointed when you removed some of your earlier photographs from your gallery. What I enjoyed about your nudes was their sense of honesty, something that I respect in photography. You and Igor Amelkovich have posted some of my favorite PN nude photographs and you both removed them. Fortunately, Igor's are still available on his website. Gary
     
  88. As far as this being a thread about the "public female nude," I have to say that I did at least try to find and introduce examples from the other side of the fence, but found only this one, which I posted earlier:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/4644505
    Fred, I hope that you have not taken my own remarks as offensive. I can only imagine what you have gone through. My older daughter is gay and came out in the mid-nineties, optiimistic and secure in her faith that she could prevail. Well, she has, but it breaks my heart to imagine what she must go through every time that she is reminded by this or that referendum on what "marrriage" is that much of the world is never going to accept her in her full authentic humanity.
    As far as this being a "guys ogling girls" thread, I can only say that that seems to be the way much of the world is, or at least the way much of our culture is, for whatever reason. I have posited some difference in the psychological makeup of men and women, but just how different are they/we? Some opinions by women would be welcome. The old "nature v. nurture" issue is at the core of the discussion as to why we see mostly female nudes posted. Is it outrageous to suggest that men simply are more voyeuristic than women? Are we? Even if so, does that necessarily imply that women are more exhibitionist (in the benign, normal sense) than men? Are they? That question remains, in spite of the many words we uttered on the topic.
    A better question might be why so many more guys post to photography forums in general. I have never seen the statistical breakdown of male and female posters on the site, but it is pretty obvious that few of the women posters post nudes--of any kind. Perhaps it tells something that, when they do, the ones that get the best ratings are the female nude self-portraits.
    It has also occurred to me, as to many others, that differing behaviors of males and females on this as on so many issues might in some sense be related to the historical fact of the subjugation of women across the centuries. If women were truly liberated, would we continue to see any difference in behaviors qua looking and being looked at? Can we expect an imminent surge of "public male nudes" as women become more liberated? I suspect not, but I do not know.
    As with so many philosophical questions, at some point we exhaust our feeble opinions, shrug our shoulders, and walk away admitting that we just really do not know very much.
    --Lannie
     
  89. Lannie--
    No offense taken at all. It is liberating that you feel comfortable being candid and discussing these issues. As you know, the levels of being called a name and discussing being called a name are two very different planes. And believe me, having grown up in New York City, gone to college at a State University of New York, and then moving to San Francisco, I haven't gone through a fraction of what many of my peers have, gay or straight.
    Words are interesting, like "voyeur," especially as you thought I might find it offensive relative to my photographs. Recently someone said it about an obviously voyeuristic photo (though not overtly sexual) of mine: http://www.photo.net/photo/8672712 (at least it seemed plausible to me and a few others that I was exploring voyeurism both personally and as it relates to the camera). Toward the end of the thread, someone questioned another critiquer's use of the word voyeur, asking if he meant it positively or negatively. The question was never answered but I didn't for a moment think it was meant negatively, especially since I have a short history with this particular critiquer. I think many photographers would and should take being called a voyeur and some recognition of that in their work as a compliment.
    Gary--
    You're right. I forgot about the self portrait. It's actually still posted: http://www.photo.net/photo/5510480 but in a hidden folder, more because I try to keep my portfolio pruned because I find it traumatic to be confronted with portfolios with hundreds of visible photos. I was thinking of the more graphic (in the sense of design, not sexual blatancy) one of a friend on the back steps, which I can't seem to find. When I set up my own web site, if I can stop talking philosophy long enough, I'll likely include many of those early ones in a section of their own. Thanks for your kind words.
    Back to Lannie for a sec:
    "It seems that I am wiser than he is to this small extent, that I do not think I know what I do not know". (Socrates, Apology)
     
  90. How many photographers are hererosexual male? How many are heterosexual female? And how many are homosexual male, and how many are lesbian female?
    My guess is the majority of photographers will be a combination of hetero males and lesbian females. Point being, most photographers (by number) would probably prefer a nude female over a nude male.
    Therefore, more female nudes.
    Or, since males of any orientation are generally sight driven, (sexually speaking -I don't have any proof, but I think that's pretty widely accepted) wouldn't one expect any males posting nudes to post nudes of the gender to which he is attracted? The last I heard, the gay/straight divide was 90/10 percent (again, no proof.) If all that's true, the math should follow that most nudes would be female.
    Notwithstanding the linked examples,* the original question seemed neutral regarding the model's gender, and to me, that aspect of the discussion is somewhat irrelevant, although interesting. Why should the gender of the nude be of any consequence as it relates to the question?
    *I don't remember any redheads in the examples, either, yet no one is fussing about them being excluded. Or why they were mostly caucasion?
     
  91. Doug--
    I don't know about anyone else, but the reason I was fussing (really, it's been a late-breaking and minor part of the discussion) over the gender of the subjects was precisely because of what you say: "Or, since males of any orientation are generally sight driven, (sexually speaking -I don't have any proof, but I think that's pretty widely accepted) wouldn't one expect any males posting nudes to post nudes of the gender to which he is attracted?" You are, thankfully, not afraid to speak sexually regarding at least some aspect of the nudes, the "attraction" part. The reason I focused a bit on the obvious gender choices for the photo examples is precisely because many of the photographers and guys talking were denying, quite adamantly, any sexual component to the making of nude photographs. The attraction is important, as you recognize. Other than that point, I agree with you, it's pretty irrelevant. But it needed to be pointed out because of the denials being made. Had someone made the claim that there was no issue of race regarding who we photograph, I might well have pointed out that the examples were white women, but it never came up.
    As far as "I don't have any proof, but I think that's pretty widely accepted" that can often and has often gotten society into a lot of trouble. I've actually always heard the same thing and have found myself, for the most part, accepting it as well, but I'd still like to see some studies on the matter before putting too much significant stock in it. There's also a tricky discussion to be had on whether, even if it's true, the differing visual proclivities are something hard-wired that we're stuck with or culturally induced that may be changing as we speak.
     
  92. Maybe we have to agree that there is indeed a sexual basis with regard to the power and the glory in order to get back to answering the question?
     
  93. Doug--
    Not a bad idea. You brought up shame/vulnerability and you mentioned your feelings about your own body especially as you age. For me, it would include some aspects of shame and vulnerability and much more and it's very much about my feelings about my body and myself as I age. I can't necessarily name all the feelings, but they very much go into why I photograph nude men in my own age category. It's very visual, and many men, straight and gay, in my close circle and in my age group mention that they think about their changing bodies and changing sexuality a lot. So, since it's visual and personal and on the minds of many people I know including myself, it seems a very genuine and pertinent subject to explore with my camera. I think only one of the photographers whose examples were shown said something and I'm grateful he did. I'd love to hear about the motivations and experiences of others doing this kind of photographing. For me, it's about exploring who I am at this stage in my life and how I see others and how they see and present themselves. It's about expressing something of that exploration. I'm not really much in tune with the notion of power and glory as it relates here. It seems somewhat distanced and statement-oriented to me.
     
  94. [DB] " Why should the gender of the nude be of any consequence as it relates to the question?"
    For many reasons. If spatial gender politics exist, and the Abrahamic rules apply, then bringing out a female nude into public space subverts the social order, & is very different than doing the same with a male nude. Since the female photographic nude is most of the time a sex fetish, no matter what else it may be, the gender of the model --- and photographer --- matter. If women are indeed objectified in the culture, and manipulated as power objects, then bringing the nude into a public space might be reinforcing/conforming to, not subverting the status quo. Again, gender matters factually. There was only one male nude example given, and it was not in a public space. The original question seemed neutral, but as Lannie clearly demonstrated in his text and choice of examples, was not.
    We don't have to agree on anything to answer the question. It has many answers.
     
  95. Didn't Socrates say that aesthetics and sexuality were very closely related? I think that I remember reading that, perhaps in the Symposium. (What about it, Fred? Do you remember which dialog it is in and how it is stated?)
    I also remember Gary asking me (more or less) if i were fascinated by pubic hair, to which the answer was and is "yes"--but a more accurate answer would have been (for me as a straight male), "but only if it is on a woman's body." (That came around early, in a discussion of Beepy's nude ballerina.)
    So, yes, the sexual component is definitely there in the aesthetic appreciation of the nude, which is not to say that one cannot (as a straight male) appreciate the aesthetics of Michelangelo's David (or the photographic analog), but the sexual appeal is going to be a factor in the appreciation of almost all nude photography, I believe. If that means that we are all "voyeurs," so be it. It is hard to see how we could be otherwise and be either photographers or critics of photography. On the other hand, I have heard straight women say that they prefer to look at female nudes rather than male nudes. That is perhaps paradoxical, but not necessarily false.
    What we are not (necessarily) is "voyeurs" in the legal or clinical psychological senses. In addition, we have spoken of being voyeurs or exhibitionists as if they were polar opposites. In pathological cases, at least, they are usually seen together, if I am not mistaken in what I have read somewhere in the distant past. I think both components are also present in healthy persons--and possibly to varying degrees across gender lines, but that is what we were discussing earlier. I still lean toward the view that men tend to be more often the "lookers," and women the "lookees"--but is that a preference, or just a fact of life, given the sometimes rather aggressive behaviors of males?
    As Fred correcty pointed our earlier, women certainly do not always appreciate being looked at, or at least being stared at. I still think that they would like even less, however, if they were no longer looked at at all, which they often are less and less (like it or not) as they grow plumper and grayer.
    --Lannie
     
  96. There was only one male nude example given, and it was not in a public space.​
    Luis, if you are talking about Jana Vanourkova's shot "Boring Afternoon," I got the sense that it was a candid shot in a public park in Prague. I might be mistaken.
    On another note, "nudist camps" are hardly typical of human behavior in the aggregate, but they might (or might not) tell us something about human nature. I am thinking in particular about a site I once saw of Arealonga, in Galicia (Spain). The shots there were so relaxed and informal, from a different epoch, that I had a sense at times that I was looking very nearly at human nature as it might be if the power relationships were not there. Perhaps that was something that I read into the photos, but that is the sense that I got. I'll see if I can Google it.
    --Lannie
     
  97. That's a very good photo, Fred. By the way, how do you hide a folder?
    --Lannie
     
  98. Lannie--
    Don't want to speak much about The Symposium as it's been a while since I read it and there's probably more nuance about the questions you raise than we want to get into here. But I'll do a little: Plato puts down art as a mere reflection of what's already a reflection of the true Reality, a Form. Yet he exalts the notion of Beauty. Since Beauty and art were so separable for him, it is hard to really come up with a position on aesthetics, yet people do, relying more on what he said about art and representation than on what he says about Beauty. What I remember him saying about Beauty in the Symposium actually does relate to sex. The claim could be made that he considered sex and art on a similar plane, that of the body and of the senses, for Plato not a very good place to be or to remain for very long. On the other hand, Beauty was recognizing something in The Mind that happens when you consider the Idea of two bodies coming together. Beauty is an essence, sex simply an act and a fleeting possibility. As so many analogies with Plato, it's like going up a staircase, from the vision of one body to the coming together of two bodies, all on the sensual level, finally culminating in the higher Idea/Ideal and Understanding of Beauty, the Reality behind the less real (for Plato) sensual part.
    Perhaps since I think Plato goes awry in missing the Beauty in the senses, in what we see and feel -- since he thinks Beauty can only be tapped by the Understanding and Ideas -- I'm disposed to see the sensuality, sexuality, and even some baseness if appropriate explored in the genre of the nude. Others are more Platonic in their approach and more high-minded in attempting to take the nude out of the more physical realms and deal with it in a much more rational way, and I'm not making a value judgment here, I'm simply noticing a difference of approach, and any approach, I think, is laudable. Brain has said that his work is about freedom, is not meant to be sexual, some of the works are meant to be affirmations of life, and that he seeks to challenge a mindset. That, to me, is much more Platonic an approach than many others take, myself included.
     
  99. Luis, your answer give me a broader prespective on this issue, and answers many other questions that have been waving about in my head for years. Thanks. I approach my art, and my life, on much simpler terms, such as "Doug hungry: must eat now' and "Pretty flower good. Sharp nettle bad"
     
  100. "That's a very good photo, Fred. By the way, how do you hide a folder?"
    Thanks :)
    Go to your workspace. Click on a folder under "Manage Your Gallery Folders." When you get there, click on the tab toward the top right side that says ADMIN OPTIONS. Click on the third bullet from the bottom in the right column of bullets "Edit folder title and set visibility." Check the box next to "Hide this folder from my portfolio view." Voila.
     
  101. Doug, amazing as it might seem, my approach to life and art is far simpler than my navel-gazing.
    BTW, I like your train station pictures.
     
  102. Luis--
    I think that the thing people often don't understand about philosophers is that when I do philosophy, I think pretty critically and often have to use a lot of words to explain things because it is sometimes necessary to overtly exclude a lot of things while I'm asserting others, explaining terms as I go along. When I have sex, shoot photographs, and watch TV, life is much more sensual, simple, and casual, though I sometimes find myself having a little 'splainin' to do as well. I imagine many accountants, construction workers, and teachers experience a similar phenomenon and I can only imagine the reactions the poor guys would get from strangers popping in their heads if there were an Accounting of Photography forum!
     
  103. Fred -- Yes, most of us live in multiple levels of existence simultaneously. People that know me are amazed to find out that when I am photographing, fly-fishing, etc, that it's 100% intuitive, and often lapse into aphasic trances.
    When I was little, cab drivers would lie in wait for calls parked under big, shady trees. One of them parked not far from my house. He befriended me, and while we talked, he was always intensely scribbling. Finally, one day, when I was maybe 8 yrs old, I could not resist, and asked him what he was writing about. "I am a poet pretending to be a a cab driver", he said. I asked him to tell me a poem. I don't remember a word of it, but it felt like butterflies were coming out of his mouth and enveloping me.
     
  104. Luis, your cab driver poet story is the most amazing thing I've read in this thread since it started.
     
  105. Gosh, just hearing the reference to poetry makes me wish that I were capable of creating something, anything of lasting value, that people would remember, even if they forgot who created it.
    --Lannie
     
  106. Here is a thread started by Brian Grossman, one of the four photographers whom I mentioned at the outset:
    http://www.photo.net/portraits-and-fashion-photography-forum/00SW1t
    --Lannie
     
  107. In closing out my own postings to this thread, I would like to offer a few personal observations:
    first, the public nude as a genre is probably one that does warrant further serious exploration and inquiry;
    second, that genre probably entails more risks than most photography;
    third, the genre also probably requires at least as much discipline as other sub-genres involving the nude if it is to ascend to true art and not degenerate into something approaching pornography;
    fourth, I do not think that it can ever be art if its purpose is to shock, debase, or degrade;
    fifth, I nonetheless think that it can be done as art, and has been done as art (as a few examples on this page indicate: http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=304990 ):
    sixth, I think that, if one is going to try it, one should approach it in a serious and sober-minded way--and I would hope that all attempts to explore it and critique it should be treated with respect, as well as exhibit a certain kind of respect and even reverence for the nude form (and social values related to its display), lest the entire undertaking degenerate into some kind of "rebel without a cause" manifestation that fails to understand the difference between a challenge to social mores and a simple gesture of disrespect towards those mores;
    seventh, I will almost certainly never try it. I have not tried any kind of nude photography. If I were going to try, I think that the nude in nature, hackneyed though it may be, would be my preference. The reason for me would be simple: I love nature, and I am actually a lot more comfortable with the idea of the private than the public nude--and, if one travels through the kind of country that I have on foot, one can certainly find privacy in nature. In addition, the congruity between the natural form and the natural environment is both morally and aesthetically appealing to me. That said, like the daisy that grows up in the cracks between sidewalks,the public nude might be an authentic manifestation of the attempt to return to nature amidst the carnage of post-industrial society.
    I want to acknowledge all of those who contributed, especially those who earnestly tried and managed to rise above the flippant and banal in their responses.
    Thank you all.
    --Lannie
     
  108. As a final gesture of respect and admiration for the work of Yuri Bonder, who passed away last year, I offer this example of his own work--not a true "public nude," but one which shows the fruits of his aspiration to attain that aesthetic ideal that I would like to see brought to that genre, if that be possible:
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/photo.tcl?photo_id=2311169
    --Lannie
     
  109. On Bonder's death:
    http://www.photo.net/casual-conversations-forum/00PLjb
    http://www.photo.net/photography-news-forum/00PMQF
     
  110. Google with come up with plenty more public T&A links if you're really into "philosophising" over that stuff... :)
     
  111. Tell us more about yourself, Paul.
     
  112. No. I'd rather sit here and chuckle at all the "philosophising" over some cheap'n'cheesy softcore nudie pics... :) Most amusing.... :)
    BTW, have you seen "Two Girls, One Cup"...? That should give you something to get yer philosophical teeth into... :)
     
  113. Paul, that is all that the nude can ever be for you because you will never aspire to make it anything higher or nobler.
    You remind me of Hustler 's cheap humor, the snickering over sexuality and the body that so typifies adolescence.
    So. . . grow up!
    Besides, there is really no reason for you to tell us more, because you have already told us as much about yourself as we could ever want to know, and, to boot, you assume that everyone is at the same state of arrested moral and psychological development.
    What defines an authentic human being is that one aspires to be better than one is. I'm sorry that you have given up.
    --Lannie
     
  114. Enjoy the links... :) We ain't judgin', philosophy boy... :)
    Pub.
     
  115. BTW, have you seen "Two Girls, One Cup"...? That should give you something to get yer philosophical teeth into... :) --Paul Wilkins​
    No, I have not, but I just looked it up on Wikipedia . I will pass on that one, Paul.
    --Lannie
     
  116. Lannie--
    I think you've set out too many objective parameters. I'd likely respect whatever way you approached a nude (though I might not like it) that didn't involve harm to anyone. I'd respect what limitations you put on yourself. So I can particularly relate to Number 7, not because that's how I would approach nudes but because it's a genuine statement of how you would do it. But in Numbers 3 through 6, you've put a lot of emphasis on what others should do and what art should be. That's a problem.
    Number 3: Other than in some very early schools of art, the notion that art has to ascend anywhere is very limiting. Much Dadaism, Surrealism, even Expressionism explores descent without approaching pornography. The degenerative powers of some artists can be an amazing ride. Art need not have a lofty goal. Certainly nude photographs don't have to.
    Number 4: On shock, debase, degrade, see my comments to Number 3. There's so much art that does this that I'm not sure how you can make this claim. Which, of course, doesn't mean you have to like, respect, or buy it. But where does taste begin and art end. There's lots of art I don't like. My not liking it does NOT make it not art.
    Number 5: No problems here, actually. This is what you like. Believe me, there are some people who would look at it and immediately classify it as pornography (their bar would be extremely lower than yours and I assume you know those people exist). I look at it, admire the consistency, some of the technical acuity, and get little from it emotionally. I see little life and feel very little actual power. And I hope I don't have to say that many female nudes reach me artistically. Take the second photo in the folder, which includes the male. They are in very close proximity to each other, bodies touching, in what could feel like an intimate moment (and I mean "intimate," not sexual). Yet this photo, to me, is anything but intimate and anything but in the moment. I feel like it could be any time, any place, any other moment. I don't care about or am not transported to the moment before or the moment after, so I'm not made aware that it's a moment in time. It doesn't in any way feel like the expressions are genuine, but instead made for the camera. Though the bodies are touching, they are cold toward each other. They are touching but they might as well be across the room from each other. Pretty and handsome, yes. Well lit, yes. The triangular area under the guy's chin a little mucky, yes. I leave the photo feeling no differently from when I arrived. Now, sure, this photo could have been done in a lofty way or in what you call an ascending manner and could move me. When I look, I say that some more grit wouldn't hurt it at all. But that's just my taste. What I said applies to much that's in the folder.
    Number 6: Art and reverence are only linked in some very special eras and schools. For me, it would be horribly limiting to think that all nude art had to be in any way reverent. Disrespect can be a key ingredient in some brilliant creations. No artist has to approach his art in a sober-minded way. Lots of the greats did amazing work high as kites. From William Burroughs to Charlie Parker, artists have not approached their art sober-mindedly. What effects did Van Gogh's supposed use of absinthe have? I don't think Berlioz approached his Symphonie Fantastique with a sober mind. Furthermore, in some cases, humor and disrespect is as important as seriousness. From Jean Michelle Basquiat: "I had some money, I made the best paintings ever. I was completely reclusive, worked a lot, took a lot of drugs. I was awful to people."
    Please, there's an awful lot of room between "higher and nobler" and Paul's simple childishness or meaninglessness. In that vast territory is a lot of art and a lot of nudes. A lot of great art is provocative and less than sober or serious. I think art, essays, politicians can be provocative in effective ways. For that to happen, we have to in some way relate to or be woken up or moved by the provocation. Otherwise, it's just unruly behavior that deserves a dunce cap!
    Lannie, when I saw your post I was kind of thrilled that you came back to wrap things up. Had you done it from a personal point of view, I would have been happy to let you have the last word, since you started it all and it's been mostly a good and productive thread. But when you summarize in terms of what others should be doing and what art should be, I prefer not to let that stand unanswered.
     
  117. You're probably right, Fred, since what I have done (without really thinking about it) is to try to define art.
    My real point, of course, was to give emphasis to what I think the public nude should be before I could truly appreciate it. I'm sorry that instead I phrased my personal preferences in such an imperial manner.
    I'm not saying that the idea of the public nude could not be appreciated (even by me) on a variety of levels. I guess that I was more concerned with trying to satisfy those who think that it cannot and could not ever be a legitimate sub-genre of nude photography. Trying to satisfy others who might be critical is always a grave error, of course. One must surely follow one's own artistic vision, whether as artist or as critic--or both.
    I failed in this effort at a summary in a number of ways. Thanks for pointing some of them out.
    --Lannie
     
  118. It all makes a lot more sense in light of your third paragraph above. I know that when I respond to certain critics, I will often emphasize certain qualities or issues for a particular audience rather than allowing for a broader discussion of a topic that may have many facets. Even in these rooms, I've been misunderstood (or not made myself clear) because of that sort of emphasis which makes people think I'm completely excluding other matters when I'm simply not attending to them at the moment. Sometimes, it's effective to play devil's advocate and even overstate a point in order to make it to a resistant audience. But it does, sometimes, come back to haunt us. Thanks for your follow up.
     
  119. Here is a response that I just got via e-mail from another Photo.net member:
    "[Y]ou should probably look at how nudes are used in European advertising (see http://www.naktiv.net/ads/ and http://nakedmarketing.blogspot.com/2005/02/european-advertising.html ) while not all of these are public, they do indicate a strong acceptance of the nude as medium to convey a message, which is not seen in the US. While these images do, in general, tend to appeal to one sexually (both male and female), there is more to the message than just sex. They, by definition, are trying to sell the viewer something. This something can be a product or it can be an idea. Note that there is a Swedish commercial for either a beer or a soft drink that has five or six actresses playing volleyball. When the commercial aired in this country, the actresses all had on tops. This is an indication that the US is probably too prudish to discuss this topic rationally. Your forum thread tends to confirm this."​
    I will simply pass this on rather than comment on it myself, except to say that it interprets what we are discussing here as being part of much larger issues concerning differing mores in the United States and other countries concerning the portrayal of nudity.
    It also suggests that the way that the thread has developed also reflects those differing social mores.
    --Lannie
     
  120. Of course there's a difference in the European approach of the ( public ) nude vs the American approach. I remember shampoo commercials that showed more skin that what's been linked to here. The american culture is afraid to show some skin ( oh my god that's a nipple right there !! ) but they are more than happy to show you blood, and lots of it....
    IMO, Spencer Tunick, an American artist, not necessarily a photographer, came closest to a public statement about the ' public nude ' then anyone before or after....Either way, I favor Weston's approach, or Sieff's, or Brandt's,...They photographed women, without the boring politics attached to them...and without the women that where photographed being about a simple boring generic male fantasy.
     
  121. Thanks, Phylo. Yes, it is the nude per se that is inherently interesting. All of the speculation about the political implications (along with the amateur psychologizing) should not blind us to the fact that it is finally about beauty and its honest portrayal.
    This photo by Yuri Bonder says it all to me: whether "the wall" (between, say, her and the public street) were there OR NOT in this picture, she would still be standing before us in all of HER power and glory :
    http://www.photo.net/photo/2311169&size=lg
    Never mind that in this case the wall is so beautiful that it, along with the flowers, competes with her form for the viewer's attention. Finally, it really should not matter whether it is there or not: SHE is the real point of the photo.
    In this thread we have been talking about the darned "wall" that demarcates public from private. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  122. And, for all I know, the model above just might have been standing on the public street side of the wall, not the private garden side.
    Does it matter? Should it matter? Well, apparently to some people (especially in this culture) it really, really does matter, and I think that that fact is what is under benign assault by those like Grossman, Phelps, Bonder, Vanourkova, "Beepy," Peri, and many others.
    For many in this culture above all, however, the "assault" is anything but benign. It threatens, in their mind, to subvert the entire social order.
    Well, what if it does?!
    --Lannie
     
  123. The american culture is afraid to show some skin ( oh my god that's a nipple right there !! ) but they are more than happy to show you blood, and lots of it....​
    This is off topic, but in the town 40 miles down the highway from me, some guy tried to open a porno shop. He actually had it open for a while, but it was closed down by local authorities. In court, it was finally decided that he couldn't open the store again.
    I thought it was ironic that in my state (Virginia), a completely sane and respectable person can't buy something that will almost definitely be used/watched/enjoyed privately in the home with the doors locked and the shades drawn, but a certifiably crazy person could go to a local gun shop, buy several guns and loads of ammo, and then kill 32 people with them, (Virginia Tech, 2007).
    Tell me that's not screwed up.
     
  124. Well said, Doug.
    By the way, I love your latest portrait that you posted on the site today. What beautiful red tones throughout!
    http://www.photo.net/photo/9184423
    "Beepy," aka Brian Pawlowski, has explored the "realm of the red" in one of his most recent threads as well:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/9163357
    Maybe we are just a bunch of "Reds." I'm sure that that is the public perception, in any case. If we were saying all this in the 1950s, we would had to have been "communist inspired" radicals, bent on the destruction of civilization itself.
    Only in America. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  125. Wow, Doug! Does she ever beam out at us on "large"!
    http://www.photo.net/photo/9184423&size=lg
    --Lannie
     
  126. This one by Brian Grossman is probably about as close to the idea of the nude walking down the street as one is likely to find on Photo.net:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/9055392&size=lg
    --Lannie
     
  127. Not all public nudes are shot outside, of course. Here is one by John Peri that portrays a nude in the public stairway of a building:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/3542847
    At the outset of this thread, I asked the following question:
    "How does one explain the power of what I can only call the 'public nude'? Such nudes often do not derive their power, appeal, or fascination from traditional aesthetic considerations, nor even from their capacity to evoke lust. (If they did that, they would be among the highest rated nudes on a popular and accessible site such as Photo.net, but they seldom are.) Rather (it seems to me) they challenge an entire social order, or possibly all social order. . . ."
    The power and glory in this one are surely overwhelmingly due to aesthetic considerations, although I confess that the location of the shoot makes the shot somewhat more interesting. As John himself says in the discussion, "This is my apartment building and the neighbours constantly come in and out which makes the whole thing a little hazardous!"
    --Lannie
     
  128. And, for all I know, the model above just might have been standing on the public street side of the wall, not the private garden side.
    Does it matter? Should it matter?​
    I think it matters in the context of whether the photos you've referenced actually do have any power or glory. I've stayed out of this conversation so far because, like a discussion of the originality and brilliance of Britney Spears' music, the basic premise doesn't make much sense to me. While some of the shots you've linked to are quite nice aesthetically, almost all strike me as contrived expressions of male fantasies. I don't see a challenge to (or subversion of) social mores; I don't see an expression of power. I see models playing along with a male photographer's game.
    I think Jeff Spirer's shots of burlesque shows actually do a better job of representing the "power of the public nude" because, while the performers may be in an enclosed club and they may not be entirely nude, I get the feeling that they are using nudity (and sexuality) to exert their power over the audience.
     
  129. You might be right Mike, and perhaps the game is just a game of chicken of sorts: perhaps the only "power" is the adrenaline high of risk-taking.
    I hope not. I think that there might also be a bit of glory in [some of] these shots qua beauty that one does not find in either burlesque clubs or Britney Spears' music, nor in Kent Noble's documentary public nudes made at a Harley rally:
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=609430
    Nor am I referring simply to the beauty of the human form. I am thinking instead of a social ideal of sorts which at least one side of me (perhaps the perverse side?) finds appealing. Of course, people keep calling that a "fantasy." As I said earlier, I think of it more as a dream, perhaps even a utopian ideal.
    The question for me is ultimately whether it might instead be a dystopian ideal. Thus the question that I have asked, or the "basic premise" that lies behind it, is for me perhaps the manifestation or expression of self-doubt as to whether or not such an "ideal" really ought to be appealing to me at all--or instead might be some kind of horror from which I should flee--and argue against.
    As for Britney Speared herself, I suppose that we already could have linked to one of her infamous "exiting limo" shots as a manifestation of the "public nude," but surely one that is purely sensationalist or exhibitionist, without much moral appeal to it at all.
    For me the ethical component figures heavily in all of these deliberations. For myself, that is, the question is not about what persons do in fact want, but what they ought to want.
    Thanks for weighing in and making me think. A good philosophical retort always does that.
    --Lannie
     
  130. I think that there might also be a bit of glory in [some of] these qua beauty that one does not find in either burlesque clubs or Britney Spears' music, nor in Kent Noble's documentary public nudes made at a Harley rally:​
    Perhaps your earlier example were more glorious, but I think Kent Noble's shots are, by far, the most relevant to a discussion of the "power" of public nudity. It's the idealistic beauty (and artificiality) of the earlier examples that makes them expressions of male fantasies rather than genuine examples of public nudity.
     
  131. We are obviously speaking of two different kinds of "power" here, and I have used both meanings at times. One is the manipulative power that the nude can exert. The other is the insipirational power, such as that manifested in the Biblical parable of Eden wherein clothes were not necessary because persons were so wonderfully innocent that they lived a paradisiacal life is which sin not only did not exist, but was not even [supposed to be] possible.
    The reality, of course, is that somewhere in the course of evolution persons did develop reflexive rationality that made them self-consciously aware and also self-consciously evaluative. Thus (and not through some serpent or "Satan" story) do we have the intellectual capacity to feel both shame and regret--and, if we did not have that capacity for regret and remorse, surely we would be amoral monsters.
    The question for me is to what extent we can regain what I referred to somewhere above as "lost innocence," an allusion to an Eden that of course never existed, except in the fantasies of the old patriarchs who wrote those early explanations of darned near everything way back in the book of Genesis. Yet, I still find it more useful to think of Eden as their "ideal" than their "fantasy." An ideal is a vision of what may yet come to pass--and for which one might fight or struggle. A fantasy is simply, well, a fantasy. "Return to Eden," "East of Eden," "The Eden Express," and many other titles are literary attempts to come to grips with the nature and significance of our present human condition, regardless of how one thinks that it came to be. The concept of "heaven" is a more forward-thinking ideal, although expressed in purely transcendental terms.
    In another sense, I think that we [adults] all have had our "Fall," but it was not the fabled Fall from the glory and innocence of an Eden that never ever existed. We simply grew up and began to question things--and to make conscious and deliberate moral choices.
    The foundational question for me in the instant case is to what extent the feelings of guilt and shame that we feel about nudity are authentic expressions of our human nature or instead merely the product of the false socialization of society.
    I do not presuppose the correct answer on this, to me, most fundamental issue: the entire Nature v. Nurture dilemma. If our shame about nudity is purely a product of our culture, then of course we should cast it off like a useless and worn-out garment.
    Yet another way of casting the problem is as Nietzsche did in speaking of the Dionysian versus the Apollonian elements of our nature. (The Dionysian would be a good way to characterize the bike rally.)
    There are a lot of ways of setting this problem and of asking the relevant questions, and I certainly do not think that I have exhausted them here. Much less do I presume to have the answers to the questions, regardless of how they are framed.
    --Lannie
     
  132. "The question for me is to what extent we can regain what I referred to somewhere above as 'lost innocence,' an allusion to an Eden that of course never existed, except in the fantasies of the old patriarchs who wrote those early explanations of darned near everything way back in the book of Genesis."​
    You are asking whether we can regain what never existed. The answer is in your question, logically and by definition.


    "The foundational question for me in the instant case is to what extent the feelings of guilt and shame that we feel about nudity are authentic expressions of our human nature or instead merely the product of the false socialization of society."​
    Foundational questions are troubling because they tend to be met with foundational answers. Cogito ergo sum has gotten us into trouble for the last three and half centuries. Plato's Forms. Kant's Imperatives. Everyone and their mothers' gods.
    Whether feelings of guilt and shame about nudity are expressions of human nature or the product of culture seems a false choice to me. There is no human nature without the context of history and culture already at play and there is no history or culture without natural instincts and predispositions of humans. There is no starting from scratch. We are where we are.
    Question: Why do you keep coming back to shame and guilt regarding nudity?
    Most examples in this thread are "idealized" visions. Mike's descriptions ring true. The way "power" and "glory" have been used are pretty idealized as well.
    Perhaps power and glory answers shame and guilt but not much more.
    Regarding nudity, if shame and guilt aren't the foundation, power and glory don't seem to follow. But a lot else does. And it is to be found in an array of very different sorts of examples:
    http://lukegraydiscourse.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/nangoldin03.jpg
    (Nan Goldin)
    http://www.ryanmcginley.com/photographs.php
    (Ryan McGinley -- check out several of the slides by hitting the little arrow on top of the 1st photo)
    http://www.charlesisaacs.com/Photos/full/Z1026_h.jpg
    (Bill Brandt)
     
  133. I am afraid that you proclaimed "Checkmate!" a bit too soon in your opening paragraph, Fred.
    No, the Eden of the Bible never existed. We cannot recapture that, because it never did exist as a historical reality. The eden of childhood did--to a remarkable extent. It is perhaps that lost innocence that we seek. That is debatable, but I hope that you see my point. If I did not make it clear enough, that is my fault.
    As for the rest, I detect a relativistic note which I am sure that you would deny. While Cogito ergo sum did not lead to the deductive proofs that Descartes desired, that particular insight was quite brilliant in its own isolated way. I mean "isolated" because it is not clear that it led to much, if anything else.
    As for foundational assumptions in general, I must warn you that cartesian logic still has some force for me, in spite of Descartes' far too grandiose ambitions as to what could be proven. I have explored this issue further (qua the question of the limits of philosophy) in my website linked to on my bio page, but I do not think that I have said anything new.
    Question: Why do you keep coming back to shame and guilt regarding nudity?​
    I come back to them because they have not gone away, neither in myself nor in culture, and I do not simply mean American culture. This culture might be more puritanical than most, but there is plenty of shame and guilt about these things in all cultures. Europe is not the guilt-free paradise some make it out to be simply because it is not as repressive as the U.S.
    Whether feelings of guilt and shame about nudity are expressions of human nature or the product of culture seems a false choice to me.​
    Well, of course the "nature v. nurture" dilemma is too simple, but, Fred, we have to start somewhere, and our typical reader on this site is neither a professional philosopher nor anthropologist. I try to be realistic about what can be accomplished here because this is a forum about the philosophy of photography, not a general forum on philosophy, although you at least understand why aesthetics cannot ever escape linkages to other questions in philosophy--since every question in philosophy is ultimately tied to every other question.
    Perhaps power and glory answers shame and guilt but not much more.​
    This is obscure to me, since the phrase "Power and glory" answers nothing--not shame, not guilt, nothing. In any case, trying to respond would require that we start by defining our terms, and it is too late for me to want to get into that .
    One thing that we both know is that serious philosophy in this context is hopeless. It was not for nothing that you almost did not want to come back to this forum, as expressed in your early e-mail. I have had to repeat some of my basic arguments too many times to want to think that this is going to go anywhere. If some were stimulated to thought, that is good. In any case, I do not necessarily want the thread to end, but your links are not argument and thus prove nothing--nor is it even clear to me why you even included them.
    --Lannie
     
  134. Wow!
    It's cultural, people, not innate in human genes or psyche at all. It's not complex, or metaphysical, or pathology, it's just cultural. Any reaction one has to nudity in life or images is your own enculturation manipulating your emotions.
    Many, many cultures have run around their whole lives naked and never thought a bit about it. No shame, or guilt, or lust, or power and glory about it at all. Many have used clothing and decoration to hide or emphasize body parts (and almost any body parts have been used at one time or another) to make them erotic. The "power and the glory" is a figment of our cultural imagination.
     
  135. Lannie--
    "I am afraid that you proclaimed "Checkmate!" a bit too soon in your opening paragraph . . ."​
    I wasn't shooting for a checkmate, just an alternative.


    "I detect a relativistic note"​
    If the only alternative to foundationalism is relativism, so be it.


    "The eden of childhood did--to a remarkable extent. It is perhaps that lost innocence that we seek. That is debatable, but I hope that you see my point."​
    And that's the point I'm debating. I knew you were talking about more than Eden, but still thought you were talking about something that never existed. Whether it's Eden or the innocence of childhood, my argument remains the same. I don't think childhood is as innocent as you make out. Children are born into all sorts of situations, both genetically and culturally. I've seen pictures from around the world of a lot of suffering children and they don't look innocent to me and their surroundings look nothing like the Garden of Eden.


    " . . . that particular insight was quite brilliant in its own isolated way . . ."​
    I love Plato and Descartes as much as the next guy for their brilliance and some of the insights they offered, but ultimately, philosophically, I prefer to move past their major conclusions and many of their assumptions.


    "This is obscure to me, since the phrase "Power and glory" answers nothing . . ."​
    In your opening statement you ask how to explain the power of the public nude. I assumed implicit in that, since it was linked in your title, was how to explain the glory of the public nude as well. I have begun to think that you've used those words because you were already focused on shame and guilt, which you keep coming back to, and that to a great extent they have been used as answers to (results of focusing on) assumptions of shame and guilt.


    ". . . your links are not argument and thus prove nothing . . ."​
    Your links are not argument either. I posted mine for the same reasons you posted and continue to post yours. They are examples. And your examples illustrate only one aspect of the public nude and how it can be treated. My links are alternative examples. Examples of nudes that are not quite as "reverent," "exalted" or, at least in my mind, "glorified" as yours. I think mine express a different kind of "power" if at all. They seem freer than yours, less involved with shame, guilt, or glory, and more involved with bodies, physicality, and imagination, in which there is power, but of a different sort, not the power of the ideal. They are meant to illustrate my argument that the assumption of "power" and "glory" misses what is expressed in a lot of nudes, though they are expressed in some. They are also meant to illustrate alternative visions of how public nudes can be handled, since I found a lot of similarity in the way all of your chosen photographers handled theirs and so those illustrations were only telling a fractional part of the story about public nudes.
     
  136. It's cultural, people, not innate in human genes or psyche at all. It's not complex, or metaphysical, or pathology, it's just cultural. Any reaction one has to nudity in life or images is your own enculturation manipulating your emotions. --Larry Cooper​
    Well, Larry, there's nothing like a simple answer to a simple question--but is the answer quite that simple? It is certain that there are tribes whose members never wear anything, such as indigenous tribes in the Amazon rain forest, and many other places. Surely a single such counter-example in the face of the "Nature (genetic) v. Nurture (societal)" dilemma ought to be sufficient to rebut any claim that shame about the display of the body is based in any sense on anything other than acculturation--and there are many such counter-examples from many other cultures.
    Even so, it could be argued that the nature of human reflexive rationality (unique even among all primates, as far as we know) is such that there is no easy "going back" to the state of innocence without losing something , and that "something" just might (or might not) be the essence of what makes for meaning --especially as nudity grades off into explicit sexual behavior, at which point the issue becomes one not of mere clothing but of sexuality pure and simple: Are we monogamous or polygamous by "nature"? Even though cultural anthropologists keep telling us that there, too, the answer to that dilemma must be the cultural aspect, as you insist with regard to the nudity issue, there is reason to question any glib conclusion.
    Thus, as the question morphs (as it inevitably does at some point) from the significance of nudity to the significance of mating (monogamous v. polygamous), other considerations linked in some way to reflexive rationality arise--including, but perhaps not limited to, feelings of jealousy, romantic ideals, etc.
    I don't have the time or the ability to develop a simple position here on that complex issue ("Are we naturally monogamous v. polygamous?"), given that the issue of clothing v. nudity (as a genetic v. cultural issue) has already caused enough (as yet unresolved) disagreement, but suffice it to say that the battle lines are well laid out, although some will straddle them in new and interesting ways.
    I guess that what I am trying to say is that, as nudity is seen (correctly or incorrectly) to have sexual implications, what appears to be a simple issue with a simple answer suddenly explodes into all of the multiple attitudes and varying mores attendant to sexuality itself--in lots of differing cultures. Suffice it to say that at that point it then becomes really complicated, whatever "it" is.
    Thus, though this society tolerates more and more simple nudity (at least on the internet and in movies), it remains resistant to the portrayal of sexual acts, much less to public sex (surely quite a quantum leap beyond public nudity)--much less to the polygamous ideal .
    I'm sure that what I have said at least temporarily muddies the waters even more, but all that I am really trying to say is that the issues are perhaps are not as simple as they appear to be--and that a simple answer to all related issues where sex is even thought be be at stake is bound to be in fact not simple at all.
    As for "power and glory," it is just a title for a thread. I would not want to try to defend it as being more than that, although we can talk about what kinds of power (and even glory) we are talking about when we use such terms, and that did come up early this morning when Mike Dixon finally entered the discussion.
    In any case, the complexities introduced when sexuality is brought into the discussion are sufficient to make many nude photographers insist that there is a very strong distinction between sex and nudity , and even to assert emphatically that nudity has no sexual implications whatsoever .
    BUT IS IT THAT SIMPLE??
    It is at the point that persons claim no linkage of any kind between nudity and sexuality that my own doubts bubble back up as my own internal crap detector goes off, since they (nudity and sexuality) may or may not be linked to my particular acculturation, or even to my generic human nature . That is, I am more than a bit suspicious that the claim that nudity and sexuality are totally factorable is a bit too simple to the point of being disingenuous --at least for me.
    In other words, in response to the many questions raised here, I can listen to all sides, argue all sides, and still have to shrug my shoulders, admit "I don't know!", and then walk away, which is what I am inclined to do at this point--not in disgust, but in resignation at the realization that I at sixty-four years, alas, really do not know anything at all.
    I think that I knew more at the age of nineteen when my bride-to-be was the center of all of my daily concerns, way back when any suggestion that she could casually be displayed undraped and displayed publicly(even in a mere photo) would have made me tremble. Would such a reaction have been the result of my own insecurity or something more profound at work? Nor does any of that compare to the angst that I would have felt if the issue had been escalated to the realm of the possibility of her having sex with someone else.
    These are not simple questions with simple answers to me. They go to the heart of what it is to be fully and authentically human.
    Thanks for the roller coaster ride, guys--and your many and generous contributions.
    I AM REALLY AND TRULY SIGNING OFF WITH THIS ONE.
    --Lannie
     
  137. You make some good points, Fred, but I am truly "outta here" and won't dare to try to respond to them point by point, lest we open up another ten to twenty issues.
    Nice exchange, I thought. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  138. It was a good thread, Lannie. I wouldn't mind it going on, but, OK.... Thanks!
     
  139. Hmm, another confused "philosopher", eh...? :) What a surprise... :)
     
  140. Thanks, Luis. The thread certainly does not need me in order to survive. I simply don't have time right now to pursue these issues with such intensity, which begins to wear. (What's it been? Six days now since this thread started?) The various issues are yet unresolved for me, and so I will be checking back from time to time to see what new insights someone else has brought to them, but I am unlikely to have much, if anything, to say, if only because I am such an intense person and cannot merely casually address the kinds of issues that I have addressed here.
    As for you, Paul, how nice of you to check back in! Your next to the last post two days ago is as follows:
    No. I'd rather sit here and chuckle at all the "philosophising" over some cheap'n'cheesy softcore nudie pics... :) Most amusing.... :)
    BTW, have you seen "Two Girls, One Cup"...? That should give you something to get yer philosophical teeth into... :)
    Your very last post before today's was this one, sent shortly after the one above:
    Enjoy the links... :) We ain't judgin', philosophy boy... :)
    Pub.​
    Yes, philosophy is for those of us who are confused--and know it. "Wise" men (and women) do not need philosophy. They already have wisdom, or think they do. The word "philosopher" implies only that one loves and therefore seeks wisdom. It implies absolutely no claim that one has it. Indeed, the implication of the word might be that, if one actually had all wisdom, one could stop philosophizing. To call oneself a "philosopher" (professional or otherwise) is an admission that one is not wise.
    One reason that I cannot stop philosophizing is that I know that I do not have wisdom, that I am, indeed, confused, as you say. "Philosophy" has nothing to do with what one does for a living, although the concept of "professional philosopher" implies that one does indeed teach about a mode of inquiry that we call philosophy, but not about a body of knowledge . Philosophy is not a body of knowledge, but an approach to problems of knowledge. Philosophy is thus something that one does , not something that one has or claims to have. It is a method that is finally about the fine art of conversation, a respectful way of approaching and expressing disagreement.
    Please feel free to join the conversation. You need not keep sniping from the ridge tops, as if you were somehow excluded and had to protest that fact. Come down from your heights and say with words what you have already demonstrated that you can do with cameras: share a bit of yourself with us--but don't ask us to share "Two Girls, One Cup," as you have above. I looked it up on Wikipedia , and it is not something I would ever want to see. I am sure that, had I seen it, I most definitely would not want to go on record as recommending it to anyone else. I am firmly committed to going to my grave without ever having seen it.
    I invite you to the realm of attempted civilized and humane discourse. There is always room at that table.
    Thanks.
    --Lannie
     
  141. To Fred:
    We have been communicating both on the thread and via e-mail, and so I do not always remember where you said what, or what you said where, but I remember your saying that some of the power of the public nude can come from some of the more spontaneous and raw images of the moment, or words to that effect, a statement reflective of Mike Dixon's remarks about the "power" of the public nude in Kent Noble's bike rally pictures as well.
    I appreciate those types of pictures as well, exemplified in these links that you gave us early on Saturday morning:
    http://lukegraydiscourse.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/nangoldin03.jpg
    (Nan Goldin)
    http://www.ryanmcginley.com/photographs.php
    (Ryan McGinley -- check out several of the slides by hitting the little arrow on top of the 1st photo)
    http://www.charlesisaacs.com/Photos/full/Z1026_h.jpg
    (Bill Brandt)
    It is certain that one could get even edgier where sexuality is concerned--and Kent certainly took us there with the pictures of Harleyite culture. (I ride a 1982 Honda 900 for the record, and so I would probably be stoned if I should show up at such an event--and I would certainly have to be stoned if I were to stay.)
    I confess that one reason that I, by contrast, have linked to Grossman, Peri, Phelps, Brian "Beepy" Pawlowski, and others is that I see in their work (which otherwise varies greatly) one common thread: an attempt to truly civilize the portrayal of the uncommon nude.
    As their enterprise grades off into the realm of the portrayal of the public nude, the question has come up as to whether or not the "public nude" is consistent with "civilization," at least as we know it in this culture.
    You, Fred, have suggested stripping away the veneer of civilization, I think, without saying so in so many words, and so I presume that you, too, see the appeal of penetrating to the fiery core of pure Being. I rather like that idea, on the one hand, although how far one can go and have any civilization is a good question. When my older daughter came out in the mid-nineties, I began reading everything that I could get my hands on about the nature, causes, and significance of sexual orientation. Well, this was still in the days in which most people actually walked through libraries and actually browsed the books--almost a lost art now, it seems.
    Browsing with one's hands the actual books in actual analog libraries is something that I do less and less these days. That is a shame, in part because one really has the capacity to hit upon some sources by pure serendipity while looking for something else (not to say that this does not happen on the internet as well). Well, anyway, what I serendipitously happened on that day astonished me: an author writing about "deviant" sexuality who described "homosexuality" as one of those forms of deviance. This itself was not too surprising, since the book had some years on it since it was written and published. In any case, he really seemed to be into "deviance," taking some kind of perverse delight in detailing its myriad forms.
    What he said next, however, stopped me in my intellectual tracks, so to speak. He was in teh middle of saying that a society could exist with public nudity, and he was dutifully reminding us of the many societies in which clothing simply did not and does not exist--and he was quick to point out that these societies were "civilized" (there's that word again). Then came the stunner: he said that what society, any society, could not survive was public sex. He was not talking about the portrayal of public sex in art or porn, etc. He was actually referring to the act itself, or acts themselves.
    That he could believe that was not, in retrospect, all that surprising. What shocked me was the certitude with which he said it. I had never even thought about that issue (and I was probably already in my early fifties), and here was someone saying it with such an air of total authority and certitude that it was not clear that he himself had really given it much thought, either. He was "into" making pronouncements, but not into thinking. I say that because it was a one-line pronouncement without argumentation. He said it and then went on as if he had said nothing at all, or simply remarked on something so obvious that no one could possibly take note of it.
    Well, I took note of it and it has stayed with me. I think that what a lot of people are saying (or thinking) about the public nude is that it, too, cannot be reconciled with civilization. (This could get us into a long and tortuous discussion of what "civilization" is, and I am trying to avoid that.) A civilization in which the public nude has no shock value whatsoever would not be the civilization of the Bible Belt, to say the very least--and perhaps the Bible Belt would be better, for all I know. (I am stuck in it now, it seems, in any case.)
    Fred, your remarks about the works of Peri and Grossman were that they were, perhaps, in a sense too "pretty" (not your word) or too staged, perhaps. I really don't remember how you said it.
    Perhaps. It occurred to me that perhaps a second normative gulf separates participants in this forum. The first normative gulf is between those who could tolerate the public nude as an art form and those who could not. The second normative gulf, I think, is between those who would like to see the rawer side of nudity and even sexuality portrayed in the public nude, as opposed to those (like myself) who might want to manage it, tame it, make it respectable, perhaps by offering some implicit rules (ideals, "fantasies"?) as to what it could show. (I am thinking out loud as I go here. I am not sure if I have a position at this point.)
    In any case, it was while such thoughts were percolating somewhere down deep in my subconscious that I happened on this beautiful photo:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/5900740&size=lg
    No, I have not suddenly taken leave of my senses. (I lost those a long time ago.) I know that it is a picture of a bird. Whatever shock value it has comes in part from the size of the file. What other shock value it has is that it seems to show the impossible: a literal "bird in the hand," a winged creature that has deigned to allow itself to be tamed and stroked--and photographed by the camera in the photographer's other hand.
    Perhaps that is indeed what I have tried to do with the public nude: I have tried to "dress the nude" until it really is not naked anymore, in the same way that the bird is no longer wild anymore. (John Peri's nudes are often wearing something .) Well, we have been domesticating sex for centuries, but now women are saying that they do not want to be so managed and controlled--and they are saying it with their feet, such as my wife of thirty years who walked out one fine Sunday afternoon in Arpil of 1998 without even saying goodbye. Women are funny that way. (Ha, ha.)
    So, to your Nan Goldin masterpieces I offer the, uh, bird in the hand that has come "back," not to be enslaved, but to commune in ways previously thought to be impossible.
    That is the way that I see the public nude as it appears and appeals to me in my dreams, fantasies, ideals--whatever one wants to call it. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  142. Yeah, yeah, I know that I promised that I was leaving, but I just had to share this before I left for those who have never read it. It is by Robert Graves, author of I, Claudius (though his true masterpeice to me is An End to All That , an autobiography written at the age of thirty-five ):
    The Naked and the Nude
    Robert Graves

    For me, the naked and the nude
    (By lexicographers construed
    As synonyms that should express
    The same deficiency of dress
    Or shelter) stand as wide apart
    As love from lies, or truth from art.

    Lovers without reproach will gaze
    On bodies naked and ablaze;
    The Hippocratic eye will see
    In nakedness, anatomy;
    And naked shines the Goddess when
    She mounts her lion among men.

    The nude are bold, the nude are sly
    To hold each treasonable eye.
    While draping by a showman's trick
    Their dishabille in rhetoric,
    They grin a mock-religious grin
    Of scorn at those of naked skin.

    The naked, therefore, who compete
    Against the nude may know defeat;
    Yet when they both together tread
    The briary pastures of the dead,
    By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
    How naked go the sometime nude!
     
  143. "and so I presume that you, too, see the appeal of penetrating to the fiery core of pure Being."​
    Sometimes, but regarding the nudes I posted, not really. The appeal of the photos I posted is that they are physical and sensual (sensual, meaning senses, not erotic). Early on in the thread, you talked about the photos you posted as conveying Ideas. McGinley's photos, I think, are full of pleasure and personality (the photographer's and the subject's), not ideas or ideals and not Being but rather living and experiencing. A simple difference is that most of McGinley's people are on the move (and not just walking for the camera but really active and in play / at play), exuberant and in the moment. There is an immediacy in McGinley's work that is compelling. These are not nudes on pedestals! To me, the nude on the pedestal (or Victorian carpeted staircase), no matter if there's some practical risk of getting caught in your apartment building by a neighbor or out on a Park Avenue Street, makes it safe. You see the public nudes you posted as addressing risks. It's not the risk of getting caught photographing a nude in public that interests me terribly much. There are much more personal risks than that. This is my take on the distinction the poem you posted is trying to make. I might say that the great thing about McGinley's photos is that they are of people who are naked, rather than being "nudes." When a nude is about an Idea, to me, it makes it more safe and more removed. The "nude" is trying too hard and self consciously to be "bold" (the word used in the poem). When a naked person in a photo simply feels like him or herself, I can connect with the moment instead of looking at or just thinking about. There is a youthful innocence in McGinley's naked people. They are not universal, but are more contemporary and express more about individuals than larger concepts. So I can visually touch them. That, more than some Idea, is boldness.
     
  144. If I remember correctly, Claude Levi-Strauss remarked that the Yanomamo engaged in public sex, and had pictures. Mayube in the book by Chagnon (?). However, they didn't go totally nude. They wore little skirts/loincloths.
    I liked the Graves poem. FWIW, for me, his masterpiece is _The White Goddess_.
    Mc Ginley's Urban Outfitters urchins are each other's public. Goldin's work is not about the public nude, more of a personal tribal exploration of people she knows. McGinley concots his own synthetic tribe. Generic, not specific. But that's yet another issue.
    I forget who said it, but...
    Anything looked at long enough is everything.
     
  145. Anything looked at long enough is everything.​
    Thanks for that, Luis. You can say (and imply) more in a few words than anyone I have ever read. You astonish me. Are you perchance a literary critic or language professor? My own style is like a slow freight train, by comparison, especially if one is sitting in one's car and waiting for the too-long train to pass. I shall have to learn to say more in fewer words, rather than saying the same thing twenty-five different ways at the speed of a southern drawl (which I do not, for the record, have).
    I don't know The White Goddess but shall have to check it out.
    Fred, applying the aphoristic statement about looking long enough back to McGinley's photos, I can see what you mean. Powerful stuff--and better the longer one looks at it. Of course, one can appreciate both styles, although perhaps not equally well.
    --Lannie
     
  146. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I've been reading this as an older woman who remembers a remarkable porn shot of a woman fully clothed with a naked cock in front of her, below her eyes, about level with her chin if I remember it correctly. It was a strange image and I'm sorry I didn't download it and keep it, not for its ostensible purpose of being erotic stimulation, but because in this one instance, the man was partial and an object.
    Interesting discussion to come across on this raining Sunday.
     
  147. I'm still reading this thread, but wanted to make a couple comments, as one of my pics was referenced originally.
    It is not a "public nude" by the definition of "shot in public with people passing by." It's a formal image shot in a studio.
    My first and foremost reaction by the way was "Public nudity is a crime - misdemeanor - in most places." While I have been stopped on two occasions (once by hotel security, once by Sunnyvale police) for practicing photography, and detained briefly, for simply practicing photography post-9/11 I actually haven't gone out of my way to flaunt community laws. So, there is an element of legality here.
    My second reaction was Spencer Tunick. I apologize for not reading the whole thread, and I assume he's been mentioned. Tunick photographs nudes in public on a scale that literally boggles the mind - there are so many nudes that you are no longer confronted with a single vulnerable unclothed person - but instead it is you the viewer that is in the minority. His work goes far beyond challenging public nudity laws (which he doesn't do - these are highly organized events with approval of the city fathers). Thinking now, has he ever shot St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City?
    My third reaction was somewhat more subtle. Landrum posted some examples, and everyone got into a "Landrum, interesting point, your examples don't bear out your thesis or question." So, when I shoot, I get model releases that allow me to use the images. The image posted of mine is public post-capture in a way that a single person walking nude down main street will never bear. Yes, the shoot dynamics are different (I shoot clothed, model nude - though some photographers do level the playing field by stripping. I've discussed this with some of my long term collaborators and they assure me that I can keep my clothes on, in fact they seem rather emphatic:). But the concept of "public" is getting extremely complex. Someone gave me permission to post their nude image (well, mostly I do print work, but I am here on photo.net as part of this community to gain critique and participate.) So, squint your eyes and think "She's nude in front of me - and I am looking at here as are everyone else reading this thread.")
    My fourth reaction in relation to virtual vs. real public (community) is the Facebook flap on posting images of a woman breastfeeding. It is allowed nearly everywhere in the US (though sometimes not without eyebrows raised) - as that argument was laid to rest in our post-Similac bottle culture sometime in the '80's I believe - except on Facebook. I find this hugely ironic. One of my favorite images from Lachapelle hits this taboo on the head with a sledgehammer in his image Milk Maidens. I see an image like this and want to grab my camera and start pushing much harder - myself, the world around me.
    Maybe I got off topic - still need that first cup of coffee.
     
  148. Beepy--
    Your third reaction is worth building upon. You've raised great issues.
    Though there is "public" in both the photo shot on the street with people passing by and the photo shot alone in the studio that becomes available to the general population for viewing, I think there's a difference between something showing/conveying/representing/symbolizing public nudity (the photo actually shot in public) and a photograph of a nude that becomes public. The first is about the story being told by the photograph, the expression. The second is about the actual viewing process of the photograph.
    There will be some overlap here. Carrying an awareness that we are "sharing" the nude in the photo with other viewers plays a role in what the photograph is actually showing, conveying, representing, or symbolizing. Yet, no matter how "public" the nude photo originally taken in the privacy of a studio becomes, the viewer is always aware that it was not public at the time. The photographic moment is significant. To emphasize this point, you need only ask yourself as photographer and perhaps ask the subjects of your photos if there isn't a difference between knowing that viewers will eventually see the results of your work vs. inviting them to come to the shoot itself. The live interaction or potential for it between naked person and public in the moment of shooting is a different dynamic from the public display of that same naked person's image.
    I took the thrust of Lannie's point to be how we respond to the notion (as conveyed via a photograph) of that live interaction. If there is, indeed, power and glory, it would apply differently to walking down the street nude (with or without a photographer in tow) vs. posting your nude picture on that very same street . . . and then an even greater difference to putting that photo in a gallery, even one that's on line.
    It's a good reminder of the power not of the nude but of the photograph. And a reminder that the experience of the photograph is not the same as the experience of the moment in which the photograph was taken.
     
  149. It's a good reminder of the power not of the nude but of the photograph. And a reminder that the experience of the photograph is not the same as the experience of the moment in which the photograph was taken.​
    Thank you for that, Fred. Yes, the issues raised in this thread finally go way beyond public nude photography per se.
    Beepy, you have added an interesting wrinkle that I anticipated from someone sooner or later. Here are a few of shots by John Crosley that introduce yet other levels of complexity and sources of tension between the photographer and the public and its mores:
    CAUTION: NOT ALL OF THE FOLLOWING DEPICT NUDITY, PUBLIC OR OTHERWISE:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/2108633
    http://www.photo.net/photo/5733256
    http://www.photo.net/photo/5749108
    http://www.photo.net/photo/5537202
    http://www.photo.net/photo/6325750
    http://www.photo.net/photo/6259016
    http://www.photo.net/photo/5442703
    http://www.photo.net/photo/6451994
    http://www.photo.net/photo/6532642
    By the way, for those who might want to contribute but who are feeling a bit hesitant to do so, may I recommend doing what I am doing at this moment: listening to an old Janis Joplin album.
    --Lannie
     
  150. Rebecca, thank you for your comment and for your being the first woman to dare to post to this thread.
    I regret that we have no prizes to award for the various types of contributions and contributors.
    --Lannie
     
  151. Fred hit a point:
    It's a good reminder of the power not of the nude but of the photograph. And a reminder that the experience of the photograph is not the same as the experience of the moment in which the photograph was taken.​
    On the first sentence. A separate point is made in the second. But the second point is fluid. I do a lot of directed photography where the setup and people in the image are assembled. And then I push the button. I am often left wanting to move on to the next thing. Particularly with digital, I know exactly what was captured, but remember Winogrand left 2,500 rolls of exposed but undeveloped film behind. The photographer's and participants experience is fleeting, the image is the experience that other's participate in, and then we close circle with the first sentence of the power of the photograph.
    Maybe somewhere in here loosely tied to this thread is that all photographers are voyeurs, and all people in photographs are exhibitionists, and the lines are much more blurred between the specifics of public vs. non-public once the genie (image) is let out of the bottle.
    Need more coffee.
     
  152. I need a drink--and I don't even drink.
    Uh, are we still in Photo.net? I personally feel that we are deep in philosophical space, and that someone just cut the umbilical cord to the mother ship.
    http://www.photo.net/photo/5795712
    --Lannie
     
  153. Perhaps it is well to remember that this is not the first time that many of these issues have come up, as in this earlier thread on this very forum:
    http://www.photo.net/philosophy-of-photography-forum/00FRmJ
    There are some great one-liners here and there.
    --Lannie
     
  154. I'm always fascinated by how what would seem like an otherwise mundane moment can translate to a compelling photograph. Unfortunately, the converse of that is true as well. Fabulous moments often translate to lousy photographs. "Translate" is a poor choice of words. Because the moment, very often, doesn't translate. It seems more to be transformed into a photograph.
    I sometimes feel I've caught a gleam in a subject's eye (in the right light and with the right exposure and focus) that tells a different emotional story from the overt story at the time of capture. I don't think we're ever really complete in our emotional states. When we are overwhelmingly sad, our eyes may still at some point tell of something different, especially as read through a lens. That may become the truth of the photograph while being much less about the truth of the moment.
    Then again, it's really amazing when you captur the soul of the moment.
    No wonder we love it.
     
  155. The first line from the thread Lannie linked: "The nude has always provided great insight into ourselves."
    This discussion is about the participants "hang ups" about nudity. I use "hang ups" because I'm an old guy, and for me it means something like: the deep psychological consequences of the enculturation one has "suffered". Not all hang ups are pathological, of course, but many are. Many of the images linked in the latter part of this thread are obviously touching some of the deepest consequences of our repressed and Puritan lives, and couching the reactions in profound philosophical rhetoric may obscure, but does not change that.
    Such discussion can be very interesting, enlightening, and even therapeutic, but I really don't think the real topic here is nudes. To quote Lannie's original post, "Rather (it seems to me) they challenge an entire social order, or possibly all social orders (although I would not want to claim that, as some have done)."
    It's that simple, and that complex. Nudity challenges Judeo-Christian-Puritan-Conservative social order, and that's why there are now 150 posts here. It's culture at work on your subconscious, and the struggle to articulate it is difficult. Nudes challenge some social orders very deeply, although some social orders would hardly notice them, and would very likely spend far less time photographing them and then discussing the photographs.
    One can defend social order, or one can simply "listen" to challenges, meditate on them and decide which are genuinely dangerous, or profound, or meaningless. I think that, other than the aesthetic qualities of the human form, nudes are actually quite meaningless, except for the ways in which they touch our deepest fears about the social order.
    I mean, really, taking off your clothes is Important? To whom? Why would that be except for some rather silly social conventions? We are all naked under our clothes, but hardly anyone wants to admit that, and when someone proves it, we talk about it for days.
    It's just culture, and culture is hardly ever profound; it's just very useful. Except, of course, when it's harmful.
     
  156. Great post, Larry!
    It's just culture, and culture is hardly ever profound; it's just very useful. Except, of course, when it's harmful.​
    Yes, and sometimes, when it is harmful, we do not have a general cultural disaster, only disappointed personal expectations when reality does not live up to our idealized expectations.
    Or, as Bert Reitter says with the following photo, "If you tie your hopes to an illusion, you are bound to end up in disappointment":
    http://www.photo.net/photo/5848255&size=lg
    The question with regard to cultural norms is always, I think, whether or not they are based on such "illusions."
    --Lannie
     
  157. Philosophically speaking, the ancient concept of glorifying the beauty of the human form has been the most utilized reason for the art nude. Whether in photography, painting, sculpture, or other art forms, that has been the standard line.
    While I do believe there may be those who subscribe to this line of reason, I really think it is the same thing as saying..."I only look at Playboy for the articles". :)
    People are sensually stimulated by the notion of nakedness. You can look at nudes all day and talk about the technical nature of the production, but you are still going to use part of your brain to explore the body for more pruriant satisfaction. I know I can view a Victoria's Secret catalogue and admire the craftsmanship of the lighting and composition. But I'm still going to think a lot about the chicks and how nice they look. If you are human, it is natural to put aside the "art" for a minute and just LOOK. When you are shooting a model, tell me you are not going to "check her out" for her good looking attributes. It would be very difficult, artist or not, to completely separate yourself from the most elementary human instincts.
    Anyway, that's my opinion on this subject.
     
  158. Public exposure of human form can not be a factor changing social order but the changes of SO on base of evolving economics usually brings change in moral and aesthetic setup thus more/less tolerance in cases. Even in one given socium people are not similar in their degrees of intelectual development, religious, moral and aesthetic attainments, tastes and experiences. That is normal or usual among members of cultural elite can be seen as way too challanging among other social groups and in this way potentially disruptive to functions of society. No wonder many prefer to stay away from it or even deny it for the sake of common sociability.
     
  159. It would be very difficult, artist or not, to completely separate yourself from the most elementary human instincts. --Lou Korell​
    That is surely true, Lou, and even physicians are bound to notice the attributes of their patients--as you also surely do of your clients fully dressed.
    It is quite another leap to say that physicians specialize in obstetrics and gynecology in order to get a peek. There are surely some artists who deal with the nude who have not only the self-discipline but a sense of the sacred sufficiently strong to restrain them from ogling their models--and rest assured that many persons do have a sense of the sacred where sexuality is concerned. If you are saying that we all notice and that we all look, then of course I would have to agree with you--but for [straight] men that is typically as true of a dressed woman as for an undressed woman. (In fact, sometimes the dressed or partially dressed woman is a lot sexier than one who is totally nude. A perusal of pictures of women in varying states of dress and undress will surely confirm this.)
    The ineluctable tension that all of us face as human beings is that we all feel a sense of specialness (and possibly even sacredness) about the human body even as we also are capable of being driven by the prurient interest when gazing upon it. That tension can, I believe, be a source of great creativity for the artist. In addition, there is a difference between admiration and the rawest lust.
    We need not, that is, always give in to our baser instincts. Yes, sexuality and emotions evoked by the naked form can be raw and nearly ferocious--and also healthy at the same time, I believe, if in their proper time and place. That hardly means that those who engage in nude photography are lechers or perverts of some sort. I strongly suspect that they are just like the rest of us--bundles of contradictions yet trying to resolve those contradictions and be better than we are.
    I do not doubt that there are really sick types out there trying (at this very moment) to line up some amateur model from Craigslist for the worst possible reasons--simply to see a woman naked, or worse. To leap from that to say that persons seeking models for serious work are similarly motivated is simply untrue.
    What has always struck me about the best artists in the genres of nude painting and nude photography is how often they speak of a special if not sacred bond that they develop with their models. They know that they have been given a sacred trust in their callings as artists, and I think that many of them try to live up to the requirements of trust with the utmost purity of heart.
    Would I be capable of that kind of purity of heart while photographing nudes? No, I do not think that I would, and perhaps that is one reason that I stay away from it and shoot landscapes and old falling-down houses instead.
    --Lannie
     
  160. That's right Lannie, there's nothing like those old antique wooden doors to get the old blood pumping, eh? LOL
    Unfortunately you are right, there probably are those who's intent is not necessarily purely artistic or photographic. That is why we have to go out of our way as photographers to make our subjects feel comfortable and safe in those situations where any type of nude or semi-nude style is involved. I'm sure that when news of some crime being committed by a would-be photographer is aired, the rest of us cringe with disgust - not only because it is horrible but because our jobs have just become a bit more difficult by default.
    It is not easy to go up to someone and ask them to model because you think they look good. Our very legitimacy is in question at that point and I'm sure many of us, including myself tend to avoid the situation altogether given the instant feeling of suspicion.
    One can only wonder how difficult it must be for the model to ensure they are dealing with a reputable artist. I don't know how they do it.
     
  161. "bundles of contradictions"
    Which is why a serious artist may or may not feel "a sacred bond that they develop with their models."
    I have photographed many men naked and not once felt that sacred bond, nor would I have wanted to.
    From a Wordpress blog: "Mapplethorpe was known for treating his models as puppets whom he could easily manipulate into compromising erotic and autoerotic scenarios."
    We all know Hitchcock's history with his actresses. I heard Tippi Hedren (Marni, The Birds) speak once at the Castro Theater and she said she considered Hitchcock a brilliant artist, yet after a couple of films with him she broke a contract she had signed to do quite a few more because he was such a lecher.
    I find that associating morality with aesthetics is dangerous business. That's why I have recoiled several times at the assumption either of something "sacred" or "glorious" about the nude or public nude. The nude can certainly be those things. Or not.
     
  162. I should add that, of course, criminal behavior towards one's subjects or models is a different matter, and the type of behavior expected both of photographer and model will vary widely depending on the type of shoot it is and the goals of the collaboration.
     
  163. I'd like to bring it back to what seemed like an interesting recent line of discussion in this thread, the difference between the moment and the photograph. Having respect for and even considering sacred the subject you're working with doesn't mean you will make or even try to make a photograph that will express or communicate that sacredness. One can feel a very sacred bond with a subject while making a very profane photograph. The reverse is true. A very overtly sexual/voyeuristic/objectifying liaison can transform itself into what will appear and be a sacred photograph. All kinds of transformations take place between the morality of the moment and the aesthetics of the photograph. Or not. The photograph may well reflect very closely and intimately the moment. That moment and the resulting photograph -- regarding nudes, public or private -- may be sacred or profane, loving or illicit, spiritual or physical, and lots of gray areas in between.
     
  164. That's why I have recoiled several times at the assumption either of something "sacred" or "glorious" about the nude or public nude. The nude can certainly be those things. Or not.​
    Fred, you are reading something into my comments about "sacredness" and "morality" which I have neither said nor implied.
    I have NOT said that the public nude is sacred. (It is quite possibly quite profane!) I have made reference to sacredness only in the context of respect for the body, as on the part of a doctor examining a patient, etc. I stand by what I said.
    There most certainly are ethical considerations at stake where the treatment, use, or display of another's body is concerned.
    My assumption is that nude art/photography can be a legitimate and ethical enterprise. (Is my assumption perchance false?) In my opinion, it is neither legitimate or ethical if the intent is tawdry attempts at stimulation, much less attempts to debase or debauch.
    As for the "public nude." its moral status is actually quite problematic for me, and thus the origins of this thread. I have not decided myself what to think of the public nude.
    --Lannie
     
  165. I want my doctor looking at my body as something physical, something he will use his or her scientific tools to diagnose and treat. Sacredness is something deserving of a divine or religious respect. Whether sacred or profane, I don't see the choice or even the whole tone of the formulation as very pertinent to doctors, artists, naked bodies, sexuality, or photos of nudes.
    We do seem to be going around in circles at this point and I don't think there's as much misunderstanding as healthy disagreement. I'm satisfied with what's been covered in this thread and think it will make us all think, a good result. Thanks for starting it.
     
  166. jtk

    jtk

    Landrum...I'm missing something here.
    WHY do you think "public nude" is "powerful" ?
    Are you referring to police powers, your religious roots, your own physical responses?
     
  167. John, here is a portion of my original posting:
    Such nudes often do not derive their power, appeal, or fascination from traditional aesthetic considerations, nor even from their capacity to evoke lust. (If they did that, they would be among the highest rated nudes on a popular and accessible site such as Photo.net, but they seldom are.)​
    By using the "or" rather than "and" in the phrase "power, appeal, or fascination" above I meant to leave the definition of "power" open-ended. Is a photo powerful only in the sense of being (for some) fascinating? Is it powerful for having some kind of appeal (for some people)?
    By being deliberately ambiguous at times, I have tried to approach this thread in such a way as to allow persons to frame the question in their own way so that they can have full latitude in answering it. This all goes back to my approach to teaching political theory and other related courses: I want students (in that context) to have full latitude to challenge my way of phrasing the question. The same applies here not to students but to posters.
    Think of the question as being like a photo or a painting, John, wherein it typically does not matter so much what the artist' motives were. What is more interesting is what the viewer reads into the art. So it is, I think, in political philosophy and other branches of philosophy. I have only wanted to draw people out, not force them to answer the original question on my terms.
    So redefine the question as you will, and then please answer your own version of the question, if you will. We would love to hear from you.
    The question of what kind of "power" is involved (if any) came up some days back, and then again later in various incarnations, but I don't remember precisely where.
    --Lannie
     
  168. Lannie--
    I just realized that I wrote this response thinking that what John Kelly wrote above was a response from YOU to me and that YOU were asking me why I saw the public nude as powerful (I hadn't noticed that the post was from him). But I still think this is worth posting as a summary of my thoughts on the matter.
    All along I've rejected the characterization of the public nude as powerful. I think you've been giving it too much significance. I thought it made for an interesting thread and love hearing people's opinions on it, but ultimately I always felt the premise of the thread was overstated. I gave the photographic examples I did, because I thought of them as examples of nudes that were not about power. These are quotes from my posts, consistently suggesting I don't relate to the power concept of the nude you've asserted:
    "What's happening here, in my opinion, is that we are seeing representations of public nudity and being stimulated to philosophical thoughts about public nudity, shame, power, glory, etc. "
    "I don't find anything that shows me an intention to say something about power or glory."

    This is the best statement of my point of view from May 14 above, talking about my own experiences and take on photographing nudes and public nudes:
    "For me, it's about exploring who I am at this stage in my life and how I see others and how they see and present themselves. It's about expressing something of that exploration. I'm not really much in tune with the notion of power and glory as it relates here. It seems somewhat distanced and statement-oriented to me."
    My contributions here, as I see them, were to convey an alternative to yours (though I think SOME pubic nudes are seeking to be a statement of power). I've been suggesting that nudes can be earthy, mundane, fun, personal, and individual. Oftentimes, they can be compelling and visually moving or appealing without being either powerful or glorious.
     
  169. Fred, I have noticed your masterful way of critiquing not so much my answers as my questions.
    Then again, you obviously know the philosophical game and can play it very well. . . .
    In my first line of this thread I said, "perhaps I am in trouble from the beginning simply for the title on this one." Yes, indeed, what do we even mean by "the power and the glory," if indeed we find either power or glory in the public nude?
    This has been fun, sort of like a class where no one wants to leave at the end of the hour.
    --Lannie
     
  170. jtk

    jtk

    Landrum, You appear to have made assertions about "power" in the guise of asking questions ..which in turn seem to revolve around your own personal issues.
    I think you're framing these looooong posts around your own reactions, which appear to involve unexamined assumptions (religious, perhaps...Kelly suggests RC, Kelley suggests Orange/Protestant).
    Your statement, below, leaped out when I first looked at this thread:
    "I think that something significant is at stake here with regard to our psychological makeup--or our discontent with what passes for civilization."
    1) you believe public nudity is significant in some way.
    2) you think the significance, in which you believe, is in "our psychological makeup" (as opposed to your own personal makeup)
    3) you attribute mysterious power, as if it was a magical solvent, to the word "psychological."
    4) wise-cracking "passes for civilization" says directly that there's another more real civilization elsewhere in your imagination. But there isn't one in any world outside your head, never has been...and "civilization" doesn't mean "better than what we have." Look it up. "Passes for civilization" seems to tell a tale of its own.
    5) Examination of personal feelings and hangups can be helpful, but when one of us claims instead that his own "powerful" personal feelings are "ours" it is sometimes a defensive ploy...
     
  171. Aw, come on, you know that I've been discussing both your premises and your conclusions, your questions and your answers all along. Sorry if it feels as if I was toying with you ("philosophical game"). That was not my intention.
    Signing out for now.
     
  172. "[W[ise-cracking 'passes for civilization' says directly that there's another more real civilization elsewhere in your imagination." --John Kelly​
    John, I had indeed just said that "I think that something significant is at stake here with regard to our psychological makeup--or our discontent with what passes for civilization. "
    If it was wise-cracking, 'twas just a play on Freud's title, Civilization and Its Discontents. I am surprised that you missed the allusion. You read a lot of stuff into my words, real deep Freudian stuff. Man, I am mystified by your powers.
    Fred, I was ribbing you. It has been a good exchange. Alas, 'twas also too good to last.
    --Lannie
     
  173. jtk

    jtk

    Lannie, you're being unnecessarily defensive. There's nothing wrong with your desire to talk about your own responses to public nudes.
    To my knowledge, Freud said nothing about "passing for civilization." He was a grownup, well educated in history as well as in his science.
    ...but, if you know otherwise, please cite.
    I'm not well read in Freud. His ideas about dreamwork were interesting but didn't lead as far as they still might...on the other hand his "interpretations", even though bogus, may have been powerful when he imposed them on his women patients (women in particular). That's how religious influences, such as the "power" you've talked about, work when presented to impressionable audiences.
     
  174. Lannie, you're being unnecessarily defensive. There's nothing wrong with your desire to talk about your own responses to public nudes. --John Kelly​
    I certainly hope not, John, because I have been commenting about the public nude for almost nine days now! In addition, as some like to say, "the internet is forever." That is, I am on public record, in a very verbose mood through most of my posts during that time, and perhaps too open and vulnerable, rather than too defensive.
    In any case, I am not trying to be defensive, John. I simply have already responded to numerous questions very similar to yours in the course of this very long thread. I'm frankly ready to call it a day. I have no single thesis to advance here, with the exception of one offered at the beginning that I favor somewhat: "they [that is, portrayals of persons nude in public] challenge an entire social order, or possibly all social orders." My view is thus congruent up to a point with that of Brian Grossman.
    I see the public nude (as manifested in Brian Grossman's work at least) as a kind of glorification of a social order in which persons do indeed throw off a lot of restraints and live freely, and perhaps according to Freud's "pleasure principle" in which nothing impedes the free expression of their sexuality. I think that any fascination that the public nude has for many persons is simply a reflection of many persons' secret desire to live such a life--even if they can actually live it to any degree at all (as a practical matter) only in private fantasies. (Paradoxical, no?) Even nudists do not try to live that way, after all, having rather strict rules governing sexual behavior. Grossman's nudes do not show the overt or explicit sexuality, but I think that they suggest or imply it. That is debatable, of course, as is almost every point made by anyone on this thread. Persons from another cultural tradition might see none of that in his nudes.
    That is one take on the appeal of the public nude, and I invite you to peruse the thread at your leisure for others' opinions. I could spin out quite a number of other takes on it which I have entertained during the course of this thread, but my original posting still is the best summary statement of my view--without being either a condemnation or endorsement of the public nude, or of the social order that such a type of photography might be seen to imply for many persons (certainly not all).
    Your questions and comments merit a better response, but I am tired and will close for now, except to say this: there are other ways of looking at Brian's (and others') photos of the public nude that emphasize something different from the free display of sexuality. One such way is to see persons living unencumbered by clothes, but otherwise constrained and self-disciplined to the point that they might be considered to be "spiritually clothed," to use a religious metaphor of which I am very fond. I think that I am fond of it because it suggests that persons might possibly be able to "sublimate" (oops, Freud again!) their sexuality and live a rather ordinary and prosaic life except for the fact that they just do not have any hang-ups about displayiing their bodies. This view has been defended by many here, including myself at times. I can argue many ways on these issues, as I am sure that you can as well.
    As I said in at least two other places above, one considers the various interpretations, thrashes them out with one's friends, and then says "Who knows?!" and walks away, having resolved nothing except to admit at the end that one does not know the answer. One simply hopes that one understands the questions a bit better.
    Thanks for seriously asking my opinion.
    --Lannie
     
  175. jtk

    jtk

    Lannie, I enjoy extended discussion and argumentation...as you know. But I don't understand why you're so reluctant to admit and expand upon your personal views. It's not an abstract "political philosophic" issue, it's carnal. IMO.
    You've posted a number of prolix explanations for the "power" you personally experience in these nudes. IMO it'd be more interesting if you'd talk openly about what drives you to be so concerned with what seems to me to be routine...like enjoyment of wine or fresh air.
    Is this a generational thing? Are you one of Gen X's modern Eisenhower Era II people?
    Me, I'm still a creature of the Sixties (and seemingly the turn of the 20th century). I find nudity "powerful" in an erotic or admiration-of-physical fitness (or disgusting lack of fitness) sense. It's not a puzzle, not intellectually interesting to me. Different strokes I guess.
    Beautiful images, such as Michaelangelo's sculpture of David, gain their beauty from an implied or directly indicated erotic core...IMO. I don't think that reduces their "artistic" power...I think their "artistic" power springs directly from eros in many instances, that sculpture and much of the work of Stieglitz for example. You seem uncomfortable with directness of that sort...why?
     
  176. Right, so I have read (or skimmed) every post in this thread and it took me more than an hour to do so. It has been an interesting read to say the least.
    For a long time I struggled to understand your position(s), Lannie, and I very much appreciate your most recent post as I feel I finally have a full grasp upon what your original point was. I feel I would like to add a number of points to this discussion.
    ***
    First, I think it is useful to recognize the limitations you put on this discussion from the beginning. You said:
    "Such nudes often do not derive their power, appeal, or fascination from traditional aesthetic considerations, nor even from their capacity to evoke lust."​
    So, you allow (recognize?) that there may be public nude photography where aesthetic appeal IS the source of the appeal for the viewer. I can think here of Wynn Bullock's nudes in nature. Your statement also allows images of public nudes where the power and appeal of the image lies in the latent sexuality of the image.
    You then posited that the remaining images of the public nude can derive their power from:
    "a kind of glorification of a social order in which persons do indeed throw off a lot of restraints and live freely"​
    or from the depiction of those who have divorced their sexuality from their nakedness and are comfortable in displaying their nudity with regard to sexuality (this I am more skeptical about, but shall let it pass for now).
    So, thus far, I agree with your position. There are indeed a great many images of the nudes in public where the power or appeal of the image for the viewer lies in the flaunting of social order.
    However, I feel I should offer some clarifications of my position.
    1. I think there are photos of nudes in public where the power, appeal, or fascination for the viewer of the image does not have much (if anything) to do with the public nudity.
    For example, in many of the images by Ryan McGinley linked to above, the nudity is entirely incidental. The given image would work and have a similar emotion impact (on this viewer at least) if the main subject was fully clothed. I feel the nudity in those images is present because that nudity is an underlying current connecting the various images into a cohesive collection to be shown together. I am sure I have seen other examples where there is a public nude, but the nudity is not the principle source of interest in the image.
    2. I think there are photos of nudes in public where the power, appeal, or fascination for the viewer of the image lies in the nudity of the subject does not have do with aesthetic beauty, sexual desire, or with the flaunting of the conventional social order.
    For example, a nude in public image could be about the connection between two figures despite their public location.
    3. I think your original question also uses the word power in a couple of different ways. You seem to use it as a synonym for appeal and for fascination. However, I feel you have also implied that the nude public figure in photographs has a powerful quality.
    I accept that is can have that quality. But, I do not think that a nude in public has a quality of power by default or that it is intrinsic in the subject matter.
    4. I think the power of a photograph lies, to a much greater degree, in the response of the viewer rather than in the image itself. In this way, I think much of your position is a personal view rather than a universal 'truth'.
    For example, I can think of many public nude photographs which I do not feel challenge a social order at all. But, perhaps this is because I do not share in your sense of social order and its conventions.
    For example, I recently had a very heated discussion on chowhound about the merits of the social conventions around wearing suits to things like funerals, job interviews, or restaurants and whether wearing a suit showed respect and not wearing a suit was disrespectful. This became an animated and heated discussion wth several people vehemently arguing either position.
    I get the impression that you and I would respond quite differently to encountering a nude person in public in real life in a variety of settings. Perhaps your social order is more easily or more thoroughly challenged by nudity than mine. This probably extends to a much more basic level too. For example, what nudity itself means to you and what nudity means to me probably differs.
    5. I think this discussion have somehow neglected the importance of context. One nude woman in a mid-western USA supermarket aisle has a different meaning than many nude people together. Moreover, nude children, nude women, nude men, passively sitting nudes, actively engaged nudes and so on all have different meanings to the viewer. Only some of these would even slightly hint at the ideas of defying social order that you raised.
    6. Lastly, in those images where I would agree with you that the purpose was to challenge the social order, that challenge can come in two very different ways.
    First, the image itself can document such a challenge. For example, a nude in a place and a culture where nudes do not belong will articulate through the image itself a certain level of challenge to the generally accepted social constructs.
    Second, the image can contain no such challenge yet the publication or use of the image can create such a challenge (intentionally or unintentionally on the part of the artist). For example, it can document nudity in a place where it is perfectly natural yet the publication challenges societal norms. I am thinking of the controversies surrounding images by Nan Goldin, Sally Mann, or Jock Sturges.
    ***
    On a final note, I have never understood what you meant by 'glory'. Would you care to articulate your use of that term here?
     
  177. But I don't understand why you're so reluctant to admit and expand upon your personal views. --John Kelly​
    John, are you out of your mind? I have been doing nothing else since May 11 on this very thread.
    --Lannie
     
  178. On a final note, I have never understood what you meant by 'glory'. Would you care to articulate your use of that term here? --Ian Cox-Leigh​
    Sorry, guys, I cannot start the thread over. As for "glory," here is the beginning of a section posted by me back on May 12 at 12:37 a.m. (above, way back, near the beginning):
    The "glory" that was uppermost in my mind was the glory of the human form itself. . . .​
    There is surely more to be said. So, let me hear from you guys . Rephrase and re-frame the questions and issues any way you like--and then address the issues as you see them.
    My own views just are not that interesting or significant.
    REVEAL YOURSELVES !
    --Lannie
     
    • But I don't understand why you're so reluctant to admit and expand upon your personal views. --John Kelly
    --Lannie
    John, are you out of your mind? I have been doing nothing else since May 11 on this very thread.​
    Really?
    Well, despite really trying to wrap my head around your position, I still can't quite see why you feel that nudes-in-public form any sort of cohesive group.You have posted many examples that you feel contain the sort of meaning that you initially posited. For the most part, I agree that the examples you have chosen do indeed contain the meanings you mentioned. However, you seem to take this further. From your original post and from many of your follow-up posts, you clearly seem to feel that there is something inherent in nudes-in-public images that lead them to have a shared effect on the viewer or a unity of meaning on at least some level. You certainly haven't seemed to accept any of the people (or their examples) who have expressed an opposing view on that point.
    So, I really am curious as to this point: why did you feel that nudes-in-public formed a group that could be discussed as an entity? What is it about this subject that makes it homogeneous enough that all work in the subject shares similar reasons for its appeal?
    For example, I don't think anyone would try and discuss landscapes in the way your OP discusses this genre. I think it is generally accepted that landscapes are appealing and generate audiences through a variety of means and with a wide variety of results. Why do you feel that nudes-in-public are different or more similar to each other? I don't and I think I made that position clear in my post.
    Note: I'm open to hearing a response from anyone in agreement with the OP or the main thrust of that argument – not just you Lannie (I can understand if you're all talked out here).
    ***
    The "glory" that was uppermost in my mind was the glory of the human form itself. . .​
    Oh, I see. Well, I wouldn't be willing to accept that there is anything particularly glorious in the human form at all.
     
  179. What is it about this subject that makes it homogeneous enough that all work in the subject shares similar reasons for its appeal? --Ian Cox-Leigh​
    Is it homogeneous? Must there be a single reason for its appeal? (I hear you saying "No.") There might yet be some generalizations that could be made, Ian, but surely they would have to be qualified immediately as it became obvious that the genre is really quite complex.
    To be quite honest, I never anticipated the range of perspectives, nor the complexity of the issues, in advance. I only anticipated that persons might want to re-frame the question as I put it in the original posting. I also suspect that we have only begun to scratch the surface with regard to the complexity of the various topics. There are many, many other issues that I have considered but not yet broached in this thread.
    For example, is the "nude self-portrait" rightly conceived of as being in the genre of "public nude"? One's first reaction might be to say, "No, since it is taken in private." Upon reflection, however, there is something different in the nude self-portrait that is different from other nudes. Perhaps it is the discarding of any pretense at anonymity, as in the case of Amy Powers, former recipient of Photo of the Week--or at least I presume that that name was not a pseudonym. The fact is that I do not know, but Googling her name brings up nothing now, so who knows? If it was her name, however, then her photos were "public' in some sense. (Perhaps she is still shooting and even posting under another name. Who knows?)
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=51959
    Then there is the afore-mentioned "Julia von Lippe," in which case I know that the name is pseudonymous. Since she has not revealed her identity to the public at large, are her shots of herself examples of the "public nude"? I confess that I do not know the answers to these myriad questions:
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/user?user_id=1442954
    In other words, the element of publicity is perhaps not merely about being seen in public, but perhaps (in some cases) revealing oneself in public--including perhaps revealing one's identity.
    In other words, even the concept of the "public nude" has turned out to be problematic and controversial.
    There was a lot of controversy at the outset of this thread as to whether this one by Brian "Beepy" Pawlowski might qualify as a "public nude." I think that in one sense it does, if only because she may be seen as practicing for a public performance, where she would be (I presume) clothed:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/3251073
    In another sense it clearly was not shot in public.
    So, it would appear that not only "power" and "glory" admit of many definitions and perspectives, but that the same might be said even more forcefully for the concept of the "public nude."
    Again, I had no idea of the complexity of the issues that would be raised when I started this thread over nine days ago.
    Even the concept of "nude" is perhaps not as simple or obvious as it appears. One may, after all, sometimes reveal more about oneself through words than through photos. In such a case,"how naked go the sometimes nude," in the immortal words of Robert Graves.
    --Lannie
     
  180. I am surprised that no one has called me on the literary and biblical allusions in the title of this thread:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_and_the_Glory
    Have I profaned the glory of God by using a portion of the Lord's Prayer to name this thread?
    --Lannie
     
  181. On top of that issue is that I have also made a "musical allusion" to a title used by Phil Ochs for what he saw as his finest piece of song-writing, in which he offered a possible alternative national anthem to our existing "war anthem":
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_and_the_Glory
    Long live Phil Ochs, who killed himself in 1976 in his mid-thirties. Stars that shine so brightly in the firmament often do not burn for long. I even remember one title somewhere (about something, I forget what): Was Jesus a Suicide? What about Martin Luther King, Jr., or Gandhi, or Socrates?
    Long live Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison, while I am at it. . . .
    But I am drifting far from the topic, no?
    Perhaps not so far: What all of the above did was to live very public lives, revealing themselves right down to their very souls. Perhaps they were the most naked, most vulnerable of all of us.
    And they were unashamed.
    --Lannie
     
  182. Then there is this one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRot89Tws2Y
    or this one:
    http://www.saintpetersbasilica.org/Altars/Pieta/Pieta.htm
    and even this one:
    http://www.dnamagazine.com.au/articles/news.asp?news_id=2733
    --Lannie
     
  183. jtk

    jtk

    Lannie, all those links and references, along with the incredible length and confusion of your writing, combine to suggest that something personally sensitive is being hidden.
    Saying "My own views just are not that interesting or significant" seems intended to divert attention from exactly those views...perhaps from an obsession.
    I think it'd be interesting if you shared your own feelings and belief history, attempting clear, direct writing. Perhaps that clarity would lead to some strong photographs.
    May I suggest: http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Style-Fourth-William-Strunk/dp/020530902X
     
  184. ' Power ', ' Glory ',... Bible-esque words, perhaps masqueraded to be revelations about the nudes they describe, when those nudes ( any ) can do without any revelation at all, don't need to be disclosed for there's nothing to disclose, not through mind nor matter. Or at least there shouldn't be, wouldn't that be perfect...
    About some music & lyrics, beautifully visual and photographic :
    " I dreamed about you baby, it was just the other night. Most of you was naked, but some of you was light "
    Waiting For The Miracle, Leonard Cohen
     
  185. ' Power ', ' Glory ',... Bible-esque words, perhaps masqueraded to be revelations about the nudes they describe. . . . --Phylo Dayrin​
    Actually, Phylo, I had not really thought about "the power and the glory" as being from the Lord's Prayer until I looked up the phrase in Wikipedia this morning, probably around nine a.m.
    John, do yourself and the rest of us a big favor and get a life. No one gives a flip about your evaluations of persons , just the topic(s) of the thread. If you cannot offer something constructive or new on the issues , then please get off the thread.
    As for Strunk and White, you might be interested in this:
    http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/happy-birthday-strunk-and-white/
    --Lannie
     
  186. Wow. I had to check the titile of this forum to make sure I hadn't stumbled into the Photographer Therapy forum.
    " A man cannot speak but he judges himself." - Emerson (I think).
    We all reveal ourselves, naked, to anyone who actually hears us. All of us.
     
  187. Well said, Larry. I think that that is why writing on sensitive topics is always such a risky enterprise, psychologically and socially speaking. We know that we are going to be evaluated by what we say or write, and we know that much of it will be negative.
    I know no other way to proceed in such hazardous waters than to try to keep rowing fast enough to leave the sharks behind.
    --Lannie
     
  188. Here is a nice photo with commentary by a woman for a change, our own beloved Pnina Evental:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/9219074
    Perhaps she will have more to say after she returns from her trip. Since English is not her first language, she is having trouble slogging through all this.
    --Lannie
     
  189. jtk

    jtk

    "...writing on sensitive topics is always such a risky enterprise, psychologically and socially speaking. We know that we are going to be evaluated by what we say or write, and we know that much of it will be negative." - Landrum Kelly
    Did anybody here say anything "negative" about a "sensitive" topic?

    LK took no "risk" and I have not "evaluated" anything beyond the quality of his writing (B-). Several of us evidently read his words more carefully than he'd expected, but that's life in the fast lane.

    While some did disagree, nobody said anything "negative" about the "power" LK personally reports in photographs of public nudity.
     
  190. "Lannie, all those links and references, along with the incredible length and confusion of your writing, combine to suggest that something personally sensitive is being hidden. Saying 'My own views just are not that interesting or significant' seems intended to divert attention from exactly those views...perhaps from an obsession." --John Kelly​
    John, it would appear that your memory is quite short.
    Can you bring yourself to address the issues raised in the thread rather than speculate on my possible "obsession," or presume that something "personally sensitive is being hidden," much less suggest that my strategies for moving beyond your ad hominem remarks are "intended to divert attention from exactly those views."
    I said it before and I will say it again: please address the issues or get off the thread. The thread is not about me or my presumed psychopathology, John.
    This is two requests that I have made. Malicious and defamatory remarks will not be tolerated on Photo.net anymore than they will in the larger society.

    Once more, if you cannot direct your attention to the issues and refrain from the ad hominem remarks, then, in my opinion, you should exit the thread, the forum, and possibly the site--permanently.
    By the way, what does "
    life in the fast lane" mean in your very last post?
    --Lannie
     
  191. The guy is so tough I think I will better joint him before it's too late.
    Khm..
    There is valueable book on subject related issues I can recommend: The Boby. Photoworks of the human form. William A. Ewing. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27781-8. Offers structured and balanced overview of the subject thorough the times, places as well as different perspectives.
     
  192. The "glory" that was uppermost in my mind was the glory of the human form itself. . . --Landrum Kelly
    Oh, I see. Well, I wouldn't be willing to accept that there is anything particularly glorious in the human form at all. --Ian Cox-Leigh​
    It surprises me to hear you say that, Ian. Many persons have exalted the human form as the most worthy and sublime artistic subject. I have never heard such a dismissive tone with regard to its glory qua beauty--and I think that "glory" in the context of this thread has often (but not always) been about beauty.
    --Lannie
     
  193. I think that there are a nearly infinite number of things on this planet (and beyond) that are far more interesting and far more beautiful than the human form. If I weren't shaped like a human, and interacted with humans, I'm not sure I'd find much interest in human subjects in art at all.
    As it is, I am interested in human subjects in art when they are used to create an emotional connection between me and subject or their situation, when they convey a 'truth' about the human condition (poverty, struggle, etc. . .), or when the human form has been simplified or abstracted into pleasing geometries.
    An inconsequential shot of a mountain at sunset is still beautiful even if it evinces no further emotional or intellectual consideration. A nude standing in a nondescript location and offering no further emotional or intellectual consideration is entirely boring and uninteresting for me.
     
  194. Indeed, the human body isn't glorifying at all, not any more than a cockroach is, it's just functional and that's all there is to it. Ofcourse I'm not leveling the human body, being the vessel of the soul, ( and which can reveal to us a question of lust and temptation, and all sorts of consideration) to that of a cockroach...but universally speaking, and in the endlessness of all things, one isn't more about glory than another. Realising this, however hard, might set one free.
     
  195. I am in the camp of "Why ask the question?" Yes, Mallory said, "Because it is there..." but so what? Why do I like filet mignon on the grill? I just do. All in all, I am with Ian Cox-Leigh, I'll take a landscape at sunrise or sunset anytime, or a cat sitting on a chair, or a cow in a field. Why? Because it is what I like. Enough pontificating, enough said. Cheers! Chris
     
  196. Well, this is certainly a new twist on the thread--and three of you in a row!
    I think I see a trend developing here. Maybe it has something to do with the recession. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  197. John Peri has posted a couple of new ones that fit the criteria set forth at the beginning of the thread, I think.
    http://www.photo.net/photo/9207174&size=lg
    http://www.photo.net/photo/9212761
    I personally do not find these as compelling as some of his others--perhaps it is the hose. I am not sure. I get no sense of her being free or liberated, as I do in some of his others. Maybe a sense of freedom is indeed what piques my interest in the public nude after all--well, one element, at least.
    I think that we are typically less analytical with the nude than we ought to be. The appeal of the nude (public or private) is surely not merely about sensuality.
    --Lannie
     
  198. I just realized that I have probably crossed over a new threshold (for me) in my last posting, from philosophical issues to technical ones. On the other hand, I think that the two types of consideration, although factorable, are closely related, in some cases more than others.
    The Peri nude of the woman crouching in the hotel hallway, for example, gives a very different effect from the one of the same model standing up and smoking a cigarette. One looks like a frightened animal, the other as bold as the most brazen street-walker. (Sorry, John. Perhaps that is an unfortunate comparison.) Yet, they are of the same woman in the same hallway, surely made within minutes of one another. Has Peri deliberately tried to evoke different emotions with the two differing poses (and expressions), or was that simply an accident? Only John Peri can tell us that.
    In any case, what we are left with is two very, very diferent photos of the same person in the same location--in the same state of undress.
    This is new analytical territory for me, and I find it very interesting--and I am quite sure that it is not solely because of the sensual appeal of the nude, although that is surely a part of it. With all due respect to Phylo (four posts above), the same analysis applied to a cockroach simply would not be of interest--and the reason is very simple: there is precious little beauty in the cockroach, and that is putting it mildly.
    Is that simply because I am hard-wired to be attracted to the woman, or is it because of some objective criterion (or criteria) of beauty in the one case but not the other? I do not know.
    --Lannie
     
  199. "[T]he same analysis applied to a cockroach simply would not be of interest--and the reason is very simple: there is precious little beauty in the cockroach, and that is putting it mildly. Is that simply because I am hard-wired to be attracted to the woman, or is it because of some objective criterion (or criteria) of beauty in the one case but not the other? I do not know."​
    Well, my own words implicitly raise the question as to whether or not [straight] women are driven by the same considerations as [straight] men in viewing the female form. After all, if it is only about lust and sensuality, then men's attitudes toward the artistic nude (and not just nudes in general) ought to be very different from those of women, but are they?
    The following thread on this same forum almost two years ago attempted to address that question:
    http://www.photo.net/philosophy-of-photography-forum/00LH88
    I think that the question remains open. No decisive answer was obvious (to me, at least) from that thread.
    Applying the same question to the issue of the public nude might yield differing results, but I am not sure. Until women weigh in on this thread, I am not sure how we can know whether women respond differently from men to the public nude.
    --Lannie
     
  200. As it stands now on this planet every human being, male and female, has been born from a female one. There are variations in perseptions but the hard wired is hard wired. The memories of comforts and terrors of the first home are deep imbeded and probably impossible to get rid of.
     
  201. "I am hard-wired to be attracted to the woman"​
    I left for a day or two and the photographic examples haven't substantially changed. Though you are analyzing some differences between the two Peri nudes you've most recently posted, you are operating within a very narrow and limited range of both the nude and the public nude. That, to me, is evident in your writing and in your very homogeneous choice of examples. To me, this is much less about what you're hard-wired for and much more about your taste.
    "whether or not [straight] women are driven by the same considerations as [straight] men in viewing the female form."​
    [Straight] Men are no more monolithic in their reactions than are [straight] women. Just look at the variety of reactions by men on this thread. Again, it will be more about taste and personal reaction than about Ideas, Universals, and Hard-wired mechanisms.
    "Femininity"​
    . . . is a title Pnina has stuck onto her photo of a drawing of a nude female. There is a distinction between femininity and femaleness. Femininity is a much wider concept, including qualities and behaviors judged by a particular culture to be ideally associated with women. To photographically explore femininity, one would have to visually show something about cultural conceptions of womanhood, etc., not simply show a nude woman and then call it "femininity." The honest title here would be "nude woman." "Femininity" deceptively conflates what we're seeing, a nude woman, with a different concept which has not been illustrated. Were Pnina to show, as one of many possible examples, women in various so-called feminine poses, exhibiting perhaps exaggerated "womanly" traits, or were Pnina to include men who might be considered to exhibit feminine traits, she could legitimately claim her title. But, as it stands, the title is simply an easy way to get us to think there is a certain significance to her drawing that there is not, other than in her own mind. (Which is not to say her drawing isn't a nice one. She has actually detracted from it by making it seem that it is what it is not.) It is a "meaningful" title, not something she is showing in the photo itself.
    Similar points were made by others regarding the supposed "freedom" in the examples you've posted and also regarding "power" and "glory." These concepts are being superimposed onto the photos from without. Obviously, we will all read into a photo or work of art many things personal to ourselves. Art is there not just to show but to stimulate. Nevertheless, I've always appreciated how much projection we're doing when it comes to viewing photos and artworks and I think there is usually a difference between what we can derive when we stick to what the image itself is giving us vs. when we add to that image our own stuff. Especially from the perspective of the photographer (rather than viewer), it is good to keep in mind what we are actually expressing, visually, in our photographs and not confuse that with what we would like to say or with concepts and emotions we can add to our photographs with artistic statements and words. I am much more inclined to respond to a photograph that speaks to me itself rather than one that hits me over the head with a "significant" title or summary. When the "Idea" dwarfs the visualization before me, I usually move on. With your posts and examples, I keep getting the feeling that the Idea is more important than the photo before you. I don't think even a philosophical approach to photographs has to be that way.
     
  202. So, Fred, your position is that my aesthetic preference for the female form over that of the cockroach is simply a "matter of taste". . . .
    Surely we are talking past each other here. This sometimes happens when persons quote each other out of context. (See post I made at 12:28 a.m.)
    I cannot quite figure out what ax you are trying to grind in your last post. I am not saying that you are obscure, simply that I do not follow you.
    --Lannie
     
  203. I don't care much about cockroaches. The examples you're choosing in discussing the nude and the way you've talked about the nude are matters of taste. They express a very limited and personal aspect of a much wider subject.
    As for preferring photos of nude women to cockroaches or beautiful sunsets, are you suggesting that Ian's hard-wiring is misfiring, since he's a heterosexual male as well? If you want to make the case that all taste is hard-wired it would be an interesting but different discussion. But using "taste" in the way it is normally used, I think all of what you're talking about in this thread is your taste and personal perspective and nothing more.
    We must make sure not to confuse a predilection for nude women with a predilection for photos of nude women!
     
  204. I am not suggesting anything, simply asking for clarification.
    --Lannie
     
  205. The examples you're choosing in discussing the nude and the way you've talked about the nude are matters of taste. --Fred Goldsmith​
    The examples I have chosen have been determined primarily by what I have been able to find. There is precious little that comes up on Google for "public nude"--except porn, and I have no intention of going down that road.
    I posted the last two Peri pictures not because they are the best possible exemplars, but because I stumbled across them just minutes before writing that post. ( Peri's best pictures have been made in private, in my opinion.)
    The best examples I have found so far on this site (for the issue in question: public nudes) are those by Brian Grossman and Yuri Bonder. If someone has others that are better examples, I would like to see them before commenting.
    There just are not many street shots of nudes that are worthy of comment, in my opinion.
    --Lannie
     
  206. Sorry, Lannie, just saw the rest of your post from 11:44. At first I only saw the first line.
    What I'm getting at is that there is a narrow and religious focus, as I perceive it, to both your words and your examples on this subject. Yet you seem often to universalize those and I continually get the feeling that you see qualities of power, glory, worshipfulness, and sacredness as inherent in nudes. If you are just, in fact, questioning and not giving your own opinions you keep limiting your questions and examples to those specific qualities, which is odd. I am responding by saying that what you seem to be doing is simply stating your tastes (though you are couching those tastes in more universal terms for some reason) and choosing examples that very narrowly define the subject. You are also projecting universal ideas onto nudes and public nudes much as Pnina has projected the concept of femininity onto the nude woman she drew.
    One of the definitions of "glory" in my on line dictionary is worshipful praise; adoring thanksgiving.
    I tend to react argumentatively when I sense worshipful tendencies or motivations. "Glory" deifies the nude in my mind. For me, the body's uniqueness as a subject for art is because we are our bodies. Bodies are not something we have. That dichotomy no longer works. The intimacy of body to our identities as well as the history of separating mind and body, of tending to elevate the spiritual above the physical, all make "body" a fascinating study. Certainly, cultural considerations of vulnerability, of why we hide our bodies with clothes, what it says to remove your clothes in a public space where it would be unanticipated are all interesting aspects of the subject. But all those considerations still keep the subject at a distance and don't start approaching our intimate relationship with our bodies and the bodies of others. Bodies look and feel a certain way. We may want to remove them from clothing in order to expose grand ideas and cultural breakthroughs. And we may want to remove them from clothing to look at them and feel them.
     
  207. This is boomeranging way off topic, but somehow coming back to it. I'm throwing this out as an example of the range of ideas of sexiness/common beauty and what happens when men have to do the attracting. In this famous example, in the Woodabe tribe, gender roles are reversed, and male beauty is emphasized by the whiteness of the teeth and the eyes (among many other parameters). The male hopefuls line up before hundreds of interested women at a festival, and perform a sexy dance that reveals their beauty, dancing ability, etc., hoping their 'togu', (personal magnetism), will attract the ladies.
    It is curious how "feminine" they look through the lens of our culture while doing this. Although these two pictures do not show it, they are dressed in finery, and engage in an alluring set of facial expressions, rolling their eyes and manically smiling (to to show off the whites of their eyes and pearlies). In this culture, which is Islamic, men can have up to four wives, but any woman is entitled to have an affair if she can hook up with a "prettier" man, in order to have more beautiful children.
    http://pulseplanet.nationalgeographic.com/ax/features/0900/1_01.html
    It says something about the rules of attraction, and seems obliquely germane to this thread.
     
  208. There are a lot of issues in that post, Fred. We could go off on many possible tangents here.
    In order to avoid that, let me simply say that matters of taste are certainly involved if I say that I prefer Brian Grossman's or Yuri Bonder's work to documentaries of the "Bay to Breakers" event or the biker rally or streakers on university campuses--all interesting in their own way, but not what I had in mind when I started this thread.
    Yes, all of those are about life, but I prefer the ones that are not so much documentaries as art, or at least attempts at art, especially as art can be used to convey an idea (or an ideal, utopian or otherwise). Perhaps I do indeed wish to distance myself a bit from "the figure in the photo." After all, the image is not the person, and I do not know the person in any case, so that "[removing] them from clothing to look at them and feel them" (your last line above) is not on my agenda when I post on the issues at hand.
    So, yes, my tastes qua preferences have been manifested in the distance that the artistic nude allows. Perhaps I feel safer there, that is, with the artistic nude, idealized though it may be. Perhaps I am insulated from the rawest manifestation of sexuality in my preferences. Although nudity and sexuality are difficult to factor out both in reality and in photographs of reality, I think that we do well to try to factor them out for analytical purposes, no matter how many persons will insist that those who view or comment on nudes are simply out for an excuse to peruse porn.
    There are a lot of facets to the issues we have raised over the last ten days. We shall never exhaust them, and certainly not on this thread.
    I still think that the attempt was worthy.
    --Lannie
     
  209. There are lots of art nudes that are very different from the style, expression, and message of the ones you've posted. I've tried to provide McGinley as only one of many alternative visions. Goldin is another. There's a lot of other examples of art nudes before we get to the Bay to Breakers run. Talk of why you've picked Peri over biker sex parties is not a matter of taste, it's a matter of completely different dimensions, apples and oranges. Taste, to me, is why you continue to pick Peri over McGinley or many other artists who tell such different nude stories.
     
  210. While Googling something else, I came upon this passage from the extremely controversial "Gospel According to Thomas," which some believe to have some historical accuracy. (I am certainly not claiming that.)
    "When will you become revealed to us and when shall we see you?" Jesus said, "When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garments and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then will you see the son of the living one, and you will not be afraid."​
    Here, in words but not photos or drawings, we have a representation of a societal ideal couched in religious language. Although orthodox Christians tend to consider such teachings to be heretical and even "blasphemous," it is interesting nonetheless that there should be documents of this sort linked to (but excluded from) the official Christian tradition. "Authorized" versions of the Bible exclude the gospel according to Thomas, of course, but the challenge is "out there" in whatever sense "out there" may mean.
    The challenge in this particular case is there not in a photo nor in a street demonstration, but in a kind of claim that one must become innocent and unselfconscious "like a child" in yet another sense of "like a child" than the one attributed to Jesus in the New Testament of traditional Christianity.
    This "artistic challenge" (assuming it to be a fabrication in some sense) comes not from painters or photographers or sculptors--but from a wordsmith, a writer.
    I suspect that many nudists are making the same challenge to the established order, as are the nude participants in the Bay to Breakers event.
    Luis, thank you for the information and the link.
    Keep them coming, guys. At this rate I can collect enough material to build a book out of this idea. Whatever might or might not be its merits, it would surely sell better than the last one I published.
    --Lannie
     
  211. Fred, I am not picking Peri over McGinley. I see Goldin and McGinley as artists who are working with or from documentaries--of a sort.
    If you find in them a way to convey an idea, then more power to you. The fact that I do not make reference to them does not mean that I am denigrating them. They, too, are "apples and oranges" when compared to other types of artistic approaches.
    Let us not forget Jim Phelps in all of these discussions. Phelps' "method" is somewhere between that of Peri and Grossman. Gosh, this is complicated territory, Fred. Please rest assured that I am grateful to you for having introduced the links that you have.
    Now tell us what they mean to you besides being "affirmations of life," and I will get even more interested in them.
    --Lannie
     
  212. Landrum, here's a link which seems to be story's from the people involved in Spencer Tunick mass public nude photographs. I and several others have mentioned him before, as an obvious example other then the examples in photo.net which you showed, but you didn't responded to the mentioning of Spencer Tunick. What do you think of his work ?
    If you're really interested in this public nude thing, you might want to explore Tunick's work, and all the positive / negative what's been said about it, further. Spencer Tunick also did single public nude shoots. I remember a documentary where he approached people ( strangers ) on the street, asking them to pose for him nude, right there on the spot. That's bold.
    But as I've said, I favor the Brandt, Weston, or Ralph Gibson,....etc, approach to the female nude. Those photographs seem to be more philosophical, less sociological...
     
  213. Lannie--
    Perhaps you missed this post of mine above (May 17, 10:39 a.m.). I've copied it here. I hope this is not what you're reducing to "affirmations of life":
    Sometimes, but regarding the nudes I posted, not really. The appeal of the photos I posted is that they are physical and sensual (sensual, meaning senses, not erotic). Early on in the thread, you talked about the photos you posted as conveying Ideas. McGinley's photos, I think, are full of pleasure and personality (the photographer's and the subject's), not ideas or ideals and not Being but rather living and experiencing. A simple difference is that most of McGinley's people are on the move (and not just walking for the camera but really active and in play / at play), exuberant and in the moment. There is an immediacy in McGinley's work that is compelling. These are not nudes on pedestals! To me, the nude on the pedestal (or Victorian carpeted staircase), no matter if there's some practical risk of getting caught in your apartment building by a neighbor or out on a Park Avenue Street, makes it safe. You see the public nudes you posted as addressing risks. It's not the risk of getting caught photographing a nude in public that interests me terribly much. There are much more personal risks than that. This is my take on the distinction the poem you posted is trying to make. I might say that the great thing about McGinley's photos is that they are of people who are naked, rather than being "nudes." When a nude is about an Idea, to me, it makes it more safe and more removed. The "nude" is trying too hard and self consciously to be "bold" (the word used in the poem). When a naked person in a photo simply feels like him or herself, I can connect with the moment instead of looking at or just thinking about. There is a youthful innocence in McGinley's naked people. They are not universal, but are more contemporary and express more about individuals than larger concepts. So I can visually touch them. That, more than some Idea, is boldness.
    "visually touch" in the penultimate sentence above is a key for me. It's about body; senses; physical. It's photographs. It's VISUAL.
    I hope to have some further links later today or tonight.
     
  214. I may have given the impression in the above post that the combination of nude and Idea doesn't work for me, and I'd like to make sure not to give that impression. There are many Ideas that can be conveyed through nude photographs, public and private, not all having to do with power and glory.
    We should clarify a little about "power." There is a sense in which we would want to talk about the "power" of any photograph, even ones that aren't about someone powerful or someone dominating or someone of strength. Subtlety can have power. The unpowerful can be powerfully represented or expressed. So, my feeling is that public nudes don't have to be about power, don't have to be about the power of being nude when nudity is not expected, don't have to be about the power gained by the model who is nude. Yet even if not about such power, they can be powerful photographs. There is, I think, something powerful about the naked body and especially about our reactions to them, even when they are not about powerful concepts such as Freedom, Power, Glory.
    I just saw an exhibit at the Met here in NY (where I am for a vacation) of the paintings of Francis Bacon. The word "transgressive" comes up with respect to Bacon. Public nudes can be transgressive without being terribly glorious and without conveying a sense of power. I found some of Bacon's nudes conveying to me a real sense of powerlessness (and loss). Yet they are quite powerful pieces. I hope my uses of "power" are making some sense.
    http://www.museumsyndicate.com/item.php?item=4480

    http://www.artdaily.com/imagenes/2008/02/07/FrancisBaconTript.jpg
    As a real alternative to the public nudes you've been posting, Lannie, google "Mapplethorpe pissing photos." I don't want to link them because they may violate PN policy. They are not for the faint of heart. But I think they serve as a good alternative to the types of photos you've focused on as examples in this thread. I am not suggesting viewing them simply to be sensationalist or provocative. I'm quite serious about wanting to present an alternative to "glorious" public nudes that should be taken quite seriously from a photographer whose work is not my favorite, though I think it significant, but who at least deserves our attention.
     
  215. "The examples I have chosen have been determined primarily by what I have been able to find. There is precious little that comes up on Google for "public nude"--except porn, and I have no intention of going down that road."​
    Wow, really? There is so much public nude photography which I can recall and the vast majority of it doesn't align very well with the examples you have cited. I think a great deal of alternative public nude photography has been mentioned by other already. I'm not sure why those examples don't seem to count?
    Particularly, I don't see how the documentary qualities of Goldin's work or the pseudo-documentary qualities of McGinley's work (the photos referenced feature a cast of hired models on a pre-planned cross-country shoot – more about this below ) make them distinct from this discussion. Are they not public nudes?
    Why is this an apple and oranges comparison to Peri or Grossman? Why does their documentary quality make them any less a work of art or any less a reasonable example of the public nude genre? It really seems like you are holding their documentary qualities against them – sperating them from the "true" art. Surely this isn't your intent .
    The number of documentary photographs that rise to the highest levels of artistic achievement is unfathomable. Magnum even hosted an entire fesival in 2007 devoted to: "Celebrating the Art of Documentary" (both film and photos).
    Is Henri Cartier Bresson's work not art? How about Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother? How about Brassai, Walken Evans, Mary Ellen Mark, Steve McCurry (of the NG "Afgan Girl" fame), Salgado, Martin Parr, Atget, Winogrand – are they not/can they not be artists just as much as any other photographer is? Where would we draw the line? Is Eggleston art or documentary? How about, Stephen Shore, or Jeff Brouws – particularly his readymades series, or even Sally Mann?
    Art and documentary have been crossed forever. Think of Goya's masterpiece: The Third of May 1808 .
    Instead, is it not the case that the very fact that they seem so different from John Peri or Jim Phelps' photographs is the proof that those Peri and Phelps images are but a small sliver of a much wider genre.
    Spencer Tunick's images offer yet another enitrely different use of the public nude. As did my mentioning of Wynn Bullock's work earlier. Fred's recent example from Mapplethorpe's work is another exellent example of a very different use of the nude in public genre.
    ***
    As an aside, for a while in this thread my mind had turned to a number of photogrpahs that turn out to not fit the category but to come very close. First among these was Mapplethorpe's work. But, so many of the examples that seem 'public' in my mind turned out not to have that quality in them when I went to re-visit them – e.g. Helmut and Brooks '78, or Man in Polyester Suit.
    So, I thank you Fred for finding a Mapplethorpe with a truly and unequivocally public nude quality.
    I also recalled Kohei Yoshiyuki's work – but in all the images the subject are clothed from the camera's perspective). I then thought of Jan Saudek's recent images – many are staged as if they were public. But, they are not.
    ***
    Lastly, On McGinley:
    The inspirational images for the project were culled from the kinds of amateur photography that appeared in nudist magazines during the 60s and early 70s. McGinley would sit with his models and look through all of the ephemera of the period that he had collected, discussing with them the mood that he was hoping to capture that day. McGinley had chosen a very specific itinerary that would bring his troop through the incredible range of landscapes that are available across the US and carefully planned a battery of activities, sometimes orchestrating the use of special effects. He has always been quite fond of fireworks and fog machines and in this new work they play a major role.

    The very artificial constructedness of the project allows for situations in which the models can both perform and be caught off guard. The resultant pictures of nude young men and women playing and living in the great outdoors are innocent yet erotic, casual yet calculated.​
    From: http://www.teamgal.com/artists/ryan_mc_ginley/exhibitions/131
     
  216. Excellent work, guys! I stand corrected on a number of points--and I feel good about it. I'm actually learning something on this thread.
    --Lannie
     
  217. Here is John Peri's latest. You can decide if this meets the criteria or not:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/9227112
    How public is this? There is certainly at least the appearance of being in public, but, since Peri is always concerned about the welfare of his models, I doubt that there was really much chance that this was particularly visible outside of a very limited area--or for a very long period of time.
    The same might be said for works by many of the others already mentioned, of course.
    It appears that we are now back to issues of the definition of "public nude" with which we started the discussion eleven days ago. I am certainly open to refining (or even redefining) the categories. As has been noted, the works by Goldin and McGinley raise substantial issues about sub-genres in the larger genre of the public nude--clearly a more difficult and complex concept than I realized when I started this thread.
    --Lannie
     
  218. "I'm actually learning something on this thread."​
    What have you learned that you can express without posting yet another John Peri nude?
    Where's the inquisitiveness I'd expect from a fellow philosopher to go out and find examples of the wide array of expressions of public nudity that have been referenced by others on this thread, either seeking out some of the many names that have been mentioned or finding some new ones of your own?
    Glory and worship, indeed!
     
  219. And you offered Mapplethorpe's urination series. . . .
    Where is the glory in that ? Where, for that matter, is the art in that?
    I posted the one by Peri because it is the first full outdoor nude by him that I am aware of, not because I think that it is his best work. (It is also his most recent posting.)
    Perhaps you could bring all of your philosophical powers to bear by explaining to us why the Mapplethorpe series you offered is more than simple "shock porn"--or should I say "schlock porn"?
    --Lannie
     
  220. There IS no glory in the Mapplethorpe. That's the point. It's an example of a public nude that questions your premise, which is what many of us have been doing all along.
    As for art, you've limited yourself to pretty bodies shot in pretty ways with all kinds of concerns about respect for models and risk of being caught by neighbors, all of which has little to do with art in my mind. My art world happily includes even guys pissing, as well as crosses in jars of urine, urinals in museums, album covers with real zippers on manufactured flies of bulging jeans crotches, and also glorious images of the Mother and Child, David, and the Crucifixion, beautiful haystacks and water lilies, sublime starry nights and views of Toledo, and horrific images of war and death.
    If this thread ultimately comes down to the difference in public nudity between a John Peri nude shot inside a public corridor and a John Peri nude shot with a long coat on a city street and a John Peri nude shot with just high heels on a rooftop, with a splash of John Peri's relationships with his models and concern for their well being, then it's of value only as a study of the works of John Peri. There's nothing at all wrong with studying in depth a photographer. But why you would claim to be studying an entire genre or subject matter is beyond me?
     
  221. . . . with all kinds of concerns about respect for models and risk of being caught by neighbors.​
    You're darn right. The point of creating art is not to create a public incident that hurts anyone.
    Yes, I am "into" beauty. I look at much art that is not beautiful, but, when it comes to the "glory" of the human form, I see no glory in bodily secretions.
    My premise has never been that the public nude is always beautiful. Indeed, I have to give some grudging respect to those who, from religious beliefs or otherwise, find the public nude patently offensive . I do not find it so, but I have some respect for those who do, if only because of their belief that the human body is too sacred to be displayed in public.
    Perhaps it is!
    --Lannie
     
  222. Mapplethorpe's work is art for the two reasons that anything is art:
    1. He intended his images to be art.
    2. He found an audience for his photographs as artwork.
    That is all that matters. That makes it art.
    The fact that the audience for his work is very large and includes notable public art institutions such as the Tate Modern is what helps to cement its reputation as art for all posterity. Moreover, that reputation as art has became firmly enough cemented to ward off legal attempts to define it as otherwise by prosecutors in Ohio and England.
     
  223. "The point of creating art is not to create a public incident . . ."​
    What if creating a public incident is integral to the creation of your art?
     
  224. Lannie--
    I appreciate that you are now forthcoming about your agenda.
    I don't understand why you have once again stated that you see no glory in bodily secretions (Mapplethorpe's work). By now, I expect you would have understood what I've stated several times and in a variety of ways. That that's the point. Mapplethorpe's works are not about Glory, so you should consider them as an ALTERNATIVE and COUNTEREXAMPLE to your premise or original question about the status of public nudes as being about power and glory. If this thread was about the universal nature of power and glory as it applies to the public nude, it was a false premise. If the thread were simply asking whether power and glory applies to the public nude, the answer is SOMETIMES, but NOT ALWAYS. All of your examples and all of your writings indicate a predilection to want to see power and glory in the public nude. Great. Some of us have simply supplied alternatives. Once again, loudly and clearly, we have not provided these alternatives to show that there are other styles of public nudes that exhibit power and glory. No, no, no. We have provided examples of public nudes that DO NOT exhibit power and glory.
    Like you, I respect those who find the human body so sacred that they want to display it in photographs and I respect those who find the human body so sacred that they wouldn't consider displaying it in a photograph. Where we differ is that I also acknowledge and want to explore along with and expose myself to those who DO NOT find the human body sacred. And I'm even open to what others might consider very profane Ideas when it comes to the human body. This aspect of the human body I do not, like you, relegate to sub genre. The guys pissing on each other in the eerily-lit back alleyway and the cross dipped in urine is right up there with and just as significant to the genre as the prettiest John Peri busty and "beautifully"-shaped woman on the neatest and cleanest New York City rooftop with the highest heals, displaying her glory for all the world to see.
    --Fred
     
  225. By the way, the point about Peri's relationship with his models: John Peri sounds like a nice guy, a stand up gentleman, which has nothing to do with his being more of or any better a photographer or artist. Hitchcock could be a real a**, a womanizer and self-assuredly exploitive ("actors are cattle"). Great director, great artist. Go figure.
     
  226. Luis--
    By the way, I'm sorry for not having already acknowledged your point relative to attraction about the males of various species including our own. One of the most surprising things to me about this thread was the seeming inability for some men to allow for even the possibility that women are not more exhibitionist than men (despite what they want to believe because they think all objects of voyeurism somehow desire to be looked at) and to truly not be able to acknowledge how much actual male exhibitionism there is even in the human kingdom. Thanks for your sobering reminders.
    --Fred
     
  227. THIS JUST IN : http://chronicle.com/news/index.php?id=6518&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en
    Since this thread from the beginning was about the issue of challenging prevailing values, orthodoxies, etc., I think that the article linked above might be germane in a kind of parabolic if not tangential kind of way. (Then again, one might argue that it goes to the very heart of what we are about in this discussion.)
    Sorry not to respond to every point of every post, but I have a lot to do that I have been neglecting since this thread started way back on Monday, May 11--almost two full work weeks ago. In not responding, I certainly do not mean to suggest that the points made or questions raised are unworthy.
    In any case, two themes that keep coming back to me that have had religious origins and overtones are (1) Augustine's concept of "forbidden fruit" and (2) "lost innocence" qua the "Paradise Lost" concept implicit in the biblical fable of Eden (and later in Milton in literature, etc.).
    I still think that I see in much of the appeal of the public nude (to the extent that one might find it appealing, as all do not) as being related to these two themes. I still see the public nude, that is, as being interesting or appealing not only as aesthetics (and Fred has argued forcefully that it can sometimes be anything but) but also as a challenge to the prevailing social mores, or even the entire social order--even if the challenger is oblivious to the political implications of his or her art. Whatever else the "public nude" is or is not, that is, it is overwhelmingly forbidden in this culture, and in creating such art (or even in discussing it openly, publicly?) one is challenging the taboo status of such artistic themes.
    Society has a lot of ways of cracking down on dissidents. One does not have to have tanks rolling over bodies in the middle of the night (Tianenmen Square) to feel the heavy hand of societal sanctions.
    Thus the allusion at the outset to a university incongruously called "Liberty". . . .
    I am sometimes "amused" when I read a moderator here on Photo.net saying that what is not tolerated on this site is political discussion. One does not know whether to laugh or cry.
    --Lannie
     
  228. I am thus left with one question: IS THE PUBLIC NUDE A TABOO TOPIC ?
    Our range of respondents has been wide, but our actual number of respondents has been remarkably small--and almost no women have joined the discussion.
    Are people simply bored, or are they afraid to voice their opinions?
    --Lannie
     
  229. I appreciate that you are now forthcoming about your agenda. --Fred Goldsmith​
    Umm, Fred, precisely what is my "agenda"? Please enlighten me.
    --Lannie
     
  230. About a week to ten days ago someone on this thread said that the public nude was about my imagination. I denied that. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)
    I do believe that sexual imagination is an incredibly powerful force:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-AyrP7Iinc&feature=related
    The writing near the end is Portuguese for "It's your imagination," followed by "Bobo!" which (like the identical Spanish word) means something like "Idiot!"
    --Lannie
     
  231. Whatever else the "public nude" is or is not, that is, it is overwhelmingly forbidden in this culture​
    Forbidden by who or what ? By the law ? By the government ? By the public ? There are many examples of public nude photography, done all over the world, where permission is being asked and given, and I don't think that first having to ask for permission ( and given ) equates with something therefore being forbidden.
    I am thus left with one question: IS THE PUBLIC NUDE A TABOO TOPIC ?​
    It isn't a taboo topic and I guess it isn't neccesarily a hot non-taboo topic either, at least not for photographers recognizing the topic of (public) nude photography as being a topic about just another genre among many in photography... But you seem to wish almost that it should be considered taboo, as it would then make a good case for your personal view of the pictures in your links, perhaps becoming in your eyes all the more ' powerful ' and ' glorious ', while in the end they are about perfectly lit beautiful naked women, models, posing / acting in front of a camera. Great. And this can not be ignored, no matter how much of the divine or sacred or glory you wish to see into the naked flesh.... almost like the guilty feeling priest, who alludes a concept of a heavenly garden of eve, full with innocent glory and power, to a suppressed basic instinct whenever it comes ' lingering ' on the surface of consciousness.
     
  232. More ad hominen "arguments" . . . .
    Ho-hum.
    --Lannie
     
  233. This is not a public nude, but it is an absolutely beautiful image that I just stumbled upon, and so I will share it:
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/photo.tcl?photo_id=9201374
    Here is the literal incarnation of "the power and the glory," in my opinion.
    --Lannie
     
  234. It is a beautiful picture, showing an emotion of innocence if you will between mother and child. But I have to wonder why you linked to it only until now, whereas previously, you only linked and seemed to focus on nude photography involving perfectly beautiful women / models which where photographed and seen in a very different context than the photograph in your last link.
     
  235. I just found it, Phylo, as I said above.
    Obviously "the power and the glory" are not confined to the public nude.
    When I started this thread way back on May 11, I had no particular plan for it, no agenda, and no idea as to how it would evolve over the next two or three days after that, much less almost twelve days later.
    Nor had I given any particular thought to the phrase "power and glory." I had been playing an old Phil Ochs CD with a song by that name, and so the phrase came readily to my mind and my lips. Its origins in the Lord's Prayer never once crossed my mind at the time I named the thread. I wonder if they crossed Phil Ochs' mind when he wrote the song, since he was not particularly enamored of Christianity.
    --Lannie
     
  236. "I still see the public nude, that is, as being interesting or appealing not only as aesthetics (and Fred has argued forcefully that it can sometimes be anything but) but also as a challenge to the prevailing social mores, or even the entire social order--even if the challenger is oblivious to the political implications of his or her art."​
    Lannie, this is a prime example of where your agenda is showing, or at least your bias. I introduced examples of public nudes that aren't pretty, aren't beautiful in the same way a shapely, busty woman in high heels on a pristine rooftop is beautiful, aren't necessarily powerful in a certain sense of that word, and aren't glorious. The prejudice and agenda you show is that you translate that to my "forcefully saying the nude can be anything but aesthetic." NOT A CHANCE! The nudes I am talking about have way more significant aesthetic appeal (at least to me) than any of the nudes you've posted and they are very much art. As I've said several times, you are using very limiting language and concepts, a very narrow approach to these subjects.
    "In any case, two themes that keep coming back to me that have had religious origins and overtones are . . . "​
    As far as I can tell, a great deal of your thoughts on this subject have religious overtones, from "power" to "glory" to "sacred." I believe that is part of your agenda: to see this subject with an assumption that sacredness has something to do with it. I also think part of your agenda, and you've pretty much stated this from the outset, is to see the nude and the public nude from the standpoint of ethics. For you, it has been about what they challenge and what norms they go after, much less so about how they look and feel.
    I am left wondering how a savvy philosopher with your background can label a thread "The Power and the Glory" and claim that its connotations are unrecognized, accidental, and unintended. Even if you didn't think specifically of the Lord's Prayer, which I certainly did as soon as I read the title (and I'm JEWISH, for heaven's sake), if you didn't sense the hyperbolic tone of such a title even if not connecting to the exact origin, then you truly were out of touch. Glory in itself is certainly a charged word, whether suggested by a Phil Ochs song or anything else, and to use it and then claim it to be totally benign is well . . . just hard to swallow. In any case, even if you didn't intend it, it certainly did start the thread off with a spin. You're continued use of "glory" and "sacred" throughout the thread certainly gives your posts a certain feel and bent, along with somewhat hyperbolized photographic examples of "traditional" and "sanitized" beauty, pristine representations of the public nude. All of this, I see as an agenda.
    There's nothing wrong with agendas, as long as we recognize them. If you don't recognize any of this as an agenda, it will simply be another matter we disagree on.
    My agenda has been a strong and deliberate one: to provide an alternative to what I see as your sanitized and social view of the nude, the public nude, aesthetics, and art. It has been to continually prick you to see outside your comfort zone and the confines with which you define art. It has been to try and show that there is something personal about the nude, not just something cultural and ethical, that there is something physical about the nude, not just something sacred, that we may use our senses as well as our Ideas in approaching nudes, and that our bodies and photos of our bodies sometimes draw us to dark places, lustful places, profane places. The dark, lustful, and profane places are every bit as aesthetic as the glorious ones.
     
  237. "The dark, lustful, and profane places are every bit as aesthetic as the glorious ones."
    There are only glorious ones. Every other label is cultural. Wait ..... I'm repeating myself.
     
  238. Fred, for those of us who were raised in Christian households, the phrase would be a trilogy: "the kingdom, the power, and the glory." I never once thought of the title of the novel or the song as having anything to do with the Lord's Prayer, but, yes, I sensed the transcendental overtones. That I cannot deny.
    Most of all, however, I really did not spend much time at all thinking about a title, except that there is power of some sort in the image of the body, and there can be glory as well. That's really about it. By admitting that it can have power over me, I set myself up for criticism, and so I had some misgivings about using the title. If using that title has led me to realize its origins, then I am glad that I did. I genuinely hope that it is not a profane title--and, yes, the distinction between the sacred and the profane means a lot to me.
    I am a theist, Fred. I posit God, not as self-evident, simply as a postulate--but one that I can argue for. I used words like "spirit" or "spiritual" because they are convenient, not because I am necessarily a traditional dualist. I am not, but neither am I a materialist monist. When I hear someone say that "God is a spirit," I want to wince, not because it is false but because the word "spirit" explains nothing. It is like one of Pareto's "residual categories" into which one dumps the unexplained. I yet at times am attracted to the idea of the divine as being "wholly other"--remember that I said, "at times." Other times, that seems to imply dualism and I shy away from it.
    There are admittedly strong metaphysical underpinnings to my theorizing. I don't think of that as an agenda, but your usage of the term may vary.
    I appreciate your efforts to offer sustained discourse and argumentation. Though we disagree on this and that, we can converse profitably, and I have enjoyed it.
    I know that there are many other points that you have made that I have not tried to rebut or affirm, but that will have to be it for tonight. It is almost 2 a.m. here.
    One last point just occurred to me: I wonder to what extent a truly special monogamous union is affected by the wearing of clothes, or failing to. Women like to feel special. They feel threatened by other women "showing their wares." (I speak as a straight male in my way of saying that. Perhaps I could have said that "mates like to feel special" and left it at that.)
    If the blatant display of (or gazing at) the body makes one's mate feel uncomfortable or insecure, then perhaps it is wrong--not necessarily because it is inherently wrong, but because of persons' cultural baggage--maybe. Maybe there is more to it. I do not know.
    My last remarks take us far afield of the thread, but such issues are always "out there" for me when discussions of nudity come up. I cannot speak for others.
    --Lannie
     
  239. "except that there is power of some sort in the image of the body, and there can be glory as well. That's really about it. By admitting that it can have power over me, I set myself up for criticism, and so I had some misgivings about using the title."​
    That's not "really about it." You also introduced the word "sacred." That confirmed the religious context for the word "glory." Though early on you claimed you didn't want this thread to be about you, by continually moving it back to the theistic context in which you want to view the subject matter and by continually using only examples that would illustrate that limited theistic context, you kept making it all about you, or at least your context. That sure feels like an agenda to me. You continually have couched this discussion within the confines of a theistic approach, assuming that sacredness applied. At the same time, you have denied that context, as you did early on in your response to John Kelly, when you claimed to be leaving the use of the word power "open-ended." You make that claim, but consistently, throughout the thread, bring power back to sacredness and tie it with worshipful glory.

    "I posit God, not as self-evident, simply as a postulate--but one that I can argue for"​
    I'm not a great student of logic but, being a philosopher, I thought I knew the basics. Isn't a postulate something not proved or demonstrated, something self evident, or at least a necessary decision? In any case, what I mean by agenda is a set of assumptions one begins with, particularly ideological assumptions. You may have an "argument" for God but I can guarantee that I would find at least one assumption in your so-called argument that would lead me to believe it's not an argument at all but, instead, the unarguable postulate you've already claimed it to be. I would never argue with faith. As a matter of fact, I admire genuine faith when I come across it. Arguments for God, not so much. And arguments against God, not so much either. It's territory I generally don't argue about. It feels like you are trying to have it both ways . . . a postulate and not a postulate.
    "I wonder to what extent a truly special monogamous union is affected by the wearing of clothes"​
    When I'm talking about nudes in art, the effect of wearing clothes on monogamous unions doesn't come to mind. This is a stretch of glorious proportions. Since the divorce rate within my own American culture is about 50% these days, I'm not sure how much importance we should put on monogamous unions and I don't think it's public nudity or even the threat of public nudity that's playing a terribly important role in undermining them. Monogamous relationships would be an issue for a different thread.
    "Women like to feel special."​
    Another statement like "women are exhibitionists." These kinds of stereotypes are so out of my range and way of thinking that I will note this one but not address it.
    "mates like to feel special"​
    Yes, and so might the single people I know. Male and female. So what?
    "If a blatant display of the body makes one's mate feel uncomfortable or insecure . . . "​
    . . . it should be taken up with the mate, perhaps in a counseling session, but seems an odd introduction in a philosophy forum about photographs. We have had many, many examples of photographs of nudes in this forum (unfortunately most of them pretty much the same). Not one suggests anything about the mates of the nude person in the photo and not one of the photos even suggests that any of the nude models have mates. I haven't a clue what relevance a mate's reaction has to the topic or anything that's been said so far.
     
  240. Larry--
    "Glorious" is just as cultural a label as the others. It's part of a language that is understood within a cultural context just like every other word.
     
  241. I'm not a great student of logic but, being a philosopher, I thought I knew the basics. Isn't a postulate something not proved or demonstrated, something self evident, or at least a necessary decision? In any case, what I mean by agenda is a set of assumptions one begins with, particularly ideological assumptions. You may have an "argument" for God but I can guarantee that I would find at least one assumption in your so-called argument that would lead me to believe it's not an argument at all but, instead, the unarguable postulate you've already claimed it to be. --Fred Goldsmith​
    One can postulate something whether or not one feels the need to argue for it or not--although I think in general we do postulate that which we cannot prove. You are right that typically we postulate something that we expect to be true, and so there is a tendency to beg the question, to assume that which we want to prove. One must resist that, of course. With regard to the question of the existence of God, I consider the teleological "proof" of the existence of God to be fallacious, but I can use still argue for God in terms of quasi-teleological considerations-and perhaps those arguments can be quite powerful, if properly qualified and hedged about. Still, you are right: this is perilous territory, and one must be very careful not to beg the question, that is, not to assume that which I would like to prove. (I redefine it again not for you, Fred, but for others who are not familiar with philosophical terminology.)
    In any case, I am not talking about proving the existence of God, since I do not believe that any such proof is possible--and the history of philosophy is replete with failed attempts to prove the existence of God, as you well know. So, for both myself and the argumentation which I have offered in this thread, issues related to the existence of God will have to remain matters of faith, since no proof is possible. I have assumed the existence of God, for purposes of participating in this forum and on this thread. I will not argue here for the existence of God, since this is not a thread on metaphysics or theology. For now, that is, I will simply assume the existence of God. I have done so throughout the thread. How much it has affected the trajectory of my argumentation on the question of the "glory" of the nude, and especially the "public nude," will remain problematic, although I do not doubt that it has affected it--and you have seen that, it appears. I have never tried to hide the assumption. It is simply that positing the existence of God tells us ipso facto nothing about the merits of nude photography of any sort.
    The sacred? Well, you are right that I have at least implicitly (if not explicitly) considered the issue of whether or not something is sacred. I am not trying to hide the issue. This could get us pretty far afield, or it could get us right to the core of the issues, depending on one's entire world view.
    I alluded to the sacred and sacredness throughout the thread in part because, in the back of my mind (also throughout the thread), were always unanswered questions about (1) the wholesomeness of viewing nudes in general in the name of art and (2) because, as the issue of "glory" came to be more and more contested, it was clear that there might be religious/metaphysical connotations to the term "glory" that had not occurred to me at all when I first used it in the title. I am not sure how deeply I want to delve into that issue, but it might be worth coming back to later if I see that it is relevant to my argument or to other contested issues. For now I want to put it on the back burner. (We shall see if that is possible.)
    As for the admittedly "out-of-the-blue" issue about whether one's mate's views should affect the decision of whether or not one should view nudes, that was a purely personal consideration. Even so, since it is hardly uniquely my personal consideration (being evident in some form in many persons' objections to viewing and/or evaluating nudes), it seemed to me timely for me to introduce that issue. I did not mean to hijack my own thread with that issue, but maybe it goes to the core of what we have been discussing. Perhaps not.
    This is my hurried response to your comments and questions. I can do better, but I am pressed for time now. (This thread has been incredibly time-consuming for me over the last twelve days).
    I did, however, want to acknowledge at least some of your comments here, even if I was not able to do justice to the issues you have correctly raised in the time I have available this morning. Since I very hurriedly looked over your post before starting, I apologize up front if I have misunderstood or inadequately addressed some or all of your concerns.
    In my own defense, I had no idea when starting this thread that it was going to get so "heavy" on the theoretical issues. Nor did I anticipate the likelihood of locking horns with a professional philosopher of your caliber. This is still a photography site, after all, not a site or a forum about either general philosophy or ethics.
    Even so, the philosophical questions will go away once raised. At some point one has to bring closure to a line of argumentation, even if that closure is typically premature. The reason for that, as you know, is that we are not going to lay these issues to rest on this forum, much less this thread.
    I am still not sorry that I started it. It has been a learning experience.
    --Lannie
     
  242. Two quick points:
    (1) Having only ten minutes to edit what one has written before the clock runs out and the post is written into stone, although necessary for this kind of online forum, means that we often do not get all the bugs worked out of our arguments before we post them, and that fact sometimes affects the quality of argumentation. I typically do not publish anything anywhere until I have had time to review it at leisure. That has not been an option here (given my own personal limitations of time as well), and I apologize for any lapses of grammar, spelling, or logic that might have inadvertently weakened my argumentation. The urgency which this type of interaction brings leads me to hurry the process at times--and that can surely make for some real logical howlers. In addition, in the process of writing corrections, one sometimes fails to make the ten-minute deadline set by the clock on this site. It happens a lot for me, especially on long posts--and not just here, but on forums on technical issues as well. I see no way to change that, however, without slowing down the pace of exchanges. Online forums are hazardous if what one wants to argue for or against is in the ream of socially sensitive questions.
    (2) Personal (sometimes unstated or even unexamined) assumptions do, of course, affect the direction of argumentation. We nonetheless need to be on the lookout to be sure that speculating about another's unstated premises does not degenerate into ad hominem arguments. When attacks on persons (or their possible motives ) have taken the place of critiques of arguments or postulates , then one has moved from philosophy into something else that I do not want to be a part of.
    Point two above holds even if one has correctly interpreted another's motives. The analysis of motives is for psychology, not philosophy, and I am not sure that it is too helpful in psychology, for that matter.
    In any case, this is not a psychology or public issues forum. There is no room here for attacking another's motives, and one often attributes to others one's own motives in the first place, wounding not only feelings but bringing down the level of discourse to radio talk show levels.
    We have generally avoided that tendency here, but we have to keep the bar high if we are going to be doing genuine philosophy here, rather than personal assault.
    --Lannie
     
  243. I know what's being meant with it but nevertheless the concept of being a professional philosopher seems very strange to me. Like the concept of being a ' professional human '.
     
  244. I use the term reluctantly, Phylo, but the usage is already established, and it has some limited utility.
    I personally believe that everyone (or almost everyone) is a philosopher qua a lover of wisdom.
    I use the term "professional philosopher" to differentiate between those who also do this for a living and those who do not, and not solely as part of personal introspection and day-to-day decision-making. Professional philosophers are also often in the teaching profession, and I do believe that they have their function. The tragedy is that philosophy itself tends to get relegated to the sidelines and cordoned off, as if there were not philosophical implications and issues in every field of endeavor.
    In addition, philosophers who do this for a living (i.e. , much of the time) often understand which kinds of rules promote the kinds of discussion which generate more light than heat. They might also know the "terrain" of various issues better by virtue of having crossed it so often, and thus be able to anticipate where an argument is likely to go (except when they have fossilized their world views and become absolutely useless). Finally, they have developed and learned terminology and jargon which can serve as a kind of shorthand so that everything does not have to be constantly redefined.
    The case is analogous on that last point to professional photographers who know in an instant what "depth of field" is and what affects it, or what "exposure value" is, or what "stopped down" means, among many other possible examples. They can talk more quickly with other photographers by using such jargon, even if their jargon makes them hard to understand for persons unfamiliar with the jargon.
    That said, I do not see any direct evidence that "professional philosophers" are any wiser in their personal decisions or any better off in terms of the quality of their lives. (See any analogs there in photography? I think that many good amateur photogs beat the pants off some professionals. The same is true in philosophy.)
    I used the term reluctantly at the very outset, but I used it for a purpose--and that was not to enhance my credentials. For the record, I actually teach political philosophy (usually known unfortunately and ambiguously as "political theory") in a political science department--most of the time.
    I do appreciate and understand your recoiling at the use of such a term.
    --Lannie
     
  245. Lannie--
    You probably weren't referring to me when you talked about ad hominem arguments, which I try to avoid. At the same time I recognize the difficulty, when discussing such personal matters as our photography and nudity, in trying to avoid the "persons" behind the ideas. In a purely philosophical setting, such as academia (by the way, I am not a professional philosopher; I don't earn my living doing this), it is hard enough to avoid discussing motives and personalities. In a Philosophy of Photography forum, I give myself and others a little more leeway. These are personal matters and I actually think, regarding our photograph making and photograph viewing, motives matter a great deal.
    I have tried several times to bring this to a more specific photographic discussion, especially the parts about the difference between the moment or situation we are photographing and the actual photograph, the difference between being nude in public and the public nude in a photograph. Though you and Beepy acknowledged it as an important point, you weren't able to sustain any real talk about it in favor of more "distanced" theoretical musings. I tried coming back to it a couple of times to no avail. I also tried to talk about why I, myself, photographed nudes and you didn't respond to that with personal photographic experiences either. I actually think that being more personal and dealing with intent and motives in this forum and even in this thread, without attacking each other, would be helpful.
    When statements are made like "women are exhibitionists" and "women want to be special," especially within the context of a supposedly "open-ended" philosophical discussion about nude photographs -- where only examples of women (rather than men) and only examples of a certain physical type of woman, and only examples of a certain kind of view of these types of women (beautified and idealized, high-heeled and fur-coated) -- are offered, I do get very ad hominem indeed. It suggests to me that the person making the statements does have an agenda, and a very limited and focused one. It suggests a guy who is out of touch, kidding himself, and really has not only a backwards view of the world and of both men and women, based more on centuries of nonsensical stereotyping and lack of critical thought rather than any kind of evolved thinking, recognition of the individual differences within so-called identity groups, and simply falling back on easy ideas rather than the more difficult task of really exploring new avenues and possibilities. This is exactly the kind of ad hominem response the two statements deserve. The two statements are, themselves, ad hominem. They are personal statements assuming the motives and desires not just of an interlocutor, but of an entire class of persons. The statements are not factual and no attempt is made to back them up with statistics. They are pure projections, just like all ad hominem statements. My responses to you on these statements are not meant as pure attacks but they are certainly meant to show my great offense at your words and as an alert for you to realize that your thoughts here are not givens of any kind, but rather betrayers of your prejudices.
     
  246. ""Glorious" is just as cultural a label as the others. It's part of a language that is understood within a cultural context just like every other word."
    While that is absolutely true, to dismiss any idea simply because it was being communicated with a cultural tool is just a language trick, and makes all language is useless. I was hoping to use culturally understood concepts to communicate an idea that is not just cultural. I have only English, and I have only my assumptions about what words mean. Within that limitation:
    Everything is glorious. The dark, lustful, and profane places are aesthetic because they are glorious. Aesthetic qualities of art, in all its forms, arise because the art manages to trigger an awareness (sometimes not even conscious awareness) in the observer of the "glorious" connections between all things - the oneness of it all. Culture obscures that unity with language that creates illusions of dualities that do not, in fact, exist.
    Human bodies have the same "power and glory" whether they are clothed, or naked, and in any context. Any belief that there is more power and glory in nakedness, or nakedness in any specific context, is just cultural. Using language to articulate language created illusions leads to lots of language, but obscures the glory.
     
  247. No. Actually, what makes language useless are statements like "Everything is glorious." It makes "glorious" universally redundant. If everything is glorious, then I wouldn't care at all that the nude body is. Because glasses of water would also be glorious. I assume the OP brought up the "glory" of the nude because it is in some way unique or different from glasses of water. He was suggesting that one of those differences was its power and glory. If not, we could be discussing photographs of anything. But we're not. We're discussing the nude and its supposedly unique or special aspects. To suggest that the nude is special because it's glorious and then go on to assert that everything is glorious kind of undercuts the specialness of the nude. I know, I know, but everything is special. Ad infinitum . . . and just as importantly, ad nauseum.
    I wasn't dismissing the idea of glory because it is cut with a cultural tool. I was suggesting that it is as cultural as every other word in the sentence of mine you had quoted which includes "dark," "lustful, and "profane." In asserting that aesthetics and glory were inextricably linked, you had specified only that the others were cultural. I was replying by reminding you that "glory" was cultural as well. I was only dismissing glory form applying to SOME photographic nudes. I'll stand by that without thinking that I am rendering language useless.
     
  248. You probably weren't referring to me when you talked about ad hominem arguments, which I try to avoid. At the same time I recognize the difficulty, when discussing such personal matters as our photography and nudity, in trying to avoid the "persons" behind the ideas. In a purely philosophical setting, such as academia (by the way, I am not a professional philosopher; I don't earn my living doing this), it is hard enough to avoid discussing motives and personalities. In a Philosophy of Photography forum, I give myself and others a little more leeway. These are personal matters and I actually think, regarding our photograph making and photograph viewing, motives matter a great deal.​
    I do not think of you, Fred, when I think of persons who tend particularly toward the ad hominem , although we all do it at times on these public forums.
    Notwithstanding your very valid points above, I do think that we need to hold ourselves in check (vis-a-vis ad hominems ) even more when discussing sensitive issues that can socially stigmatize persons: such attacks can have a chilling effect on both discourse and self-revelation.
    We actually tend to want persons to open up and tell us more about themselves, but, if we bash them or otherwise embarrass or humiliate them, they are going to clam up in order to protect themselves--or they will simply leave for more hospitable climes.
    Motives do matter, but speculating on others' motives in an accusatory or hyper-critical tone does not help anyone. I have been accused (validly) of doing so as well. We all do it. I just think that we need to call each other on it in a firm but humane way, so that persons will want to come around and want to share themselves with us--and so that we can share ourselves with others.
    Now let me read the rest of your post(s). . . .
    --Lannie
     
  249. Lannie--
    I should add that I recognize that some of my words about your two stereotyping statements are likely harsher than they might have been. What, maybe, I would have been more prudent to have stated is this: When you make stereotyping statements that have no basis in fact and that you don't bother to back up with any rational statistics or studies, they can't be really responded to factually. The only thing we have left to wonder about are your motives for making them, since the statements themselves really don't even bear a serious factual or objective response. "Women like to feel special" has to be responded to by wondering not about WHAT you said but instead by wondering why in the world you would say it.
     
  250. Do you not recognize "Women like to feel special" as a very patronizing thing to say?
     
  251. jtk

    jtk

    " I said it before and I will say it again: please address the issues or get off the thread. The thread is not about me or my presumed psychopathology, John.
    This is two requests that I have made. Malicious and defamatory remarks will not be tolerated on Photo.net anymore than they will in the larger society." ..Lannie K.

    Lannie, Chill.
    There's nothing "malicious" or "defamatory" in commenting on a seeming-obsession (and there's been zero mention of "psychopathology"). You claim the issue belongs to "society" rather than considering the possibility that you're experiencing anything personal.
    The finest photographers sometimes seem to have obsessions (eg Richard Avedon, Galen Rowell)...it's not a curse.
    Several serious contributors to this Forum have addressed your OT with respect and insight ...they all deserve more respect than you've shown: Fred G most obviously, has been impressively patient and courteous.
    Lannie, you have created a great web site. Your individual photos are very fine and you have assembled them into "glorious" and "powerful" longer sequences...nonverbal essays perhaps. You are an emotionally responsive photographer... obsessive, even.
     
  252. Here is what I said in context , Fred, but with strong emphasis supplied now so that you do not keep missing it:
    One last point just occurred to me: I wonder to what extent a truly special monogamous union is affected by the wearing of clothes, or failing to . Women like to feel special. They feel threatened by other women "showing their wares." (I speak as a straight male in my way of saying that. Perhaps I could have said that "mates like to feel special" and left it at that .) If the blatant display of (or gazing at) the body [of another woman] makes one's mate feel uncomfortable or insecure [or less special] , then perhaps it is wrong--not necessarily because it is inherently wrong, but because of persons' cultural baggage [or insecurities] - -maybe. Maybe there is more to it. I do not know.​
    Now I think that there is more to it, much more.
    Although these issues seem to take us beyond the scope of this thread, they bear upon why we might have strictures (even if only internal ones) against the public display of the body. That is, even if society did not frown upon it, if our mates felt threatened or demeaned by such public displays by other women, then we might feel that we should not gaze upon other women--out of loyalty to and respect for our mates , and for the sake of preserving that sense of specialness in a monogamous union. I say "women" here for the same reason I said "women" above: I speak as a straight male.
    I stand by what I said. If all this seems to tie into my language of "sacredness" and other beliefs that I hold, so be it.
    So, my conclusion is that we might justifiably have some of the norms that we have, if we are considerate of the rights of our mates and concerned for the protection of special monogamous bonds. I want to say "the rights of women," since this kind of gazing seems to be rather one-sided in straight culture: men staring at women, or portrayals of women in photos or paintings . (I cannot speak for gay culture.)
    That is, there might indeed be very, very good reasons for wearing clothes besides hygiene and protection from the elements. Perhaps we are in so doing indeed trying to preserve a sense of both sacredness and specialness. Metaphors of a "veil" and of "lifting a veil' come to mind--whether a bridal veil, the veil of the temple that was rent in two at the death of Christ, or others from the time of the sacred Ark of the Covenant.


    SOMETHING SACRED IS AT STAKE, AFTER ALL.
    This concludes my remarks on this thread.

    --Lannie
     
  253. jtk

    jtk

    What's "sacred" is what we deem sacred. Some would say it calls for chador (Taliban), other would say it calls for ritual deflowering (feudal Europe or handgun-packing...as in Catron County, NM).
    Sacred "monogamous bonds" don't seem to have much relationship to the prevalence of porn in relatively monogamous Abrahamic cultures, such as Florida's and Minnesota's.
    Although I subscribe, as Lannie evidently does, to ideas involving porn and respect for women, I don't understand how monogamy or attire relate to photographic "power and glory" unless that phrase means arousal...which I would understand.
    ..."bridal veil" and "temple veil"...what happened to "veil of maya?" That's the veil that facilitates obsessiveness.
     
  254. Perhaps we are in so doing indeed trying to preserve a sense of both sacredness and specialness. Metaphors of a "veil" and of "lifting a veil' come to mind--whether a bridal veil, the veil of the temple that was rent in two at the death of Christ, or others from the time of the sacred Ark of the Covenant.
    It all depends on the mores and values of the society we are talking about; nakedness in some are not particular looked upon as having special significance. In other societies, a naked ankle would lead to erotic thoughts. As the veneers of civilisation, religion laid their cloak on society, sexuality and the naked body took on special significance. The freedom of the open mind is stolen and replaced with values based on dogmas and as those dogmas become entrenched special significance and meanings are given to them creating a kaleidoscope of coloured shifting patterns of understandings and symbolic messages.
    The question to ask is why the Public nude would have any power other than the Artists talent which created it...and why would that Art be more significant than any other.
     
  255. Fred:
    "If everything is glorious, then I wouldn't care at all that the nude body is. Because glasses of water would also be glorious."
    Thought for a second you were finally getting it.
    "and just as importantly , ad nauseum."
    Well, sorry about the nausea. Thank you for being so gracious about it.
     
  256. Believe me, I know I was getting it.
    You see, I started thinking about the tragedy in Darfur and how it is glorious, too, and how God works in mysterious ways . . . and, well, nausea.
     
  257. “how it is glorious, too, and how God works in mysterious ways . . .”
    It’s not so much a case of mysterious ways, Fred, although that also might be true. It is more of a case of free will, at least from the understanding of the deal struck in the Garden. We as a species, a life form wanting to do our own thing...
    Work out the deal ourselves, so as to speak. That is the philosophy behind it, and i suppose the consequences.....if we choose to believe in such things.
     
  258. “if we are considerate of the rights of our mates and concerned for the protection of special monogamous bonds.”
    "SOMETHING SACRED IS AT STAKE”

    Holy doctrine comes to mind when i read such words.
     
  259. jtk

    jtk

    Allen, which "Holy doctrine" comes to your mind? Pentacostal, Hindu, NFL, NASCAR...?
     
  260. Allen--
    For now, I'll concern myself with where I choose to go while I'm here.
    And speaking of choosing, I agree with you about free will.
    What I was denying was Larry's statement "Everything is glorious."
    I used Darfur as an example of something not glorious. We men and women screw a lot up. It all ain't so glorious.
    As a matter of fact, as John pretty much already said, we are so free that we're even the ones who decide what IS glorious.
    Now, I think we should get back to photographs of nudes or let this thread die a glorious death. I already feel like I've been bamboozled (and that's as much about my own weaknesses as anything else) into discussing way more religious philosophy and much less photography than I bargained for. And this is not a great place for that.
    I don't want to claim the final word. So if anyone wants to respond, I'll be happy to read what they say but will likely keep my own mouth shut.
     
  261. wow, still going strong. I thought this thread ended more than a week ago.
     
  262. John Kelly wrote: "Sacred "monogamous bonds" don't seem to have much relationship to the prevalence of porn in relatively monogamous Abrahamic cultures, such as Florida's and Minnesota's."
    For the record...
    The states that *buy* (not watch for free) the most per cap Internet porn are: Utah, Hawaii, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Alaska and California round out the top ten.
    The most salient common denominators are: Belief in miracles, belief in the existence of God, and political conservatism, particularly being on the list of 27 states that have passed "Defense of Marriage" (anti-gay marriage) laws. These states tend to have higher divorce rates, from which one could reasonably infer less monogamous behavior.
    Minnesota is 40th (tenth from the bottom) among states that buy Internet porn.
    Florida, monogamous? LOL! It has the 8th highest divorce rate in the US.
     
  263. I "concluded" Saturday afternoon by saying that "Surely something sacred is at stake, after all."
    Very well. (I do happen to believe that.) Nonetheless, does a nude necessarily profane the subject, sexuality, or even the monogamous order (if such is the order that one would defend and promote, as I would)?
    Consider this photo:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/9201374
    It would be hard to argue that this photo profanes anything. If anything, it seems to represent the affirmation of what is good (and even holy or sacred, if one likes to use such language, as I admittedly do).
    On the other hand, consider this variation of the same photo:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/2991301
    I confess that I like the first shot better. Is it because (1) I want to look at the woman's body and see it more clearly and thus brighter and in more detail or (2) because I hate the color of the frame?
    Well, of course, that is my own problem (or existential quandary, or even "obsession," if John Kelly is correct), and I am not really asking for responses here to my own quandary.
    Nonetheless, more generally, which is the better picture, and why?
    More to the point of this thread, however, does the public display of nudity (qua the public nude as we have tried to define it above) necessarily imply any disrespect for the human body (or the sacredness of sexuality or the virtue of monogamy, if one wants to cast the question in such terms)?
    In other words, does the public nude necessarily profane anything at all?
    (In all of the above, I am using the distinction between the "sacred" and the "profane," a distinction which I find useless and meaningful. I recognize that not all persons do, and that some even seem to feel offended when I raise issues of or even make allusions to "sacredness." I am sorry, but that is the way that I prefer to cast the question. Others may choose to avoid such language--but that is their decision, and they are free to cast the question--and answer it--in language of their own choosing.)
    In any case, I personally think that nudity has very little, if anything, to do with sacralizing or profaning of very much of anything (although I confess to being taken aback by pictures of nude weddings). As far as I am concerned, this photo, which shows a lot less, is a lot more "sexy" than either version of mother and child above:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/9229276&size=lg
    Is "sexiness" profane?
    I sure hope not. Even if it were, it would not require nudity. Doug Burgess' photo clearly shows that.
    --Lannie
     
  264. "Believe me, I know I was getting it.
    You see, I started thinking about the tragedy in Darfur and how it is glorious, too, and how God works in mysterious ways . . . and, well, nausea."
    I'm sorry, Fred, but is it really appropriate to become that sarcastic, dismissive, and condescending? You do it too often. There are many positions with which you are perfectly entitled to disagree. In a philosophy forum one should expect disagreement, but too often your "disagreement" involves such derision.
     
  265. "Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being." - Albert Camus​
    Fred, if an existentialist such as Camus can invoke lost innocence, surely I can, too.
    Actually I can understand your being revolted by the idea that everything is glorious, implying (for some, at least) that everything is the will of God. I was teaching an Intro. to Philosophy course once when a student piped up (totally off-topic) and said, "I believe that everything that happens is the will of God!" I said, "Okay, let's accept that as our first premise: everything that happens is the will of God. Now let us posit a second premise: sin happens. Conclusion: sin is the will of God." She responded, "That's just stupid!"
    I responded, "That's the point. It is not only stupid, but absurd. In other words, if we accpept your premise, then the conclusion is absurd. We have reduced your claim to absurdity, forcing us to re-examine your basic premise. This is what we call a reductio ad absurdum , a reduction to absurdity."
    She said, "No, I just mean that the whole discussion is stupid. I think that philosophy is stupid. I think you're stupid."
    Oh well. . . . We are yet left with the very challenging question as to how one can believe in God when the world is so full of random horror--or it sure appears to be random horror from where I sit. Is it conceivable that everything is the will of God? Is it conceivable, that is that the student could have been correct and that I could have been wrong? Well, my first premise is always, "I could be wrong." In this case, I hope that I am not. Is everything yet in some essential sense finally under God's control? I don't have anything to add to that age-old discussion.
    On another issue above, you said,
    "I think we should get back to photographs of nudes or let this thread die a glorious death. I already feel like I've been bamboozled (and that's as much about my own weaknesses as anything else) into discussing way more religious philosophy and much less photography than I bargained for. And this is not a great place for that."​
    I don't think that you have been bamboozled, unless by God himself. I certainly had no idea where this discussion was leading when I started this thread. I believe that God refuses to let himself/herself/itself be roped off and totally excluded from anything. If there is a divine logos , then that logic is going to intrude from time to time into our casual complacency. I confess once again that I know nothing, except that I know nothing--a paradox, but not one that troubles me overly much.
    "This is not a great place for that." I would submit to you that this is the only corner of the site where we may, if we choose, freely delve into metaphysical questions from time to time. Not everyone is going to agree on either premises or conclusions, of course, but that does not mean that persons have different "agendas," to use the word you used even earlier. I think that we simply have differing world views.
    Aesthetics (or "esthetics," as I prefer) is in some ways the most challenging field of philosophy, for in it all of the other fields converge. Therefore discussions of esthetics invariably become messy.
    This thread is no exception, and I am personally not at all surprised that it has gotten messy. I am a bit surprised by the particular mess that we have created or have been left with, but the messiness does not surprise me. I have to admit, though, that I am surprised that you are surprised that religious and other ultimate issues would enter the discussion when issues about nudity (especially public nudity!) were discussed.
    One thing that is obvious is that nothing in philosophy is really obvious. If someone says that something is self-evident (including the claim that another's point of view is self-evidently wrong), a red flag goes up for me. Yes, this thread has gone off in some unusual directions at times. Even so, I confess to being surprised at your surprise.
    --Lannie
     
  266. While we are on the subject of what is or is not glorious, Fred, let us put it to the test by applying the question of gloriousness to a photo that I referred to in my opening post. Let me put the issue this way: is this photo glorious or disgustingly pornographic?
    http://www.photo.net/photo/3251073
    Whatever it is, it certainly is a challenge to prevailing mores and standards in this culture. So, to reaffirm my opening thesis, I believe that the public nude demonstrates at least some of its power by its capacity to both challenge the existing order and to provoke a reaction from those who wish to defend it. (There is nothing transcendental or religious in that claim on my part.)
    To me it matters little to what extent this really is a nude "in public." She is clearly practicing for a public performance (well, actually, posing as if she were), which is not to say that the performance is to be nude. If it were, and if the photo had been made at an actual ballet performed in the nude, then surely its challenge would be even greater. That was not my point in referring to it earlier, however. I can see her as more likely practicing in the nude for a performance to be given clothed. The shot is obviously posed or set up, however, so that one can only imagine that it is actually a photo of a ballerina practicing in the nude. Somehow I am not shocked by the idea, nor titillated by it either. It is yet a powerful image, in my opinion, regardless of what one thinks about the nature and significance of its power.
    --Lannie
     
  267. What's "sacred" is what we deem sacred. --John Kelly​
    John, unless you are offering this as a definition, it has a relativistic ring to it.
    It seems to me that there is a difference between what is deemed to be sacred and what really is sacred. The concept of the "Third Reich" was probably held to be sacred by Hitler.
    Yes, my way of looking at the concept of the sacred implies a non-subjective standard, admittedly one that is unverifiable. Yes, I am assuming a transcendent source of that which is worthy of being deemed to be held to be sacred.
    --Lannie
     
  268. John, unless you are offering this as a definition, it has a relativistic ring to it.​
    Of course it does. "Sacredness" is a relative concept. Do you revere cows or eat them?
     
  269. I revere what I eat.
     
  270. I was using the term "relative" as it is used in ethical theory, Mike. The fact that what is deemed to be sacred is relative to culture is a fact that can be verified by anthropology. That is, I will be the first to concede that cultural relativism is a fact: what is deemed to be worthy does vary across cultures. Ethical relativism is another thing entirely: Questioning the worthiness of the belief system that would affirm that cows should be deemed sacred while persons starve is, for example, a challenge to a culture's values from another person's or another culture's perspective.
    The distinction between cultural relativism and ethical relativism is central to all ethical analysis. The belief that cultural relativism necessarily implies ethical relativism suggests that one has given up on figuring out what is perhaps inherently more worthy or unworthy, good or bad, right or wrong, glorious or inglorious.
    I see no glory or worth, for example, in a social order or empire that was predicated on the belief that the progress of humanity depended on the extermination of an entire race of people--but the fact that Jews and Nazis disagreed with regard to the value of the Aryan ideal is an empirically verifiable fact.
    I think that the dispute between Larry Cooper and Fred Goldsmith over what is "glorious" ultimately reduces to this central distinction of ethical theory, and I have to side with Fred on this one--and not because he has an Ashkenazic name. What is at stake is the goodness, rightness, worthiness, "gloriousness" of something quite important: genocide. (No offense, Larry: I am not accusing you of advocating genocide. On the other hand, nothing that you have said about the "glorious" would give you firm ground to stand on in challenging the practice of genocide.)
    Perhaps this distinction between two types of relativism is one reason that pointing out that differing cultures have differing views on the healthiness of displaying the naked body in public proves nothing . Having said that, however, I am still not sure how one can ever prove or verify any ultimate ethical claim--including this one.
    Nor am I at all certain that displaying the naked body in public (or portraying it so displayed) implies anything about what truly is sacred or profane.
    I do think that at some point we need to show how the various disputes treated in this thread relate to one another. Having said that, I am quite sure that we shall not achieve any consensus on most of the issues raised here.
    --Lannie
     
  271. "Holy cow!" (Don't kill it! Don't eat it!)
    "Holy naked body!" (Don't look at it! Don't photograph it! Don't model/display it!)
    Hmm. Gotta think about this a bit more. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  272. Yesterday (May 25, 2009) at 8:29 a.m., I posted the following:
    In all of the above, I am using the distinction between the "sacred" and the "profane," a distinction which I find useless and meaningful . (Emphasis supplied.)​
    I made a serious error in typing that. I meant to say the following:
    In all of the above, I am using the distinction between the "sacred" and the "profane," a distinction which I find useful and meaningful .​
    Furthermore, I find the concept of the "sacred" to be useful, not useless. Whether it has any usefulness in terms of applicability to issues involving public nudity is perhaps one of the important points of contention on this thread. I think that, on many issues related to public nudity, the concept of the sacred is not only useful but essential.
    It was apparently on that issue that Fred and I parted company.
    --Lannie
     
  273. Since this thread is diffusing prodigiously, I would like to comment on this:
    [LK]"I believe that everything that happens is the will of God!" I said, "Okay, let's accept that as our first premise: everything that happens is the will of God. Now let us posit a second premise: sin happens. Conclusion: sin is the will of God." She responded, "That's just stupid!" I responded, "That's the point. It is not only stupid, but absurd. In other words, if we accpept your premise, then the conclusion is absurd.
    Not necessarily so. An Old Testament God is certainly capable of a Darfur, disease, Holocaust (such as those found in Deuteronomy) general smiting, ad nauseam. I was reminded of the story about the time Mother Theresa, at one of her African Missions, took her staff to the airstrip to welcome the permanent crew of nuns who would take over the little hospital she had created there. The plane came low, and an unexpected wind caused the pilot to lose control. The plane cartwheeled in flames, killing everyone aboard.
    The nuns by the airstrip were crushed. They begged Mother Theresa for a word to carry them through this horror. Mother Theresa turned to them and said:
    "This, too, is the Will of God."
    Not everyone thinks of God in the same way.
     
  274. It was a mistake for me to use the verb "is" in my "Everything is glorious" statement. "Can be" should have been used instead; and I should also have said everything can be inglorious (or maybe nauseating).
    To suggest that glasses of water, or something we eat, or terrible acts of violence, or nudes, or photographs of naked people in any particular context, cannot be glorious, is to be blinded by culture and personal bias, and to fall victim to the belief that a duality exists where it does not.
    Even genocide will, in fact, have its glory.
    "After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord's Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips." - Viktor Frankl
     
  275. "Let me put the issue this way: is this photo glorious or disgustingly pornographic?
    http://www.photo.net/photo/3251073
    Whatever it is, it certainly is a challenge to prevailing mores and standards in this culture".
    What it is, or appears to be, is a traditional fine art nude study. I cannot imagine how it is a challenge to the "prevailing mores or standards of this culture"
     
  276. I cannot imagine how it is a challenge to the "prevailing mores or standards of this culture"​
    Well, I do not think that it is a challenge to the prevailing mores or standards of an artistic culture or subculture. For me such a photo is much more likely to be a challenge to the prevailing mores and standards of American culture in general --although we surely have a great number of subcultures in this country. The culture of New York city is not that of a small town in North Carolina, such as the one I currently live in. Nor is the culture of this town the same as that of Charlotte, thirty-five miles away. Religious denomination, educational attainment, and socio-economic level in general are also factors, I think, in terms of predicting reactions of individual persons anywhere.
    For the record, the photo I asked about is quite "glorious" to me and not in the least pornographic. That does not settle (for me) all of the ethical questions raised in this thread, but, as for the image itself, I do not find it in the least objectionable or offensive. Pornography, like beauty, is overwhelmingly (although not necessarily always or only) in the eye of the beholder, and either the closed or the dirty mind will find filth everywhere.
    I mean here by "glorious" simply that it is beautiful, even inspiring. I do not mean by using this term to re-open the discussion as to what is the essence of "glory." I did not, when I first used the term "glorious" in this thread, think of it in a religious sense, but in a purely artistic and even emotional sense. I do not deny the spiritual connotations of the word, however.
    --Lannie
     
  277. Even genocide will, in fact, have its glory.​
    Larry, I thnk that I know what you mean, but I would prefer to say that the human response to genocide (or any kind of persecution or injury) can be glorious. I see nothing in genocide per se that I could possibly call glorious.
    --Lannie
     
  278. An Old Testament God is certainly capable of a Darfur, disease, Holocaust (such as those found in Deuteronomy) general smiting, ad nauseam. --Luis G.​
    Well, now that we are deeply into theology proper, may I only say that I hope that God is not so vindictive and petty as that. You also say, Luis, that "Not everyone thinks of God in the same way."
    This is precisely the point. In the Christian tradition, one also finds great variation. Some see in the death of Jesus of Nazareth the literal cancelling of sin through blood sacrifice. Others of us see that kind of language ("taking away the sin of the world" through "shedding the blood of Christ") as at best metaphorical.
    These considerations take us far afield, however. I think that we got here by talking about genocide, which was triggered by reference to sacredness, which is turn was triggered by references to both "shame" and "glory," which discussion was triggered by my unfortunate use of the word "glory" in the title of this thread.
    If I had to bring God into the discussion of my original question, it might be only to ask to what extent there might or might not be something in our God-given nature that makes the nude, particularly the public nude, something that we would tend to cover up or avoid. If so, why? Is something sacred at stake? Are some persons' (including other women's as well as men's) insecurities, etc. sufficient to impel us to cover up ourselves or ask (much less force) others to do that?
    Having asked that question, however, I do not wish to re-open the "nature (genetics) v. nurture (acculturation)" issues that we discussed earlier.
    As for "asking" versus "forcing" others to cover up, we get into issues of law and public policy--also not the topic of the original posting.
    --Lannie
     
  279. "Well, I do not think that it is a challenge to the prevailing mores or standards of an artistic culture or subculture. For me such a photo is much more likely to be a challenge to the prevailing mores and standards of American culture in general...although we surely have a great number of subcultures in this country. "
    "For the record, the photo I asked about is quite "glorious" to me and not in the least pornographic."
    I guess for anyone who thinks any display of "privates" is pornographic this is pornography. I've read there are such people. In that case, it doesn't matter which photo (or painting, or illustration, or cartoon, or statue) you might link to as long as there was some evidence of "privates" displayed. The fine art nude is intended to be "beautiful" in some way and not pornographic. If that is a point you are making, (perhaps a trenchant point in 1909) it hardly seems worth the effort today. It doesn't qualify as a "public nude", either, although your response to it is that it suggests (to you) practicing for a (public) performance.
    Some photos you've called "public nudes" seem urban variants of the 'environmental nude' (which are situated in nature)...Brian Grossman's Iron and Flesh I'd call an urban environmental nude, if I needed a label. When I first read "public nude" I thought of something else than what you've linked to. I thought of photographs of public nakedness, which you can study by a Google Image search on "nude in public". Photographing (or Photoshopping) naked young women in a crowded venue surrounded by the attired is, possibly, a subculture in itself. The photo of "the model sitting self-assured as if she were the CEO calling the board meeting to order" (or someone sitting in their dining room posing for her boyfriend) reminds me of the photos in ads that appear on web pages where one has entered one's city or zip -- all those hot young women in my town who want to meet me, with photos of their charms on display. My point is in the most general of all cultures, the www, "public nudes" are commonplace and are part of our culture, not a challenge to it.
    "Glory" is often a religious term, or at least one with spiritual connotations. The "effulgence of glory" is the halo or aura, something limned by ethereal light, the shekinah of the kabbalists. The melam by which the Sumerians distinguished a human from a god might be the earliest known evidence for the idea, going back 4000 years give or take.
    If we can set aside the issue of public nude and pornography, I am in some agreement with you regarding glory. What is glory but light? Not the natural light, but the intellectual light that limns the photograph. If it is there, and if one sees it there, then the photo is "glorious". Otherwise, it is something else, maybe pornography. It hardly matters. Too bad for those viewers who do not see it; it is a challenge they do not know is there.
     
  280. ". . . those viewers who do not see it. . ."​
    That is an interesting juxtaposition of words, Don, an oxymoron if taken out of context. In addition, since you are talking about light, it can be restated as "those viewers who do not see the light," or even "those who look at the light but still do not see it."
    --Lannie
     
  281. Lannie, I think we can safely infer what Don meant.
    Something akin to Jeremiah 5:21 "21 Hear now this, O a foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and b see not; which have ears , and c hear not".
     
  282. Yes, Don's point was quite clear, Luis. I was also reminded of the popular saying, "There are none so blind as those who will not see." The biblical phrasing is admittedly more powefrul (or at least more eloquent), and thank you for including it: "without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not." Yes, that says it all.
    I yet do not presume that I "see" qua understand all that there is to see on these issues, of course. It is conceivable that those who are still coming from the fundamentalist tradition see qua understand more than I do, or are seeing something to which I am blind. Even so, I would hope that they would at least try to understand that it is possible for different persons to look at the same image for very different reasons.
    I was actually raised in the fundamentalist tradition, and even in the 1980s (when I was in my forties and had long since abandoned that tradition) when I was showing my father the book Eyelids of the Morning (which shows not only crocodiles but also a few pictures of topless African women), he questioned why those pictures had to be included in a book about fresh-water crocodiles on the Nile. The images in question were indeed free-standing portraits of the women interspersed throughout the regular narrative of the book, and they were beautifully done. Yes, they could have been omitted without affecting the narrative, and perhaps they were even extraneous to it, but I told my father that I thought that they were included because of their artistic value.
    His response was "That's how pornography got started, in art."
    How does one respond to that? I loved my father very much, but my own presumption is now (as it was then) that pornography begins in the heart, not in "art." I yet understand the impulse to veil that which is deemed to be sacred, or even merely "special," to preserve it for the eyes of one special person. I do know that persons' insecurities come into play, however, and so it is hard to know what really drives persons when they recoil from the portrayal of the nude form.
    I also understand to what extent the mere viewing of a nude person (in the flesh, in a sexual context, not so much in a photo) can be an act closer to having sex than contemplation, for it is possible to "devour" a person with one's eyes, to "feast" one's eyes, etc. There certainly can be a kind of "sexual partaking" in the process of looking, even when such looking is in the context of a loving relationship, not as a predatory act. Much overtly tactile sexual activity begins with the visual impact, which then proceeds to the visual "partaking"--and beyond.
    Having said that, I am yet back where I started: what is deemed erotic or sexual seems to have more to do with the motives of the person than with precisely how much is visible. In addition, there is the further complication that we have all thought about: if one decides that "too much" is visible, where would one perchance draw the line between what is deemed to be acceptable versus what is "too much"?
    Don made allusion to the year 1909, a century ago, when Victorian norms reigned supreme, and women's blouses were typically still buttoned all the way up to the neck. I hear people say that we have now "gone too far," and so once again one wants to know what is meant by "too far." Where, again, is that "line" that one would draw to demarcate the "decent" from the "indecent"?
    I go into these issues at some depth here because the public nude (in some sense) seems too far past many persons's "line." Indeed, such portrayals are not only "too far' but "far too far."
    I am suddenly reminded of the title of a song that came out in 1970, "In the Year 2525": will persons still be discussing these issues (at times with some vehemence) five hundred years from now, or will these issues have been resolved and some consensus have been achieved?
    Frankly, I am not optimistic. Some people are saying (as I suspect that some people always have), "What's all the noise about?" Those people scare me the most, for they have never even seen the problem that others are earnestly trying to understand and address. That is, when something is "self-evidently obvious" to some (on either side) while others are still struggling to formulate the questions that divide us, a little red flag goes up for me.
    That is my way of saying that I do think that there is something of great importance in these issues, and I do not like to see important issues trivialized.
    Sometimes something that appears to be simple is, when one begins to examine it closely or to converse with others, not simple at all. I think that a whole complex of issues surrounding the "public nude" is a testament to that. If philosophers seem to be wanting to beat a dead horse, perhaps it is because the horse really is not dead, i.e ., the issues really have not been resolved at all. They have not even been carefully addressed, or even been recognized as being worthy of being addressed.
    So, when I hear someone suggest that these issues are "last century's problem," I know immediately that that person fails to see the problem--fails even to understand or to take it seriously.
    That person is a lot like the fundamentalist, even if he or she is on the other side of the fence: everything is so simple and self-evident to him.
    It is difficult to carry on a conversation with someone like that.
    --Lannie
     
  283. "Lannie, I think we can safely infer what Don meant."
    "Yes, Don's point was quite clear, Luis."
    If in this forum anyone ever asks me what I meant by anything I've written I am likely to drop dead from astonishment.
     
  284. "His response was "That's how pornography got started, in art."
    How does one respond to that?"
    How about: That's true. The oldest pornography in the West is ancient Greek --pre-classical era vase art (or at least that is all that remains of it). It is elegant and comic. In classical Athens comedies had pornographic elements. For the Greeks porn seems to be of the comic. Until the invention of photography, porn was a high class act and expensive. Commoners had to do with scratchings on outhouse walls or more likely their imaginings.
     
  285. Well, as the thread finally seems to be grinding to a halt, I have but one last parting observation. Given the erotic potential of the nude (and given the corresponding difficulty--if not virtual impossibility--of factoring out the sexual component from other aesthetic components), I offer this admonition: if one is going to shoot or view nudes, then one does well to know one's motives , and one must also be honest enough with oneself to admit one's motives to oneself.
    In other words, the ancient Greek maxim "Know thyself" seems nowhere more relevant or compelling than on the myriad issues that we have discussed here.
    --Lannie
     
  286. Lannie--
    Do you think the nude is that special? Do you not think it's a good idea to "know one's motives" and "admit one's motives to oneself" regarding many other types of photography? How about when doing people's portraits, something I consider a very intimate form of photography? I just spent a couple of weeks photographing people with special needs living in a farming community in New Hampshire, at work, at play, at home, together and alone. Good idea to know and admit my motives? Would these admonitions of yours apply just to nudes? If so, why? If not, why are you singling out nudes in this respect?
    There are many kinds of intimacy as important and more important than erotic intimacy.
    Additionally, there are many kinds of photographs I may take just because I want to take them. My motives, in many cases, are unimportant. What's important is the picture I get. Why would nudes not sometimes fall under this category? Whether or not I'm concerned with motivation has to do with a lot of factors; a nude subject is not high on my list of those factors.
     
  287. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, will your New Hampshire photos be online somewhere? Are they now?
    I share your view about intimacy...it's more rare than eros. I'd not thought to use the term, but I think it's part of what I'm after in the portraits that most concern me these days (another part is something about emotional context...what's going on behind the subject's habitual photo-subject expressions...that I'm hoping to see through? )
    Lannie, I'm curious about "admit one's motives." The word "admit" seems to imply guilt. We're awash in eros, right? But we're not awash in intimacy, I think. Where does guilt fit into this? Perhaps we should feel more guilt about lack of intimacy?
     
  288. John, my use of the phrase "admit one's motives to oneself" means simply what I said in my last paragraph about "knowing oneself," nothing more, nothing less. I have not used "admit" to imply guilt or a sense of guilt.
    Fred, Thomas Nagel and other philosophers have done some interesting work in philosophical journals on the nature of ethics as it applies to issues related to sexuality. Every issue on this thread raises many spin-off issues (some petty and niggling, some very profound and worthy of separate threads), and so the thread at some point becomes extraordinarily time-consuming--and at some point one simply walks away from it.
    --Lannie
     
  289. John--
    I will be creating some sort of presentation of my New Hampshire photos and will let you know when I have it ready. I have a lot of stuff to go through and want to put it together effectively. Thanks for the interest.
     
  290. "[T]he ancient Greek maxim "Know thyself" seems nowhere more relevant or compelling than on the myriad issues that we have discussed here."
    Lannie--
    I wouldn't question the "Know thyself" part of your proposition. But I would question the "seems nowhere more relevant or compelling than on the myriad issues that we have discussed here."
    I think much more soul searching and "knowing thyself" would better be applied, for example, to those many snappers who post pictures of homeless people than to those posting pictures of nudes. I think you've singled out, as an ethical matter, the nude and sexuality and you haven't made a good case for doing so.
     
  291. Fred, this thread was about photographing nudes, a particular subset of them. It was not about homeless people, or I would be talking about issues related to shooting homeless people.
    I have already communicated to you via return e-mail ( a couple of days ago) that I believe that you are correct that there are many topics of photography where "know thyself" would seem to be relevant.
    I think you've singled out, as an ethical matter, the nude and sexuality and you haven't made a good case for doing so.​
    Again, Fred, this thread is about the nude, sexuality, challenges to social mores, and much else related to the original question. I do not feel that any justification is needed for "singling out" the "nude and sexuality" in a thread about nudity and sexuality.
    --Lannie
     
  292. "I do not feel that any justification is needed for 'singling out' the 'nude and sexuality' in a thread about nudity and sexuality."
    Right. No justification is needed for singling out the nude in a thread about the nude. The justification I seek is for your emphasis on the ethics of it. You just said "knowing thyself" seems nowhere more relevant than regarding the nude. That's what needs justification. I say there are many more relevant places for ethics to come in. Homelessness is merely one example of many I thought of where ethics is more relevant than it is regarding nudity. In other words, I think you are overemphasizing the ethics of nudes as compared to ethics of other genres of photography. Yes, we are discussing nudes here. But YOU said: "NOWHERE MORE RELEVANT." That, for me, is the crux of the problem with your whole approach to this thread.
     
  293. Fred, first let me respond once more to the issue of, say, shooting either the homeless or those who might be. Here is a thread where the issues you raise would be relevant. (One of mine is in here as well, and one could challenge the ethics and motives of posting it--as did one of my colleagues where I teach, at an African-American college.)
    http://www.photo.net/street-documentary-photography-forum/00TYuE
    As for your second claim:
    You just said "knowing thyself" seems nowhere more relevant than regarding the nude. That's what needs justification. I say there are many more relevant places for ethics to come in.​
    Fred, I think that there are ethical issues in all branches of photography. I do not feel the need to defend any claim that issues related to nudity and sexuality are as compelling as other issues. I did not, for the record, say "more compelling."
    The issue that you raise would be a good topic for another thread. Why don't you post it as a question on another thread?
    --Lannie
     
  294. And I did not suggest you said the ethical issues regarding nudes are "more compelling." I simply said I disagree that they are "nowhere more compelling" than with the nude. The ethics of photography are in MANY places, I believe, MORE compelling than with the nude.
    I don't think this needs to be taken up in a different thread. It's very much about THIS thread and about how you've approached it.
    The ethics of shooting homeless becomes completely relevant when you make a statement like ethics are NOWHERE MORE RELEVANT than with the nude. Because, I think, ethics are MUCH MORE relevant to homeless photos than to nude photos. The example is not meant to sidetrack the thread and discuss homelessness. It's meant to give you a counterexample to your thinking about the ethics of the nude. It's meant to suggest that the ethical aspects underlying your entire approach to this thread should be considered by you. You have taken the importance of those ethical aspects as a given. It's worth considering that the ethical aspects of nude photography are not as significant as you are making them out to be.
    In my mind, it's the very reason why we in the U.S. censor nudity on TV and in mainstream films and not violence. Because we think of nudity as a significant ethical matter and not much else. When our churches talk about morality, they are more often talking of nudity and sexuality than actual important and more relevant moral matters. That's why they worry about who marries whom instead of who goes hungry on the streets and gets killed in wars. The churchgoers (the ones shouting loudest about morality) vote for the guys who will repress others' sexuality and will forget to consider that these same guys will take us into needless wars and cut funding for needed social programs, all because they're focused on the ETHICS of nudity and sexuality, to the exclusion of MANY MORE IMPORTANT ethical matters.
     
  295. jtk

    jtk

    The serpent in Genesis draws a couple's attention to nudity, shame follows, and they are forced to relocate to Columbus, OH.
    "Admit" seems most commonly to imply something about guilt. Who is it, after all, that "admits?"
    Adam and Eve tried to blame the serpent, but the Landlord caught them with their pants down. Was this news to him?
     
  296. I think, ethics are MUCH MORE relevant to homeless photos than to nude photos. The example is not meant to sidetrack the thread and discuss homelessness.It's meant to suggest that the ethical aspects underlying your entire approach to this thread should be considered by you. You have taken the importance of those ethical aspects as a given. It's worth considering that the ethical aspects of nude photography are not as significant as you are making them out to be.​
    It's also worth considering, Fred, that the ethical aspects of nude photography are a lot more significant than you are making them out to be--which is not at all to diminish the significance of the issues that you have raised.
    This is a good topic. Do you want to discuss it here?
    Very well. It's "out there." Let's see who bites. I still say that it would be better treated as a separate thread, if only to get more attention to issues that we both think are important.
    I am not a censorial type, for the record. I am not a prude. I just happen to think that sexuality is a great good that goes far beyond mere pleasure into the realm of the sacred. Apparently we disagree, and my "approach" qua treating it as something that is worthy of being called "sacred" bothers you.
    As a matter of fact, I think that I recall that from your earlier posts that all references to the idea of the "sacred" bother you--not just those having to do with nudity and sexuality.
    --Lannie
     
  297. "Admit" seems most commonly to imply something about guilt. Who is it, after all, that "admits?"​
    John, most words admit of more than one interpretation and nuance of meaning, depending on context. I was not thinking about issues of guilt when I used the term "admit" in the post (by me) which apparently troubles you.
    Nor was I doing so in the bold-faced word in the immediately preceding paragraph (in case you missed it).
    --Lannie
     
  298. " I think that I recall that from your earlier posts that all references to the idea of the 'sacred' bother you."
    Yes, they do. So? The question I raised is why you think ethics are "nowhere more compelling" in photography than relating to the nude. Homeless is an example I put on the table. War is an example I then added. You haven't answered my question. Why is ethics regarding homelessness and war not more compelling than ethics regarding nudity?