Thursday, April 26, 2012

else would a maiden's blush bepaint my cheek

In class today, our professor (bless his soul) tried to tell a group of college students that nudity on stage isn't as interesting as we think it is. My face was like this:


His point was that when a student was examining the musical Hair, she focused on the gender and social constructs that the show engaged with. "Most people can't get past the nudity," he said. Get past the nudity? As if we were somehow supposed to overcome our natural instinct of embarrassment in the presence of a human body. Since when did the naked human form stop being seductive and dangerous and sensual, and all things blush-worthy?

Our professor throughout the semester has regaled us with many details of the sexual dynamics of theatre, history, and society. And I think he enjoys making us uncomfortable, saying: "now now, we're all adults, we can discuss this rationally." And all semester, I've been thinking: why do we want to think about these things rationally?? Why do I somehow want to suppress the instinct of awe and wonder and fear and embarrassment, and blushes and delight and secrecy and sacredness that surrounds the mystique of the human body and sex? If you look at sex through such a superior, intellectualized, isn't-this-such-a-base-instinct lens, you'll never understand it. And also, aren't you missing out?

When we were in Italy, we raced through Florence at the speed of light. But, nevertheless, we spent a solid twenty minutes just standing and gazing at Michelangelo's David. And we all know what David looks like. He's not hiding anything. It's no fun if, when looking at David, you try to pretend that you're too cultured to be bothered by the fact that he's naked. You're supposed to be bothered by that fact--that's part of being human. You're supposed to appreciate the sheer artistry of the beautiful marble, and also blush as you gaze at the brazen display of masculinity in front of you.

Whatever has happened to blushing?

I was recently discussing with a friend the Rite of Spring and Ibsen's plays, and works of art that have caused people to riot. They were so bizarre or offensive that they drew something out of the audience. People went crazy because they were so offended by what they saw. And then we tried to think of something that would cause people to do that now. Absolutely nothing. We're so shock-proof. How very boring of us. We try to think we can discuss these matters "like adults," meaningly, soullessly. No thanks. I prefer to admire the Birth of Venus, and also be slightly shocked by the fact that she's au naturale.

Because if we're not slightly embarrassed and excited, what is the point nakedness at all?

1 comment:

  1. You know how to say things so well! I wish I had your talent with words. I love your blog so much, but I'm always the creeper lurker who reads and leaves, so I thought I'd finally get around to telling you how much I love all your posts. So, therefore: I love all your posts!