tags: ritual published on:
It is a social taboo to expose the nude body publicly. Shrouding everything in clothes is considered the norm. Even statues of dead people, who are literally ghost entities now, wear bronze clothes. At least the dead should be allowed to be depicted in the nude, like they came and like they went. At least after death the scars and distortions of the body should not be a secret anymore.
But more than just the nudity of the body, society has a problem dealing with nudity in all forms. Naked emotion, naked desire, naked ambition, naked beauty. Cloaking is considered much more proper. It remains the standing recommendation at the city gates. Packaging within packaging, bags within bags.
Cloaking hides, obscures, distances, dilutes. Cloaking the face with the veil can trick us into considering a face we wouldn't do otherwise. The poetics of faces, expressions and the variability of reading the reflection of the unexpressed are debated by the cloakers. What the cloakers do not discuss is the nature of their craft. They do not tell us where all the hidden surfaces get displaced to. Where do all the faces behind veils go? Obliquely applying the law of conservation of energy to the politics of surfaces means that we negate the possibility of disappearance, of displacement and we consider the possibility of the conservation of surfaces.
What would a law of conservation of surfaces mean? For every surface that is cloaked, another one will appear somewhere else. For all you know cities feel crowded because of the effects of this law. A lot of virtual unthinking bodies just need to be fabricated because of all the clothes we wear and all the veils we decorate ourselves with. And that explains the weird illusion that we are all running out of space and that sooner or later we will choke the planet with overpopulation.
How could that happen? How do we really know how many people really live in this world? A real body count could only happen in the nude and we discount that possibility because of our hangover with God. I have a plausible explanation for how the God story emerged. Picture yourself sitting in a bar, drinking beer after beer bottoms-up. You are not wearing any clothes (of course), the buzz in your head is escalating. Very soon you are going to lose a visual on the world, things are getting blurred. Suddenly you get jumped from multiple sides, and then what feels like a pounding from everywhere, you feel like a dough knead through the fingers of a brawny chef. Then you open your eyes and see a bunch of guys standing and laughing at you. You look sideways and see a man standing by himself, serious, very serious. That person has a beard, long hair and look like he is on some strong drugs. You wake up the next morning and remember nothing but that person. You start telling stories of this person, introducing him as a kind of God solely because he did not pound you senselessly when he easily could have. This story is probably true, replace the bar and the beer for whatever is more culturally appropriate and you have the seeds of a new religion. A religion which has stories in which no one is ever wearing clothes, stories modelled on the bravado and insecurity of being nude. Who pounds whom and who doesn't being the extent of moral science. Of course the stories could be very explicit if you so desire. Figure it out, what flies your kite? What gives you your angle?
Now, we will talk about the hesitation with which any naked beauty is allowed to trot around in the city. Beauty of any kind, person, object, picture. There always has to be an obstruction, a cloak of dirt, smog, cynicism. Anything you call beautiful is trivialised and spoken of with bitterness. Romance being the function of celebrating the beauty in the everyday is banished from the city, only personal romance is allowed to operate in as boring a manner as possible. Parables of singular features that bodies possess in an exalted manner. The spirit of beauty is of course commoditised and disallowed its nakedness. Emotion on the other hand is allowed to only reside in media, locked away in the codes of sound, pictures, narrative, art. On the streets, amidst the ordinary being emotional is similar to shitting your pants in public, humiliating and ridiculed. It's clarity that we fear, as long as you are performing, obscuring and not talking about what you mean any way. Elucidations of emotions, translations, piddling-down is the source of delirium. Plain and simple, you take 1% emotion and 99% bullshit and sure enough you get delirium for everyone. Syrupy overtones are the problem, because of the regime of conventions, generalisations and pussy-footing around all emotions are known more for their syrupy variants.
Naked ambition is simply frightening, people make way for you on the street. They stay away and watch from afar. What are going to be the repercussions? How far will the sparks fly? What will be the collateral losses? It upsets the sensibilities of the turtles, the bystanders and the ordinary folk. Especially when you are grabbing the bull by the horns and people are carrying you on their shoulders for being able to blow bubbles from your ears. Naked ambition is usually as much of a socially dissonant current as anything else. In the end if the ambition succeeds, of course the knives go back into their sheaths and no one bothers to say anything, they just clap nervously.