Thursday, July 24, 2008

PRUDES VS. NUDES. James Poulos tackles the important subject of nude yoga. He seizes upon a practitioner's claim that nudists are "celebrating our bodies":
We can strip off -- what a victory! It's all so dreadfully banal. Nudism is the new checkers. Only checkers has a set of rules and a point to it more complex and well-developed than celebration. That's sort of what a game is for -- withholding celebration until some quantum of meaning has been obtained out of participation in an order. Celebration as we take it is like stipulating that we've all just already played a game and everyone won. Celebration as we take it hinges on the idea that celebration shouldn't result from meaning but should result in it. That's bizarre enough on its own terms, and much more 'harmful' culturally speaking than playing a game where the winners of a game of team checkers get to get naked.
The post is titled "Self-Parody Watch," which I suppose is what makes Poulos a Post-Modern Conservative, and provokes several thoughts:
  • If ever a story cried out for investigative reporting, this one does. Is Poulos on firm ground when he says "At least naked yoga isn't an orgy"? You know how hippies are; they may start by innocently celebrating their bodies, but this inevitably degenerates into a Siobhan McKenna Group Grope. At least I hope so. Are there any photojournalists who can look into this?
  • Maybe I only speak for myself, but I have "celebrated" birthdays, the only quantum of meaning for which was obtained by the earth, which did the hard work of circling the sun since my last birthday. All I did was get born and stick around. Should we rethink birthday parties? I know people enjoy cake and presents, but perhaps it's not worth the moral hazard.
  • I appreciate Poulos' right to "amused contempt," which is also my stock in trade, but anything Isis Phoenix says that justifies getting her kit off automatically trumps anything Poulous or I could say about anything. I don't have the philosophical training to explain it well, but I think it has something to do with Natural Law.

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