Bring on the nekkid ladies

Depressing convo with a couple of young people. They both agreed that Gauguin and Modigliani are “porny”, said of course with a strong tone of disapproval. In fact the Metropolitan Museum was censured as a place of “titillation” – too many nekkid ladies. Gets people worked up. Especially dudes.

I admit the titillation but unlike my young friends, I strongly approve of it.

In the same exchange “cultural appropriation” was greatly deplaaared. Picasso’s use of “African” masks (where in Africa, exactly?) was somehow mixed up with the painter’s own well-known oafish womanizing. It all added up to him being a bad guy and his work anathema. I’ve never been a big Picasso fan myself, so this is no skin off my neck, but the basis seems all wrong.

I admit the cultural appropriation and applaud it. Culture is all about theft. Steal away!

Speaking as a child of the Sixties, I really wonder how we got ourselves into this priggish, puritanical, pleasure- and play-hating frame of mind. So what if I emerge from the Met with a boner? What’s wrong with a boner? At my age, they occur about as often as lunar eclipses, but for just that reason I don’t take them for granted.

We seem to have a rather uncomfortable relationship with our ordinary human bodies and their humble but sometimes urgent needs.

Where on earth does this come from? Why do we have to do this to ourselves?

For my young interlocutors, it seemed to be connected somehow with feminism. Modigliani exploits women, so away with Modigliani.

I was around for the blossoming of “second-wave” feminism in the 1970s, and even then there were sex-friendly and sex-inimical tendencies. The latter seem to have won out, at least at the level of respectable culture, and maybe this is because the urgent need of bourgeois society is, precisely, the repression of human nature and its weeping anarchic impulses.

In aid of productivity or some shit.

One thought on “Bring on the nekkid ladies

  1. what’s that stuff growing out from under her arms?

    why didn’t you ask, if you had the chance, this lot at the museum about “body positivity” and whether this image makes america’s fat kids feel better or not about their insulin dependence? maybe you could have suggested that she is transitioning, and, you know, has more fur due to hormone therapy? turn this painter into the whetstone to their cutting-edge beliefs? or maybe not, since you sound like The Enemy: random Older White Guy.

    “We can’t go on this way, with suspicious minds” Elvis.

    “how with this rage can beauty hold a plea, whose action is no stronger than a flower?” sonnet 65. The simile of the bees used by the priests to persuade Henry 5 to invade France, i think, compels the audience to ask: what is “the honey” that these British killer bees will get among the flowers of France? and what is it for, why does “honey” exist at all? (I think Hal gives his answer at the end, when he tells Katherine after the two of them get it on, they can resume the Crusades, since they shall “…compound a boy…that shall go to Constantinople…”. I like to imagine Elizabeth watching this, too.)

    we stumble over a stumbling stone. “for the love of love and her soft hours…” (Antony to Cleopatra). love of soft hours???? how gay!

    if we don’t have a separate category that we (mis)label “art”, will we notice more or less how much the local marina smells like sewage and is filled with jellyfish? do we have to trash the entire planet to recognize trash? i don’t know. if we fill the orbit around the earth with more trash, will we miss the stars? what about more “wildfire” smoke? will we even miss the oxygen?

    “they built a theater” – Aeneid 1, in the description of Dido’s Carthage as a beehive. Play is the thing.

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