[Milton-L] "nude, not naked" -- really?

Roy Flannagan Roy at gwm.sc.edu
Tue Nov 22 21:37:57 EST 2005

Somewhere, somebody is innocent.  I was, once.  There's a photograph of me as Cupid, at the age of about two, fully frontal nude, and I was of course completely unaware that I was funny, or a boy, or a subject for pedophilia.  I would still like to believe that there are innocent people and that there is innocent love.

It is true that I have not seen innocence or innocent sexuality shown well in movies.  Some movies that I think have been successful in showing innocence or innocent love in one form or another have been Dear John (Swedish, 1964) and Babette's Feast (1987).  Since Elvira Madigan is a story of adultery, it doesn't qualify, even if Mozart's piano concerto seems innocent.  For innocent nudity, see Manon the Spring.

I had a discussion about whether Paradise Lost could be staged, with the wonderful stage director Jonathan Miller, and, though he is certainly not prudish, the issue of presenting nudity without shame or heat puzzled him to the point where he did not pursue the project.  There is a movie, not at all good, by Mike Figgis, called The Loss of Sexual Innocence (1999); it depicts Adam and Eve as black man and white woman arising out of water, but they look mildly embarrassed, examining each other as if playing Doctor.  There is a bower and a snake, and a sex scene after the Fall, but none of it is very convincing.

Roy Flannagan

>>> rastrier at uchicago.edu 11/22/05 12:21 PM >>>
Yes, we are lewd viewers.  That's what being fallen means.  In 
concept, we can distinguish before and after, but not in experience. 
Watching unfallen sex would be just as hot, if not hotter, than 
watching unfallen sex.  As would watching a nude picnic.  We would be 
kidding ourselves not to acknowledge this, and failing to take into 
account what being fallen means-- that's the "something."  Who are we 
kidding about "innocent nudity"?  In idea, yes.  In reality, no. 
Roger Scruton recently tried to argue that great art can't really be 
erotic.  What nonsense.

The Graves poem seems quite complex and tricky to me.  To think that 
it "resolves" the issue seems to me a bad reading of that nice 
(though very minor and not very serious) poem.
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