"Only before the eyes of God can the human body remain nude and uncovered while fully conserving its splendor and beauty." ~ Pope John Paul II

The Birth of BacchusIs nudity dirty? Nah.

Nudity can sometimes be divine and sacred. In classical art, nudity depicts power, purity or both. You’d see naked gods, saints and martyrs as central figures in paintings and statues. Unabashed by neither vulnerability or divinity. Rating the Louvre as child-UNFRIENDLY attraction, FOR ALL ETERNITY.

Even if the art displayed images of gods. Even if man was created in the image of God. Even if the human flesh is forever sacred.

[Museums, to some of our nudity-sensitive Muslim parents, are another gate to hell, you see?]

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For a while, nudity equaled pagan (kafir). And you know where pagans in monotheist religions end up, right? Pagan rituals included deification of the yoni and linga (fertility festivals), partying all summer (Bacchus’ rituals), and – yeah – visiting museums to admire statutes and paintings (icon worship).

Avoiding the Pagan Stamp of Approval was one of the reason why the monotheist woman is covered from head to toe. Why the good Muslim, Christian and Jewish does not worship in the nude. Why Bernini dressed St.Therese’s Ecstasy and the Ludovica in marble habits, despite their inarguable piety. Partially because they wanted the church to be child-friendly.

I think it’s more because we are SO SEXUALLY REPRESSED TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CARNAL AND RELIGIOUS ECSTASIES.

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Then again, is there anything more tempting than a woman shrouded under veils of loyalty, piety and modesty?

Have you noticed, the allure that streaks the pious woman’s worship tempts both divine and earthbound? The purer she is, the sexier she gets in the eyes of man, demon and angel.

Hence, to have the religious monotheist woman walking around naked, would cause more traffic accidents than sustainable worship.

After all, worship is the safest place to bare our souls and selves, naked.

With our imperfections observed. And mortality honored.

“Every person is responsible for his own looks after 40.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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What we can’t change

Beautiful people are screwed.

They have better chances at landing jobs, maintaining social relationships and having lots and lots of children. More often than not, beautiful people are tricked into thinking being pretty is a reliable commodity. That they don't need to learn anything to fix a light bulb. Just flash them your perfectly orthodontized teeth, darling.

Don't be unkind. It's our fault too why blondes are so dumb. We’re to blame for their stupidity by overindulging their puppy dog eyes and sunshine hair and unblemished skins.

What will change

Remember what I said about palmistry?

We know that, on the long run, it doesn’t matter if you are gifted with the mask of golden proportions (1:1.618) or symmetry. While physical beauty fades with age (and this is a promise); personality becomes more prominent. The things we do, thoughts we carry and feelings we bear, mark our bodies.

Fuck cosmetics. No matter how beautiful you were in your 20s, cosmetics they can’t hide the contents of your heart in your 40s. Are you a frowner? A childlike goofball? A banker? Wrinkles, sickness, snobbishness, secrets. Dude, everyone knows.

Let’s just hope our skeletons are easier to look at.

What can we change?

Can we change hearts? Can we laugh more? Can we be happier? Can we forgive?

Damn thing is that we don’t have much time to reform our personalities. We only have until 40 to learn being kind, patient and goodhearted folks. That's a lot of goodness to learn practicing in such a short time. It's even harder than applying liquid eyeliner!

Why the rush? Because after 40, we'll be stuck with the frowning/miserable/thoughtful/patient/bitchmouth person that we've mostly been. IF we get to live that long.

"If you want to make a difference in the world, the single most important thing you can do is consciously and deliberately choose to do work that you are passionate about." [source]

Most of us don't want to change the world. Most of us just wants to be happy. And being happy does not require physical beauty. We can deliberately and consciously choose the load on our minds. Be selective about the things we obsess are passionate about. Do the things that will give room for joy to dance within. Hold on to things that are constant and reliable. Simple things, small things, light things.

Like a pen. Or secret. Or a tickle. Hihi.

makeroom

I hope you (have) enjoy(ed) your weekend.

"Technical skill is mastery of complexity while creativity is mastery of simplicity." ~ E.C. Zeeman

airborne dancer

Joko Anwar is a bit off the generic celebrity scale. He’s a movie maker, indulgently lazy blogger and a believer in PLU religion: “Peace, love and understanding according to St. Elvis Costello”.

On the third day of Eid 1430H, Joko Anwar said,

And, very quickly, his followers passed the 10 thousand mark, forcing him to illegally, unfashionably walk into that ill-fated 24-hrs convenient store.

[Fortunately, it only happened once, and not every time his followers multiplied in 3000s.]

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I have a thing for artists who short fuse their shame wires. You know, that committed group of artists who have lost the ability to blush. The kind that is to strip – without being sexual - naked. I’m thinking Alanis Morisette in “Thank You”, Sting by Annie Leibovitz, and every time Kate Winslet got naked.

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Naked – when done properly - challenges the audience’s blushing threshold. Remember the last time you saw someone naked? Did you stare? Did you hear the model’s breath?

Or did you just COMPARE?

Naked art isn’t supposed to get you sexually tingled. Rather than having blood rushing to the genitals, the artistic nude provokes emotion and contemplation. Rather than stating the obvious [“LOOK, BOOBIE!!!”], artists emphasize the understated, using the flesh as canvass.

In Joko Anwar’s case, the understatement might have been

@jokoanwar Ultimately, nudity in the absence of a relevant message, does NOT sell. And does not last. It would only grab the attention of the bored and overdressed, before quickly fleeting to vulgar oblivion.

Whether it’s a naked Joko Anwar or a crazy hobo, whether it is an eternal nude art or a smutty flick, what is it about nudity that stirs so much shock? Is it THEIR brutal honesty?

Or is it the weight of our own secrets and masks?

Thanks to CK-Stuff for the links she’s compiled on the subject.

 

"Pretentious? Moi?" ~ John Cleese

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When I opened the door for him, we grinned at each other’s appearances. He was still in his work uniform, I was still in my domestic costume. I smelled like a cigarette butt, and he smelled like the butt of a car.

“I’m in the middle of a writing session, man.”

“I need to email my work report, mba.”

We huddled around the dingy coffee table by the balcony, from where we could watch the sunset. I pushed my papers aside; making room for his laptop. He jacked his wires and rolled up his sleeves. During the first hours of us hanging out in my house, my cousin and I ignored each other; posting ourselves as ideal candidates for the “Hostess and Guest From Hell”.

We started interrupting each other (“Dude, what’re you working on?”) -- around the time that a meal was due. Nobody politely offered or graciously answered (“Dinner?” -- “Exactly!”). We agreed by slapping our laptops closed and walked forth-and-back to the nearest diner (“Can I take the bill this time?” - “Sure, after I finish your dessert,”).

That’s when it was nice being with extended family and achievements didn’t matter and differences merely oiled the natural flow of words exchanged between us.

When respects were showed in absence of pretense.

People find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than for being right. Joanne Kathleen Rowling

GETTYIMAGES.COMLord,

Mass displays of emotion distresses the curmudgeonly agoraphobic. Yes, I know it’s all YOU we’re celebrating. Nevertheless, I would like to survive the next 72 hours without POPPING A FIRECRACKER in Your name or mine in vain, please?

Thank you,

 

PS: Oh yes, Happy Lebaran to You too.

"The self is dear, therefore let him who desires his own advantage not harm another." ~ Buddha

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Biology of Empathy

The human brain has an altruistic nerve, sometimes called the mirror neurons. When active, they make you feel what someone else is feeling. The pain that a mother feels when her children are sick. The sadness that brings us together in mourning and shared grief.  The understanding between you and your pets.

Psychology of Empathy

Mirror neurons are – in a way – voluntarily controlled. You can shut them down by focusing on your self. Which is great; because empathy takes a toll on our minds, and carrying the world’s burden of grief could short fuse any kind of wiring.

On the other hand, people who are severely self-centered are as sad as the highly empathetic. How often have we heard of people complaining about loneliness? Shutting down the mirror neurons alienates us from our surrounding. And this is the thing with lonely people; they “think” that they’re the only ones miserable.

Relieving Empathy

My question is, how do we balance between empathy and stretching too thin? How did mother Teresa manage her colossal empathy and still not lose her mind in serving the dejected? How does the Timekeeper manage listening to the weight of the world everyday without succumbing in tired defeat? How do we manage between the hope in a better world, and the realization that nothing really changes?

Unless they know something that we don’t, the highly altruistic must have secret buckets. Something like Dumbledore’s Pensieve: A place to gather the most troubling thoughts and nightmares. The Timekeeper and Mother Teresa have/had God to hold on to. Their faith in a Supreme Being is as real and sustaining as the ground they stand on.

Since we’re not so magical as the residents of Hogwarts, we have to settle with the ordinary. I vomit air after massaging others; passing on sadness and sickness back to the ground. Sue teaches yoga; sometimes to remember that not everyone is as well-grounded as her feet and hands. My brother weight-lifts; tricking his mind into believing his thoughts can never be as heavy as the steel weights on his back and in his hands.

How do you do it, Reader?

“Simple pleasures are always the last refuge of the complex” ~ Oscar Wilde

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We fast because we want to remember.

Of course, some of us fast simply out of solidarity. Solidarity to the group, the hungry, the religion..the waistline. That all can be faith strengthening behavior. That’s fine too.

For those who want to go beyond the tides of physical need, fasting briefly frees us from the chase. Fasting breaks the most natural habits, even sleep. We fast to prolong yearning. Or remember what it’s like to yearn. Like love from a distance.

Fasting reminds us of scarcity. Of basic pleasures. After all, it was a sip of water that haunted Jesus on the walk to the cross. A miswak before the Prophet’s passing. A final lecture at the brink of chemo.

Because, when we break our fasting with sustenance, we renew our vows to life. That we eat to live, and not the other way around. That the small pleasures make up for an entire day’s worth of miserable yearning. For suns to set.

And promises kept.

"The end must justify the means." ~ Matthew Prior
gettyimages.com Have you heard about him?

A boy who does not eat, sleep, make a living, socialize or blog. A boy who lives solely on meditation and worship. For months!!

Some folks are just born with it.

Isn’t it odd that the core of religious templates, emphasize on worldly detachment? Yes, eat, drink and be merry, but do not indluge. Remember that your soul will one day get an eviction note. Remember that your body, will someday be restored back to where it came from. And your soul will have to find a new place to haunt dwell.

Religious templates, as much as they advise on the maintenance of our mortal vessels, emphasize on worldly detachment. Fasting, almsgiving, pilgrimage and meditation. They remind us not to hold on too tightly.

Without really making any other promises, we can never be sure if these things we do in worship can secure a better afterlife. Judgment remains the Afterlife Keeper's ultimate right.

Perhaps, in familiarizing with detachment, improves our chances of a dignified eviction.

“Is there another life? Shall I awake and find all this a dream? There must be, we cannot be created for this sort of suffering.” ~ John Keats

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If you believe in the soul, you believe in an afterlife. As one is content and the other its vessel; one belief requires the other.

Some folks believe in reincarnations; that life and death is an unending cycle.



Some folks believe in the simple one way flight: you’re dead and khalas, you are stuck with your deeds and destination (reward or reprimand).



Others believe in both: that everyday is a rebirth, and deeds pile up in creating unmistakable destinies.

I like theories on afterlife and soul. I have my favorites, but they all work the same way: giving deadlines for the things I’m doing.



The deadline for today’s writing session is imsak.

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, -- Or what's a heaven for?" ~ Robert Browning

"Go for the moon. If you don't get it, you'll still be heading for a star." ~ Willis Reed

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I don’t like setting goals. It makes me feel old. Life seems less taxing when it’s done by the ear.

That said, important milestones have (relatively flexible) timeframes. The more precious they are; the more thorough we plan. The more we value ourselves, the less we wing it around.

There’s even a template to your goal designs: Pick a goal that includes everything. Pick goals that cover all areas of your well-being. Why else would you want to spend the next ten years on them?

“Our personal well-being is dependent on equal attention to each of the seven primary areas of well-being: social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, physical, occupational and environmental.” [Source]

The elements of well-being affect each other. If you’re emotionally okay, everything else feels bright and shiny. If you’re physically stumped, you’ll probably spend more time nursing that wound than partying through the night.

This can be a good thing. You improve things by grabbing the element easiest to work on. Spark the chain reaction. Roll the snowball.

Live consciously.

 
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