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Naked Ladies

#1: I’ve been watching ‘Girls’ recently, and as a result seeing a lot of Lena Dunham’s naked body — Lena’s ass, breasts, stomach, arms, legs. And although the way her character physically inhabits her lush, lolling body is fascinating, what I find artistically exhilarating is knowing how closely the show is sourced from Lena’s life: you sense Lena-the-real-woman glimmering through Hannah-the-fictional-character, but it’s a shimmer of one image upon another, and you can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. The sense that Lena is there, naked, so close underneath Hannah, is tantalizing. To the credit of her brilliance, the shimmer is an oscillation moving too quickly to ever allow us to see whether the image is Hannah or Lena.
#2: I saw the live art performing troupe GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN recently at the Cambridge Junction, in a show called ‘Big Hits’. The show was a purposefully awkward meditation on the insanity of popular music culture’s treatment of the female body. A beautiful woman playing the part of a music starlet started off in a revealing dress, gradually hiked parts of it higher, lower, pulled parts of it off, pulled her breast out, licked her nipple, took her pants off, showed one ass cheek, then both, then bent over completely naked and showed the audience her asshole and vagina for a good five minutes. It seemed insane. And after several minutes, I felt insane. In breaking an unspoken societal contract, she also popped the bubble of a complacent set of assumptions and blindnesses I have carried as an indoctrinated member of Western society. I haven’t seen a piece of art that has so powerfully shifted the way I view the world in a long time. I can’t look at women in music videos any more without seeing the sexualization of their bodies as tragic twisting of the feminine nature. GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN used insanity to reflect truthfully on an insane culture. And the image – the asshole – turned out to be an aperture for a new way of truer seeing. How strange and powerful. And absurd. And brave.
#3: I’m writing my first book. When I first started writing, I felt like a little kid each time I sat down at the computer, like I was fingerpainting with strawberry and chocolate flavoured edible paint in a magical room where everything I dreamed up happened in real life, too; I was held in a suspended state of contented joy. And then I showed what I had written to several people. And this was like opening a window in my playroom and having a dust storm blow in, and my creation was covered with a debris made out of other people’s looking. And as their looking landed on my writing, I realised that it was landing on me. And although my writing feels like it comes from some mysterious place inside me that is not me, it is flowing through the particular, peculiar contours of my psyche – and the looping curves of my emotions –and the canals dug by my education. This realisation unleashed in equal parts joy and terror at exposing myself. Terror won, and for a long time I threw down my tools and left my magic room. But this morning I woke up from a dream. It was set in a festival tent at midnight. An unknown Eddie Izzard stepped onto the stage for the first time in front of a sparse, drugged audience. He unfolded a lyrical line of ideas previously kept stuffed inside himself, wrapped up and muffled, exposing it sentence by sentence and building to a sublime pinnacle of comedy revealed… and, sitting in the audience, I laughed, in a state of pure joy, like a little girl discovering the world’s best joke, rolling on the floor of the tent, pounding the floor and howling, and I woke up, and I was…still laughing.

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