Daily Dose of Immortality

My experience tells me the nude figures in Jean Delville’s 1898 L’Ecole de Platon should be naked women, bathers à la Cezanne, for example. I look for breasts. I try to ignore penises. But they are all men, beautiful men. How would John have responded to this painting? What would it have been like to spend a day with him in an art museum given his sense for line and color, his experience with watercolors and pastels?

Why do I feel uncomfortable looking at beautiful men? Because of the conventions I have grown up with? Because I connect beauty with sexuality? Must I do that? I can’t imagine walking through an art museum without the tug of sex. Or through nature, for that matter. Is it an obsession? Or a common human experience?

bb-sam-levin

[from Immortal for Quite Some Time, photo of BB by Sam Levin]

About Scott Abbott

Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University, 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I'm Director of the Program in Integrated Studies and former Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade), and translations of a book by Austrian author Peter Handke and of a catalogue of an exhibit called "The German Army and Genocide." More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as a watershed scientist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a corrections officer, as university students, and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett and our yellow dog Blue. Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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2 Responses to Daily Dose of Immortality

  1. roughghosts says:

    Oh Scott, this is a timely excerpt. I am currently working on an essay about looking at the nude in art photography. My perspective is a complicated blend of attraction, discomfort, and grief. (And yes, being gay, there is a sense in which my reaction to the male form is of another order than my response to the female form—I would imagine the differing reactions we each have are coloured by our own individual experiences/perspectives.) I think you have answered something I was wondering about in working on my piece. 😉

    Like

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