Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | November 15, 2007

Spiritual Nakedness and Reductionism

In another post I listed the many reasons for having a blog. I have been amazed at how many of these there actually are. And now it’s time to reveal a deeper, darker, motivation behind many an author’s blogging efforts (and my own though in a minor way I hope) – which is that they are trying to ‘build a platform’. So many books are published, and the competition for contracts and publishers’ attention is so strong, that the more of an audience you have the better. If the publisher thinks people are listening to you, they are more likely to offer you a contract.

So if we are to believe this is of value, creating a blog becomes one of the things an author needs to do – just like creating a website, trying to get reviews and so on. Of course this isn’t news and isn’t really a ‘dark secret’ but I guess it just adds to the idea I’ve been pondering over: the concept of ‘spiritual nakedness’. It shows that some, perhaps many, of our actions have layers of intent and that attempting to be authentic is not as simple as it may appear.

The problem with the concept of spiritual or psychological nakedness is that it easily falls into the trap of reductionism – and worse, of a search for an illusory ‘purity’ – as if we can ‘strip’ away motivations to come to ‘the truth’ which we will discover to be one single thing. The reality is, I suspect, more interesting, more complex, more colourful and confusing. When we undress – psychologically or literally – we do not come to just one version of ourselves – the ‘true self’. Instead there are still a multitude of identities – the same naked person can be coy, calm, proud, appearing as an object or clearly as a subject. Despite our knowing that life, and we ourselves, are complicated and multi-faceted why do we yearn so for the pure and simple?


Responses

  1. This is interesting and something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately as well, in terms of how people “edit” their lives when presenting them to others – an appropriate metaphor for the publishing them of blogging and books as well.

    We tend to edit our lives differently for different people, depending on how we perceive they will react to certain bits of our story. This adds to the complexity your talking about above … some people we are more comfortable with a higher level of nakedness than others, but is there anybody you would really really really strip totally naked for, in the sense you are talking about … who would we be willing to to let read the unabridged versions of our lives?

    And that assumes we can cut through our own self-editing process, the stories we make up to ourselves to explain our actions in retrospect, either because we are not willing to admit to ourselves our true motivations, or we have selectively forgotten them … it’s been known to happen!

  2. Could it be we are just not able to know ourselves? Who am I talking to when I am talking to myself? Is there another way that I can know myself but via the perception that other people have of me and are mirroring to me? And if two people give their opinion on my behaviour would they agree on what I actually did, let only on my motivations?
    Ah, well, I’ll be off having a dream of a world that is congruent with what I want it to be 🙂

  3. The “true-self” : is not it this : the very black, completly black, in middle of which it’ s a radiant light? Or the purest light which makes umber? And why we want all completly black or completly white, when in “Abred” and in Life all say us that nothing is “pure” or “not pure” and that all is always a miscellenous?
    And even “naked”-undressed (physic or psychollogic), you can feel your skin and your bones as if they are your dress, no?
    Ou la plus pure lumière qui fait l’ombre? Et pourquoi voulons-nous que tout soit noir ou blanc, ou “pur” ou “impur” quand l’Abred et la Vie nous prouve tous les jours que c’est toujours un mélange? Donc, même “nu”… on peut encore sentir sa peau et ses os qui nous “habillent” (idem au point de vue psychologique)?

  4. What fabulous responses! Yes the paradox of nakedness is that one is still ‘clothed’ in skin. ‘Beyond Nakedness’ is perhaps what best expresses the urge to freedom that ‘Spiritual Nakedness’ suggests.

    And even when we try to unearth our deepest motivations we are swimming in the deep seas where tricks of light make everything appear differently to above the surface.

    When I think about it, I don’t really believe the received wisdom that an author’s platform determines his/her contracts. In my experience the process is much more serendipitous than that.

    Paul’s ideas on editing lives…now I see they suggest you can use your ipod to provide a sound-track for your life!

  5. “Despite our knowing that life, and we ourselves, are complicated and multi-faceted why do we yearn so for the pure and simple?”

    In literature you often have the very simple being expressed in a very complex way – out comes the dictionary.

    However

    In science the pure and simple is necessary – I am thinking quantum physics or organic chemistry or whatever the field – what goes on in the universe is so complex that to explain it scientist have to express the complexity in a simple way – simple is complex.

    E = m c2

    Just like the universe we and our lives are complicated and complex.

    As in science we are trying very hard to understand what we are and what our lives are all about and just like in science we know that simple is very complex.

    These are my thoughts, I would like to ask: what is pure and simple?


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