Friday, September 28, 2007

Insensitive and Desensitized...

After some sharp discussions on another blog, I’ve been thinking about how I’ve changed in the last 18 months since coming to this community. As I’ve come to know Beck, I have also come to know and accept parts of me that were always there, but I refused to recognize.

And through this process of recognizing the other “me”, I have found that as I attempt to blend into one (as so many comments have encouraged me to do) I become more edgy, more willing to push the limits, more rebellious, even more questioning of authority and the straight line (some may call this apostasy as I’ve blogged about before).

Additionally, I’ve become maybe more insensitive to some points-of-view and desensitized to what may have seemed offensive to me just a couple of years ago.

Regarding visual media, you need to know that in our household we watch no television. We haven’t for years. We’ve done this not in an authoritative manner with our children, but by example and the policy has naturally evolved without even declaring a “policy”. If the kids want to watch standard television – they can. There is no family rule against it. There is no moratorium. But what is really interesting (and mind you our kids are teenagers) they have chosen not to. By replacing television with other activities, our kids don’t even seem to notice that they’re missing anything. We never have had cable (yes, I know I’m missing out on great programs) and we use our flat screen as a monitor for DVDs. With the sensitivities (mainly of my wife) we watch DVDs that are kid-approved and prophet-appropriate.

For me, it is a matter of time. Between work, family, work, church and work, there just isn’t time for television or any of its cable counterparts. For me, television is very insipid yet addicting. I can slip into a hotel room on a business trip and flip the box on and flip through channels aimlessly not watching lame-anything, just flipping and flipping – mainly because I can, not because I’m searching for anything in particular.

That hasn’t stopped me from occasionally slipping onto the Internet to gaze at a photo collection of good looking guys – clothed for the most part - in strictly adhered to, non-x-rated sites. I’ve justified (maybe wrongfully) this behavior as a way of “coming to terms” with my attraction issues and bringing my two halves together. I’ve justified that since such sites are not “porn rated” that I’m not viewing pornography – and I’ve been able to keep my self-imposed limits in tact, just like my television watching.

Now some may call me a prude for having such limits, while others might point out that I’m addicted to what they may call “soft porn”. I’m too close to the forest to see the trees right now and note objectively the difference, so this post is an attempt for me to step back and try to see what I’m doing to myself.

From recent blogging discussions, I’ve been forced to face the fact that maybe I’m insensitive to others by posting images I find that I don’t think are necessarily very erotic in nature, but more artsy or beautiful. And since offense is taken, it makes me wonder if I’ve allowed myself to become so desensitized that I don’t see the offensiveness of my actions. Have I slipped down that slope of degradation so much that I don’t notice it anymore? Have I allowed myself to interpret my search for noticing “beautiful men” as comforting and artistic instead of the perversion that others see?

It reminds me of Rodin’s exhibit at BYU years ago where there was such a scandal over allowing a sculpture of a naked man to be seen on the Lord’s campus. What is art? What is beauty? These questions are beyond my weak philosophical mind to debate here. Just as with pornography – I can say that I know it when I see it. And the beauty of the male form, with or without clothes, is still something that I cherish and admire. (It’s a cultural thing – I know, for example, that in southern Europe very prominent church members are appalled at the hangup we Americans have over nudity). I hope we all can see the difference and not fall into the trap of trying to cover up Michelangelo’s David with a speedo!


playasinmar said...

They fussed over a Rodin? Are you serious?

Beck said...

I'm dead serious. It was a huge debate of silliness!

Kengo Biddles said...

They freaked out over Michael Moore at UVSC. A statue of an anatomically correct naked man at "The Lord's University?!" (almost barfed typing that)

One caution on "blending" yourself, Beck; pick the good from the less good, don't just throw it all in the blender and set it whirling.

J said...

I was there when the whole Rodin thing went down. According to the university, it wasn't about nudity because they did display other scultures and drawings featuring nudity in the exhibit. There were several sculptures that were excluded including The Kiss that they felt weren't in harmony with the atmosphere at BYU. It was very silly on their part though, and BYU got a lot of bad publicity out of making a big deal out of something so pointless.

Beck said...

KENGO: Well taken advice! I sometimes express the "bad" in my blog to get it out of the way. I promise I'm searching to be the best I can be. Thanks for cautioning me, though. I appreciate it, my friend.

Anonymous said...

my wife has a print of a nude woman (cranach) in our front room. doesn't bother me of course ; )

but i suppose some of our home teachers may be wondering (at least in the days when we had home teachers)

MoHoHawaii said...

I think repression and prudery go together. It's not a pretty combination.

Representations of the human body can be very beautiful. They can be erotic as well as artistically beautiful. There's no contradiction.

We will all be wearing veils if we really intend to squelch any kind of incidental passionate feelings. Passion is part of life.

Chris said...

I like you visual images, Beck. They enhance the quality of your communication on your blog.

Beck said...

SANTORIO: You make me laugh. I bet the print is there just to see the reaction you get! :)

MOHOH: Yes, passion is life! I absolutely hate non-passionate people. We all need to care and be interested in something. Sometimes I voice my passions to freely and need to calm down - but I'd much rather FEEL than be apathetic about everything and be beyond feeling. What I hate about apathetic teenagers is when you ask them their opinion about something and they answer: "I don't care!" Sometimes we truly don't care, but in many things we should care. Life is really about finding our passions...

CHRIS: Thanks for visiting. I am honored! I appreciate your kind words and am tickled that you still follow my saga from time to time. I'll be in NYC before the end of the year and would love to visit with you!

GeckoMan said...

Nice picture with this post, Beck. Really, I like it. I think you find fascinating images that contribute an unspoken, visual meaning to the ideas you're writing about.

So you're noticing that, "as I attempt to blend into one (as so many comments have encouraged me to do) I become more edgy, more willing to push the limits, more rebellious, even more questioning of authority and the straight line..."

Are you saying you wish you could compartmentalize and keep Beck out of cool-straight-guy's (short) hair? So now that Beck is 'out' just a little bit, is this a (desensitized) lament or warning about not going back to the way things were?

I know I can't go back; life moves on. I'm definitely more strident, passionate for a cause than I ever used to be. I used to be pretty quiet and conservative; now I feel like a flaming liberal sometimes, but I don't care. People matter more to me than institutions; I abhor suffering inflicted by others. So as I temper my former straightness with edginess I hope I am making more of a difference in my life amd with others.

I feel like I have less and less time to waste with fake perceptions. I want to focus on important things that matter to me, even if they are considered 'gay.' I'm less concerned about how well I'm approved of, and more aware of living and speaking my truth and holding others to do the same.

Is that rebellious? Out of line? If it is, too bad, because I'm not going back to 'Republican' party or 'straight-line' politics.

Beck said...

GECKO: That was perfect! Thanks for adding your perspective and helping me to see that edginess and following the straight-line is actually embodying many great qualities as I learn to express myself without hiding my new-found perspective.

RealNeal said...

The BYU fru-fru over a Rodin racks me up!

The first year I was at the Y, I was watching KBYU TV with a friend. This program came on about an African tribe, and there, on Y TV, were masses of totally naked men and women! And they were dancing and jumping about and bouncing their "naughty bits" with vigor! This went on for a whole hour! We both nearly died laughing at the irony of it all! :-)