31 May, 2008

The Strangers

I'm gonna leave that last entry just the way it is, because I think it gets my point across just fine, and besides, it's a perfect representation of just how much this software is fucking up my creative process.

I went to see The Strangers last night at the cinema. To put it quite simply, it's that new horror movie starring Liv Tyler. Since I'm a huge horror fan, and I kind of have a crush on Liv Tyler, I couldn't pass it up. It was opening day, but even so, I was surprised at how many people showed up for the Friday night last showing (11pm - tame). I'm used to seeing movies where not more than a handful of people show up. Then again, the second-run theatre that I liked to go to shut down, unfortunately. But at this show, shortly into the movie, there wasn't an empty seat within my view!

Lots of young types, most likely high school students, out for a weekend thrill. I was impressed to see a group of older guys among the crowd though. Older as in father types, the rebel kind you might see at a rock concert. Anyhow, it was crowded, and I prefer more room to breathe, but it wasn't too bad.

The movie itself was very good. Not one of the best horror movies I've ever seen, but in this day of dime-a-dozen scare flicks, I'd say it was among the better ones. There was a good bit of emotional tension between the two leads even before The Strangers showed up to wreak havoc. In fact, the movie dealt with a situation I haven't really seen a lot, especially not in horror films - a marriage proposal gone sour. Watching the previews, I thought the lead couple was gonna be all lovey-dovey, but there was this depressing air that hung over them instead. Kind of an appropriate lead-in to the horror that followed. Sort of like, "this is the worst nightof my life" even before they discover that they're being hunted by homicidal psychopaths - like some kind of pathetic fallacy where god sends angels of death (in a purely symbolic sense) to truly make this night the absolute worst possible it could ever be. I thought it was a refreshing angle.

The movie does a really good job of slowly building up the tension, and a lot of that seems to have to do with the killers' strategy of slowly building up the tension in their victims, starting by sending a girl to knock on the door, pretending like she had the wrong house - but with the added creepiness of the porch light not working; followed by subsequent pounding on the door, and then sneaking into the house unnoticed to do small things like get rid of phones and stuff, a face in the window here or there, breaking open the front door but not coming in, just a gradual increase in intimidation to completely freak out the innocent victims. And they wait until dawn breaks to do their worst in the clear light of day.

I thought the killers were portrayed very well. They weren't really explained or over-analyzed, which is something that I think some (especially modern) horror movies make the mistake of doing (Black Christmas remake, I'm looking at you). Michael Myers (the character, not the actor) in Halloween wasn't scary because he had this abusive history or whatever, he was scary because he was the freaking bogeyman, and he killed dispassionately just for the sake of killing. Anyway, I liked how you never got to see the killers' faces. They wore masks throughout the night, but one detail that I really liked was how they took their masks off just before their final act of violence - but we still didn't get to see their faces, though it wasn't done in an overly obvious fashion. It's like, you barely get to see a face here or there, but you never got a straight look. Just something about that added an extra dimension of creepiness. The fact that they wanted to reveal their faces to their victims at the very end, but that we still end up leaving the theatre without seeing them.

And then that near-final scene, with the two bike-boys. Gives just the slightest bit of humanity to the killers, while at the same time, it sort of accentuates how brutally inhumane they are. Excellent.

Juror Summons

I got a juror summons. Obviously, this is a huge inconvenience, though I think it might be an interesting opportunity. You know, building experience and getting comfortable with the world I live in and how it works and all that. Besides, if any of this involves actually sitting in court, then maybe at least it would be a good way to find out what it's like without being the one on the stake.

But a few things really bug me about it. The obvious one is the sheer anxiety involved in going to the county court house in the middle of the city. Additionally, the time stated for reporting is 8:30 AM. I'm not sure how long the thing is supposed to take, but it seems that it's supposed to end, at the latest, at 4:30 PM. Now, to an average person, this is your typical work day. No sweat, right? But I'm not an average person. Asking me to go out in daylight at 8 in the morning to work off the day, is like asking any average person to head out into the city at 10 in the evening, to work through the night until dawn. So much for respecting diverse lifestyles. Not that anybody in power here ever claimed to be concerned about that.

The other thing that bugs me, though perhaps to a lesser extent, is the dress code. "Comfortable, business casual". Okay, it's not that bad, and it could be a lot worse. At least they don't require ties. But there is nothing in my wardrobe that I consider "business". Business is just not something I wear. There's a reason I don't have a business-type job (and there are other reasons why I don't have other-type jobs). Dress codes just generally bug me. Why can't people just wear what they're comfortable wearing? I'd actually prefer if there was a standard uniform. Like if they sent me something specifically to wear. That way, I don't have to take responsibility for acquiring appropriate clothes, and furthermore, I don't have to worry myself to death about whether or not they're gonna find this or that garment from my exotic wardrobe to be acceptable. It's too much to worry about.

You have no idea how annoyed I am right now about how Blogger's text box is acting up, being slow, and autosaving right in the middle of my sentences, while putting in phantom "no-line-breaks-allowed" commands that I have no power to stop, or even remotely control. Don't even try to understand it, it's probably just 

Continuing Adventures In Nudity (or Be Naked, Be Happy, and Fuck the Establishment)

It is with much regret that I step inside, but dawn will be approaching soon. The weather was extremely fair/mild today, even on into the night. The low tonight was something like 70, and it was very comfortable out there. There was some humidity, enough that you couldn't ignore it, but not so much that it overwhelmed you - indeed, I thought it felt good. And there was also a pretty constant on and off gust of wind - slightly cool, which felt good in the warm air - the kind that typically preempts a thunderstorm, but it stayed dry through the night, as if the storm was lazily reclining on its porch, intent on enjoying the night rather than going about its work of raging through the skies. All in all, the night was bea-utiful.

And I spent the larger part of a good two hours out there, all or mostly nude.

At first I went out, with no particular plans, just to gauge the atmosphere. Wandering around the yard, I got the impulse to go for a little walk through the streets, and maybe - maybe - even take a picture or two away from my headquarters for once. I wasn't about to go on an aimless walk through the streets without any kind of covering (unfortunately), so I grabbed that blanket I used once before from my room, and wrapped it around myself. I grabbed my camera and tripod just in case I found a good spot, and then I went off about the streets.

Well, unfortunately, partway through my stroll, the one leg on the tiny tripod attached to the camera I was carrying fell right off, hardly without any provocation at all. There wasn't much chance of me taking any decent pictures without the tripod, I figured, so I just turned around and headed back. Lucky for me, I just so happened to have picked up that other tripod at Walmart that I'd been looking at, earlier tonight! It's a lot bigger than the tiny tripod I've been using - heavier, sturdier, and it looks much more like a professional tripod.

So I went back out with the camera and the new tripod, but I wasn't about to haul that thing up and down the streets with me. I was concerned enough with the smaller tripod - not that anybody would have noticed if they happened to pass me by, but I kept thinking what would happen if I met a cop, or anyone who was too suspicious to ignore me. They'd probably think I was a lost hobo, considering that I was wearing nothing but a blanket - and I certainly didn't have an ID on me. And if they questioned me and found out I was carrying around a camera, well then, who knows what assumptions they might jump to then.

So anyway, I took some shots around the yard. I had fun, and I had a lot of ideas, but I forced myself to hold back, because I want to save those ideas for other days, and not spend all my creativity on one night, you know. After I got the shot I wanted, I sat on the porch for a bit, then I went in to take out my contacts, which I had put in specifically to do the shooting. It was after four by this point, but it was so beautiful out there that I just had to go out for a little longer.

And when I got out there, the boldness that had been subdued by the daring of setting off the camera flash in the yard multiple times came right back to me. When the weather's so nice, it's hard not to be drawn to make the most out of it. So I went and stretched my boundaries once again. I believe I mentioned in previous entries my previous limits - for wearing only the blanket, it was down to the end of the street, and for being completely naked, it was no further than traversing the length of the yard just outside the property, on the side of the road.

Well, this time I walked to the end of the street completely naked, and in addition, I also walked up the street as far as the top of the hill, to the point where I could see the intersection and beyond. And it felt so great. It tears me apart inside because it feels so good just to walk down the street completely naked, and yet I have these pretty strong notions in the back of my head that certain people in power would destroy me if they found out.

I mean, what's so harmful about walking down the street naked? It makes me feel so good - good enough to want to do it again, good enough to want to do it more, good enough to want to do it farther. Who am I hurting? I don't want to hurt anyone, I don't even want to offend anyone. But this is something I want so bad to be able to do in my life.

Obviously, I'm working under the impression that if I were to walk down the street naked, in the middle of the day, within sight of any random person in their house/yard, or any passing car, then I would be placing myself in a position I don't want to be in. Specifically, people would be offended. And not just unnerved. I'm assuming they would make specific complaints, if not to me or to people who know me, then to the authorities themselves. What kind of consequences could that have? Even if it was at worst a warning not to engage in that kind of behavior again, that would 1) destroy my self-esteem, which has never been particularly strong to begin with, and 2) wouldn't help to make it okay for me to walk down the street naked - in fact, it would probably make people even more wary/cautious/suspicious, and thus harder for me to do it behind their backs.

I've considered the possibility that these paranoid thoughts might purely be fantasies created by my self-defeating imagination, and that if I decided to walk down the street naked in broad daylight, then maybe nobody would care, or they might even be happy about it. But considering all the facts I have at my disposal, not least of which is the fact that I've /never/ seen /anybody/ walk down the street naked, gives me the feeling that my concerns are strongly justified.

And we haven't even gotten to the worst case scenario yet! What if somebody has sufficient proof of my activities, and that leads to the authorities being convinced that I have committed some kind of, gasp, "crime"! What if I had to appear in court? Even barring that, having to deal with legal mumbo jumbo and paperwork and maybe fines and whatnot would be no fun at all. For what? For walking down the street naked? For allowing people to see what they themselves have, though they probably refuse to even look at their own naked bodies? I'll tell you what it's for. It's for being a minority. Not in age or race or anything like that, but being a philosophical minority. It's not the government, per se, that I'm afraid of. It's the dirty majority. It's just that the government is a tool the majority uses to persecute minorities everywhere.

Look, here's my position. If nudity is such a bad and terrible thing, and I'm just in some way corrupt and wrong and all that, then by god, please do something. Get me help, get me therapy, lock me away, if necessary. At least then I'd be on the road to recovery. But if my beliefs on this issue are perfectly humane and reasonable and all that, which is obviously what I myself believe, then stop fucking terrorizing me! With threats of, "if I catch you engaging in that behavior, you're gonna get it!" As Frank Black said (in paraphrase), if I'm being accused of a crime, then arrest me now, but if not, then get the hell out of my way.

It frustrates me to no end. The reason I don't contribute to society is because this society has very little to offer my soul. And in place of giving me reasons to contribute, it instead insists on bullying me and making me feel inadequate. Which it's doing a damn good job of.

I was thinking about why I don't care much about world politics, or even politics within this country, and the reason is, I just can't think on that kind of a scale, in terms of people. When people start making guesses and averages about groups and demographics, it's the individual that gets crushed. And certain individuals - specifically the ones that vary from the average the most - feel the weight more than others. It may sound harsh, but I don't give a damn what half a billion people on the other side of the world are doing, or how they feel. I don't even give a damn what half a million people on the other side of the country are doing, or how they feel. I'd love it if they were happy, but it just doesn't make a difference to me, unless they enter my life some way. Sure, humanistic trends fan out and what one person does on this side of the globe may affect a person's life on the other side of the globe, but that's way too impersonal a connection. Put a person in front of me, and I'll genuinely care for them, even a complete stranger. But as long as I don't know them and I've never met them, they're just not gonna be more important to me than I am to myself. And as long as I'm feeling this massive weight from society, I can't be happy with the kind of system we're running.

I want a small community where everyone's individual needs are attended to. I want to live in a community where I can be who I really want to be. I want to live in a community where I can feel good about my contributions to that community, because I can see how they're helping the community, and how that community in turn helps me - helps me to be who I really want to be. I want to know people that share my crazy views about life, or at the very least, ACCEPTS my crazy views about life, without trying to mold them into the national average.

This is why I'm not happy. I'm not living in a world that satisfies me. And every desire to change my world by my own hands is met with both the fear of coming up against that powerful majority who is fine with things the way they are, and the pessimistic feeling that any progress I'd try to make would never work out in the end...

I might be able to do something about it if I wasn't alone...

I want to make a difference. I want to force people to wake from their slumber, from their comfortable lives and security, and force them to see the damage they're doing to the minorities in thought as well as being. My life hasn't been particularly hard, but I feel like I've missed out on most of the good things. Friends in school, young love, hopes and dreams with the appearance of being fulfilled. If my life has been wasted, then at least maybe it's not too late to make it worth something. I just don't know what to do about it. I don't particularly feel like one person can make any substantial kind of difference anyway. Not without tons of backing and influence. But then it's not really one person anymore.

Fuck you, life. Fuck you, society. If anyone has some kind of use for me, something that I could get my mind into, give me a call.

21 May, 2008


As my friend reflected to me yesterday (at least I think it was yesterday...), it's been two years now since I graduated from college. That means I'm entering my third year as a ronin...er, NEET. In other words, I'm a failure of a human being. Well, at least as far as society is concerned (and believe me, the feeling is mutual). So why is it so hard for me to "get a life"?

Supposedly, high school prepares you for college, and as far as I could tell, college prepares you for graduate school. So how do you get prepared for the real world? I would have gone to graduate school, but my aptitude for the sciences, which I had been training in, tapered off. I'm still not sure if it's simply a matter of losing interest, or if my mental faculties have in some way been compromised, but nowadays I don't even want to think about a math problem - and I used to enjoy them so much!

We could go into why this happened, but the reasons are many, and not very clear. Part of it has to do with grinding mindlessly through pages-long equations, with little perspective. Part of it has to do with the realization that studying science will not lead to finding the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. (And if you tell me the answer is forty-two, I'll smack you). And part of it has to do with meeting a girl so much smarter than me, that I figured if I was struggling through problems she could manage with ease, then there was no point in me being a scientist as long as people like her were around.

So I decided to focus on a more creative subject, where I could make contributions without being the best in the field. I turned to my hobby, playing guitar. I graduated college with no plans for the future ahead, except the vague idea that I was gonna learn to play well enough to get by. Maybe start a band, maybe join a band, but ultimately, hopefully, to play some gigs and make some money doing something I enjoy.

A year ago, I had resolved to complete my first real album of original compositions, but when the first year anniversary of my college graduation rolled around, I was far from finished writing and recording the material planned for the album. It was exciting at first, trying to record my songs, but it eventually became very dull working in the studio, and I completely lost interest in wrestling with trying to record a good track. I enjoy playing the guitar, but I don't even have the motivation to pick it up every day, which is really something I should do if I plan on being a guitarist. Put another check in the "failure" column.

The real problem here is my inability to interact with the world around me. Specifically, the human part. I feel woefully inept at wedging my way into the world, with no confidence to strike out on my own. And yet, I'm terribly fearful and generally clueless when it comes to reaching out for help. On the one hand, there seems to be a focus on independence - relying on one's own strengths to make it in the world and do what needs to be done. I do not have this quality. On the other hand, there's a concession for getting by "with a little help from my friends". Power of love and friendship, and all that. But I'm not good with people, and I don't have a support network. Think of all those tv shows and movies where the hero derives his strength from his friends to win the day. What about the lonely guy sitting in the alley? How can you expect him to be a hero?

18 May, 2008

Titular Appellation

Sorry for the lack of posting lately, but I can't promise to stick to anything that doesn't hold enough interest for me to expend the effort on it. Okay, maybe that's unnecessarily harsh; it's just tough for me to sit down and write about the stuff on my mind every single day. I could say that it's either because nothing of note ever happens in my life, or that things haven't changed enough to really warrant commenting on (both of which are true, at least to some extent), but from an honest perspective, that would just be making excuses.

I could talk about everything that happened yesterday, and everything that happened in the past week, and everything that happened in the past month, but that's too much work. So I'll talk about what happened today. Though I might have to fill in some blanks.

I got a couple small packages (nothing compared to the big package I got a couple days ago) today. One of them is a CD I was expecting, and another was a DVD that I forgot I was expecting, even though I just ordered it recently, along with (though separate from) the CD. But it was a nice surprise to be reminded of it when it's already there at your doorstep. I have a very relaxed approach toward having things shipped to me. I trust the gears to turn, and I try not to get "package anxiety", where every single day you get your hopes up that the package will be there only to be disappointed again and again until it finally arrives. Let the chips fall where they may, and when it arrives, I'll be pleasantly surprised to see it. Not to call names or anything, but I have a friend, and I've been noticing lately that he seems to have a strong desire to know exactly where the package is at every step of the journey, and exactly when it's scheduled to arrive at the doorstep. Whatever his reasons are, to each his own.

So the CD was an album from 1968 called Living With The Animals by a band called Mother Earth. Somebody who read my Michael Bloomfield guide on Amazon.com emailed me and alerted me to the fact that Bloomfield plays guitar on at least one track on that album, so naturally I had to check it out. It's a pretty good album, with a pretty good strong-voiced female vocalist (Tracy Nelson) on a number of the tracks, and the title track Mother Earth, which clearly features Bloomfield's leads, is pretty smokin'. It's not something I'd probably have come across on my own, without knowing about Bloomfield's contribution, but I consider it a worthy addition to my album collection.

The DVD I got is a British exploitation film that I saw a trailer for in my latest Grindhouse Double Feature purchase, after which I was convinced that it was a film I had to see. The title is Virgin Witch, and I think that really tells you everything you need to know. I haven't watched it yet, but I can't wait. The reviews I read for it said it was a terrible film, which is really not surprising. Whether or not I'll like it remains to be seen, but I think it's safe to say that it's not gonna be a high-quality production. And that really irks me. Why can't an exploitation film that borders on softcore pornography be approached with a level of sophistication? It's like you have to sacrifice sex and nudity for professional merit or something.

That makes me think of a related issue that's been grazing my mind lately. There's a nudist forum that I've come to check regularly in the past couple months, and within it I recall reading over a discussion on how to increase public interest (or at least acceptance) for nudism by means of a wide-release "nudist film" - obviously, a film that promotes the wholesome values of nudism, and not what the sex-crazed perverts and religious prudes think that "nudist film" is really a codeword for.

Well, the opinion seems to be that the best way to go about it is to do a kind of film where the topic of nudism is broached, maybe tell a story of a person getting his friends into nudism, and the issues that come with learning about the lifestyle - that sort of thing. Personally, though it gets the job done of getting information out there, it just seems preachy and too documentary-like to me. My idea, though it may have less to do with "resort nudism" or "nudist etiquette", is just to do a normal film that has nothing to do with nudism, but have everyone in it spend as much time on screen naked as is practical. What better way to get across the message that being nude is a non-issue?

I think it would be a great idea anyway, but it's possible (probable) that society isn't ready for that yet. (insert irate tirade against society and how it oppresses me)

Whew, now that I've got that off my chest! Actually, there's another thing that I've been thinking for a long time, and I've wanted to talk about it, to someone - anyone - but I haven't really had the chance. So I'll do it here. It's about Nude Raider. You know, the nude cheat for Tomb Raider, that makes Lara Croft completely nude. Frankly, I don't see what the huge fuss is about it. The bottom line is, Nude Raider does in fact exist, but it's not popular among the company/loyal fanbase. On the one hand, Lara Croft has always been a sex symbol. Just because she's an empowered female character doesn't mean that she can't be sexy. (Let's not get into the issue of how twisted feminism has become here - I believe in the divine feminine, and I support goddess worship, but some people get the most twisted ideas about what sexuality is supposed to be about - a sexy woman is a strong woman, not an oppressed, misguided woman -- but I didn't want to get into this issue here...)

Anyway, I've always fantasized about guiding Lara through the tombs in naught but her backpack and gun holster (or even minus that). And, to be honest, with the amazing graphics (but unfortunately inferior gameplay) of the recent Tomb Raider Anniversary remake, I've gotten the chance to realize my dream. In fact, with the amazing amount of fan-driven customizability in Lara's texture mapping, I've even had the chance to transform Lara into a blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty, in addition to taking her clothes off! But my point is, just because I get a kick out of watching Lara run around naked, that doesn't mean I want her having sex with all the animals she comes across, or engaging in any number of other lewd and crude activities. But mention "Nude Raider", and the forces of the publicly-deemed "righteous" instantly label you a disgusting perv. Would it make any difference if I called it Nudist Raider?

And that's a serious point. Plenty of nudists enjoy so-called "freehiking". How is "free-tomb-raiding" any less meritorious? Nude Raider is not Sex Raider. Roaming the world in the nude doesn't have to be about getting a sexual thrill, it can be about getting a sensual thrill - the thrill of life, freedom, and the air on your body. And just because guiding a character isn't the same as experiencing the world yourself, it doesn't change the nature of the situation. I'm not gonna go into the issue of "fictional character empathy" and all that.

Maybe this is another reason why I can't get myself to write regularly. There're so many connected threads that I get going in one direction and then all these roads open up and I just can't stop. It becomes such a time-consuming and effort-expending experience that the next time I think about doing it, I decide that I can't afford it in my busy schedule of nothings, so I scrap the idea. I'm already getting tired of this entry, and I feel like I should move on to other things I have (have as in "have available", not as in "must") to do, and I haven't even talked about my experiment with body paint! And I haven't mentioned a stitch about Guild Wars, which, from the hikikomori's perspective, should be the central topic.

But if you really want to know every thought that goes through my head, then you'd have to be in my head, and I'm not currently open to sending out invitations.

And then of course, it always seems to come down to the existential point of "who cares?" What does it matter if I do this or not? In the end, it won't make a difference. So what's the point?

I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Plus, I'm a perfectionist, and that makes everything harder. Though I think I should exert less effort on perfecting these entries, since hardly anybody reads them anyway.

01 May, 2008

Naked Thoughts

My "daily nudes" photography project has been going really well so far. I definitely feel like I've gotten into the groove of taking pictures every single day. Some days are easier and others are harder, but I guess that's how it goes. At least I have plenty of time and privacy to do it on a daily basis. The tripod I have is getting a little worn - one of the three legs is loosening up. It's still usable, though, and despite all its flaws, it's been more than worth the 10 dollar price tag. I'm considering getting a better tripod; there's one I've seen at Walmart that's not too expensive, and looks like it'd be worth a try. It's also larger and looks more substantial (i.e., professional). The downside to that, though, is that a larger tripod takes up more room. And right now, I'm using an old video rack (tall thin type) which is about elbow height, as a stand. It's pretty portable, so I can move it around, and it lets me take pictures from a reasonable height, rather than having to place the camera on the floor/ground or look for places that already exist within the environment. But because the rack/stand is so small, the camera only sits atop it if the small tripod's legs aren't extended. If I get anything bigger, it won't fit on top of the rack, and I'd have to come up with a different solution. Still, I like the idea of getting a better tripod. I'd also like better lighting, a better studio, and a better camera, but that's a bit much right now (except for the better camera that's supposedly coming my way in the near? future).

Flickr's been good so far. My photos are getting seen, which is good, but I'm still a little uncertain about the quality/quantity of my audience. Ideally, I'd like to connect with more people like myself, who have some of the same ideas about nudity and photography and exposure and life and whatnot. But the trouble with that is, I think most of my "fans" so far are guys. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm just not looking to connect with guys. Ideally, I'd like to find girls that have some of the same ideas about nudity and photography and exposure and life and whatnot. That's just where my interest lies. At any rate, it seems that there are some people that are at least interested in the art and ideas behind my photos, rather than just the titillation they might undoubtedly be able to extract. I've seen some nude photos of other people on Flickr who are either very modest or very clean cut, and they're all like "no rude comments", "follow these rules before adding me as a contact", etc., and I can understand their concern, but the difference is that I understand the darker side of life, and while I have little interest in relating with the more committed perverts (though a little perversion is good for anybody), on the other hand, I'm not concerned with alienating them either, because they're people, too, just like the rest of us - they just have different values and interests.

Anyway, I've been thinking lately about what it would be like to have some of my tamer photos rated in such a way that more people could see them (the possible ratings on Flickr are "safe", "moderate", and "restricted"). So far, I've rated all of my nude project-related photos (even the tamer ones) as "restricted". The benefits of this approach are two-fold. Firstly, I can be sure that I'm not violating Flickr's collective moral code, so I don't have to worry about getting punished by a conservative Flickr mod. Secondly, only people who are expecting or used to seeing restricted photos will even know that my nude photos exist. That way, no conservative Flickr members get outraged at my morals and have me reported to the authorities. Furthermore, if an innocent person - particularly one who knew me in person (worst case scenario, a family member) - happened to stumble across my Flickr account, I don't think I necessarily want them to know about my decidedly liberal and alternative hobby. For a while now I've wanted to put something in my profile on the site describing my intentions behind the project, but I've refrained from it because it kills the cover.

This brings me to an important dilemma. If I had a random, anonymous account, I could be more open with less worry about people who know me finding out about what I do. And while on the surface, this seems like a great plan, ultimately, it goes against the whole "this is who I am and I'm not gonna hide from it any longer" approach that I've been trying hard to adopt. Ideally, I want people to know my feelings about nudity and other liberal topics, but that doesn't make it easy to admit it to them. I still fear "being found out". And yet, not having to hide is what I desire most. So it is indeed a dilemma.

There'd have to be some advantages to having less restricted photos, else I wouldn't even bother considering it. And there are. I'm kind of jealous because other people do these projects and sometimes their pictures get rather popular. There's this thing called "Explore" which I believe has something to do with the "interestingness" rating Flickr uses. It's basically a popularity contest within Flickr, and I usually don't concern myself with those sorts of things, but on the other hand, I feel kind of bad being holed up in a corner of the site, due to the nature of my art, as most people pass me by without notice. Of course, I fear popularity, but it's another one of those paradoxes within me. I want attention and admiration, even though I'm afraid of it.

Additionally, as far as my love of organization is concerned, it seems like it would be fun to rate my photos in terms of just how risque they are. Perhaps I could entice some more reserved people into admiring my artistry and wanting to see a little bit more - thus opening their minds to my liberalism, even if just a little bit. It's actually a more attractive approach to me than pandering to the people who are already open to anything and everything. I consider myself a middle ground on this issue (as on many others). I think more people should show more skin and be more open about this sort of thing, but on the other hand, I don't agree that getting naked and opening up to an audience means becoming a sex-crazed animal. It can be about having fun, but it doesn't have to be about losing yourself. Quite the contrary, it should be about finding yourself. Your true, inner self.

One clear problem with the approach of relaxing the content rating on some of my photos is the vague (read: lack of) definition of morals and standards on Flickr. Of course, it's basically impossible to come up with a clear definition of what is "safe", what is "moderate", and what should be "restricted", as people's own ideas vary wildly on this count. So, pretty much all the guidance Flickr offers is as such: safe material should be "suitable for a global, public audience"; and restricted material is the stuff "you probably wouldn't show to your mum, and definitely shouldn't be seen by kids"; while moderate material is more or less the grey area in between.

So where does that leave me? If I think something is safe, how can I be sure that I won't suffer for that judgement? I like to go through Flickr searching for nudes with the safety content on, just to see what kind of stuff other people think is safe. You might be surprised at what you'll find. Granted, not everybody filters their content responsibly, and any one of those photos that are safe today might cause a problem and end up restricted tomorrow. At any rate, I think I could get away with making some of my stuff moderate. But I really would like to have at least a few safe photos here and there to attract attention - not bad attention, I mean, but good attention. Of course then I come back to the issue of hiding my hobby behind a smokescreen...

Looking through my photos, one thing that concerns me about trying to rate them on a sliding scale, is the disconnect between exposure and context. Is a perfectly innocent and meaningful photo, like that of Envy, which happens to show full frontal nudity, more or less acceptable than an arguably sexually-charged photo that shows far less? Different people are offended by different things.