Thursday, 19 March 2009

Undressing

I was chatting with a friend today over coffee and we got onto the subject of undressing. It reminded me of an occasion a few years back where I was on a beach in Spain and people could go nude if they wanted to. I opted out, but nearby there was a woman who went topless.

What struck me about this was that it didn't seem like a big deal. She was an attractive woman, but besides the fact it was in a public space, it just didn't really seem to matter or make much of an impression on me. Stranger still - when she got up to leave, she got dressed again and I suddenly felt very voyeuristic and self-conscious seeing her.

My friend pointed out to me that when we visit the Doctor and we have to remove an item of clothing, the Doctor will conventionally draw a curtain and leave you while while you take it off, and then come back in. Strange, no? Shouldn't the taboo be located in how much of your skin they see?

Well. As with the case of the woman on the beach, I suspect that we have a way to conceive of people when they are dressed, and another way when they are undressed. When they are dressed, everything remains hidden and private. When it is no longer private, we quickly get used to it. And yet when you're in the threshold between these two states, something suddenly feels like it is being violated. It's much more intimate. During a sexual encounter, the moment of undressing - the transference from one state to another is something that partners can savor!

It's such a brief, fleeting moment where both states become almost fused. Ah, the mysteries of the human heart....

2 comments:

chainsaw said...

>what surprised me is that I suddenly felt very voyeuristic and self-conscious seeing her.

Oh! I remember you telling me this! Shortly afterward didn't the court issue you with a restraining order?

Paul Taberham said...

Thanks Mr Chainsaw. Yes indeed, that was the time...