Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: purpose

Nudity and Purpose: Final Thoughts on Disneyanity

Do I have your attention? I’m terrible at titles and tying them in with SEO, but this is not clickbait. The post actually is about nudity and the idea of purpose, separately though. Please read on.

Have ever a read a non-fiction book, one you were so excited to read and glean from, and closed it muttering to yourself about how wrong the author is?

That’s what happened to me while reading Disneyanity by Douglas Brode.

I didn’t hate it. There were certainly a lot of very…interesting…takes on Disney movies and tv shows. I just don’t agree with most of them. Some of them seemed outright crazy to me, like maybe he was looking through a strangely distorted magnifying glass.

But then, that’s what we all do with life. The experiences we’ve had and what we’ve made of them, distorts what we see around us, unless we make a very concentrated effort to do otherwise. That’s what I tried to do while I read this book, but sometimes…wow… I wondered if we had been watching the same movies.

Sometimes I wondered what he was talking about. Maybe it was above my head? Too academic? It seemed disjointed and contradictory at times, a collection of unrelated essays. BUT I did like reading it and I found so much to think about. I even clarified some of my own “religious” thinking. I’m going through my notes, wondering what to do with them all. Such is my process, or lack thereof.

For this final post on Disneyanity, I’ll share one bit that I found magical and one that made me cringe.

First the magical one!

nudity

In All the Cats Join In (1946), a white female’s lithe body unswervingly moves to The Big Beat. She drives home, then unashamedly strips and leaps into a hot shower – female nudity on display as it would be four years later in an early sequence of Cinderella. It must be recalled that this was when post-war feminists, including France’s controversial Brigitte Bardot and America’s Marilyn Monroe, embraced nudity as “freedom.” (The concept that this indicates “exploitation” by and for men would emerge in the late-1960s.) Shortly, Disney positively portrayed his teen heroine on a dance floor, be-bopping with the boys, apparently without auteurial criticism.”

Auteurial: A creative artist, especially a film director, seen as having a specific, recognizable artistic vision, and who is seen as the single or preeminent ‘author’ of his works.

There’s a new word for me! It took me some time to figure out what he meant by “auteurial criticism.” Still, I’m wondering why he used that word. Does he mean that the creator was showing the teen girl dancing as a positive action, not a negative one?

What I really came to here to talk about was nudity. Yes! It’s something I have had a bit of an issue with for most of my life. When I was a kid, I refused to cover myself up and my mother was constantly after me about it. “You’re attracting the wrong kind of attention.” I was hot, so I wore shorts. I wanted my shoulders tanned, so I wore strappy tank tops. I was uncomfortably restrained, so I wouldn’t wear a bra. What I wore or not was about me and my comfort…until the world told me that I was attracting the wrong kind of attention. And then I only wondered what that attention was and why it was wrong.

This could be a whole blog post, couldn’t it?

I’m going to keep it short here and just say that nudity is freedom, and so are some articles of clothing.  Personally, with my fair skin, I can be outside much longer if I’m wearing a shirt, and my jeans and boots keep me from getting hurt on the trails. We need to figure out how to get around all this cultural programming that says men can walk around topless and women can’t. Men can show thigh, but women need to cover up. This is just crazy. Wear what makes you happy. Leave people alone. Clothes are for protection from the elements. Every other use is imaginary.

And now for the one that made me cringe.

“…the films, TV shows, and other storytelling forms offer variations on a theme that something deep in the human heart hungers for: The notion that each of us does indeed have a purpose in the greater cosmos. We can best realize it by wishing on a star, heeding Joseph Campbell’s call to ‘follow your bliss,’ and unwavering persistence, derived from faith and hope, to make your dream come true.

Whether you wish upon a star or any other heavenly body. Or the natural world around you.”

My note in the margin said, “I don’t WISH anything.” It reminds me of that uncouth saying, “Wish in one hand and shit in the other, see which one fills up faster.” Which, now that I think about it, is pretty good advice…figuratively. Wishing doesn’t get anything done, doing does.

And this notion of “purpose” really gets my goat lately. Do we all have some grand purpose in this world? I say, no, we don’t. Unless you consider just being here not making everyone else’s lives more difficult, a purpose. Then, yes, we all have THAT purpose.

When I wonder what my “grand purpose” is, I get depressed. This world will not know me when I’m gone. I made nothing better in the grand scheme of things. I’ve created nothing, built nothing, done nothing to better mankind in any big way. And that is the fate of 99.99% of humanity.

In my opinion, it’s sadder to think that billions of people over the millennia never found their purpose. All those serfs, slaves, farmers, peddlers, and clerics, never known by anyone but those they lived with, died penniless and alone, never leaving a mark on this existence. They didn’t even have books and movies, so they probably didn’t even know they needed a purpose other than to live and take care of themselves and the people around them…wait a minute.

Maybe “purpose” isn’t just what you see in books and movies. Those are just the glorified stories, the interesting, to more than you, ones. What if your purpose is better stated as “your personal reason for getting up in the morning?” It could be as simple as, “To see what tomorrow brings.” Hmm…more to think about.

Did I love this book? Yes, and no. Yes, because it brought me a different point of view. And no because it didn’t go far enough. I guess what I wanted was a more succinct and defined “Walt Religion,” a bible of sorts, but what I got was someone’s personal thoughts on a body of creative work. All good though, and I’d recommend it.

Lack of Focus: A Confession

I have a confession to make. This may come as a shock to you, so I hope you’re sitting down while you read this and not standing in line at the grocery store with a cart full of Corned Beef and Irish Whiskey. I’d hate to be the cause of embarrassment when you gasp in horror, as if some rando sent you an unsolicited…you know.

“Ok. Out with it.” I’m getting there!

Deep breath.

I believe I have noticed something about myself lately. I hate to even type it.                                                                                            

Here it goes…

I use reading as an excuse to avoid real work. THAT’S why I get through so many books. THAT’S why I’m always posting about a new book I started. I may be upping my reading stats, but I’m not getting anything else done, let alone getting much out of the books I read.

This morning, I finished reading Attached by Levine and Heller. I could not put that book down, wolfed it down like a starving animal. I made some notes, mostly highlights and ah-ha comments. I like to get the big picture of any book and then go back through for the details.

I tell myself I have big plans for those notes.

Then I went through some of my morning routine; an hour in my book, yoga practice…then I remembered. I’m hungry! As I sat there eating my breakfast, with my finished book nearby along side my notebook, I thought, “I should sit here and go through this, make some comprehensible notes, and write something brilliant.”

Tick. Tick. Tick.

“Or I could get a cup of coffee and read that novel I wanted to start. I can think and write later.”

That’s when it dawned on me. I’m reading to avoid real work! I’m not gathering information and processing it. That’s hard. I’m not sitting with what I’ve already read and making sense of it. I’m just wasting time, avoiding anything difficult or deep.

I’m more obsessed with racking up progress, putting “finished” next to the title, than getting anything out of what I’m reading. Something needs to change.

Writing is hard. I’m not even sure it’s what I want to do, but at the moment I’m not sure there are any other options. I think I’m having some sort of mid-life crisis. I’m bored, I complain a lot (much to the sadness of my husband who is trapped here with me), and I’m not getting anything done, other than read books.

Hmm…so much to think about.

That’s all I have for you today. I messed around all morning, lost track of time, ate some lunch, and watered the yard. It’s almost 2pm and I haven’t accomplished a single task…not that there is much to get done. You think with all the time I have on my hands I’d have the whole house clean and organized, the remodel projects done, the yard tip-top, books read, sewing projects stacked up…

My mind is scattered. I have a lack of focus I can’t seem to resolve.

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