Thursday, May 1, 2008

Going on Nakation

You can read the whole article here, but it's pretty self-explanatory. You're naked. On vacation. Hence, "nakation." Apparently there's been something of a boom, nakation-wise, marking the first time in economic history that a boom has coincided with a bust.

Ha ha ha!!! I should probably be shot.

Anyway, nakationers "can now roll out a mat at all-nude yoga retreats, gear up for nude mountain biking in California's High Desert and saunter around the decks of cruise ships chartered specifically for clothing-free travel." Nude mountain biking? Ouch.

But what interests me even more than the catalog of nude recreational activities (and where, might I ask, is naked bowling?) is the odd justifications nakationers offer for their proclivities. Not that I'm frowning on said proclivities; I personally think clothes kinda suck. But please, folks, do we really have to resort to the following?

"I consider myself a minimalist. With this big societal push for becoming green, we need to kind of get back to our roots and I thought maybe this would be a good way."

-Suzann Zane, first-time visitor to Avalon Nude Resort

It took me a few minutes to recognize the argument, though I knew I'd heard it before. This "getting back to our roots" tack is, for all intents and purposes, the same one taken by early musicians and historical performance aficionados. By "roots" logic, we need to scrape away the encrustations of modern performance practice, the layers of cotton and Lycra, and get back to the pure, the good, the true. Never mind that all those naked Neanderthals were squirming into furs as fast as their little awls could punch, or that musicians in Bach's time were hungering for new instruments, clearer notation, and better tuning.

We assume the past is static, a neat little shoebox diorama of once-upon-a-time. This has the curious effect of wadding up history and stuffing it, like an apple down the throat of a goose, into the present tense. Gone is a sense of the past in the past or the future in the past, the past-perfect and past future tenses. Unlike today, everything "back then" happened NOW.

So there you have it: what early musicians and nudists have in common. It's a strange, even perverted desire, to get back to our roots and hunker there; to live, not in the present or even the past, but in some one-dimensional freeze-frame of history. I am reminded irresistibly of those cardboard Star Trek cutouts you used to be able buy to put in your living room, how Commander Riker puffed out his chest endlessly, eternally, his phaser forever on "stun."

And it IS kinda stunning that we contort ourselves in this way, go through this whole rigmarole of rationalization. Why can't we admit that we do what we do not from any high-minded sense of mission, but because, quite simply, we like to get naked?

Or maybe that was only my chamber group.

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