No one has the time on Monday that they do on Sunday for those long Sunday-magazine reads, but I think the WashPost magazine’s take on nudity yesterday might be worth a bit of your coffee-break time, if nothing else:
Our forefathers got off to a bad start with nudity. Unlike in so many European cultures, where nudity has always been idealized, serving as the inspiration for countless portraits of deities and military heroes, here it was just another wild foreboding frontier, on the other side of which might lurk damnation and disgrace.
Puritan modesty in the American Northeast, and evangelical fervor in other parts of the Colonial land about the need to sublimate the libido, doubtless played a role in the disfavor of exposed flesh. But so, too, did 18th-century American artists who, according to some art historians, looked for ways to distinguish the portraits of prominent Colonial settlers from the depictions of Native Americans. While one group of Colonial artists depicted Indians as barely clothed, in what they regarded as a celebration of the natives’ physicality and freedom of body, another group sought to ensure a flattering contrast by rendering distinguished Colonials as elegantly attired models of modesty. It was nothing less than an effort to characterize nudity as the way of a savage, and the clothed as pious and enlightened.
On the other hand, if heartbreak is more your cup of tea this a.m., there’s this NYT piece on smuggling children across international borders (Latin America, mainly), to join their parents, most of whom are illegal immigrants themselves. The pictures alone will take all the wind out of your sails.