I almost got through the '90s without mentioning contemporary art controversies. You did not read anything here about Piss Christ and Elephant Dung Mary or the people who make their livelihood off the brouhaha over such images—religious "antidefamation" interests, lawyers, third-rate artists, and public officials who express outrage. But now I feel compelled to comment.
On a beautiful Tuesday afternoon, Joseph and Celice, both middle-aged professors of zoology, revisit the remote beach that was the landscape of their courtship and first passion. Joseph is hoping for an amorous encounter, and Celice heads into the dunes looking for a mattress of grass to cushion their adventure.
Science writer Margaret Wertheim suggests in The Pearly Gates of CyberSpace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet that cyberspace has become for some a technological substitute for the heaven of Christian aspiration. “The Heavenly City of the New Jerusalem was the great promise of early Christianity,” she writes.
Whether we choose to believe it or not, we human beings are embodied creatures. There have been many times throughout the history of philosophy and religion when great thinkers have tried to minimize or deny the physicality of human existence. Simple phrases such as “mind over matter” and biblical passages such as 1 Corinthians 9:27, “but I punish my body and enslave it,” have contributed to the misleading belief that we are at our best as human beings when some spiritual core that is separate from our physical nature governs our lives.
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