Naked and Nude

The Naked And The Nude

By Robert Graves
For me, the naked and the nude
(By lexicographers construed
As synonyms that should express
The same deficiency of dress
Or shelter) stand as wide apart
As love from lies, or truth from art.Lovers without reproach will gaze
On bodies naked and ablaze;
The Hippocratic eye will see
In nakedness, anatomy;
And naked shines the Goddess when
She mounts her lion among men.

The nude are bold, the nude are sly
To hold each treasonable eye.
While draping by a showman’s trick
Their dishabille in rhetoric,
They grin a mock-religious grin
Of scorn at those of naked skin.

The naked, therefore, who compete
Against the nude may know defeat;
Yet when they both together tread
The briary pastures of the dead,
By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
How naked go the sometimes nude!

I don´t like to be touched. Suffering physical contact is an invasion of privacy, of my body, it throws me off balance, it makes me feel naked, like a corpse in the dissection room. So much for a kiss on the cheek, a handshake, a friendly hug.
For someone so stiff and stern, and who is not shy of demonstrating that distance on my daily interactions, it is odd that I am so at ease with sexual contact, that I am so happy when nude, that I can relax so much and so easily when the dialogue is deeper than skin level.
This poem resonates with me because I know in my own flesh the difference between naked and nude, and I also understand in my own life the subtle remark of the last two lines. I am the eye that sees everyone naked, and yet can never see myself in a mirror and truly see me, my form, my shape, how I look, and I depend on others to form my self image. I am seldom naked in my partners´eyes though, I am always nude, the lover, the mistress, and I tend to believe that any image misrepresents me, either how I look or who I am.
I am caught in the gorgian knot of misrepresentation, knowing that we all project, and aware that all I have is people´s projection on me. Then I am a naked body where people project their fears, desires, expectations… In the end I am nothing.
Why, sex and swing clubs, with undressed people acting their fantasies, having sex, talking, drinking… so natural and yet so unnatural! The rooms are like a coroner´s theatre to me, and I go over their bodies, scanning their tiniest details, how they move, how they dress and undress, the way they smile, the tone of voice, what they do when they are not engaged in conversation or sex. Speakers of the dead and speakers of the living, we both speak for bodies and for the people who inhabit them, and above all, for humanity. I guess I search what is human in the middle of what other people, even some who consider themselves pretty liberal, regard as dirty or deviant.
There is cruelty in me, I found out, and there is also a great potential for empathy. The latter is so much more comfortable than the former!
The naked who caught itself nude, and the nude who found itself stark naked when lights were on and all the scars and flaws of age were exposed.
I am currently 46 y-o and I gave up trying to make myself understood. I hardly understand myself. Let them project whatever they want, I can´t help it anyway. Still, I am a creature of the boudoir, of the private chambers and I won´t change. I can´t. Naked and nude.

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