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Cemetery nudes, many including myself feel, exist not for erotic stimulation but to represent the archetypical human, presented free of obscuring clothes, false pretenses, and facades. (For an opposing view, cf. John Berger's Ways of Seeing.) Medieval depictions of the Last Judgement show souls rising from the grave and standing naked before God. The statuary at some of the bolder memorial parks such as Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills appear to lend themselves to this interpretation, though doubtless some view them in a prurient instead of a spiritual manner. When nudes appear in sepulchral art, they most often bear some emblem of their calling in life, though much is, literally, stripped away. The nude is the pure human being, shown for what he or she is, representing high values such as innocence, marriage, and parenthood.

Photo: Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills
Copyright 1998 by Joel GAzis-SAx