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December 30, 2005


Arnold Schwarzenegger: Baring All...Almost...

Gary Stochl, the newly discovered Chicago street photographer discussed in the last posting, worked in isolation for more than forty years. His long journey teaches us the importance of devotion, perseverance, and personal vision. His story suggests that many of us should care a bit less about our careers and reputations and a bit more about our work. Stochl's unwavering commitment recommends humility when some of us confidently assume that we know everything about our own fields of work.

Schwarzenegger, in contrast, was a personality driven to achieve international notoriety. Immediately after arriving in the United States, he curried the favors of anyone who could promote his ambitions, not infrequently extremely wealthy older men who were infatuated with his sturdy, muscular physique. Another champion of his hunger for fame was Robert Mapplethorpe, the openly gay, lascivious photographer who was infamous, in part, for his body of porn/art photography. Mapplethorpe, enamored of Schwarzenegger, was quick to become one of the growing group of people who lionized and fawned over Arnold. And Scharzenegger was quick to nourish those feelings in order to further his own career. He posed for the first six of the pictures below, as well as for many others. The last ("peekaboo") photograph of Arnold coyly disrobed is probably the work of another photographer.

The motivation for this posting is not a purient one. Rather, it is an illustration of one man's calculated, seductive enshrinement of the worship of Flesh and Muscle. A later discussion will examine this deeper issue, specifically the replacement of "the world of the words" by the "world of Flesh and Muscle."

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