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Is creativity better in the nude?

September 17, 2012|By Carolyn Kellogg
  • Paul Winer of Quartzsite, Ariz., is a bookstore owner and piano player who spends most of his time in the nude.
Paul Winer of Quartzsite, Ariz., is a bookstore owner and piano player who… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

Should we write in the nude? That's what Robert McCrum at the Guardian asks. It can, he suggests, get the creativity flowing.

Creating while naked is all the rage -- it is, isn't it, if Lady Gaga is doing it? According to an unnamed source in the U.K.'s the Sun, “Gaga has really taken to the idea of naked recording. She has been recording vocals while she’s been completely starkers.”

Why? “She thinks it makes her voice sound better.”

Could being unclothed help all artists make better art? There are people who live their lives as nudists, but as far as I know, no National Book Award winners have yet emerged from the nudist community. Nor have there been any nudist MacArthur "Genius" Fellows, Pulitzer Prize winners or Nobel laureates.

But being naked has been embraced by a few bookish types. Paul Winer, above, owns the Readers Oasis Bookstore in Quartzsite, Ariz. He is often unclothed, including when he plays piano for visitors.

But writers tend to be less performance-oriented and more modest. "Authors generally get no more daring than bedclothes," writes McCrum. He lists Winston Churchill, Walter Scott and George Orwell as some notables who liked to write from bed.

So did Mark Twain, James Joyce, Marcel Proust and Truman Capote. Charles Simic does, too.

Would their work be even better if they stripped down completely? It's possible that the freedom of being naked would allow writers to take greater creative risks.

In some circumstances -- such as Los Angeles' recent heat wave -- writing naked might be more practical than being clothed. In others, writing naked might be a wee bit chilly.

I'm not sure if being naked can lead to better writing. I did not write this in the nude; I wrote it in my pajamas.

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