Do you see him up there?
Me neither. That’s because there is no naked man up in that tree, so you should stop looking. In fact, I don’t even know who took this picture, so if this is your picture, and you’re really pissed off because it’s being used on a website that promotes the word naked, contact me and I’ll find a new tree. If it helps any, I think it’s a really great picture and a terrific tree. I actually borrow a lot of pictures, if they’re yours and I didn’t give you credit, let me know. I try to be sincere.
If you’re interested in the shorter version on what this site is about skip to the UNbolded print at the bottom of this page.
The Naked Man in the Tree is actually taken from the historic American novel: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Joseph Heller is a mastermind of perspective as well as humor which is the way I want this site to come across. There is a point in the book where the main character, Yossarian, had just witnessed a brutal death of a flying mate (as he is a bombardier during the closing months of WWII) and gets the flying mates blood all over his body. Yossarian takes off his clothes and refused to get dressed for more than a couple days. When people asked him why he wasn’t he wearing his Uniform he claimed he didn’t want to anymore. That statement alone shows how disgraced Yossarian is to be a part of a war that he does not feel is necessary and that it kills good people. However most other characters find this stark naked truth socially awkward. A few days after the death of his flying mate, Yossarian, still naked, climbs a tree to watch the burial.
Yossarian ponders very much and is very spiritual at this time, however that is completely ignored by another character, Milo Minderbinder, who is in a fix. Milo is in the middle of creating an economic empire, virtually personifying capitalism. Milo absentmindedly bought the whole market of Egyptain cotton but later found out it was impossible to sell. He decided the best way to solve this was by feeding it to the soldiers in the mess hall (as he also was the head mess officer) covering it in chocolate. Milo trusts Yossarian’s judgment and climbs the tree to ask his advice and to try some of the cotton. After he finally gets to the limb Yossarian is on Milo sincerely says:
“This is a pretty good tree.” he observed admiringly with proprietary gratitude.
“It’s the tree of life,” Yossarian answered, waggling his toes, “and of knowledge of good and evil, too.”
Milo squinted closely at the branches. “No it isn’t,” he replied. “It’s a chestnut tree. I ought to know. I sell chestnuts.”
“Have it your way.”
Milo then notices the burial going on off in the distance in the cemetery. Momentarily he feels sorry for the kid and quickly dissolves back in to his own problems making it a stark contrast to the reader:
The four men in fatigues lifted the coffin on slings and lowered it into the grave. Milo shuddered violently.
“I can’t watch it,” he cried, turning away in anguish. “I just can’t sit here and watch while those mess halls let my syndicate die.” He gnashed his teeth and shook his head with bitter woe and resentment. “If they had any loyalty, they would buy my cotton til it hurts them so that they can keep right on buying my cotton til it hurts them some more. They would build fires and burn up their underwear and summer uniforms just to create bigger demand. But they won’t do a thing.”
After pleading with Yossarian to keep eating the chocolate covered Egyptian cotton Yossarian told him it was impossible because it was indigestible. Even so Milo attempted to get around that. Sick of hearing Milo complain Yossarian asks Milo why he wouldn’t sell his cotton to the government:
Milo vetoed the idea brusquely. “It’s a matter of principle,” he explained firmly. “The government has no business in business and I would be the last person in the world to ever try to involve the government in a business of mine. But the business of government is business.” He remembered alertly, and continued with elation. “Calvin Coolidge said that, and Calvin Coolidge was a president, so it must be true. And the government does have the responsibility of buying all the Egyptian cotton I’ve got that no one else wants so that I can make a profit, doesn’t it?” Milo’s face clouded almost as abruptly, and his spirits descended into a state of sad anxiety. “But how will I get the government to do it?”
“Bribe it,” Yossarian said.
“Bribe it!” Milo was outraged and almost lost his balance and broke his neck again. “Shame on you!” he scolded severely, breathing virtuous fire down and upward into his rusty mustache through his billowing nostrils and prim lips. “Bribery is against the law, and you know it. But it’s not against the law to make a profit, is it? So it can’t be against the law for me to bribe someone in order to make a fair profit, can it? No, of course not!” He fell in to brooding again, with a meek, almost pitiable distress. “But how will I know who to bribe?”
“Oh don’t you worry about that,” Yossarian comforted him with a toneless snicker as the engines of the jeeps and ambulance fractured the drowsy silence and the vehicles in the rear began driving away backward. “You make the bribe big enough and they’ll find you. Just make sure you do everything right out in the open. Let everyone know exactly what you want and how much you’re willing to pay for it. The first time you act guilty or ashamed, you might get into trouble.”
“I wish you’d come with me,” Milo remarked. “I won’t feel safe among people who take bribes. They’re no better than a bunch of crooks.”
“You’ll be all right,” Yossarian assured him with confidence. “If you run in to trouble, just tell everybody that the security of the country requires a strong domestic Egyptian-cotton speculating industry.”
“It does,” Milo informed him solemnly. “A strong Egyptian-cotton speculating industry means a much stronger America.”
“Of course it does. And if that doesn’t work, point out the great number of American families that depend on it for income.”
“A great many American families do depend on it for income.”
“You see?” said Yossarian, “You’re much better at it than I am. You almost make it sound true.”
“It is true,” Milo exclaimed with a strong trace of old hauteur.
“That’s what I mean. You do it with just the right amount of conviction.”
“You sure you won’t come with me?”
Yossarian shook his head.
Now overriding Yossarian’s mourning and self-thought Milo presses his own problems on to Yossarian which Yossarian would’ve solved in an instant if Milo wasn’t pretending to justify himself along the way. Yossarian is obviously adept at manipulating money but as you see he has no desire to do so as he declines being Milo’s partner twice despite his power and wealth. Would you turn down such an opportunity? Why does Yossarian? Reading the book reveals what Yossarian truly values (and it is surprisingly or not – not money). This small snippet of speaking with a naked man in a tree reveals some stark universal truths if you can decipher the motives and reasoning. (happily willing to discuss).
While the above was taking place down below in the cemetery the Chaplain was leading the funeral of the dead flying mate. While the Chaplain was finishing up the funeral he happened to notice Yossarian sitting up in the tree. Because of the distance and forgetting what Yossarian looked like since they only met once prior, the Chaplain saw it as a vision choosing to believe something miraculous over the fact that an actual naked man was sitting in a tree. The Chaplain felt this was a vision from God but many doubts haunted him:
It was already some time since the chaplain had first begun wondering what everything was all about. Was there a God? How could he be sure?
Was there a single true faith, or a life after death? How many angels could dance on the head of a pin, and with what matters did God occupy himself in all the infinite aeons before the Creation? Why was it necessary to put a protective seal on the brow of Cain if there were no other people to protect him from? Did Adam and Eve produce daughters? These were the great, complex questions of ontology that tormented him. Yet they never seemed nearly as crucial to him as the question of kindness and good manners.
Actually the chaplain was almost good-looking, with a pleasant, sensitive face as pale and brittle as sandstone. His mind was open on every subject.
He recalled – or was almost convinced he recalled – the scene at the cemetery perfectly. He could still see Major Major and Major Danby standing somber as broken stone pillars on either side of him, see almost the exact number of enlisted men and almost the exact places in which they had stood, see the four unmoving men with spades, the repulsive coffin in the large, loose, triumphant mound of reddish-brown earth, and the massive, still, depthless, muffling sky, so weirdly blank and blue that day it was almost poisonous. He would remember them forever, for they were all part of the parcel of the most extraordinary event that had ever befallen him, an event perhaps marvelous, perhaps pathological – the vision of the naked man in the tree. How could he explain it? It was not already seen or never seen, and certainly not almost seen; neither deja vu, jaiais vu, nor presque vu was elastic enough to cover it. Was it a ghost, then? The dead man’s soul? An angel from heaven or a minion from hell? Or was the whole fantastic episode merely the figment of a diseased imagination, his own, of a deteriorating mind, a rotting brain?
The chaplain wanted real universal truths and answers, not something commonly sought after. Many people would be more willing to resort to resentment and oppressive establishments than seek what the chaplain sought. The chaplain understands that this is socially unacceptable and is constantly thrown in to doubt about everything.
All of this rotates around a man being killed for a war that most likely was not benefiting him and the reaction of a deeply ponderous and strong willed individual who witnessed it. Yossarian takes it all in from a personal level (which he does as well when another plane is shot down because of his decision) and attempting to right the wrongs he’s witnessed and helped create. He doesn’t want to identify himself with his country anymore because of the senseless killing in his eyes. This spears deeper than a political level, it’s a personal level that it is happening on.
This is in contrast to the impersonal level that Milo and much of the world works on today (and during WWII). When we talk to other people it’s usually for some sort of gain, and this is encouraged among private and public industries. Relationships become value-based using circular logic as Milo did above he was able to justify his injustices. High divorce rates are probably the cause of this value-based relationship. When one or both partners stop feeling they are “getting” something from the relationship arguments and divorce usually ensues.When things are not able to be spoken about rationally, calmly, and logically circular logic is most likely a base cause of this. Unconsciously one who depends on circular logic may attempt at explaining it at first but quickly will get emotional when a partner won’t ignore his or her blind spots.
The Chaplain views the world openly. This ends up leaving him never totally sure about anything. I share this in common with the chaplain as I also share Yossarian’s outlook. The chaplain is not willing to just accept something without any proof as so many religious people are. The chaplain is looking for real verification because he understands on some level the circular logic of organized religion.
If you come to this site and fully understand the enigma that is our Universe, our planet teeming with life, and our species hopefully this site will appeal to you. If the “big” questions don’t interest you, this site most likely will not either.
In short (and after the above that is probably what you’re looking forward to) the naked man in the tree is about an amalgam of perspectives. The best part about it is that Catch-22 has many characters that represent many other unique perspectives. This weblog is going to be an attempt to discuss topics from a multiperspective point which I envy so much from Joseph Heller. It is meant to cut through simple politics or simple religion or simple economics or simple emotions and open up to what is created when they are all mixed together in a batch like chemicals. Life is complex and much of the interconnected world seems unwilling to address that important point. It’s also meant to be informative and I am not going to pretend I have all the answers. I encourage discussion and opposing viewpoints (rationally explained of course).
In this weblog a general rule applies that there is not one right way to live which seems to be a minority viewpoint unfortunately. However the internet is a great way for great minds to spread that idea which would inspire acceptance, collaboration, and freedom. As for me personally? I’m a New York State certified English teacher (without a permanent position) in his mid-20s. I don’t expect everything I write on here to be grammatically perfect, everybody makes mistakes (an English teacher’s clause). I work with “emotionally disabled” students which is really a term that means anything, but I can promise you the school is very emotionally charged. I’m not going to disclose my name, where I work exactly, or where I live exactly. This is only because people are using “simple” emotions and “simple” politics to rationalize relatively reasonable and rational topics as unsuitable because someone could get offended. I want to be able to share my viewpoints as naked as Yossarian was in the tree. I really hope people have the patience to read and think through these issues I bring up. Sometimes I might be in the mood to write something humorous, other times serious, but hopefully all will be thought provoking.
The whole basis around the content of this site will be based around 3 things I don’t understand, if you care to read about the 3 things click the following links. Unfortunately, like this page, they are long, but I look for thought provoking responses to have my understanding continue to grow. The three things I don’t understand are: Life, the Universe, and people (no, not everything). I don’t expect this site to be the next popular thing, I expect there may be relatively few visitors but well-thought visitors who have things to add to my point of view. I encourage debate and passion, but discourage mud-slinging and barriers.