Bodies On Raw, by Marisa Ignacio Hormel, photography by Melinda Lerner
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Books Go Social/Net Gallery. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
I must admit that I was surprised and not particularly pleased by the content of this book. Although I am no stranger to photography books , which this is, this book had at least a few unpleasant surprises. It is hard to tell what I was more disappointed by, the content of the photographs themselves, or the way that the book seemed to presuppose an audience that viewed the eating of animals as being related to pain or the Buddhist and related Eastern worldview that the author was obviously trying to promote in the expectation that the reading audience would be favorable to this sort of approach. Given that very little of the book was appealing to me, I was clearly not the ideal audience for this book on a variety of grounds. It should be noted, though, that the book’s title of Bodies On Raw is a bit more literal than may be initially assumed, and the reader ought to be aware of that fact.
This book consists of a bit shy of 200 pages of mostly artistic nude photographs of people who are mostly aging hippies who experimented with various vegetarian and vegan diets before going to the raw diet. The people involved are mostly from North America, Europe, South America, and Australia, although one was born in Thailand. All of them seem to be into world travel and view the eating of meat as contributing to suffering and therefore some sort of karmic debt. The author and photographer are keen to connect the raw food diet to a particular New Age worldview that repels just as easily as it attracts, assuming that readers will be among those attracted to this mindset. The people talk about their digestive problems and the way that they deal with their cravings by eating raw fruits and vegetables, or, when these are not available, explore the various plant pathways of various peoples around the world. Some of the bios are more detailed than others, and show the way that people try to overcome the flaws of packaged food and deal with broken families and the pressures that children face where parents have different views on food and life, and these are probably the most thoughtful aspects of the book, even if few of the people appear to be reflective in a way that goes beneath the surface.
It seems as if everything about this book is an attempt to recover Eden. I am not sure that the people in the book or the writer or photographer would admit outright to having that thought, but it seems to motivate a great deal of the book’s contents. That includes the fact that a great deal of the photography of the book involves nude photography taken in a state of nature where what is raw and “natural” is associated to be good. The people involved in this book appear to be of the mindset that they can return to Eden through shedding clothing and cooking and eating meat and other aspects of life in a fallen world that no longer caters to our wants and needs and requires toil and effort. Thus the book’s aesthetic as well as its content reflects a particular worldview that is hostile to a recognition of the fallen and corrupt nature of unredeemed mankind, which these particular people represent particularly strongly. This book is a particularly strong reminder of the importance of worldview to the way that works are conceived and created and how they are interpreted by audiences. There will no doubt be some people for whom this book is immensely appealing, but many more who will not find much to approve of here.
 See, for example: