Thursday, March 09, 2006


Critics of the modern often seem to forget that all the people who over the centuries turned away from the hardscrabble life of primitivity did so by choice. They looked at the raw-knuckle living they'd lived all their lives, the early deaths of their forebears, and they preferred the kid gloves, the down mattress, the lighted room; they preferred ease, a bit of luxury, a bit of style, a bit of rest, easy warmth, varied food, both hot and cold, and floors beyond dirt, with more and more distractions from a reality that relentlessly required direct and often dangerous participation; and who can blame them? Who does not prefer relative ease, after generations of fingerbone toil? That is the very premise of fat. To those who live on the bottom line, fat has always been the standard of beauty.

And now, over the century since we in the developed world left the dirt floor for the vinyl - if not marble - corridors, we have romanticized that often dark, cold, dangerous and thankless lifetoil into an idyllic little-house-on-the-prairie existence, when in fact it was common then to have most of one's 12 children die before puberty (one reason why there were 12 children), or as an adult to die of a shaving cut; anorexia is now the wealthy, civilized standard of beauty.

Convenience and well-being, like trash, have become relative. A PET bottle is an invisible convenience to us while it has content, and distasteful trash to us thereafter, but if you could go back in time and show it to a primitive man, he would grab it from your hands and trade for it his own finely decorated gourd, and for good reason; it is transparent, it is strong, it is light; but perhaps most importantly of all, it is new, and in its way, astonishing.

Steel over stone. Fat over bone. Excess over lack. That has always been the natural human aspiration. This has led to mistakes, which is human nature too, but retrogression is not human in nature. The solution is improvement, as it always has been. And the simpler the improvement, the better. Simplified progress. Progressive simplicity. As there is no need for us to lie stagnant in the dark and get lost in tv, there is no need for us to live in the dark and eat roots with the dirt still on to achieve that purity that naturally obsesses us. Our true way of being lies always in the future, not in the past.

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