The variability of appetites: it was very late in life that I really understood how different we are -- from each other, from ourselves at various times. I have always been a person of very strong animal appetites. I have lost my appetite for food once in my life, when I was very wretched -- I was teaching a course on Chaucer at a third-rate university, to students who could not have cared less about the history of English words or the valor of gap-toothed widows, and I was failing miserably, by every conceivable standard -- and once, after a particularly bad class, for an entire evening, I had no interest in food. That had never happened before, and has never happened since. But even in my misery it interested me. Some people live here, I thought, wonderingly. They never think about food.
Likewise, many years ago now, decades, perhaps, I experimented with a couple different anti-depressants. One of them, I forget which, dampened my libido considerably. And suddenly the world made sense to me in a new way. This is how it is for most people. They can take it or leave it alone. There's no urgency about it at all: in fact, to come to the point of actually doing anything, they have to tease themselves up and work at it. All sorts of things about the world that had always been difficult for me to comprehend came into focus. Very simple. It's just very different, and it makes you a very different person in all sorts of relations, if you don't want things very much. People who break rules and screw up relationships out of desire must seem to you like careless, self-indulgent oafs. As I would feel about someone who, say, stole a watch from a friend because he took a fancy to it. What kind of depraved person would do that?
I don't want to oversimplify or excuse anything. these are matters of immense complexity and many valences. There seems to me some overlap, in all the desires: but I don't know how much, and I'm loathe to generalize. How tied to the intensity with which I experience the beauty of a shifting sky to the intensity with which I long for a hamburger? How separate are the appetites? Are they driven from one source of pressure, like a single pneumatic system? I don't know, and I don't really even know how to get purchase on the question. But it seems important.