Here I am in the sixth year of my weight-loss project, and it is still the project that consumes most of my disposable will-power. Humiliating, but there’s nothing to be gained by trying to ignore or conceal it. It gains a certain shabby philosophical dignity if I call it “cultivating temperance,” I guess. It has the advantage of being easily and precisely calculable. If my waist/hip ratio is over 91%, then I’m not temperate enough. Hardly a full account of the virtue, but as a heuristic it works fine. Some virtues are difficult to evaluate. Not this one.
Looming behind this is the project of cultivating chastity. Lest this one should seem interesting – it amounts to not squandering precious work time on stupid, repetitive, commercial pornography. This also is humiliating, but there it is. But until I have the temperance habits fully in place, and have freed up some self-regulatory oomph, I may not make much progress on it. Although I think the temperance skills have already been transferring to this realm. (But possibly that’s just age-related decline of libido. Here again, the nuts and bolts of cultivating virtue contribute all too generously to the prime virtue of humility.)
There is the danger of sinking into a sort of mindless video game of smite the vices, and forgetting what all this is in aid of. The vices and virtues are not the point. Unbearable, dazzling beauty: being overwhelmed by the infinite fractal elaboration of the worlds, visible and hidden – that is the point. I could win the game and lose the life. This is necessary, but it’s not sufficient. Remember that.
Careful now! Orgasms are good for you for a variety of reasons. Don't give them up.
Pornography has its place, too.
Hey, nobody said anything about forgoing orgasms :-)
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