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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

“Everything I like is either illegal, immoral or fattening”

The title of this post is one of my favorite quotations. It is accredited to Alexander Woolcott (1887 – 1943) a critic and commentator for The New Yorker magazine.

If we may argue that social evolution is as self evident as its biological counterpart then this sarcastic quotation really raises a serious question. For a social activity, trend or custom to survive despite its being challenged by three formidable and ruthless foes it must provide the individual with an extraordinary payback. It must give him or her “great and immense pleasure”. This is the only way through which this “thing” can flourish in the social jungle where the survival of the fittest is literally true.
But why is that so? Actually the question should be rephrased: Why did the law, religion and nature conspire against our flirting with hedonism?

I wish to tackle this intriguing question in reverse order, that is I shall begin with the fattening bit, if I may. In the animal kingdom, herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores eat like there is no tomorrow. All animals will continue to gobble until full to the brim. As a matter of fact we count on cows and sheep munching every single minute of their waking hours to make them as fat as possible, as fast as possible, so that we may, in turn, eat them. Lions, tigers and hyenas will keep devouring their prey until they fall into a dazed slumber. They would not hunt again until they are hungry and the process is repeated with every killing rampage. Apes and chimpanzees, our closest relatives, don’t go on a limited diet. They eat till they drop if food is aplenty. Research has shown that the life expectancy of animals will dramatically increase if they consume less food, if they were kept on the verge of starvation. A recent experiment on mice illustrated that their lifespan increased by 30% when they were fed half of the amount of food regular mice eat (the control group). But animals don’t do that, they just follow nature. In light of the above, I concede that the increase in the life expectancy of humans from the olden days is not a natural process. It has been achieved through advancements in medicine and motivated by our insatiable pursuit of immortality. It is not necessarily more beneficial for the human race that people are living longer and healthier. May be, and I’m just arguing here, that we were meant, biologically, to live shorter and happier by eating tastier, more fulfilling food. I reckon that the longer we humans live the more wars we humans are going to suffer. It’s simply a matter of economics, mathematics and geography. Being on a finite piece of land (Earth) and until space colonization becomes a reality (if that is morally and legally acceptable) our planet is getting shorter on resources and increasingly overcrowded. I fall back to scientific research. Laboratory mice living in overcrowded quarters have shown an amplified tendency toward violence, homicide (in this case mousicide) and even cannibalism. And my final coup de grâce to rest my case as far as health and longevity are concerned is that most wars in the history of mankind were started by elderly statesmen or leaders. As a matter of fact, many people who seek or hold public office are too old to be rightly alive.

Morality comes from the word mores of course, which plainly means a set of customs that a people live by. Sometime in our early recorded history, religion took hold and control of people’s minds and souls. Just to remain on the abstract level and in order not to ram my head against the unyielding wall of any one religion, I will go head to head with abstract religion in my onslaught, monotheist, polytheist, pantheist and pagan. There is a fundamental difference between religion and faith. The former is an indoctrinated invention while the latter is part of human instinct. Religion, however, juxtaposed itself with faith to become almost synonymous. Early cavemen believed (had faith without proof) that there is one or more superior power in nature. They didn’t have any religion but they had faith. They led a harsh life, with dangers lurking behind every obstacle. They were hunters or food gatherers too busy with insuring their daily existence. Out of simplicity and the mere struggle to survive, someone, who didn’t want to work, turned shaman. Slowly, faith was being coerced to morph into religion. The shaman (sage, priest, …etc.) played a progressively more central role and it was not to his advantage that people should believe in one or more deity without rituals and sacrifices. “Beware the wrath of the Goddess of the Wind if you don’t give her a leg of deer or a basket of fruits” he would ejaculate in a state of frenzy while dancing around a huge bonfire. “But, Uh, how would we offer our presents, Oh Wise One?” the poor cavemen would ask submissively. Needless to say, the shaman would tell them that he would take care of this extremely complex spiritual task. He would intervene. Should I tell you what he would do with the leg of deer and the basket of fruits? I will return to this particular question in my final bout against the law. We’ve come a long way since our ancestors became subservient to the high priests but this is the actual historic evolution of religion. As the clergy became more powerful they affirmed suitable traditions, abolished inconvenient mores and introduced new ones. Sex, in particular, became their favorite and primary target. Religion is more concerned with sex and managing women than with any other aspect of human behavior. I reason that in the beginning those priests looked real ugly and frightening with the masks and paints. They couldn’t get laid without introducing some divine order. My other theory is that they suffered from some sort of impotency and vented their frustration by ordaining whatever makes people happy taboo. Subsequent religions picked up the pieces and the forbidden became more ubiquitous than the allowed. Sex, unless regimented, controlled, authorized and licensed became immoral. There are many other taboos in religion; my previous argument should have covered them all.

Now we come to my final round, against the law. I have earlier indicated that I shall return to the question of what would the priest do with the leg of deer and the basket of fruits. Of course it would be ideal if he could have them all to himself. But in reality that would have not been possible. Even as early as the cave, there were many normal folks and a few bullies. Most world leaders, before and now, carry bully genes in their cells. The early shaman needed a partner. There was always a big intimidator who would beat the other cavemen and steal their food and their women. This son of a bitch was the perfect partner for that asshole. Law and Religion shook hands, hugged, kissed and eventually fornicated to produce an Order. In its ultimate manifestation, the present New World Order is a result of such an adulterous act, or shall we say marriage since there was a priest involved. What was immoral thus became too often illegal as well. The interests of the law and religion diverged and converged over the millennia. In Utopia they will be on opposite ends if not totally absent. The crucial lesson of history is that the downfall of civilizations has always taken place when politics and religion were in bed together. Illegal pleasures are very subjective and they vary from the absurd to the imperative. For some, it could be the simple pleasure of smoking a joint, for others it could be the simpler pleasure of speaking their minds without being arrested. Anything, good or bad, can be termed illegal and thus against the law. People are denied the right and the pleasure to roam the face of the earth (our planet) by word of the law. Most humans cannot travel to a given piece of land (referred to as country) to have fun or to work, thus live a more pleasurable life, unless he or she obtains a visa. If this document is not issued due to legal and/or outright religious reasons it would be illegal for these humans to set foot on that soil, regulated by the law to belong to one specific group and sanctified by religion as proper.

Am I too harsh, too nihilistic perhaps, or is it possible that I might be saying the truth in an awfully perverse way? Neither, I was just trying to explain this eloquent quotation: “Everything I like is either illegal, immoral or fattening”.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

great post abufares..you are the Dorian Gray of Tartous in this post..but think of this situation : peacocks have big beautiful tales that are utterly bad for them (heavy, too long, ..) like we like things that are "bad for us"...btw, did you know Ibn Sina died from having too much sex?

Dubai Jazz said...

I could not figure out whether you were writing this seriously or sarcastically! But I thought that attaching that particular photo fits the context of your post quite well: it evokes some sort of anti religious values (the desire to bang that girl, even if it was in the imagination of the beholder), it also makes people fat by pushing them to eat more cream, and of course anybody thinking of committing an unsolicited sex (which is quite likely in this case), will first have to think of the legal implications(law).
Rather weird post, but nevertheless funny and intriguing!

Anonymous said...

permit me to say that you have outdone yourself this time abu fares. this post by far is your masterpiece. i just love it and strangely found myself agreeing with it. i never thought i would agree with such an opinion.
you have thought about everything. so funny so witty.

abufares said...

Hello Anonymous 1
Dorian Gray of Tartous!? Ummh, let's see... If I'm not mistaken Dorian Gray lost his soul in the pursuit of hedonism. He remained young while his cruelty and that of time showed only too well on his painted portrait. Interesting... but, alas I'm growing older by the day.
The tail of the peacock is supposed to drive the plain tailless female crazy, thus the prettier the tail the larger the chance of that peacock spreading his sperms.
As to Ibn Sina, I really didn't know that but what can I say exept: What a way to go!

abufares said...

Hi Dubai Jazz
I was either seriously sarcastic or sarcastically serious :)
I liked the photo too, btw it used to be one of my fantasies: the naked girl, the cake & the whipped cream. Now I have weirder ones, too strange to publish ;)
You know what the problem is, when I am not busy working, riding my bicycle or watching football on TV, I end up writing. Sometimes, the writing is all over the wall :-{)

abufares said...

Hi Anonymous 2
There is no "idea" that is 100% right or wrong. With that in mind, I approach the TRUTH with less trapidation.
I'm glad you liked this post and found it funny. I think that as long as one doesn't take himself too seriously, he's apt to say something funny in the end.

Naji said...

I am proud of you man... even if you are a Tartoussi...!! (Are you sure you do not have any Jableh, Banyas, or Lattakia blood in you...??!)

abufares said...

Naji

Jableh, Banyas & Lattakia... hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha (crazy hysterical laugh)
Not a chance my friend.
Tartoussi WBas Wel ba2i Kollo Khass.

The Syrian Brit said...

It's nearly midnight.. I have just returned home some 30 minutes ago.. I had gone to work, as usual, at 8:00 am.. so I have been on my feet (metaphorically, I admit!..) for 15-and-a-half hours, give or take a few minutes.. Naiively, I thought I'll sit down for some light reading and a bit of blog-scanning to wind down and destress.. and do I get??.. This deeply philosophical discussion about religion, law, morality, and healthy eating!.. This way too heavy for my achy pounding head.. Forgive me, my friend.. I could not possibly make any sensible comment at this time!..

GraY FoX said...

lol, this is brilliantly right
why would i wanna have a longer life if
if i would live on a diet and forbidden myself off yum O stuff
if i would follow rules of men hiding behind religion instead of finding God myself
if i have to follow a set of rules do not come from a living conscience but from overpowered men
and i prefer chocolate creame :)

abufares said...

Hello Syrian Brit
Could it be that you couldn't make any sensible comment because what I wrote doesn't make sense or do you prefer the polite approach and blame it on a long tiring day at work?

abufares said...

Gray Fox
Welcome to my blog.
I too prefer chocolate cream but you have to admit that the white whipped cream look fabulous.
Thank you for your visit and I look forward reading your posts and comments.

Shannon said...

This is a great post! I inspires me to eat some strawberry ice cream for world peace and rebel against the forces conspired against me. I especially like your discussion about the law.

abufares said...

Hi Shannon
Eating ice cream isn't enough. You should fight your other 2 tormentors. So you need at least a couple more nono things to do.
I'm glad you liked my attitude toward the law. I should write one day about how I feel toward lawyers.
Always a pleasure reading your comments.

The Syrian Brit said...

Now then, Abu Fares..‎
Let me start by saying that I totally approve of your choice of pictures.. You see, I simply love.. ‎whipped cream.. (or what else did you think?!..)..‎
Second, somehow it seems to me that the quote you used is more Woody Allen than Alexander ‎Woolcott.. (Having said that, I KNOW it is Woolcott.. but I digress..)..‎
In the first section, you make an unashamed attempt to justify indulgence.. Now I am not saying ‎there is anything wrong in that.. A wise man was ‎once asked by a mere mortal: 'If I don't eat too much, drink too much, smoke or chase women, ‎would I live longer?'.. He answered: 'I don't know, but life would certainly SEEM longer!'.. Problem is, a swift death is not always the outcome.. more likely, a slow and degrading one..
In the second section, I agree with you in that God and politics should not mix.. And as for theories about sex and religion.. how about this one: The Clergy you refer to wanted to keep all the goodies to themselves, so they ban sex for their flock, and engage in it like crazed minks!.. Numerous cults in modern history had such leaders... What do you think?..
In the third section, I am truly intrigued by how the discussion swings between law and religion, until they seem to merge in the end of the paragraph.. I really think they are the two sides of the same coin.. Furthermore, I think it is a sign of our insecurity that we, sometimes, have to attribute certain 'laws' to an ultimate superior being.. As if we want to say 'Nothing to do with us, Gov.. It's God's law, and you'd better follow it!..'
A very interesting and thought-provoking post!..

I love Munich said...

SO GREAT Abufares, I really don't know where you get your ideas from!!
Nope - you're absolutely NOT nihilistic but brilliantly and most eloquently (you made me laugh tears!) shedding light on the famous statement
"Everything I like is either illegal, immoral or fattening” - which BTW exisits in German as well - the Tartoussi way ... no, it is clearly and unmistakably the typical Abufares' way which is unbeatable and unique!! Thanks so much for having given me a FUN- time reading!!

abufares said...

Hi Syrian Brit
Whether the clergy wanted to keep the women for themselves or were too sick to enjoy the company of women they are behind the root of the problem. Unfortunately the more evolved and refined religions much later maintained a negative attitude toward women.
Law and religion are indeed 2 sides of the same coin. Just look at them in the first few years of the 21st century. They're in bed together aren't they??? Look at the mess all around.

abufares said...

Hi Karin
It exists in German because you obviously enjoy the good times although this fact might be masked by your extreme efficiency in making Mercedeces and BMWs. Anybody who can make such exquisite pieces of art has all the right to keep frowning and look serious.
(Was I sarcastic?!) Nah, you know me better.

Lost somewhere said...

My utopic philosophy is that laws were made for the masses in order to somehow guaranty safety from human stupidity. And although some laws could be bent sometimes broken by some (as long as they know the limits that do not harm), mentioning the possibility of exception would only cause a mess.
However, smart people know:laws are made to be broken. And MY... what a thrill that is...

abufares said...

Welcome Lost Somewhere
Humans response to nature without any reservations.
However, when a law or religious text insist on imposing unnatural behavior then eventaully people will lear to ignore it.

Restless in Dubai said...

I've never read such a simple, yet true analysis of all the three topics... this post glued me to your blog...you should keep it up, otherwise you will lose the audience.. lol..

RnD

abufares said...

Hello Restless in Dubai
Welcome on board.
The truth is always simple. Too simple for the liking of some men (and women). As for maintaining a certain consistent level in my blog, I'm afraid I can't guarantee myself, or my writing. Being open implies unpredictablity.