Consumer Culture

As never before in human history the modern world provides the danger not of deficit but of a toxic surplus, pleasure traps set for the unwary. We sleepwalk unconscious and unprotected through this battle zone of foodstuff minefields, designed only to entice us to our doom. We can either actively become aware of and evade this danger or passively become a victim of it. Modern industrialized food is quite amazingly calorie dense, much higher than is usually found in nature and if eating is unrestrained the painfully obese results on health quickly become obvious.

The human organism evolved and is designed for an environment the polar opposite of developed countries today, that of a scarcity of both food for the body and distraction for the mind. So we will quite willingly bury our wit and sensibility under a mountain of foodstuffs, extinguishing both cells and psyche, dampening the natural amplitude of life experience in order to gain a false and desperate fulfillment.

What’s more the body’s responses to changes in food intake seem designed to frustrate our desires: it preferentially loses muscle mass rather than fat during a calorie deficit and will gain fat rather than muscle during a surplus. We may find this mechanism inconvenient today but during times of real deprivation and hunger it kept our ancestors alive.

When the senses are smothered by overeating every perception has to arise through a layer of lethargy, every feeling is deadened by sensual weight as if one’s vitality were sinking to a mass in the gut. The choice to continue eating beyond the body’s physical requirements is the choice of death over life in a sense psychological and even quite literal. We are compelled daily to bite into food that sooner or later bites us back.

This description may seem harsh but it’s a splash of cold water on the face we need not more illusion and comfort that eventually turn to despair. The path to truth is in fact the easier and more convenient; it’s just our stunted sense of time and vision that obscures this to foster self-destructive acts.

Understanding as art and science