ABSTAINING FROM ABSTAINING

“A new net positive diet” based on the idea that the act of consumption can be a subversive act of anti-consumption in the same event. But it’s not that kind of “Buy Yourself Out Of Responsibility” sustainable shit Starbucks and other greenwashers are selling. No, this is serious stuff! Did you know that legumes improve soil fertility, release 5 times less Greenhouse gases than other crops, 50 times less than meat, and use 30 percent less water? And actively protect against heart and blood issues? It’s time we all ate only bloody beans! Not only would our behaviour be far less extractivist, but out of the fear of flatulence we’d finally be free from the guilt of gluttony (and surely not only in respect to food!).

But even this doesn’t go far enough: even anti-consumption consumption is still consumption. No, for this ethic to work there must further be a corollary cessation of consumption: fasting. But its meaning has been lost: Jesus’s desert revelations weren’t the result of simply not eating; we don’t just use the word hunger in relation to food. Properly speaking fasting is a general refusal to engage in the characteristic indulgence of the human condition. That (apparently) endless desire, the original sin, that which is never quenched [1].

Fasting is a strange one though when it comes to territorialization. In the land of contemporary religion, where one tends to find vestiges of ethical motivation, it almost no longer appears in an absolute form. The Mormons, unsurprisingly, are the most “extreme” and even they only do a measly 24 hour period a mere once a month. The only one crazy enough to propose widespread extended fasts comparable to Jesus’s famous 40 days is the Trump supporting, pro-life, anti-gay Islamaphobe Lou Engle who, by the power of God, never appears to lose any weight. Outside of the Church the majority takes place for health reasons in “Intermittent Fasting” where a fasting day is defined as a day with 500 calories, or in other New Age health projects [2] with charitable gurus that charge 200 dollars an hour for Fasting Via Skype [3]. There are also those courageous Silicon Valley folk who have taken it up as a form of “Biohacking” designed to literally make them “better CEO[s]”[4].

Whatever the case, it’s surprisingly not been played around with much as an action in its broader sense. Why not hipsterise it a bit? But you know in the true deterritorializing sense of hipster, not its crap capitalist owned variant. Start out by making the process a dialectical one, a one-day-on-one-day-off ritual. One day free from all ostensible acts of consumption beyond survival needs. No food. No alcohol. No reading. No listening. No Netflix. No porn. No input. But this isn’t a day of sitting around biting your nails waiting for your next fix. No, the point is to replace your consumption with production. Cooking. Writing. Speaking. Photography. Videography. Creativity. All output. Then the next day switch it around. Consume what the hell you want and produce absolutely nothing. Isn’t that the way we should all be living? Now wouldn’t that really justify our hyperconsumption? Imagine the whole world cutting consumption in half in one fell swoop replaced with an explosion of creativity. Oh! The benefits that would have for the environment. And our attitudes. And our satisfaction! We can call it the “Swings and Roundabouts” lifestyle [5].

Now this is all running through the head of Jesus’s forefather, Jesse, a bright but belligerent man, if you can call him that, in his early 30s from England. He has just returned to Mexico City after multiple revelatory experiences on the Pacific coast which — aside from the life-changing sensation of swimming with a group of pilot whales — included divorcing his best friend, his brother, his mother and his psychoanalyst (who he also made cry); recording his first album; writing his first anthology of poetry; and (re) discovering both “objective evidence for the existence of Synchronicity [6],” and that the Moon is God and is both simultaneously dead and alive. Much of this took place during or after a wholly impromptu, Withought [7] nine day water fast [8] that emerged after weeks of debauchery that culminated in believing he had contracted some unspeakable STD. He just had to stop. To end the endless desire. To repent.

This has led to a hyper awareness in the ethics of his consumption. He is now a vegan — he never could kill an animal. He only drinks alcohol to support his creative activity — never as an escape. He only smokes a cigar once in a blue moon for the same reason — he’s no longer slow suicidal. He only reads to support his writing — not as a starting point for understanding. He only watches Star Trek Next Generation — nothing much else has come close in intellectually challenging the viewer without wasting their time. He hasn’t (unsurprinsingly) had sex since — nor has he watched porn, nor even looked at hot women on Instagram. You could call it “No Swings Just Roundabouts.”

Now these roundabouts surprisingly aren’t like those of his youth, you know the old lethal, rusting type in play parks, the ones your friends used to spin you around on so hard that you’d end up vomiting. Those should be caught up in right and wrong, but none of these activities, with the exception of food, are anymore; there’s no Freudian prohibition.

That food though. It’s like everything else is analog and it’s digital. It’s Binary Brutality. By the third day off, or is it on? He spirals awake in the middle of the night, famished and picks up a pen:

Doped Into Delirium By The Dreariness Of Doubt

That There Could Be A Way Out

It’s The Power Of A Want Disguised As A Need

So Entrenched In The Body That It Becomes Folly To Fight

Its Iatrogenic Might

It’s No Wonder That The Origin of The Word Greed Is An Apparent Need

Hunger Its Name And It’s An Elusive Game

For A Refusal To Play

Reveals The Vicious Nature Of Its Way

That The More You Desire The Lack

The More You Lack The Desire

The next day he eats. A lot. It couldn’t be any clearer, Aquinas was right: the father of chastity is fasting! Which brings the reader up to the present. The end of the story. And an addendum:

But This Ain’t No Matter Of Fact

It’s A Socially Created Act

That Transforms It Into A Pact

With Lack

Forcing Us Into A Dialogue

To Abstain

Rather Than A Willingness

To Gain

From The Power This Force Retains

When Perceived As Productive

Rather Than Destructive

Miguel Neg’s Prompt

DESDE LA ABSTINENCIA (¿POR QUÉ ME QUITÉ DEL VICIO?) By MIGUEL NEG

El presente compilado pretende hacer un recuento literario desde los avatares y consecuencias que el abandono del alcoholismo y la dependencia a sus derivados sociales provocan, tomando como punto de partida la abstinencia total o esporádica. No se trata de un anecdotario en donde los autores engalanan con palabras bien acomodadas sus sempiternas recaídas o los tatuajes morales que les dejan las mortales crudas, sino de un ejercicio creativo sobre “retirarse del vicio”.

Con ejemplos muy sobados en donde el consumo no emparenta a nadie con los Hemingway, Bukowsky, Poe, Baudelaire y hasta Ruvalcabas, los autores dejan claro que si bien no se requiere del consumo de alcohol para iniciar un buen cuento, en el caso de la totalidad de quienes aquí se presentan, podemos asegurar que el alcohol tuvo o tiene un papel muy importante en sus vidas, ya sea para mal o para bien, eso cada conciencia podrá expresarlo de mejor y a su personal manera.

Desde las crisis, el pathos anímico, la reincidencia, la resiliencia, la cruda, la recaída, la abstinencia, el delirium tremens, el doble estigma, Alcohólicos Anónimos, la Granja, El Torito y hasta la cirrosis, reavivando ese discreto e indomable deseo por dejar de lado el consumo y el hábito de vivir bebiendo mediante las letras, nos lanzamos con todo para traspasar las fronteras del postmodernismo y tambalear el tablero poniendo en jaque a los peones travestidos en reinas y a los caballos que pretenden tirar a los alfiles desde las torres más altas a grito pelado de ¡pero sigo siendo el rey….!

1 Of course the rich (don’t) know this all too well, it’s assuredly why they endlessly engage in class warfare — one can’t help but feel the coronavirus is just the latest attempt for them to fail to find some satisfaction in their meaningless lives, a way to reassert their exclusivity in inguldence; the state of exception has Freudian roots!

2 It has to be said that Celestine Chua seems to be an enviable exception of some kind of authentic fasting, and on her website provide the most in-depth commentary on the experience of extended fasting available anywhere.

3 Such as Loren Lockman from Tanglewood Wellness Center.

4 So says Phil Libin in The Guardian in 2017, CEO of All Turtles whose company admittedly offers some fairly compelling products.

5 But of course human nature as currently constructed would no doubt end up taking the piss and consume twice as much on their “consumption days” as they would have before and we’d be back to square one. Swings and Roundabouts indeed.

6 Rapid Hierarchical Traversal As The Progenitor Of The Synchronicity Rupture Remains The Structure Of The Puncture Of The Dichotimised Structure Of The Rupture. But seriously, there is a whole lot of important coincidences in these stories. Much more to come…

7 A necessary neologism, it doesn’t take a genuis to understand its significance.

8 Though this is not to suggest some causal connection nor encourage people to think that fasting can be used intentionally as some kind of tool for spiritual transformation.

Originally published on Buy Me A Coffee, where you can find all of Unchange²Change’s other recently manipulated mediums

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