Diet and Knowing in Time (verbal essay)

(I really need to ditch Podomatic as it's so clunky and refuses to embed; suggestions appreciated)

To be on a diet, we believe, is to submit one's body to an external regime. Which is telling in that diet is in fact neutral and based in practice: diet is what you eat. Which is to say, diet is not something that is external but is empirical and, alas, judgement free.

And yet we will to a diet that comes from outside, like a moral code on high. Our contemporary conception of diet is, indeed, based in morality when eating is not moral at all (excuse me, for now, vegans): eating is ethical. Which is to say, it marks a juncture of my body and these foods and how I go in the world.

This is tricky as this juncture is always moving. After all, we live in time. Our bodies are always changing. And we don't just eat for the now; we eat for the later based on what we've eaten in the past. Diet, then, is a temporal juncture that looks back, looks forward, all while negotiating the now. 

It seems to me basing a diet on knowledge learned in a lab is, well, insane. There is such little correlation between the extreme abstraction of elements isolated and experimented with in a lab and the living reality of my body in the world. Anecdote is a much more powerful and useful mode of knowledge when it comes to diet. Science is ill suited for such things. When it comes to diet, your body is the lab and your experience, your health, is the knowledge.

 Listen and you'll hear more!


MacVogt said...

You could also say Palo/Atkins/Veg are poems. They do not remove temporality, but expand it's focus into the transcendental. Transcendental sexiness or energy or constitution (constitution not the way Nietzsche meant.)

In my experience, transcendental sexiness makes mirrors real destructive to my attention... I can only glimpse a life without dysmorphia just around the corner before it all collapses on me. Then there's the reaction. There's always a reaction.

Nice podcast though. I like your energy.

Two point five years ago, your post on the Infinite Leap, True Love was fundamental in my pulling the trigger on marrying my wife. We broke up in November, are still friends. I thought it'd tickle you. I mean no negativity by it. If anything, love brought me back to your blog.

Yes, today, which in still recovering from the flu and experiencing a particularly negative mode at work, enduring, while in what could be described as in human version of "battery saver" on an Android device, I couldn't help but be incredibly bothered by my co-worker. It hit me hard how his worldview was outrageous, here, a walking failure of imagination, a man defined by his incapability to withstand a critical moment. He played Spoon and The Beatles and Phoenix, hummed along, closed his eyes. I endured around him and simmered in dissonance/total distaste and him me. I guess I was immediately mad that he had to come in as I was trying and failing to explain what is so wonderful about reading Leaving Atocha Station to a friend. Basically, the essence of your post on the role of critique. He said, I don't think there's any need to think that deeply about anything. He shears the sides of his ugly head short.

So I found myself needing nourishment this evening. Thanks. Good to read you.

MacVogt said...

Oh yes that's where I was going to go with that story -- and I know these podcasts and blogs aren't meant to be comprehensive -- but there's a social/cultural element that's missing. I know there's a school of thought that basically goes, food is innately social, see: dinner table. Lol, I couldn't help thinking the last time I ate popcorn, and I even bought it too. It was just what the social conventions demanded. And of course, I ate and did not enjoy and felt gross. A grossness that cascaded many days actually, now that I think about it.

Daniel Coffeen said...

Hello MacVogt — thanks for the hilarious comments. And glad I could usher you into the delightful horror of marriage and the bliss of divorce. Writing now from the other side of marriage — mine ended 6 years ago — I have a different opinion on the matter, of course of course.

I love this figure of these diets as poems, introducing the transcendental into the everyday. Of course — there's that phrase again — it's hard not to read these diets as sad, desperate attempts at happiness. A new me! It's the promise of religion, consumerism, self-help, a turning inside out of the self to match some external term of health, happiness, and well being. They are all foils of the society of the spectacle.

As for your co-worker, well, I work from home and spend almost all my time alone. There's a reason for that.

And, yes, I skipped the cultural/historical/social issue on diet. It's a big fucking subject. I really never enjoyed food as a social activity; on dates, I refuse to meet women for a meal — drinks, maybe a stroll, but definitely no food. Food is best enjoyed alone or with someone very intimate.

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