Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nietzsche calls me a weak-willed degenerate, and he is correct.

"The same expedient--castration, extirpation--is instinctively selected in a struggle against a desire by those who are too weak-willed, too degenerate to impose moderation upon it [...] It is only the degenerate who cannot do without radical expedients; weakness of will, more precisely the inability not to react to a stimulus, is itself merely another form of degeneration."

--Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

I think Nietzsche has me nailed: the only way I was really able to become a healthy person was to go to the extreme, adopting a mostly vegan lifestyle and consuming loads of fruits and vegetables. When I'm in strict vegan mode, I'm not remotely tempted to eat cheese or egg products (I'm already vegetarian for moral reasons). I don't even think about it; it's just not an option for me. It's this lifestyle and attitude that helped me lose over 50 pounds. My mom always counsels moderation, but I really can't do things in moderation. I'm better when I pour my being into something, even when that something is abstaining.

However, I'm mostly vegan. I make exceptions for social and special occasions. And on these exception days, I tend to go really, really overboard. When I'm allowing myself, I have "precisely the inability not to react to a stimulus." While most days I would not even consider eating cheese, or a donut, on an exception day, if there is cheese or a donut in front of me, I'm almost compelled to eat it.

You might say that having exception days at all would make me, according to Nietzsche, able to handle my passions and desires in moderation. But I know that isn't so. I can resist my desire only when I put myself on a strict, rigid order; when I don't have that order, I feel helpless to resist that desire, a man prone to giving into my temptations. My mostly vegan lifestyle is, according to Nietzsche, "merely another form of degeneration." I "cannot do without radical expedients."

Well, sucks to your Nietzsche anyway.

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