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8671Re: [CF] Re: Surgery becomes popular option to battle obesity

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  • De Clarke
    Dec 7, 2003
      billt44hk (telomsha@...) wrote:
      > >
      > > > Surgery becomes popular option to battle obesity
      > > > Many say benefits are worth the risks
      > >
      > > Well, you all know what I'm going to say, but I'll say it anyway.
      > You
      > > want to join me? Our culture is mentally ill.

      (I'm joining you)

      > To my mind some of the ways in which people actually do "keep fit"
      > are more subtly symptomatic of sickness in society. One of the
      > greatest scams of our era has to be the one which persuades so many
      > into subscribing thousands of dollars to a health club to work out

      Before I got hit with the latest flu virus (an unpleasant surprise as I
      am usually smugly robust in health and don't get "what's going around"),
      I was thinking about this thread (surgery as a "cure" for obesity).

      A couple of random thoughts...

      One thing at which corporate capitalism (and hucksterism in general) has
      always excelled, is in turning misery into money. People's capacity for
      happiness is fairly limited but their capacity for suffering, self-hatred,
      feelings of inferiority etc. is practically infinite. So it is far more
      profitable to market to their doubts, fears, and weaknesses. The more
      the misery, the higher the price the "sucker" is willing to pay to have
      it alleviated -- including expensive surgery. Whether to "look White"
      (nose jobs, eye jobs, all the array of "racial correction surgery"),
      to "look sexy" (I'll spare you the dismal list), to "become slender"
      (liposuction, horribly and unforgettably parodied in the X files --
      ugh! -- stapling, sectioning), to adjust one's gender self-image to
      received norms (we can make you male! we can make you female!)....
      the medical profiteer manages to convert misery, self-hatred, social
      cruelty, prejudice, folly into a stream of cash.

      The more unhappy we are, the more money can be made off us. We make
      fat people very, very unhappy with vicious stereotyping, public insult,
      schoolyard bullying, etc. And the diet and surgical hucksters get very

      Second random thought: what is ersatz is always more expensive than what
      is real. It only *seems* cheaper. There was a time when it was
      recognised as a temporary inferior substitute (people tolerate wartime
      margarine while longing for the return of real butter). But now we
      seem to be living in the Age of the Ersatz as well as the Age of Oil,
      when fantasy and the artificial hold a higher value in most people's
      estimation than reality and the natural or practical, when kids like Tang
      better than real orange juice. This process in America may have started
      with Disney and the original Disneyland theme park, but I'm guessing
      it's far more deeply rooted: people are always fascinated by theatre,
      by costumes and puppets, masks and make believe. Audiences in old Japan
      would sit (not always quietly) for 15 hours at a stretch to watch marathon
      historical dramas...that's a pretty powerful commitment to a fantasy
      experience. But that was a clearly circumscribed, ritual experience
      with a specific locale, beginning, and ending -- like Carnivale or the
      Feast of Fools or an opera performance. Today we (like some reiging
      aristocracies of old) have somehow integrated the experience of theatre
      with the experience of shopping, dining, living -- so that *everything*
      is make believe, nothing is genuine. I seem to recall posting something
      a couple of years back about a very popular beach in Japan that is wholly
      artificial -- waves and all. The waves are made by machine and roll in
      at precisely timed intervals... many people like it there because it is
      their idea of an "ideal" beach, where everything is safe and predictable.
      The first thing that wealthy people do when holidaying in some remote
      country is to retreat to a Disneyland created by some four star hotel,
      where the entire environment is artificially landscaped, controlled,
      lit, decorated... predictable.

      So it does not surprise me that people living in the Culture of Make
      Believe would prefer to ride a virtual bike in a controlled, sealed
      virtual environment than to ride a real bike in a messy, uncontrolled,
      open environment. We are moving further and further towards full-time
      existence in a wholly patented, copyrighted, corporate-owned reality.
      And no, I haven't been watching the "Matrix" movies lately :-) sorry
      to say found them rather boring.

      I read recently that there is a multiplayer online web-access game
      something like Sim City, a "virtual reality" city where you can spend time,
      interact w/people, etc. It is said to be remarkably sophisticated. Now
      here comes the kick [forgive me if I have mentioned this before, several
      days of fever have dimmed my recent memory a bit]: players are apparently
      spending *real world dollars* off their credit cards, to change into
      game-world money so that they can buy clothes, accessories, jewellery, etc
      for their game-world personas. In fact a small but lucrative business has
      been created to change real money into game-world money. Not only that,
      but (you are all sitting down, right, since you are at your computers?)
      apparently the game-world owners have been able to charge substantial sums
      to real-world corporations for license to open franchises in game-world.
      As in, let's say, Gap clothing company pays the game-world operators N
      thousand dollars per month for the "right" to open Gap stores in the
      game-world shopping district. Coke pays them monthly fees to install
      virtual coke machines. And so on.

      This is the kind of thing that makes me feel like some old Amish feller
      shaking his head at the strange and foolish ways of the English.

      But sometimes I have an almost gleeful feeling about this sort of
      nonsense. The more idiots (in the classical sense of the word) are
      safely ensconced in their virtual realities, leading a make-believe life
      without ever leaving their sealed, gated enclaves (or even their living
      rooms!) the more space and quiet there might be outside, in the real
      world that they are afraid to touch. I found some years back that if
      I walked just fifty yards from the vehicle pullouts on the rim of the
      Grand Canyon in cold, snowy weather, I could be alone -- completely alone --
      with the great abyss. No one from the car/cocoon culture would venture
      that far from their mobile wombs. OTOH, the reach of the Cocoon Culture
      grows ever greater with more oil squandered -- now, luxury tourist trips
      to the Antarctic research station are becoming commonplace...

      it used to be that only the super-rich and the children of royalty and
      merchant princes lived in a cocoon of privilege, squeamishness, and fear.
      now every "average middle class kid" in the US lives in a cocoon. what,
      I wonder, are we hatching into?


      :De Clarke, Software Engineer UCO/Lick Observatory, UCSC:
      :Mail: de@... | Your planet's immune system is trying to get rid :
      :Web: www.ucolick.org | of you. --Kurt Vonnegut :
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