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Reply with quote  #1 
Mark Morford hits it on the head again.  I can vouch for the changes he talks about in one's attitude towards food, from a few, very few, fasts I have undertaken in my lifetime.  It is a good simile.  Stan, I hope you like it.


Mark Morford

Great American Detox Which is better: To be rich 'n' slothful, or lean 'n...


The stories just keep coming, a veritable flood of sad and harrowing tales of layoffs, shutdowns, rising unemployment, personal woe, sudden homelessness, savage poverty and all manner of fiscal trembling across the roiling global moneysphere.


It can seem as brutal as a kitten caught in a grain thresher: Lots of depression, anxiety, psychotic weeping on Fox News and talk of right-wing nutballs buying more guns as "recession porn" takes hold and we become morbidly fascinated with just how harshly the global meltdown is affecting, say, the elderly, or schools, hotels, florists, baristas, hookers, graduates, car salesmen, God -- all those shiny happy things we used to love but which now seem to hiss at us as we walk by in our scruffy, worn-out shoes.


But wait. Shift your lens a moment. Because at nearly every turn and almost every story, the vicious and the sad seem counterbalanced by rather astonishing tales of revolution and upheaval, opportunity and change, fresh seedlings of good birthed from the charred forests of bad.


From the ashes, multiple phoenix. From the Bush, the Obama. From the realization that we're long overdue for a wake-up call and a grand social emetic, the rare and precious chance to slap ourselves awake before it's too late, even though it probably is.


The delicious Rule of American Irony holds: When we are rich and pampered and living far beyond our means, we can get very stupid, very quickly. We waste, abuse, deny, ease watchdog efforts and spawn Bernie Madoffs, AIG and Dick Cheney. Addiction to inflated prosperity often breeds laziness and greed, a violent fear that someone is going to come along and take it all away.


Then again, as we are learning right now, forced reduction has its own foul drawbacks, breeding panic and sky-is-falling paranoia, savage loneliness and the fear that someone is going to come along and tell us we can never get any of it back.


And yet, even now, positivism flows. The New Austerity is awakening all manner of innovation and radical rethinking. We're suddenly scrambling to reinvent everything from cars to newspapers to banking systems, from how we draw energy to how we consider legal marijuana and how we treat the rest of the world. It's exactly as revolutionary and transformative as you're willing to allow it to be.


So, which is it? Are we better off -- karmically, energetically, spiritually -- in the former mode of wealth/waste, or the latter of lean/anxiety? Or is it simply a matter of recognizing, despite the harrowing news that accompanies each mode, the bizarre human requirement for both?


Reminds me of a rather unpleasant, first-person account I read somewhere recently, written by a sassy fashionista who decided to try out, with almost zero understanding of what she was actually getting into, the latest in fad diets -- which, as it turns out, is really no fad at all and has been around for millennia but is now having some sort of hollow Hollywood moment: The cleanse.


Now, as a yoga teacher, I've known dozens, if not hundreds of people over the years who've undergone intense detox regimens of every shape and approach and restriction, from quickie weekend juice fasts to lengthy, committed ordeals like the famous Master Cleanse (nothin' but lemonade and maple syrup and cayenne pepper, mmm), to all levels and approaches in between. Hell, I've done a few myself, to (mostly) excellent success.


Here's the fun part: Most Western docs and jaded, overfed Americans love to scoff at such practices. They point out the supposed danger of denying your body food for long periods, how flat-out hippie ridiculous it all seems. Western docs in particular love to decry the hugely popular Master Cleanse and its ilk, as they tighten their bogus stranglehold on how it's all supposed to be.


Which is, of course, complete bullshit.


See, a good cleanse works on multiple levels. It is far from merely a physical experience -- though as physical experiences go, it's pretty damn revelatory.


Here's the thing: A detox done right invites a dramatic reexamination of your relationship to food and nourishment, as you can't help but suddenly notice food's insane prevalence in our culture, our obsession with everything from planning meals to restaurants to food advertising to how much just thinking about your next meal controls and dominates your day. For first-time cleansers, this always comes as nothing short of a revelation.


It doesn't stop there. When you begin to reintroduce foods into your body after a lengthy period away, all sorts of fascinating reactions can come up. Foods you thought you loved repulse you, heavily processed foods will taste like garbage, tasty addictions you thought you could never live without suddenly seem ridiculous and pointless and you may never touch them again.


Conversely, things you thought you hated will feel nourishing and alive. Whole foods will feel invigorating and right. The power food once had over your everyday life might shift and subside.


If you really pay attention, you can, in short, actually rewire your body, upend your perspective and begin to see, maybe for the first time ever, the powerful forces at play in the culture and how they work to nudge and prod and slap you around, every single day.


Should you live in a permanent state of hardcore cleansing? Should you treat a serious detox as a silly fad diet with no actual understanding of the energies at play? Hell no. But after a lifetime of canned, prefab, overpampered crap you were told was food but is actually a subtle form of poison, understanding the difference can be like a dose of raw enlightenment.


The best part of all: Odds are very good you may never go back to your old, toxic ways.


You get the idea. You get the obvious parallel. You gotta keep peeling. Keep trying. Keep moving. Rich and comfortable and uninformed often leads straight to fat and numb and sick. But ritual cleansing to attain lean and agile can be equally stupid and unhealthy if you go too far and don't have a sense of humor and hope and copious amounts of wine.


And of course, locking down into either mode and thinking it's the one true way? Well, that's the same as it's always been. That's just death.

Reply with quote  #2 
Great article KB. I especially like the "copious amounts of wine" part. Sometimes that is the only way to make sense of a nonsensical world. We all hope and then hope is dashed, we all fume and then the fire goes out, we all condemn and then find that the condemnation is empty and absurd. Yeah, we never asked to be here, we are like uninvited guests at a party, feeling slightly guilty, but enjoying the party nonetheless.

Hope all  is well in the SFB area. Still waiting to hear from Mike M

Michael Murry
Reply with quote  #3 
Sorry for not posting for awhile, Stan. I did appreciate your quotes from H. L. Menken on formal religious -- i.e., animist -- rituals and such, but for some reason your site software would not let me reply or post an original comment without some sort of log-in password. For equally unexplained reasons, the problem seems to have disappeared. Well and good.

As you would no doubt understand from your own cardiac adventures, I've had to spend considerable time each day exercising -- which for me means long morning walks -- in an effort to lose weight and strengthen my cadio-vascular oxygen-processing capabilities. Into my diet and exercise regimen for eight weeks now, I've steadily lost between one and two kilograms per week with a corresponding pick up in energy. I've got one more month of taking five pills after lunch each day before I go back in to see the doctor and have my blood analyzed. Hopefully, I'll have obliterated all but the barest traces of lipids and "bad," artery-clogging cholesterol. Truly, though, I feel better every day.

With my newfound energy levels, I've resumed my gargoyle relief sculpture/paintings and taken up playing the electric guitar again. Hopefully, I'll have some more pictures to share in a few days.

For a few weeks there, my brother the high school English teacher asked me to help him with an action/research project into General Semantics, since he knew I had practically the entire library of that genre's key texts. Then my oldest son lost his job (again) in Utah when his company went bankrupt; so he moved back to California, luckily got another job, but wound up having to fix some old dBASE III+ code about which he knew absolutely nothing. Once again, someone remembered that I do possess certain archaic knowledge of obscure computer software and asked me for help. So, more days-stretching-into-a-week where I went digging through piles of old DOS floppy disks for code that I wrote many many years ago when I worked for the Hughes Aircraft Company. Geez Louise, but I feel like a complete dinosaur sometimes.

Regarding current events back in Fernando Po, U.S.A., I haven't yet started composing verse about the new President as Chief Commanding Boobie, but that will probably change if Obama doesn't call off these lingering, disgusting wars while throwing trillions of dollars at Wall Street gamblers just to make sure they never have to lose after royally screwing America and most of the world, too. I think Obama has said the right things and done some good things on occasion, but as we used to say back in the Navy: "One 'aw, shit!" wipes out a dozen 'atta-boys'." You know more about Cuba than I do, so I've waited to see what you have to say on President Obama's latest diplomatic efforts in that area. Killing hundreds of Pakistanis with our "'t I.dentify A.nything" robot drones really seems beneath contempt for someone as promising as Obama (who really has no grasp of military madness, and it shows), but then he has to deal with that entrenched crony/corporate camp-follower rabble and not me.

Anyway, as long as the board software will allow, I'll try to hold up my end of the conversation from here in Southern Taiwan.

All the best to you, Kate, and any other interested observer of this, our infinitessimal interlude of intrigue and irascibility.   

Reply with quote  #4 
Yo Mike, glad to hear from your irascible self, we were worried. Yeah, recuperaciĆ³n is tough from cardiac stuff. I too walked and walked back in good old Los Gatos after my operation. It seemed like an eternity before I got up to a mile but then I couldn't even walk across the room after I got home from the hospital. The human body is an amazing device. It can take an incredible beating and most of our lives we abuse it with one form of detrimental lifestyle or another. Yet if you treat it well fro a while it will respond gloriously releasing all those epinephrans or whatever it is that makes you feel good after a hard workout or a tough walk. My two dogs (we have two dogs and two cats now because Babs can not resist the charm of Costa Rica's stray animals) and I walk about 5 kilometers a day now up and down our dusty road. The rainy season is right around the corner and the dogs will love it when they can walk without choking on the dust, me too.

Regarding Obama and his tentative attempts at reapprochment with the world post Bush. As you noted he is only a cog inthe US machine of foreign policy cum military industrial madness. He has to watch his back. But my feeling is that the tentative reachings although mere nuance may eventually bear some fruit. There are those in the US who are clamoring for a new relationship with Cuba but there is method to their zeal. China is investing big time in Central and South America and especially in Cuba where they have a highly educated population and free health care, also one of the best health care systems in the hemisphere. The sudden desire to get back into Cuba is actually fear of China and their economic advances in this part of the world. They are also here in Costa Rica big time for the same reason they are courting Cuba, an educated middle class population ready to work. While the US fritters away its borrowed treasure on futile wars, China takes its profits and invests them in promising enetrprises in the US backyard. I say more power to them, the US has fucked over Latin America for over a hundred years with their fruit companies and Reagan thug wars.

more later

Reply with quote  #5 
Doesn't he though?  My fervent response to Mike's return is on his later message.  I'll just observe, as the booby-in-chief ascends to the throne, that someone will need to tell him he is only President, not King of Everything, and as such he needs to refrain from speaking for the justice system, a coequal branch of government, and thus overreaching when he says "there will be no prosecutions (for torture)." 

The reaction was predictably acidic, here and abroad.  Obama appointed an attorney general.  Why isn't he deferring to his AG.  Why did he think he had to make such a broad assertion?  The answers to that I think I know, but I guess he's still learning. 

As for his health care reform summits and town halls, they have been worse than anything George W. Bush ever staged.  All I can infer is that he (Obama) wants me to tell him in no uncertain terms and with a chorus of hundreds of thousands, just how I feel about his industry-controlled so-called health insurance reform.  How come when he was a candidate he was for single-payer health care and legalizing marijuana.  What happens to them when they get elected?  Damn.
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