Ascetic or Epicurean

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:40 am

So, my fast from my more excessive uses of the web and forums has been productive so far – I’ve sent off abstracts to two conferences, marked a heap of assignments, tidied my office, set myself up a task list and calendar to get myself much more organised, had meetings, and just generally been ludicrously productive! 😉 (A side effect is that this blog is getting more posts than usual too.)

I was thinking a bit about the idea of fasting, though. Fasts (in the sense of abstaining from food for a while) were probably undertaken out of one of two possible motivations, although complicated by religion and other issues. (And Marshdrifter, this blog’s consultant archaeologist, may well have comments that shatter my simple dichotomy!)

One was asceticism: a philosophy that there was virtue in abstaining from physical pleasures including sex, alcohol and luxurious foods. Ascetics tended to think of the body as evil, or at least out of control, and as something to be brought into the firm control of the will. For them, abstinence became an on-going way of life. In the religious version of this philosophy, the suffering caused by abstaining was offered as a sacrifice to God.

The other was epicureanism, which is pretty much the opposite. The epicureans were devoted to pleasure, and believed that peace, freedom, absence from pain and the simple pleasures of good food and wine were the greatest good in life. But the epicureans would sometimes fast too, because they felt that there was a greater pleasure in returning to food when you’re really hungry for it than forcing it down when you’ve been over-eating.

Although my Web Fast post might have used language that suggested it was about bringing my web addiction under control, I think really this break is more epicurean than ascetic: I love the social life I have with my online friends, but I’d been gorging on it so much and so long that it had started to lose its flavor and just become something mechanical. Taking a break means I miss it already, and in a few weeks when I’m completely caught up on everything and positioned to fly through the probation hearings for my job and so on, it’ll be a real and deep pleasure to return to the on-going social worlds of the forums… albeit supping a bit more delicately rather than shoveling it in.

3 responses to “Ascetic or Epicurean”

  1. Dawn says:

    A great post. I think there are different reasons to fast from things and more often I go with the epicurean reasoning.

  2. Sirdar says:

    And here I was reading that fasts are not that good for you because your body stores more….stuff because it isn’t getting any food. But, that is just one persons opinion that I can substantiate because I won’t be joining you in your fasting.

  3. Arnie says:

    Very interesting video and dnrfefeit as the doctor didnt do any packing but did cauterizing the wound. I loved the soundtrack to this video, its a hell of a lot better than elevator music or that acidrock/heavy metal serial killer music! Good job on the post!

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