The Vice of Commoners

(I composed this post this morning as the hours went back and daylight dawned. I am posting it in its entirety at the new Liminalista forum, which is only accessible to registered members. It is free to register, however, and only takes a minute to do so. See link at the bottom.)

“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”

Vices are things that have us in their grip, but it’s a Chinese finger trap kind of a grip, because they tend to cling to us more tightly when we try to get free of them. Is this why most “addicts” give up and give in to their habits? (I use quotation marks because I think addicts are generally just more severely traumatized people whose addictive behaviors are more destructive and hence more obvious.)

I would say that I am an addictive personality type who has very few, and very mild, bad habits. The main ones I am aware of are “unnecessary” snacking (generally in the evening) and “excessive” reliance on media entertainment. Since the 2017 Oshana summer retreat, I have consciously reduced these habits so I no longer watch stuff every night (average about seven-ten hours a week) and am “off” Kettle crisps and (most) sweet stuff (I also stopped eating meat, mostly). I have kept up energy work (at least the cleaning and clearing part) everyday, until this last week that is, when I seem to have left off, probably due to the extreme drop in temperature making me lazy.

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10 thoughts on “The Vice of Commoners

  1. i was reflecting on the saying “you have to die a little to live a little’ recently…. it must be born out of addiction or something else on that blurred boundary where the step into a precipice may be imminent…

  2. Some thoughts from my recent essay, “David Foster Wallace and the Horror of Life,” seem relevant here:
    “…I tend to think of this world as a sort of spiritual rehab center, or planetary aversion therapy clinic, where addicts to anything corporeal are quarantined until they’re ready to return to the divine realms free of their materialist-junkie habits. I’m talking about a birth-to-death boot camp for substance abusers in the widest possible sense of that term. And I’m making an assumption here that it’s done for the addicts’ own good, so they won’t wreak havoc as spiritual beings.
    “You can see my point, I hope. Think about it… when we’re incarnated/incarcerated on this planet we can indulge in just about any vice imaginable: We can eat the corpses of other creatures (for speed and convenience there’s a drive-thru line at your local Taco Bell or Wendy’s). We can even boil those creatures alive for our gustatory pleasure (as DFW reminded us all in Consider the Lobster). If we’re old men, we can load up on Viagra for fierce erections and hunch away at MILFs and whores until we’re well into our eighties—or if we’re young and broke, we can spend all day masturbating like fiends to free Internet porn (soon to be supplanted by virtual reality porn and android fuck machines—with free same-day shipping from Amazon; see: We can become alcoholics in really spectacular ways and stay shitfaced for upwards of thirty-five years (just ask the wraiths of Malcolm Lowry and Charles Bukowski). If alcohol doesn’t do it for us, we can join the legion of oral narcotics addicts, like Don Gately & Company (drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under fifty). We can even molest children, as thousands of Catholic priests can attest (along with the wraiths of Errol Flynn and Jimmy Savile).
    “No matter what level of depravity we might aspire to, no vice will be denied us if we’re really determined to experience it—but every experience comes at a price that gets progressively steeper once we get hooked. That’s the planetary aversion clinic model in action: Just about anything on Earth that we like too much will end up punishing us in the end. That applies even to the things that we need to survive, like sunlight (which can cause skin cancer), tasty food (which can make you fat), and love (which can break your heart—or give you syphilis, gonorrhea, or AIDS, if you love without a condom). Kind of sucks, doesn’t it?
    Don’t think you’re immune if you’re too timid to sin in a really big way. Our clinging to the material world might be the most heinous addiction of all from a spiritual point of view. It’s an addiction rarely mentioned, although the Gnostics were wise to it. They didn’t want to become martyrs, or go around committing suicide en masse like some Comet-Kohoutek-riding doomsday cult, but the Gnostics scorned the material world, as if it were beneath them.
    “And maybe—just maybe—they were right.”

    • i don’t think materiality (or even materialism) is the problem (or the trap) so much as identification with it.

      i think the gnostics were caught up in cosmic negative identification, dry drunks, so to speak.

      i am torn here, however; i recognize the apparent truism that, if there is anything beyond the life of this body, then essentially everything is, because eternity makes even a life of a billion years infinitely less than a drop in an ocean. but the notion that we incarnate in order to transcend the flesh makes no sense (it makes more sense to say the reverse, spirit incarnates in order to escape incorporeality, or as one wag put it, “god + lonely = man”).

      nonetheless i have the same belief, that I need to get free of attachments to physical pleasures before i die otherwise I can look forward to a Tantalus-like eternity as a hungry wraith. not sure if I believe my own belief here; it’s a fear that i take seriously enough to act on, to whatever degree. But mostly it seems to be about quality of life in the present moment and knowing that enjoyment of being in (not identified as) one’s body is the baseline of harmonious and a wholly satisfying existence – one worth continuing into eternity.

  3. “All addictions are rooted in a lack of touch”. Primate infants require continuous skin to skin contact until they decide to let go and venture out. In our culture babies are put down and left alone. This is experienced as extreme trauma.

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