Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why Do Conservatives Hate Their Bodies?

I saw this really dumbass quote at another site (sorry, can't remember which one) and had to go to the source. This comes from Reid Buckley at The American Conservative, from an article called Vile Bodies: Pumped Up Muscles, Empty Souls (seriously, that's the title).

The fitness craze is simply another escape from the consequences of metaphysical ignorance—an attempt to flee time and space and the inevitability of inexorable, unstoppable, uncamoflageable aging. One pities them: they are doomed to the disintegration of the mortal frame in which they take such pride and invest such complacent hope, doomed to the eventual rotting of their poor flesh—cold to the touch, loathsome to the sight, offensive to all the yet living: disgusting, putrid, worm-ridden, foul.

What a charnel house dialectic. Despite the certainty of their fate, fitness freaks devote hour after hour to strenuous exertion, torturing their bodies, sweat pouring rank from their armpits. Zombies walking, walking to nowhere. They never reach the top of the treadmill, not once.

This is self-inflicted, remember. They willfully pit themselves against the logical imperative—nothing can be forever if God cannot be—enslaving themselves to the absurd. The horizon never changes, the pounding of their feet never ceases, no glorious alpine vista is ever attained, from which rolls out an irenic Swiss valley, dotted with placidly cud-chewing milch cows. Their sole reward seems to be scrutinizing themselves in the mirror, admiring the sleekness of their pelts, the washboard ripple of their abs ... but oh! screwing up their brows at the slightest slackness of a tricep, which they determine to flog that very morning in the gym.

How they have reduced the joys, opportunities, dreams, adventures, and poetry of life to the ridiculous yoke of their fitness, which is an existential delusion. They cannot avoid the grave. Stare into it long as they wish, curse the heavens, they cannot cheat the awful avidity of its hunger. They are subject to the astrophysical nothingness of entropy, but during their short hour of strutting and fretting, they devote their entire spirits to that which is most awfully mortal.

Should not decent, cool, intelligent, discriminating society shun these freaks as one would the plague? Or are we, being obedient to the demands of Christian charity, condemned to put up with bores? (In the dreadful simplicity of the postmodern weltanschauung, are bores no longer recognized? It’s quite possible that people in Hollywood enjoy each other’s company, after all.)

I propose that fitness fanatics, whose company in numbing doses engenders sociopathy in their victims, not be stoned in public, not be committed to the stocks (they’d simply continue berating passersby, sigh!), not be obliged to listen to one more economic nostrum from Charles Schumer, nor even be waterboarded in Guantanamo. All too dreadfully crude. They should simply (and humanely) be stripped of the franchise. Civilization must take a stand against primitivism in whatever guise—tight pecs, flat abs, or sexy buttocks.

OK, this guy must seriously hate his body, and the bodies of anyone healthier than him. His premise is that people who are trying to stay fit do so at the expense of all else - a straw man, since, like all stereotypes, it is a false generalization.

I work out 4-5 hours a week, eat healthy 90% of the time, and yet I meditate, read, and am knowledgeable on most subjects that come up in conversation. Oh yeah, and I NEVER force my lifestyle on anyone who doesn't believe that fitness leads to a well-rounded life.

The real point is that a healthy mind and a healthy soul requires a healthy body. The science proves this beyond ANY doubt.

You eat shit, then you'll look like shit, and your brain will function like shit. You don't exercise, then your body will be slow and fat, and your brain will also be slow and sluggish.


Aeryck said...


Steve said...


Are you sure Buckley's article isn't some kind of parody? It sure sounds like one.

william harryman said...

I though it was at first, and it might be - I can't really tell.


Steve said...

No, as preposterous as it is, I suspect that Buckley really meant what he wrote. I wonder what he looks like. :-)

Steve said...

He looks just like his dad. :-)

C.S. Sloan said...

First off, Bill, been reading this site for some time. It's one of the best.

Buckley definitely didn't mean this as a parody. And, in fairness to him, he does—in the full article—mention something about the article being intended for those fitness enthusiasts who neglect their body and their soul

(I must say, too, that a lot of the average bodybuilders—the type of guys that I happen to train with—could use some Buddhist meditations on death, sickness, old age, and impermanence. They need to understand that their bodies will not remain the same forever.)

But for those of us who do take care of body, mind, and soul; yeah, this piece was downright insulting.

william harryman said...

Hey C.S.,

Thanks for adding your take on it. I've been a fan of your articles in Iron Man over the years (although I quit reading the mag a few years back) - some your articles helped shape my training philosophy.

Now that I know about your blog, I'll be a loyal reader.

Regarding the article, I did see his disclaimer near the top, but the basic assumption seemed to be that anyone who is meticulous about health MUST be neglecting the soul (and the mind). Guess it set me off and I needed to rant.

What you say about bodybuilders is true - even just the basic gym rats. There's a 50 yr old guy at my gym still using a LOT of gear, posing in the mirror, fixing what's left of his hair - impermanence meditations (in the charnal grounds of India) would be good for him. :)


Yosh said...

I think the title of your blog post is disingenuous. Are all conservatives evil? Besides, the past administration may have been socially conservative but they sure as hell were not fiscally conservative.

william harryman said...

Yosh, don't recall saying anyone was evil. Maybe not ALL conservatives feel the way Buckley does, but The American Conservative posted it, so they must think it's representative of conservative thinking.


Unknown said...

Fergus Reid Buckley, Bill's [that is, Buckley, not Harryman] bro, loves being politically incorrect to confuse us liberals. Read also his Anti-Semitism piece. I think he is rather-innocently just entertaining himself very publicly.