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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hedonism and Addiction - Lust, Gluttony and Sloth - Part 3

So, now we arrive at Gluttony, which begs the question how this is related to Lust. Very simply: whereas Lust seeks to have one's needs met by people, Gluttony is meeting one's needs with things.

The hallmark of Gluttony is over-consumption, though a gluttonous person can simply be one who is overly-reliant on things in an abusive manner.  This is different from Greed, which we will get into later.  By this, I mean that Gluttony can masquerade being overly picky or being an 'Aficionado' who will devote hours to find the 'right one.'

Gluttony is a matter of any extreme usage of objects that are used rather than stock-piled.

Most addictions manifest here because of their very obvious manifestations: the obesity of the food addict or the inebriation of the alcoholic.  This is not to say that the two problems are identical, as there are significant difference which accounts for why they are treated with separate groups.  However, they have common roots in this passion.

Gluttony allows the glutton to plunge himself into a world within his mind where there is no room for anything but his obsession with the object.  The glutton tunes-out the world and becomes hypnotized in a trance-like state, which is also a hallmark of addiction.  Once the passion arises, interference from other subjects competing for the glutton's attention are blocked off.

In a way, Gluttony involves a type of inebriation even when there is no intoxication.  This is why is is connected to Lust, since Lust also gives its sufferer the same trance-like state.

Lust and Gluttony also share the same involvement of the body: both passions tend to rely heavily on sensory perceptions.  Yet, there can be manifestations of these passions that are strictly intellectual: one can spend a great deal of time obsessing about something without actually doing it.  This is the fantasy-world of the glutton or the lustful person.

Gluttony very often has a strong phantasy component both in preparing for the acting-out as well as the acting-out itself.  The build-up is often an exultation of the object, in which the sufferer thinks about how wonderful the object will be to consume.

Sadly, most gluttons will settle for third-rate objects rather than go without, and so the food addict will dream of filet mignon but consume three greasy cheeseburgers.  Alcoholics will often find themselves consuming other people's drinks or even drinking poison in this fantasy state, thinking that what they are doing is appropriate.

This leads to a profound abasement of the sufferer, since he is no longer able to hold onto reality.  After all, once he comes out of his fantasy and sees the depths he has plunged, he must either choose to stay in reality and repair the damage or find some easy means of escape... back into the fantasy.

Lust and Gluttony destroy one's sense of reality by making reality an unpleasant place to be in through repeated acting-out and the subsequent damage that it causes.  Soon, reality seems far worse than it actually is, mostly because the fantasy world has no suffering in it, and so what little suffering there is in the real world seems overwhelming.

This is what addicts seem so fragile: for men who have spent too much time in a  space station, normal gravity feels like a heavy burden.  The addict is so isolated from the usual burdens of life that he finds it difficult to cope.  The addict is a spoiled brat because he does not have to do hard work in his fantasy world.  He thinks, and it comes to be.

We can see why gluttons become enraged when their obsession is threatened.

This also accounts for why addicts do not mature.  Maturity is a process whereby someone learns about himself through his failures as much as his successes.  The addict, living in a dream-world, does not go through these experiences, and so he never grows up.  He spends all of his time in his dream-world, where he is the 'omnipotent god' of his reality.

Yet, he is a 'needy god,' and so the passion of Gluttony springs the trap: once the object is consumed, it no longer exists.  Now, the clock begins to tick: how long until the next one?  The fantasy is always momentary, and the Glutton must reenter the pain of the real world to get more of the thing he desires.  Real life becomes more and more an experience of suffering not only because of the damage, but also because emergence from the comfort of the fantasy means that the needed-thing has run out.

If physical dependency becomes an issue, then withdrawals set in and we are talking about a whole new level of pain.

This is what is so cruel about these passions of Lust and Gluttony: they offer comfort, but become a prison.  They drive us out of our lives and into a delusional world that makes real life intolerable.

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