being a conscious and ongoing victim of yourself is maybe worse than being someone else’s
September 10, 2010 3:51 PM   Subscribe

How downloading music has literally saved my life: a lightly punctuated personal essay about obesity and compulsion.
posted by rollick (26 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Too poorly punctuated; didn't read.
posted by jscalzi at 3:57 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 3:59 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

i would have read the whole thing but it read like talking to my over caffeinated teenage brother who is really hyper and sometimes rambles about nothing then loses his place haha he is really good at telling jokes though like this one time he told one about james brown and i laughed because it was funny so yeah
posted by Pecinpah at 4:03 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'll add a BEAUTIFUL to that WONDERFUL above.
posted by amelioration at 4:06 PM on September 10, 2010

Spending so much time wrapped up in media during formative years is healthier than chowing down on everything in sight, but it's still not healthy. I say this as an obese man who works in Hollywood.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:07 PM on September 10, 2010

Eventually he'll have to deal with the matter of replacing one compulsion with another, but fuck me if he doesn't seem to have gotten out from under the self-pity and the shame and the need to judge, which puts him out in front of most of the rest of us, including me.

And yes, beautiful. Despite all the sins committed in his name, Saint Lester would be proud.
posted by Kinbote at 4:12 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

The link is now bonked.
posted by bearwife at 4:18 PM on September 10, 2010

That was brilliant and well worth slogging through the lower cases. Self-pity free, too.
posted by shinybaum at 4:23 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

OK, they've fixed the problem. Frankly I was torn about his style -- the lack of punctuation or pause gives it immediacy and directness, but it is also distracting. What he has to say is sure worth reading, though. I've had some family members who wrestled with obesity and he conveys that struggle and the way it feels very effectively.
posted by bearwife at 4:26 PM on September 10, 2010

I really liked the writing style; you just have to unfocus your mind a little bit and allow it to take over and it's like you're having someone else's thoughts playing in your head. There's an art to stream-of-consciousness as well as other things and I think it was well-done. Very interesting story too, but I wonder how long the music-consumption compulsion will work until it's not enough any more.
posted by frobozz at 4:36 PM on September 10, 2010

Man, that was like a punch to my former-fat-kid heart. Punctuation or no, it eloquently described the helpless, driven, shameful world of the young and obese. There are adults who struggle all their lives to get a handle on their eating behavior or to understand the mechanics of weight loss in a culture where disinformation on the topic is rampant. But it's just that much harder when you're a kid, and you really cannot understand why you're like this and the other kids are not, and the prospect of fixing your problem seems beyond hope or understanding. When I was a fat ten-year-old, I really didn't know how to begin to go about losing weight. I thought maybe I needed to eat salads or start doing step aerobics or something, it all seemed very esoteric and adult. All I knew was I couldn't keep up in gym class, I got mocked mercilessly at recess, and when I went home there was a empty feeling inside me that I could only seem to vanquish by stuffing chips and cereal down my throat until I felt sedate and sleepy.

And this: so when i was in high school my girlfriend’s mom said she was an alcoholic and i asked my girlfriend if she drank like every day and my girlfriend said she hadn’t had a drink since 1985 and being fat is sort of like the same thing, like when you are fat during formative years you will always think of yourself as fat, or maybe it was just me, but like eventually no matter how skinny i could ever be i will probably still feel really fat ... Is really spot on. There are people who have only met me in the past five years or so who express surprise that I was ever extremely overweight, and I can only feel... well, surprised by their surprise. Isn't it, like, all over me? That inescapable, shameful essence of fatness? Can't you just tell?
posted by bookish at 4:58 PM on September 10, 2010 [26 favorites]

Bravo to the author for his brave honesty and for transferring his appetite for potentially lethal over-eating food to an appetite for life, for music. He switched his hedonic impulse from one sense to another, taste to sound.

Now maybe on to examining the nature of wanting and satisfaction.

The article is very readable and insightful. I think he's onto something really meaningful. The author is himself aware of his writing style and I found it suited the subject well.

The other day a friend told me that high fructose corn syrup triggers overeating by not allowing the brain to feel full. I looked up a list of products with High Fructose Corn Syrup. I was amazed how many things it's in from breads, spaghetti sauce, sausage to cough syrup. Of course it's in fast food.

Food for thought. Thanks for the post rollick.
posted by nickyskye at 5:04 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

(Derail: people tend to be a little over the top about HFCS. Recent post from Science-based medicine.)

I liked the link, and it read very naturally to me. Good on this guy.
posted by gaspode at 5:57 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Too poorly punctuated; didn't read.--jscalzi

I loved it. It initially comes across as unfocussed rambling stream-of-consciousness writing, but turns out to be a very well presented and organized discussion of what it is like to be addicted, and to have an addictive personality, and how he dealt with his particular addiction.

With him it was food, but his descriptions of his compulsion and the resulting affect on him, and society's response to them, and the resulting self-loathing, apply to any addiction.
posted by eye of newt at 6:00 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was in his position too, but I first turned to weight training and later to walking and hiking and then biking—and drinking coffee. His writing style reminds me of Infinite Jest, a parade of sad, lonely, empty people trying to not be found out to be the fuck-ups they know they are. I'm intimately familiar with feeling that way.

A friend of mine told me that one of her friend's girlfriends killed herself on Monday after suffering through years of also feeling this way. My friend couldn't understand how anyone as awesome as this girl could think such terrible things. I looked at her and asked her if she thought I was pretty awesome, and she said, Sure!, and then told her that I only feel that way about half the time these days, whereas when I weighed 410lbs and panted after walking up a flight of stairs, I felt that way about three quarters of the time.

This guy seems to have come through pretty well. I definitely think there's something to having to replace your compulsive destructive behaviors with positive ones. (I'm probably an exercise bulimic according to the DSM.) The biggest challenge of our lives is learning how to be okay with who we are.
posted by edw at 6:52 PM on September 10, 2010 [5 favorites]

Count me in the camp that enjoyed it and was edified, once I settled into the rhythm of the writing style.
posted by pineapple at 6:52 PM on September 10, 2010

Wow. And ow.
posted by redsparkler at 8:52 PM on September 10, 2010

The other day a friend told me that high fructose corn syrup triggers overeating by not allowing the brain to feel full.

Weird. Somebody told me the same thing about Sufjan Stevens.
posted by felix betachat at 9:07 PM on September 10, 2010

He could have the secrets and answers to all the world's ills in that article and I will never know, as my brain can (and will) not allow me to read such a rambling, unfocused, poorly structured and badly edited piece.
posted by cerulgalactus at 10:53 PM on September 10, 2010

I found the rambling both charming and a great analogue to consuming large amounts of things without being able to stop.

I would love to see this done as a short film, complete with single-breath run-on sentences. I think Jeunet would be a great director for it.
posted by hanoixan at 12:42 AM on September 11, 2010

Yeah, I'm usually pretty tough about punctuation, and think that if the writer isn't willing to go more than halfway to meet me in terms of conventional address, than the hell with 'im. But this is worth it. You kinda have to start skimming and then settle in. And you learn something.
posted by Faze at 5:06 AM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

We've got three things MeFi doesn't handle well in this article: 1) obesity, 2) music downloading, and 3) poor punctuation. I don' t know if I'm more impressed at how well were handling this, or more surprised that all the commentary hubbub is of the type 3 variety.

I liked this a lot, though. Thanks for sharing.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:15 AM on September 11, 2010

He could have the secrets and answers to all the world's ills in that article and I will never know, as my brain can (and will) not allow me to read such a rambling, unfocused, poorly structured and badly edited piece.

Except that it doesn't ramble, isn't unfocused, is well-structured. It's just in all lowercase and needs some more punctuation. Those are not the same thing.
posted by mightygodking at 9:37 AM on September 11, 2010 [5 favorites]

posted by dozo at 12:07 PM on September 12, 2010

man that is one hell of a justification for downloading music and not paying for it. maybe it is true in some sense but on the other hand everyone seems to have to be addicted to doing something that triggers a reward cycle in their brain and she (or he, i don't know, there weren't any strong gender markers that i noticed in the text) could have just as easily replaced it with drawing, or playing music, or playing videogames, or exercising, or gardening, or having text-sex on the internet, or… whatever.

she chose downloading music. and now she has a huge collection. hopefully she's gone back and paid for the stuff that's bubbled into the top of her playlist and kept her happy. which reminds me that i should go back and pay for some of that kind of music. the ethics of "sharing music" are more complicated now that shared copies are nearly perfect; it was a lot easier to know what you'd pirated when it was a home-recorded tape with a hand-written label and worse sound quality, but nowadays it's just as good as what you get if you pay for it.

anyway, yeah, gotta be addicted to something, gotta have some way to easily and regularly push that reward button in your brain. how many of you are reading this very comment because you turned to metafilter to get some tiny little jolt of happy sensation from something on it? self-gratification is a cycle we're all trapped on, and what're you going to choose to push the happy button with on a regular basis? what's your masturbation?

hers used to be eating, and then it was downloading.
posted by egypturnash at 2:29 PM on September 12, 2010

I worry about that guy. Lots of his stories seem to end with him taking "half" an anti-anxiety pill.
posted by subdee at 5:06 PM on September 12, 2010

« Older Being locked in an RSS reader makes less and less...   |   "I don't fucking want innovation." Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments