Modern guide to sinning
It is a sin to cause misery to others, you would agree, yes? And yet I bet that at this very moment you are sitting in an office where people can clearly see your—jeez, I dread to think—snub nose? Crow’s-feet? Spludged thighs? Small tits? I’m sorry, I can’t go on, I’m feeling quite sick.
Sicker still when I think how easily this could all be remedied, how swiftly the aesthetic suffering of multitudes could be alleviated by just a few surgical procedures or voluntary ingestions of poisons, if you would just summon the necessary moral fibre to erase these hideous signs of human variation and imperfection.
If you won’t do it for others, at least do it for yourself. You only think you’re quite happy as you are. How do you know how happy you could be until you’re carrying two extra bags of delight on your chest and can’t frown?
In 1976, Michel Foucault posited in the three volumes of his History of Sexuality that the repression of our sexual impulses since the 19th century had become a part of the modern self, a core feature of our carnal identities, giving rise to a tangled web of power plays and discourses about the subject—but to less and less actual sex.
Which only goes to show how little time the average French philosopher spends hanging round teenage nightclubs.
Human sexuality, we now know, is a many-roomed mansion, to say nothing of the cellar space, occasional oubliettes and potential for loft conversions (ifyouknowwhaddamean)—all of them packed with people who consider any weekend without every orifice occupied to be a weekend wasted in the determined pursuit of sexual self-actualisation.
In this musky atmosphere, not bumping uglies with anything in trousers, skirts, culottes or pixellated glory on the homepage of goatfrotting.com puts you firmly in the minority and, therefore, in the wrong.
Talent is undemocratic, elitist and therefore morally reprehensible. It was outlawed by the begetters of reality TV stars, Endemol and Simon Cowell, after they realised the psychical damage that could be inflicted on participants and audiences alike if the modern equivalent of, say, Lenny Bruce or Elvis, suddenly appeared on either of their respective shows.
Imagine if Jeff Buckley II pitched up after Demented Warbling Egotist No.47 564 had given her rendition of I Will Survive to the panel. Would they—and we—clutch him to the collective bosom, weeping with gratitude for deliverance from the turd-strewn sea of mediocrity that had threatened to engulf us? No. We would be embarrassed at the sudden exposure of a lucrative and comforting lie that all men and larynxes are created equal, and howl in protest.
Thou shalt not exercise thine own taste in thine own home unless it has been vetted by a qualified professional, and preferably on national television.
It is a sin to discipline your children. To teach them not to run riot in supermarkets and restaurants, to make them understand that the rest of the world has little to no interest in their squabbles or pre-adolescent flirtations on the bus and that, yes, they can and should piss off out of the way of their elders and betters, is a breach of their human rights. Not one encoded in any statute or legislative document, I notice, but still one apparently understood by all children and people given to procreation.
The path to moral turpitude is paved with chocolate croissants. Do you think all those skinny celebrities want to look like pipe cleaners with hair? That they deprive themselves of food and nutrients vital to continued survival simply because they want to look good and earn more money than it is possible to spend in a lifetime? No, that would be unutterable madness.
They do it because they know that just as to pig out in a time of famine is immoral, so too is eating in a time of plenty. It is willpower, not language, that marks us out from beasts. Celebrity flesh may wither, but its spirit should inspire anyone confronted with the succulent temptations of a pork pie or Turkish Delight.
Restraint is the enemy of God, or, as we call him these days, Western late capitalism. So much so that I noticed only today that he has sent his minions out even into the further reaches of the paint aisle (“I want to do the kitchen.” “We’ve got undercoat, overcoat, duffel coat, silk emulsion, matt emulsion, soft sheen, hard sheen, Barry Sheen, interior, exterior, eggshell, mixed grill, stuffed pike, in-white, off-white, calico, T-shirt, unwashed bra through to enchilada, toe jam and anthracite”), in order to ensure that we do not cease from mental fight nor let the credit cards rest in our hands when they could, instead, be serving Him.—Â