Last night I went out shopping for some foodstuffs. I had to walk down the stairs because the elevator's still busted and I don't like making the doorman come up and get me in the service elevator (Yes I know that's part of the job description but I'm not one for inconveniencing others.) Anyway around the fourth floor I started smell the familiar scent of garlic bread baking, the rich garlicky buttery scent influsing the cold utilitarian stairway with the sort of magical down homey warmth that can usually only be achieved through careful orchestration. Normally this would send me into a spiral of temptation and angst and all that stuff but for some reason this time it didn't do that at all. I appreciated the smell as I went down but it didn't tempt me to head towards the more savoury foodstuffs in the market (I did pick up a pre-mixed greens bag of salad instead of just iceberg lettuce because of thoughts related to the garlic smell, but I hardly think that counts) When I got back home I made exactly the dinner I had planned, Chicken with Sauerkraut and sauteed vegetables. However afterwards when I had my post dinner Zone Perfect bar I tried a new flavor and it tasted exceedingly good. This got me thinking.
Is sensual pleasure itself good bad or neutral? I mean divorced from all the other moral, practical, etc implications. For example, it's pretty clear that for someone like me, who needs to lose weight, a crappy tasting bar that fits in with my diet has definite benefits over, say, a chocolate eclair. But if two bars have the same nutritional value and cost and one tastes like mud and the other like a delicious apple turnover is the second neccesarily better than the first? I think that if you ignore temptation the answer is yes (Clearly if the second bar is so tasty you can't help but wolf down ten of them whenever you have one then it might be a better idea to eat the shitty tasting one) and that of course opens up questions about balance.
Are the benefits of an ascetic lifestyle worth the losses? Is that something that has to be decided on an individual basis or is there a general formula? How pleasing and important are pleasure? My superego is strong enough that divorced from health/aesthetic concerns the pleasures of self denial still usually outweigh the sensual pleasures of food or other similar enterprises (This has always been true, the guilt after eating has almost always defeated the pleasures of the food unless I could "trick" my superego through complex rationalization). But theoretically the sensual pleasure without guilt would be better than the achievement felt from reigning things in.
Are my ascetic plans noble goals towards a simple but fulfilling lifestyle or just a way of hiding from trying to balance my life in the manner that would be MOST optimal? I guess it's something I have to figure out but it's an interesting question. Nevertheless I'm glad that garlic bread and cheesefries no longer have a hold over me.
One by one I WILL achieve all my New Years resolutions. Does that make me a freak?