Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Discipline and Pleasure

What a fun title for an essay, don't you think? Nicely evocative of Foucault, and equally of S&M, it sounds like we're on entirely different sort of blog, doesn't it ? Unfortunately for all of you (and my chances of getting rich writing this stuff), I'm not speaking of anything quite so sexy, but of the pleasures of self-discipline.

And that's a tough sell in America. We tend to associate pleasure with the release of discipline - sex is all about letting go, and so are our personal pleasures - we get our fun from exceeding limits, refusing to be constrained. Fun is blowing too much money shopping or eating a quart of Ben and Jerry's alone. And trust me, I've done my share of that sort of fun.

But there are other categories of pleasure that depend on self discipline. Consider sports, for example. If you run the bases backwards, you've ruined the baseball game. We make all sorts of limiting rules to make sports fun to play, fun to watch - and the delight is in seeing how one can produce the best results within the disciplinary structure of the rules. If we blow them off, we're entitled to shout (if we're being extremely polite) "but that's not sporting." And the notion of sportingness - the idea that some kind of structured fairness is required to get the best possible results is a deep one.

Or art, for that matter. Sonnets without form aren't sonnets. Even the freest art forms begin with limiting structures - the frame around the canvas, the first positions of ballet, the language of poetry. The limits get pushed all the time, but before you push the limits, you understand them, you work within them, so that you know what you are extending.

How about childhood? It isn't just to keep Mom and Dad from going crazy that parents establish discipline. Research has shown that children are most comfortable within firm, and known boundaries. It is scary to have no limits, to run wild in the world without constraint. 'No" and "we do this, but not this" help children understand and adapt to their world. Chances are, most of us have fond memories of the structures created by discipline - if they were part of our lives, we usually remember sit down family dinners, coming in when the street lights go on and homework time with a mix of irritation and fondness - but more fondness, often, than irritation. We take pleasure in childhood in part because of its boundaries.

Courtesy and manners are another kind of self-discipline that can come with enormous pleasures. Who doesn't like to receive a thank-you note, or doesn't prefer a stiff "let's agree to disagree" to a punch in the face. When important events occur, the structure of how we birth and wed, welcome and mourn become a means of comfort.

The simple fact is that discipline is part of culture. The way we limit ourselves is also the way we indicate our membership, and our love.

Several people have reminded me that in order to be compelling, the Riot for Austerity has to convince people that they will have fun doing it. And they are right. But in order to call this optimization exercise fun, we have to think hard about what fun is.

Fun is both blowing all the limits occasionally, and living gracefully within them. I'm all for feasting, celebration, riot (that's why we're doing this, after all), dancing in the streets, mocking power, getting drunk, welcoming guests - occasionally. This is fun stuff, and we need it in our lives. But we can't spend every day drunk, or spending too much, or overeating. The simple fact is that we've lost our sense of balance, and we often do these things too frequently.

Everyday pleasures are different. They come from self-discipline. The discipline that creates ritual, routine, self-comfort. They come from culture and limitation. Within these limits - within the straits of "what we customarily eat, do, say, don't say" is where our comfort lies. This is, perhaps, the art of daily life, the creation of beauty and artistry, craft and delight from the simple boundaries set around you - your time, the people, the way you treat each other. This is the pleasure of storytime, chicken soup and bread for dinner, singing together, playing your game or climbing your tree or reading your book. It is what we do, and it is constrained because without constraint, it wouldn't be ours.

And that's where the pleasure of the Riot for Austerity lies for me. It increases my taste for the festival moments, makes the day of special foods or wild dancing a deeper pleasure, and at the same time, it reinforces the delight of ritual. Self-discipline requires that I think, be mindful and aware of what I am doing, what choices I'm making. It requires I extract the maximum pleasure and comfort from each use of energy, instead of heedlessly simply taking.

In the Riot model, the food is better, fresher, tastier, and cooked at home. It is more nutritious and offers more sensory delight. The shower I take is more deeply appreciated, because I can't use water heedlessly. There is less waste, and less burden of managing waste. There is more reason to be in the moment, less reason to run from place to place, a slower pace, more quiet, more reason to watch and listen and learn. There is a greater intimacy with the world around me - an awareness of my watershed, my foodshed, the sources of my energy. It turns out, that for me, I can easily derive the same amount of pleasure or more from less - so what was my past usage for?

But more importantly, there's a sense of life as art. It requires a greater creativity and imagination than my daily life before the riot. What I do is now a dance of balance, a poetic form they didn't teach me about in graduate school, in which economy and discipline combine to create something a little more than what I had before.



Beam said...

Hi Sharon,

What have you done differently than before the Riot for Austerity? I ask in all sincerity, not at all meaning to contradict, as one who reads your blog daily. It's just with all you've done before, it's difficult for me to pick up on what has changed.

What helps me are examples from others involving the simple things to measure. Examples such as how much power you use per month, how much fuel, etc., etc. These are things that are readily understood. Use of the Kill-a-Watt meter which I learned of a few months ago, for instance, helped me to reduce from 1100 kwh/month (obviously excessive, even with 2 adults and 2 teens) down to 900 or so, and still working on cutting further. (Please wish me luck!)

Your writing, as always, is eloquent, and for that, as always, my thanks.


David said...

So true. Limits are equated with oppression in our culture, more's the pity.

ByTheBay said...

Well said! And I think we can't emphasize enough the way that class plays into this. People who struggle economically have always known how to have self-discipline, out of necessity... However, I think that even folks with less means are bombarded by this culture of consumption so that the desire (masquerading as a "need") for *stuff* is pervasive at every economic level. I think country living helps me have more self-discipline than I had in the city. My garden simply will not grow, weed, water or harvest itself (let alone get rid of those horrible little insects that are eating my collards!). I have to get out and do that even when I don't want. I can't just walk down the block to buy coffee at Starbucks, I have to either drive 3 miles into town or make my own (and clearly making my own is the better and easier option here). But still, I struggle with self-discipline and saying no to unnecessary things and structuring my time and tasks.

Marnie said...

Hi Sharon,

One of your best - the discipline shows in your writing as well, which makes it a pleasure to read. Thank you.


jewishfarmer said...

Hi Beam - I honestly haven't done anything really big yet. That is, we're whittling things down the slow way at this point. We had already picked most of our low hanging fruit, so we've been making fairly little changes and preparation for some big ones. We've been eating cheese-and-chutney sandwiches, for example, in the "get-all-the-condiments-out-of-the-fridge-before-turning-it-off" but mostly so far, and trying to put together a regular minyan (Jewish prayer group) here so that we'll have to drive to synagogue less often.

But otherwise, so far nothing spectacular - fewer showers, extending out our trips even to the local store (I'm hoping to go a whole month now that the garden is in full swing), and resisting the temptation to buy stuff ;-).

We'll know a little more when the electric bill comes in, and we tabulate the month's gas usage. But we were already below 50% in most categories, so we're at the slow and incremental stage. I'll post more about the details at some point soon.


rhonda jean said...

This is such an eloquent and thoughtful post, I had to comment. It is true - less is more.

Lately I often think about how things balance out and how one thing accentuates another. It's a beautiful thing really. Who'd have thought that by consuming less we would appreciate what we do consume even more.

Thank you for your blog. I appreciate and enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't generalize about poor people, too much. I know some who are very careful with their money, and some who'll spend what they have like fools. Comes to mind, the young woman who took the $100, cash, a nurse gave her out of her pocket becuase she'd exhaused all the other resources so she could buy meds and came back a couple of days later, the baby still very sick, to show off the fake fur coat and hat she'd brought for the child with the money.

Of course, there are people across all income levels who do daft things. I just think its not a good idea to idolize one group as have self-dicipline.


Liz said...

That's a really interesting way of thinking about it. My husband has often said that a big part of what he loves about learning new computer languages is that delicate balance of creating form within constraint. It's also why he is a songwriter rather than a blank verse poet. I'll have to think about my own responses to this idea; they are much less clear.

I've certainly found that looking at austerity as a challenge to live within boundaries rather than as a deprivation makes it much easier to adjust to, given that we started making these changes due to financial pressure. I like the motivations of the Riot for Austerity much better...

Liz in Australia

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

徵信, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 感情挽回, 婚姻挽回, 挽回婚姻, 挽回感情, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信, 捉姦, 徵信公司, 通姦, 通姦罪, 抓姦, 抓猴, 捉猴, 捉姦, 監聽, 調查跟蹤, 反跟蹤, 外遇問題, 徵信, 捉姦, 女人徵信, 女子徵信, 外遇問題, 女子徵信, 徵信社, 外遇, 徵信公司, 徵信網, 外遇蒐證, 抓姦, 抓猴, 捉猴, 調查跟蹤, 反跟蹤, 感情挽回, 挽回感情, 婚姻挽回, 挽回婚姻, 外遇沖開, 抓姦, 女子徵信, 外遇蒐證, 外遇, 通姦, 通姦罪, 贍養費, 徵信, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 女人徵信, 外遇

徵信, 徵信網, 徵信社, 徵信網, 外遇, 徵信, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信, 女人徵信, 徵信社, 女人徵信社, 外遇, 抓姦, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 女人徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 女子徵信社, 女子徵信社, 女子徵信社, 女子徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社,

徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇, 抓姦, 離婚, 外遇,離婚,

徵信, 外遇, 離婚, 徵信社, 徵信, 外遇, 抓姦, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 外遇, 徵信社, 徵信, 外遇, 抓姦, 徵信社, 征信, 征信, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 征信, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信, 外遇, 抓姦, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社,

Anonymous said...

You know ,I have some flyff penya,and my friend also has some
flyff money,do you kouw they have the same meaning,Both of them can be called flyff gold,I just want to
buy flyff penya,because there are many
cheap penya

Anonymous said...

You know ,I have some maple mesos,and my friend also has some mesos,do you kouw they have the same meaning,Both of them can be called maplestory mesos,I just want to
buy flyff penya ,because there are many
cheap mesos

Anonymous said...

aion chinaaion china gold,
aion cn goldaion chinese gold,
aion gold chinaaion gold chinese,
china aion goldchinese aion gold,
aion china kinaaion chinese kina,
aion kina chinachina aion kina,
aion china buybuy aion china,
aion chinese server goldaion cn server gold,
aion china server goldchina aion server gold,
chinese aion server goldaion chinese server gold,
aion cn server kinaaion china server kina,
china aion server kinachinese aion server kina

rose online zulie said...

Now do you worried about that in the game do not had enough rohan crone to play the game, now you can not worried, my friend told me a website, in here you can buy a lot rohan gold and only spend a little money, do not hesitate, it was really, in here we had much rohan online crone, we can sure that you will get the rohan online gold, quick to come here to buy rohan money.

Now do you worried about that in the game do not had enough Rose zuly to play the game, now you can not worried, my friend told me a website, in here you can buy a lot rose zulie and only spend a little money, do not hesitate, it was really, in here we had much rose online zuly, we can sure that you will get the rose online zulie, quick to come here to buy Arua ROSE zuly.

Anonymous said...

Some new style Puma Speed is in fashion this year. chaussure puma is Puma Shoes in french. Many france like seach “chaussure sport” by the internet when they need buy the Puma shoes or buy the nike max shoes.The information age is really convenient. By the way ,the puma CAT is really good chaussures puma ,don’t forget buy the puma mens shoes and nike air max ltd by the internet when you need them . Do you know Nike Air Shoes is a best Air Shoes .

Spring is coming, and how to choose the polo shirts is the main concern of many people. ralph lauren polo shirts is a classic type and reliable. ed hardy clothing is more in line with the aesthetic ideas of young people, so many young people filled with a variety of ed hardy clothes in their wardrobes. New style ed hardy womens shirt match the new style ed hardy sunglasses , it is a good idea.
Do you think this season is not for ugg boots ? maybe yes .but this season is best time that can buy the cheap ugg boots. Many sellers are selling discounted. Do not miss . Please view my blog and fc2 blog .thank you .

Anonymous said...

禮服店 ,酒店小姐 ,酒店經紀 ,酒店兼差,酒店打工, 酒店上班,酒店經紀PRETTY GIRL 台北酒店經紀人 ,酒店經紀 酒店兼差PRETTY GIRL酒店公關 酒店小姐 彩色爆米花酒店兼職,酒店工作 彩色爆米花禮服店, 酒店上班,酒店工作 PRETTY GIRL酒店喝酒酒店上班 彩色爆米花台北酒店酒店小姐 PRETTY GIRL酒店上班酒店打工PRETTY GIRL酒店打工酒店經紀 彩色爆米花酒店兼差,酒店,酒店經紀,酒店經紀,經紀公司,經紀公司,經紀公司,經紀公司,經紀公司,經紀公司,童裝批發,童裝GAP,酒店經紀,酒店,

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

艾葳酒店經紀公司提供專業的酒店經紀, 酒店上班小姐,八大行業,酒店兼職,傳播妹,或者想要打工兼差打工,兼差,八大行業,酒店兼職,想去酒店上班, 日式酒店,制服酒店,ktv酒店,禮服店,整天穿得水水漂漂的,還是想去制服店日領上班小姐,水水們如果想要擁有打工工作、晚上兼差工作兼差打工假日兼職兼職工作酒店兼差兼差打工兼差日領工作晚上兼差工作酒店工作酒店上班酒店打工兼職兼差兼差工作酒店上班等,想了解酒店相關工作特種行業內容,想兼職工作日領假日兼職兼差打工、或晚班兼職想擁有鋼琴酒吧又有保障的工作嗎???又可以現領請找專業又有保障的艾葳酒店經紀公司!

一般的酒店經紀只會在水水們第一次上班和領薪水時出現而已,對水水們的上班安全一點保障都沒有!艾葳酒店經紀公司的水水們上班時全程媽咪作陪,不需擔心!只提供最優質的酒店上班,酒店上班,酒店打工環境、上班條件給水水們。心動嗎!? 趕快來填寫你的酒店上班履歷表

等相關服務 幫您快速的實現您的夢想~!!

Anonymous said...

Find and download that you need at Rapidshare Search Engine.
Top Site List Free Proxy Site Free Download mp3 Michael Jackson song All Michael Jackson Lyrics Hollywood Celebrity Gossip Download Mp3 Gratis

replica rolex said...

$75 Replica Rolex Watches sale, Our site provides Rolex replica, replica Rolex Watches, replica breitling, replica Cartier, replica Omega, Tag Heuer Watches. . .more than 100 famous rolex brands"
rolex air king
rolex datejust
rolex day date
rolex daytona
rolex gmt
rolex submariner
rolex yachtmaster
a lange sohne watches
alain silberstein watches
bell ross watches
breguet watches
breitling watches
bvlgari watches
cartier watches
omega watches
patek philippe watches

Anonymous said...

Your blog is very good, it's the best blog I've ever seen, thank you!
By the way, do you like polo shirts, which are very chic, especially the polo t shirts, I love them very much. I also like playing tennis rackets, it can keep healthy, what do you like to do? I'd like to introduce myself as the outlet of polo t shirts women, polo t shirts on sale, and polo t shirts for women. These products are our masterpieces, such as polo shirts on sale, polo shirts men, men's polo shirt, men polo shirt, mens polo shirts, mens polo shirt, besides we also sell cheap polo shirts, discount polo shirts, men's polo shirts, women's polo shirts. We are also the outlet of, cheap tennis racket, discount tennis racket, we recommend prince tennis racquet, head tennis rackets, wilson tennis racket, babolat tennis racquet. And it is our great pleasure that you come to our store online!

Anonymous said...

puma mens shoes
puma shoes
puma speed
nike shoes
nike air
nike air shoes
nike air max 90
nike air max 95
nike air max tn
nike air rift
nike shox r4
nike air max 360
nike shox nz
puma cat
air max trainers
mens nike air max
sports shoes
nike air rifts
nike air rift trainer
nike air
nike shoes air max
nike shoes shox
air shoes
Lucyliu IS Lucyliu
nike shoe cart
puma future
cheap puma
nike rift
jeans shop
diesel jeans
levis jeans
nike rift shoes
cheap nike air rifts
bape shoes

arbx said...

صور بنات -
بنات -
اجمل نساء -
العاب للبنات -
ممنوع من العرض - العاب
- دليل -
برامج -
افلام -
العاب اكشن -

فضائح -
اغانى -
منتدى -
برامج الشبكات
- عطعوط -
يلا كورة -
صور -
سكربتات -
المصارعه -
تيوب -
- العاب طبخ -
فوتو شوب -
اختراق -
هيفاء وهبى -
سكس -
بروكسى -
ليلى علوي -
دنيا سمير غانم -
مى عز الدين -
اغانى افراح -
الفيس بوك -
سلمى حايك -
صور اطفال -
الهام شاهين -
صور sex


Anonymous said...

酒店打工 酒店兼職
台北酒店 打工兼差 酒店工作 禮服酒店
酒店兼差 酒店上班 酒店應徵 酒店 酒店經紀

bike arenal said...

Costa rica tours, shopping online, costa rica fishing, jaco fishing charters, costa rica whale watching, costa rica dolphin watching, costa rica party boat, panama fishing, fishing costa rica los suenos, los suenos fishing charters, costa rica fishing los suenos, los suenos costa rica fishing, costa rica los suenos fishing, fishing costa rica los suenos, los suenos fishing charters, costa rica fishing los suenos, los suenos costa rica fishing charters, costa rica los suenos fishing, Los suenos fishing, Fishing costa rica los suenos, Costa Rica Rafting,

hanly said...

Blu Ray Converter
Convert Blu Ray to AVI
Convert Blu Ray to MKV
Convert Blu Ray to MOV
Convert Blu Ray to MP4

buy generic viagra said...

Nice blog.Very interesting.

Jerry Gene said...

I really like your writing style. Nice Post keep it up.

Asus - 15.6" Laptop - 4GB Memory - 500GB Hard Drive - Matte Dark Brown Suit

Asus - 15.6" Laptop - 3GB Memory - 320GB Hard Drive - Mood Indigo