An administrative stir-fry, perhaps too generous with the cayenne
This project is not an effort to change or even make sense of anything, if it ever was
In a recent guest column for The New York Times titled “Diet Culture Is Unhealthy. It’s Also Immoral,“ the author describes having lost nearly 50 pounds in the course of a weight-loss effort that saw her skip eating altogether for over half of the days in a one-month period. “The weight came off only with efforts so extreme that I hesitate to admit to them,” she laments. Given where the details of those efforts have been publicized, she clearly had hesitations about that hesitation.
That was not the looniest detail in the column—which, of course, is the perfect example of the “unhealthy” and “immoral” “diet culture” the author pretends to critique from above. In fact, from the sheer marketing perspective of the publisher—the only consideration seriously in play anymore—it’s perfect, because it draws eyeballs and chatter no matter the cost to readers’ emotional well-being or the legitimacy of the content. No, even crazier is the author’s invoking the “Some fat people are healthier than some thin people” canard, which would be bad enough were she not a philosophy professor. Paid columnists who cannot write are ubiquitous, and these blunt-force, ADHD-ravaged hacks are no longer worth remarking on per se; but philosophers who cannot reason—well, that one represents a new academic frontier in my experience.
But it gets worse still. The author’s broader intent is to question—in necessary “everything is afflicted by the white male hegemony” Wokish fashion—whether the entire field of philosophy itself might be fundamentally fatphobic.
We praise arguments for being muscular and compact and criticize prose for being flabby, flowery and, implicitly, feminine. When it comes to our metaphysics — our pictures of the world — we pride ourselves on a taste for austerity, or as W.V.O. Quine put it, “desert landscapes.” And what is the fat body in the popular imagination but excess, lavishness, redundancy?
We* do, do we*? Who is perpetrating all the unassigned evils in this endless septic stream of whiny dispatches, these oppressive solecisms that are routinely ascribed to the work of a hazy nominative plural pronoun? This rhetorical trick can only work on the already convinced—fellow sufferers-in-prosperity who nod along ad move their lips while reading these idiotic word-sharts, social-hare buttons at the ready, because someone else, somewhere else, must be responsible for their hurt. Even when they have just described how exquisitely personal it is and where it is plainly coming from.
The idea here isn’t to promote giving up on taking any responsibility at all. That part has already been taken care of—in the form of, among many other things, the “WHITE SILENCE IS VIOLENCE” signs popular here in Boulder among whites who think a weed dispensary closing for the night before 9 p.m. on a Sunday is far worse violence. The idea now is to reinforce the validity of abdicating responsibility, of giving up, of externalizing blame; to suggest that there is power in expelling dubious fantasies straight out of your ass, while knowing all along that there is no power at all in succumbing to psychotic fad—only various degrees of necessity and selling out amid a graveyard of frail personal and career rationalizations.
Finally, the column reclarifies why someone like Lindsay Crouse, who is terrible even when she’s not lying or otherwise supplying counterfactual content, is able to maintain employment at today’s version of a major daily newspaper: It’s just unbelievably bad, harried essayship. Lassitude and ineptitude are not merely trendy, they’re profitable—provided you chose your parents carefully enough so that they can financially shepherd your incapable ass through all sorts of barriers that in theory exist to debar the incapable.
While not rendered completely callous as a consequence of anti-Wokism, I am past worrying about seeing or providing “triggering content” for a host of reasons, chief among them the fact that those who express the lowest tolerance for Internet-acquired butthurt are invariably the most eager to inflict it on people they disagree with. And I completely ignore anyone with an active Twitter account who complains of triggering experiences anywhere in life; this is akin to someone who trudges off to the dive bar first thing every morning to complain about how hard it is to stay sober while watching people sit on stools and get unhappily plastered all day.
As for the other ways the column strays, and how they signal anew that corporate-sponsored misinformation and nonsense is here to say and the media is broken for good, I’d really like to wash my hands of the self-appointed responsibility of scolding people for their “mistakes.” That task became nothing more than extensively taking the piss soon after I embarked on it, since nothing was changing except for the worse.
None my or anyone’s bellyaching in this area matters. Running, at the citizen level, was destined to become a joke well before an entire generation of hyper-neurotic, social-media-weaned narcissists decided that the runner “identity” was a cool one to have, or to poach. And niche corporate media were inevitably going to deteriorate in the face of the proliferation of independent content providers. There has never been any copyright on running knowledge, and the running media has never really had significantly greater access to elite athletes than anyone with persistence and a smartphone.
The landscape now is pure whoring—Woke-washing and mutual grifting. Nothing more than quislings moving the editorial and marketing levers and the racist and delusional “equality” scumlords they serve. And not one person I am aware of even in the independent running media has been willing to say outright that they believe Shelby Houlihan doped, despite her case including absolutely nothing novel besides the bare-ass-to-the-world PR blitz. That’s not to say that punishing her or any one person further should be a focus; it’s an acknowledgement that things could be a lot better and are probably not heading that way.
I can state without a hint of boasting that I could produce a better 800-word article about any running-centric topic—something more accurate, informative, and useful—than 95 percent of people working for the paying outlets today. And since that’s only 19 out of every 20, I’m probably being conservative. While I take credit for inevitably picking up some wisdom in my years running and following along, this estimate is predicated mostly on how abysmal the new stuff is.
Look at how much if the training content now available on the suite of Outside, Inc. sites is recycled from past years. And look how much of the new stuff is being churned out by, say, people who decided in middle age that being part of a lawyer-physician couple wasn’t ego-enriching enough, and that operating a running-coaching enterprise overflowing with absolute bilge was the next right step.
(Everyone is a writer and coach now, by the way. All that’s needed is narcissism, a significantly popular podcast or Instagram account, and some malevolent external force you can claim to be bravely fighting. That’s one reason I no longer refer to myself by either descriptor unless prompted in specific ways.)
That is not a lament about lost opportunities in a cash-poor industry. Given my overall submission rate to the paying pubs, whatever I lost there thanks to pissing people off, I have more than regained here, on a site I didn’t invent that just happened to come along at a handy time, and although I rely strongly on others to get the word out.
Moving forward—and I’ll probably be shoveling huge mounds of rotting blackbird down my throat for this one, but still—I am hoping to limit my commentaries about dilapidated things to passing snark and dry observations, rather than drag them on funereally as if a part of me expects any of the people and entities I write about to change. Instead, I will remark on them as if they are just one more ineluctable bane of modern life, like COVID-19, wildfires, and how easy it is to pack on the pounds. I won’t be going to as much trouble to provide links or direct evidence of my more boisterous claims, although I obviously won’t write anything I can’t back up when challenged.
And I probably won’t be challenged. No one, from my most unruly haters to my most OCD volunteer fact-checkers, has caught me in a falsehood yet when it comes to what I have written about the Wokish. So, if nothing else, I can consider myself trusted. At this point, people who share or praise my posts on social media are occasionally finding themselves blocked by people they have never interacted with, but who have been named in my posts. I’m not on those sites, so the offended can’t show their mettle by using the blocking feature against me directly. Such is the most enthusiastic rebuke I expect to receive from the squint-eyed, the slack-jawed, and the globally maladroit.
People who can justify any lie they concoct or spread—losers in their own minds, and social irritants in any traditional sense—have firm control of the public conversation, and that’s fine. Few of them will be running by the time they’re fifty, and some of them will probably be dead of the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, overnourishment, and unfavorable genetics. No one will remember any of these uninspired and uncreative scolds and crybabies having contributed anything good if they remember this gallery of cranks and crooks at all, including most of their current “fans.”
This concession to reality and all its cheer is part of an effort to focus more going forward on running from a doing standpoint. Because Podium Runner decided last spring to delete the ten pieces I wrote for that now- or soon-to-be-defunct outlet between late 2018 and late 2020, I may republish those here in an expanded form. I’d like to write more about experiences on the run, especially while traveling. Usually, those kinds of efforts are boring. That’s exactly why I want to take a stab at it. I can’t play every song I wish I could on the magic music-making machine in the corner of the room, either—not yet—but working on it passes the time in a suitable way, and I take continual stabs at that process.
That was sort of an administrative note. More formally on that front, the most popular posts here by far, in terms of total page views on the Web, are the ones that directly attack someone or something: Influencer stuff, doping stuff, the posts about efforts to cancel someone. This doesn’t motivate me to focus on those things, especially because the best direct feedback I get—and this is the real benefit of sending this out as a newsletter—is always about things people can use, followed closely by memories triggered by something I wrote about an event in a bygone century.
Since I am not really running this place like a business, or at least like anyone with an intention to grow it beyond its natural expansion, I would rather aim for claps than for clicks. When I rip apart someone a lot of people have been waiting to see ripped apart, there is a sense of an invisible, basically dumb groundswell, but no one really says anything. Maybe folks have a sense that something has been equalized in the cosmos, but it hasn’t. It’s a cheap, easily defended form of catharsis, wherein I can descend into pettiness myself and be lauded for it. Meanwhile, a legion of self-hating bimbos of privilege from a watered-down version of the Ivy League have gladly taken up the cause of the anti-white, anti-success, anti-effort, anti-sanity crusaders; this shitshow will either burn itself out or be quelled by forces as far beyond my control as Wokism itself.
Also, if you’re reading this on the Web for the first time and are used to seeing it in your inbox, it’s because I ordered the system to unsubscribe the handful of people I gave unsolicited subscriptions to at some point, with exceptions made for people I’m certain are reading. I don’t want to be even a genial spammer, and besides, you’re all better off reading the Web version of every post anyway, about twelve hours after you get the typo-riddled email version.