Tuesday, March 4, 2008

steroids (compared to what we see in society)?

From Lewis Lapham in Harpers...

The judgments are un-American and behind the time, the anguish unwarranted and overwrought. What else is the American dream if not the theory and practice of self-invention? How otherwise define the American way of life if not as a ceaseless effort to boost performance, hype the message, enhance the product? Deny an aging outfielder the right to inject himself with human-growth hormone, and what does one say to the elderly philanthropist who steps out of an evening with a penile implant and a flower in his lapel? To the lady in distress shopping around for a nose like the one she saw advertised in a painting by Botticelli? To the distracted child restored to his study of the multiplication tables with a therapeutic jolt of Ritalin? To the stationary herds of industrial-strength cows so heavily doped with bovine-growth hormone that they require massive infusions of antibiotic to survive the otherwise lethal atmospheres of their breeding pens?...

[We] still like to draw a medieval distinction between what is "natural" (the good, the true, the beautiful) and what is "artificial" (wicked, man-made, false). The distinction no longer exists. For better or worse, in one way or another, and to a greater or lesser extent, the whole of our environment is a virtual reality, fabricated by the hand and mind of man. We shape our tools, and our tools shape us.

Finally, to his recommendation on "leveling the laying field", delivered (I think) with tongue planted at least halfway in his proverbial cheek:

Supply the locker rooms, free of charge and in every color of the rainbow, with the best and brightest that the pharmaceutical industry has on offer, with or without prescription, performance-enhancing and recreational. The competitive disadvantage disappears, the level playing field regains its egalitarian state of grace....

And why not-- since it would simply match what's already acceptable within the stands?

All present in the stadium come fortified with self-improvements both chemical and surgical, fit for service aboard the Starship Enterprise. To the children suffering attention deficit disorder in the distant bleachers, the foul lines become as plainly visible as the replays on the JumboTron; the senior statesmen in the stands, growing hair as strong as Donald Trump’s, unafraid of heart failure and immune to the risk of erectile dysfunction, bask contentedly in the glow of usherettes copied from designs in Playboy. Rich in equal opportunity and re-engineered with biofuels, the national pastime recovers its footing as America’s foremost source of independent energy and strength, once again embodies, in reconstructed bone and re-integrated marrow, the ever-evolving truth of America’s immortal dream.

This last point reminds me of wisdom I heard relayed about one older man who was asked to critique his grandson for getting his hair colored. He said, if it's ok for my wife, then it's ok for my grandson. It is funny what gets us bent, isn't it?


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