The way in which these men lived was so ostentatious and voluptuous that, greedy as they were of gain, they seldom became rich. They dressed as if for a gala at Versailles, ate off plate, drank the richest wines, and kept harems on board, while hunger and scurvy raged among the crews, and while corpses were daily flung out of the portholes.
Thomas Babington Macaulay Macaulay,
“The History of England, from the Accession of James II — Volume 1.”
The extravagance of the Thanksgiving harvest is well known. It is an occasion to exalt the effort required for its production. For some it is the opportunity for exhibition including a calculated permissiveness of intemperance or even a vulgar display of wealth. Abundance however often translates to overindulgence. Self-gratification can be a disturbing pursuit. Yet the necessity to distance oneself from moderation and restraint is as regularly competition for lack even though it may descend to debauchery.
Bacchanalia (plural): a Roman festival of Bacchus celebrated with dancing, song, and revelry.
The appeal of excess is not merely visceral. There is an adjoining psychological imperative expressed summarily in the observation, “life is short” or similar putatively learned maxims. Excess may also signify the perception that it broadens the realm of one’s personal achievement and the fruitful dedication to its revelry. Considered in its extremities, such as a comparison of Henry David Thoreau’s life on golden pond or Donald J. Trump’s evacuation on golden toilets, it is a “logical subterfuge from which there is but one escape”; namely, choice.
If one were to instruct others in the proper manner of behaviour I suspect the inclination is moderation; but one’s personal record may be otherwise. There is a turn of mind to fulfillment which compels an equally persuasive controversy between hedonism and the option of living like a monk.
Hedonism is the ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires) is the highest good and proper aim of human life.
The most convincing philosophy for me is two-fold; viz., preservation of intellectual capacity and weight loss. Apart from those two factors the scholarly wrangles are pure entertainment and obfuscation. If there is any validity to the prescription it is most likely medical only. I am for example hard pressed to sanction obesity on the strength of sybaritism.
A layer of fat is unquestionably a valuable dimension for the voluptuous woman; and rib-eye steak. But intemperance and decadence are far less satisfying to the insouciant observer. When I quit drinking I quickly detected a wane of forbearance of the libatious community. Alliance with those committed to parsimony is for me similarly objectionable. It is the polarization of conduct that mutes the value. Analysis of this nature but affirms the percolating demands of experience. I doubt however that any one of us is prepared to advance the positive righteousness of any particular mode.