Friday, September 12, 2008

Panem et Circenses, Remix

... iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli
uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim
imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se
continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat,
panem et circenses. ...

(Juvenal, Satire 10.77–81)

... Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man,
the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time
handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now
restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things:
bread and circuses. ...


I made granola bars, this morning. Have I mentioned how much I dislike processed food. I admit I'm as tempted by the pretty boxes and cellophane and time-saving technology as any other descendant of hunter-gatherers. But I'm trying to wean myself away from all that perceived ease. It's just habit, after all. In reality it doesn't seem to be taking any longer to make simple foods from simple ingredients than it did to browse the grocery aisles, sort through boxes and compare prices, take them home, dispose of the first three layers of wrapping to store the stuff, before eventually having to unwrap final boxes and bags, do whatever final prep appeared necessary, and eat a mess of sodium, saturated and/or trans fats and weird chemicals, colors and flavors... all for supposedly easy meals and snacks.

So as the granola bars cool I'm contemplating the idea of ease.

What is easy? What isn't? Is "easy" a good thing or a bad thing?

I see two concepts here - ease as a form of simplicity and serenity versus ease as a purchased escape from all the crap already marketed as necessary and expected.

I've heard the argument, before, that people buy junk food because it's the most inexpensive and the easiest to prepare. Let's take the example of white bread. Usually store brand white bread can be purchased for anywhere between $1.00 and $3.00 per loaf, depending on sales or promotions. It costs me about $0.45 - $0.95 per loaf to bake my own bread. Now that I've made a lot of bread, it's very easy and requires little attention on my part - so most of the bread-making time is actually free for other things. Add in the health benefits and the extra oomph of fresh bread from the oven. No contest.

The biggest obstacle? I have to be home to do it. Easy. As long as I don't get distracted by all the circuses.

What are my circuses?

Classes so I can get paying jobs to buy stuff like newer cars, fancier clothes... and processed foods (because I wouldn't have time to cook the good stuff).

Suburban bourgeoisie classes and sports for my kids (you know the "educational" stuff you stick your kids with because all your friends are doing it).

TV and computer games that suck up my time as I obsess about decompressing from spending my days doing a billion things I think I ought to do, rather than just a few things I actually want to do.

It's all just a way to anesthetize oneself when the cacophony of reality gets too overwhelming.

1 comment:

  1. Well don't take any of my circuses away. I need them A LOT. I've seen the world and shit it's a scary place. I like my bubble. *wink* Being sarcastic btw.

    Oh and I REALLY need to learn how to bake bread.