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The Seven Vices of Highly Creative People

August 5, 2009

gluttony7 Deadly Sins: Gluttony, by Richard Russell

D.A. Blyler has a fantastic piece in Salon about the generalized hatred for “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” the Steven Covey brainworm that has prompted middling managers to wallpaper their cubicles with posters triumphing “Synergy!” and “Be Proactive!” ––to the deadening horror of employees everywhere.

In response, he trumpets the Seven Vices that that creatives should eschew only at their peril. For example:

Vice Four: Think Oysters

The hysteria concerning eating habits has nearly reached the grotesque levels granted smoking. Fat or non-fat? Cholesterol free? Salt or no salt? Most eaters, as long as they exercise a modicum of restraint, don’t have to worry about dying from their diet. And all those critics who have tried to convince us that food is poison should be taken behind the shed and whipped with a massive slice of uncooked bacon.

Let us bow to the wisdom of the marvelous chef Julia Child, now an octogenarian. When asked about so-called health foods and non-fat products, she gnashed her teeth and stated emphatically that she never would buy such crap, that they have nothing to do with the enjoyment of life.

Make no mistake, the highly creative do enjoy life. Sure, sometimes there is a suicide among the group, and many are often prone to fits of depression. But when they finally decide to stop wallowing in their suffering, they embrace life with passion. And when it comes to food, they want to eat well, and eat properly. In other words, foie gras, fresh asparagus and filet mignon will always win out over a plate of french fries and greasy burgers. At least it will for those who are truly creative and whose imaginations permeate their lifestyles as well as their art. Something that sadly can’t be said of lesser creatives — Rosie O’Donnell and Tom Arnold come to mind.

Certain foods are frequently associated with highly creative people. None more so than the oyster. The inspiration of this shellfish can be traced throughout the canon of English literature. From Geoffrey Chaucer to George Bernard Shaw, it reaches its zenith with a tribute by Saki, who wrote, “The oyster is more beautiful than any religion, nothing in Buddhism or Christianity matches its sympathetic unselfishness.”

I’m not sure I would describe them in such exalted terms, but I do know I have had more invigorating conversations with writers and painters over a plate or two of fresh oysters than any other food. The elegant bivalves inspire a level of discourse often missing in our quick-meal culture — yet one that any dining experience should never be without. And for many people there is the added pleasure of oysters being the next best thing to sex. After all, we don’t eat for the good of living but the enjoyment of it.

Oh yes, you’ll want to read the whole thing.

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