Monday, August 25, 2008

Snobbery and Epicureanism...

Poking around the internets, it's good to see that Epicurean Cyclist is getting some good traffic and responses.

Mostly positive. A few disparaging remarks.

You can't please everyone.

Now a word about Epicureanism and how I'm interpreting it. I don't claim to be a philosophy expert here (though I almost majored in Classics...but any Classic Studies people can chime in here), but epicureanism was based on the philosophy of Epicurus (duh?). A few tenets of his philosophy: 1) he wasn't one for the after life 2)life's goal should be pleasure (not in a hedonistic sense though) 3)we understand things through our experiences/sensations.

His philosophy, from what I gather, was based on a very sensual/sensory existence based on the seeking of pleasure and avoidance of pain. It isn't a hedonistic sensibility though, because he extols the virtue of wisdom, understanding and moderation.

In contemporary terms, epicureanism has become synonymous with snobbery and gourmet food which is rather unfortunate.

For this site, I'm hoping to explore bike touring things that are pleasurable in terms of their aesthetics, craftsmanship and longevity.

I prefer things that are handmade with craftsmanship rather than something mass produced by an automaton. I prefer to buy something that will last a lifetime rather than something that will fall apart after a season. I prefer things that have been proven reliable rather than some new half-baked development.

In camera terms, I'd prefer a Leica or a Nikon F4 to a cheap digital point and shoot. In shaving terms, I'd prefer a nice Dovo blade, a leather strop and a badger hair brush to a disposable razor, or worse yet a vibrating Mach 3. In bicycle terms...well, that's what this page is about!

This site will no doubt be interpreted as snobbish by some, which is rather unfortunate because I really don't mean it to be. I just know that my life is short and I don't want to bother with the common and the boring. It would be like drinking Coors Light and never trying an IPA from Stone or any beer from Port Brewing :)

Let Bicycling Magazine tell you about the latest sub-10 lb. carbon fiber bicycle or new electronic shifting thingamjig (that will be no doubt replaced a few months later), or give you the "10 hot tips to make you leaner and faster, NOW!" This site isn't about that stuff at all.

It's about good handmade gear that will last longer than you, given reasonable care. It's about seeking experiences and adventures on two wheels and living a life less ordinary. It's about appreciating some nice things and good food because none of us are long for this life, and there's so many miles to pedal still!


twodeadpoets said...

From my understanding of the word and philosophy you are spot on.

The key word here is that it is NOT hedonistic and I think the "NOT" part is where the misunderstanding comes in. It's a common mistake.

Jared said...

You had me up until the IPA part :) now if you replaced that with hefeweizen...

Enjoying the site thus far!

Apertome said...

Great post.

jared: Hefeweizen is for the weak! (I kid, I enjoy them too).

Russ: Nice post. There is a certain element of snobbery to a lot of this stuff, but I think that's fine. No need to apologize for prizing quality.

I struggle a little with this internally when a higher quality item costs so much more than a more typical one. Sometimes it can be hard to justify the cost when you can just replace a cheap thing that wears out with another cheap thing. I still prefer the quality item but as I'm on a budget it's not always doable.

In camera terms, I absolutely see where you're coming from, but for some things a cheap digital point & shoot is ideal. My favorite camera is the one I have with me, and I carry my cheap point & shoot to places I'd never take a bigger/better camera.

I'm enjoying this new blog of yours. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Ignore the critics, keep up the good work, and you will certainly find a very receptive audience. I already find myself checking in multiple times a day. :)

Ultimate Bicycle
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