decade. How he bought an $8 million house, hired an expensive trainer, and then went ona creatine-supplemented diet. Creatine, I learned, means “meat.” It is an organic acid thatsupplies energy to cells and puts muscular meat on the bone. I am inspired by the fact thathe has reduced from 331 to 222 pounds thus far, and wants to become a bodybuilderbecause communicating an image of perfection is seen as the key to maintaining celebritytoday.Nowadays the ideal of perfection is a rock-hard body. Timbaland is sure that his newbody and outlook will make his new album "way hotter" than the others. "There's goingto be some jump. Plus, how I look, that's what's going to kill it. Appearance iseverything," he said. He wants to teach the youth the lesson he is learning so well: "Yourouter being is who you are as a person. People say no, but your outside effects who youare inside."Our young buck keeps natural models in mind: "I don't want to be lean and cut, I want tobe buck. I just like that look. When you see horses, or animals, like you see a monkey orgorilla, like, the cut. It's a freaky look. When you keep working out, you get to be almostlike an animal. I like the veins popping out. I love all that."There are two sides to every coin. I have no problem with tails if heads are honored. Ahealthy body and good appearance are certainly important. We must deliberately cultivatethe mind as well, and do our best to stand up with our feet on the ground and head in theheaven.Personal image is overemphasized by the cult of gilded individualism. The rage forsuperficial self-surveillance and relentless self-promotion in the war of all against allrenders the self dependent on consumption of ephemeral images, leaving it without anymetaphysical ground to stand on.Christopher Lasch (
Culture of Narcissism
) pointed out that narcissism, contrary to whatone might think, is not based on self-love but rather compensates for self-contempt. Hisgeneration's narcissism evolved from the hypocrisy nurtured by the rise of the city slickerand carpet-bagging confidence man around the turn of the century, when the scientific-industrial revolution and world war opened up the pursuit of happiness (property) to moreordinary people. What counted were deceptive images and styles, smiles and other veilsof generosity masking selfish, competitive motives. "Getting ahead" was the order of theday, hence self-realization was self-idolization based on the devaluation of others athome, at school, and in the workplace.The images we project have changed somewhat since Lasch's critique. At least the “suits”have lost respect. We still have the usual fear of dependence, inner emptiness, repressedrage, oral cravings, fear of old age and death, decline of play spirit, fascination withcelebrity, deteriorating sexual relations, and devaluation of others. And we want what weperceive as healthier, better looking personal images today. “Fat” and “skinny” arepolitically incorrect terms. Lean and mean is all right. Buff and tough might do. "Buck"and "cut" is better, for that will "kill" the competition.