I’ve been thinking about the validity of a number of adages based upon the beginning “You are…”
The first that comes to mind is “You Are What You Eat”, also a title of a book by Gillian McKeith, and an TV program of the same name.
The basic premise is that the end result of intaking bad food is as an outtake, a bad body. Good food equals good body.
“Food affects all of these cells, and by extension, every aspect of our being: mood, energy levels, food cravings, thinking capacity, sex drive, sleeping habits and general health. If you feed your body junk and convenience foods it’ll simply lay down fat, lower your energy, even your brain power.”
She makes some good points but where is the proof? There are too many examples of brilliant programmers living on caffeine drinks and M&Ms, creating much of the technology that we use everyday. No, I think it is well-meaning logic that at best leads to healthy bodies, but no direct link to creativity and brain power. Apart from severe famine that truly limits brain function, the adage doesn’t work.
“You Are What You Read”. This one is quite different and deserves some study.
In 1605, Francis Bacon observed that “some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”
“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Hmm, at least two thinkers seem to follow the “You are what you eat” philosophy, which is already dubious.
I think the printed word does have an impact, and can help to shape individuals, but that presupposes that there is already an individual that is there. Do books act as clothes? Wrapping an existing naked body in a unique style, providing some warmth and protection, but the essential body remains the same. If so, then “You Are What You Wear” is worth looking at.
Possibly the uniform is a clue to a person’s identity. The doctor, the soldier and the policeman all wear uniforms to help us recognize who they might be, and what we might expect from them. They are still people below the cloth and unique individuals but some generalities could be made.
So it is possible that books can “clothe” an individual with facts and thoughts, that are not initially their own, but in time become grafted in. But what about a guarantee? Interpretation of the reading is dependent of the individual. If we gather the complete 8reading list of all the despots in the world can they be recreated? I don’t think so.
A recap based upon a google search.
“You Are What You Eat”
“You Are What You Read”
“You Are What You Do”
“You Are What You Wear”
“You Are What You Give”
“You Are What You Love”
Each one has merits, some stronger than others, but none is the guarantee that I was looking for. Then I happened to think of one. “You Are What You Create”
Ah ha, I’m thinking this is pretty good, and it brings to me another thought “Creations Create”. Have to think about that some more. Particularly concerning the birthday celebrated today.