enabling limits

I often feel like we should be calling abled/nondisabled people enabled, because they are enabled by the society that disables the rest of us.

Enabled people have needs, limits, and health problems just as disabled people do. There are limits to how long they can stand or stay awake, how far they can see, how much weight they can lift or how far they can walk. There are limits to how much stress they can handle or how much or fast they can focus or comprehend or remember. They need emotional support and healthcare too.

Society is built with their limits and needs in mind, though, enabling them to participate with an ease that disabled people are simply not allowed.

Alienation? No, let us try to admit that this alienation is not so bad… Emptiness? The absurdity of existence? Nothingness? Don’t let us exaggerate! A god or ideals are not necessary to discover supreme values. We only have to go for three days without eating anything for a crumb to become our supreme goal…

Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969) led a life marked by flight, exile, incomprehension from the public, solitary anonymity, late recognition, and an early end, but he seems to have maintained a fairly irreverent sense of man’s problems, despite -or because of- the catastrophes that befell his people.

And he’s right: like an enabling limit, deprivation restores value to what we’ve ignored, but one wonders if this tactic works when the deprivation is deliberate: the purely physical fast, the little cycles of bingeing and purging, the cultivation of desire by the idle. Like all such deliberate tactics, it requires the Kierkegaardian techniques of rotation and repetition to avoid overuse and inefficacy, and like all tactics in general it never allows one to transcend the struggle.