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Cooking Show Suicides and Other Inanities

Recent information unearthed by CounterPunch’s crack investigative team has revealed that Anthony Bourdain killed himself in the wake of discovering he suffered from a terminal illness brought on by the breakneck pace of his work as an entertainer.

The condition, called disassociative camera-subjectivity disorder, or DCSD, widely afflicts people in the rarefied realms of the entertainment industry but is largely unknown to the general public.   The condition results from a pathological dependency on being constantly filmed and displayed as a mass-marketed product.

Researchers have only begun to document the profound human suffering of DCSD in its various stages.  In Bourdain’s case, it was well advanced at the time of his suicide.

It begins insidiously enough.  The patient, conditioned to the constancy of on-camera status, finds that life off-camera – which is to say real life, the daily existential ride, the self alone facing the joys and abysses of the rollercoaster – isn’t worth pursuing. One must stave off the boredom and idiocy of non-filmed existence with a hopeless abuse of alcohol and drugs, and with meaningless sexual conquests – the hedonistic treadmill.

This can go on for years before the patient advances to stage two.  The affliction moves toward the debilitative.   Without the camera eye cast in his direction and affirming his value as a person, the DCSD sufferer begins to find it difficult to move, speak, or think in any manner except to eat, defecate, and flip through cable channels looking for his own image.  (In the final stages of DCSD, these are the sole remaining pleasures of an otherwise vegetative mind.)

By stage three, all hope for treatment is lost.   The patient has been fractured into two wholly independent selves.  One is a drooling imbecilic immobilized mess; the other, activated only with the presence of rolling cameras and, ideally, a large gawking film crew – itself the stand-in for a large gawking global audience – ascends into mania.  He is bubbly, frenetic, talks ceaselessly, narrates the course of his day in excruciating, self-regarding, indeed narcissistic detail.   But the instant the camera lights darken, the patient is inert, as a robot that is shut off at the flick of a switch.

Finally, the only option left for the DCSD sufferer is self-annihilation.   The camera-addicted imbecile senses somewhere in his broken brain that he might free himself at last.  And so, with gargantuan will and utmost resolve, he breaks the chains of his immobility and presses forward, perhaps deep in his heart anguished that the cameras won’t document it, to consummate the final act of liberation.

Of course I jest.  Or maybe not.  Poor Anthony Bourdain, professional food clown for the corporate entertainment system, condemned to grandstand on such a silly matter as what restaurant to visit.   It is indicative of the low stupidity of our time that the mounting crisis of suicide in the United States gains a foothold in public consciousness only when useless famous people kill themselves.

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Christopher Ketcham is the author of the forthcoming “This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism and Corruption are Ruining the American West,” out next year from Viking-Penguin.  He can be reached at cketcham99@mindspring.com.

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