Written by S. Bowyer

 

     In the world of literature, there is always room for humour, creativity and alternative viewpoints. As a civilisation, we seek to find materials that push boundaries on our knowledge of ourselves and our world. However, a recent satirical novel caused great excitement when readers were confused by its nature.

 

Eating Air

 

     Food-Free at Last: How I Learned to Eat Air by Dr Robert Jones MD PhD DDS ODD was written as a humourous look at dieting and terroism. The book reads as a diet control guide, where the message is that food is the evil and should be completely cut out of ones life to give freedom. While mixed with some medical facts about food, the overall commentary is driven by exaggeration of food controlling our lives, the dangers of foods, and what it means to be free. It could be likened to gaining a belief that battery hen farms are abusive, so let's just blow up any properties with sheds large enough to house several hundred hens -- even if they only contain gardening supplies. It appears the author relied on the severity of his comments being unbelievable and didn't add any note of satirical intent in the book.

     The book contains amusing comments about severe weight loss and terroism mentalities, such as,

     Thank you, Dr. Robert Jones, MD, PhD, DDS, ODD! Oh, thank you! I’ve eaten nothing but air for the last two months and I’ve lost eight hundred pounds! My husband says I’ll make a fine skeleton! I can’t wait!!!

     Like our Founding Fathers of old, let us take as our rallying cry, “Live Free or Die!” Only then can we cure obesity once and for all, end the influence of the calorie cartels in our nation’s capital, and inaugurate a new era of freedom for all Americans.

     Fat People were infecting my faith with doubt! Was being fat contagious? What biological or psychological process did this involve?

     As a result, those of us righteous enough to eat air live in terror of Fat People. Do you understand? These Fat People are agents of terror. Of the Terror of Fat.

     But America is a Land of Freedom. We will do whatever it takes to bring freedom to every corner of the globe. Every citizen of America—of the world—has the God-given right to be free. Free from slavery to food. We must help them be free, whether they want freedom or not. 

 

     What confused readers is the health advice and understanding that is based on scientific research, which made the book more real. Suggestions were made about choosing fresh ingredients over chemicalised shelved alternatives, moderating drugs and alcohols, as well as selecting a wide range of food from the five food groups.

     The result of such a misunderstanding caused verbal bashing of the author in public forums.

     Starvation the first thing that living on air causes. Ten kinds of crazy this author is. And needs mental help. -- Jennifer Applegateon

     Although I believe we are all entitled to believe what we wish, this so-called doctor is seriously in need of psychiatric help. Beyond the edge is the only way to describe such lunacy. Please do not waste your time on this one. It can only be described as the subversive ramblings of a very unhappy and disturbed man. - Briton

     I honestly can NOT tell if the author is joking or if he truly is a 'mad-scientist' lunatic who actually believes what he's written! If he were joking wouldn't he have eventually stated that at some point? If for no other reason than to prevent gullible naive people from actually attempting this 'diet'? Let alone a multitude of law suits and potentially having his 'alleged' doctorates titles suspended or revoked? I have met people in my career that were over the top conspiracy theory fanatics but none to this degree. I would not believe he possibly could be serious other than the fact that just recently I read an article online (Yahoo) about a Real Life Barbie which included her statements regarding her & her husband's current transition to living on air alone! I thought she was nuts! Apparently there are people who honestly do believe this is life-sustainable. -- Tara Raeon

     I think it's time to diagnose this man a mentally unstable, it seems that he has lost his grip on reality.... He discusses extinct tribal practices of "mountain people". And then in the preceding chapters he orders you to lost your food addiction by slowly removing all food from your daily eating habits until your surviving on bread and water or what ever simple starch you've chosen to have as a meal, and then remove all together the starches from your diet and just inhale air as a meal.... I first read those words and thought there is no way this guy could be serious...and then behold the very next sentence, confirmed the obverse. A Deranged man is promoting an epidemic of forced starvation. And thinks his self so high and mighty (for he's ingenious for this convoluted dieting book) that at the very end of the book he addresses his self as a new world leader and names his self not king, but the great chosen prophet of the Air-eaters of America. -- V. Valentouron


Some realised it was a joke, and were neutral in their judgment.

     The most frightening thing about this book was that I could entirely see someone reading this and believing every word. It sounds just like every other "scientific" diet book out there. Worth a quick laugh. I could see giving this to whatever annoying person in your life who keeps insisting everyone try the latest fad diet. You probably know someone like that. -- anon

 

     Many readers had fiery comments for the book and the author, despite its categorisation. Amazon list the title under Humour and Entertainment as well as Humor>Parodies. Respondents either missed this labeling or still found the content to be irresponsible if not unreadily recognised as satire.

 

    The situation brings up a subject that is often active in our community: when is a joke taken too far? Often comedy is questioned for its taste or lack of, when jokes are considered racist or over-the-top by one audience, but another audience of a different social context consider it perfect. It reminds me of the work of Richard Pryor, who used to speak about domestic violence in his household. I remember a skit he did about his wife being a butcher knife girl and how she would try to stab him before he'd force her to drop the knife or man-handle her to avoid being hurt. In his times, this was considered normal. However, if we were to place this testimonial in a modern forum we might see a different reaction. Would audiences laugh now we're in a society that frowns on domestic abuse being used for entertainment -- or any reason. Does this mean the humour went too far or we as a culture have moved too far ahead of our past to appreciate a better opinion of ourselves and each other?

     Editorial Manager of The Onion, Chet Clem, was in a similar circumstance when the September 11 attacks occurred and his news parody publication had to debate whether to skip putting out an issue or finding a way to satire the September 11 happenings with tact.

     "I know the September 11 issue was an obviously very large challenge to approach. Do we even put out an issue? What is funny at this time in American history? Where are the jokes? Do people want jokes right now? Is the nation ready to laugh again? Who knows. There will always be some level of division in the back room. It’s also what keeps us on our toes," Clem stated.

     Another recent example would be the work of Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globe awards. His hosting during 2011 included edgy comments that were taken well by some, but very badly by others. One critic said his jokes had a corrosive tone while others appreciated his jibes at the nominees.

Food-Free at Last: How I Learned to Eat Air by Dr Robert Jones MD PhD DDS OSS is available on Amazon.com as audio book and e-book. It is featured in the top 10 best-sellers under Humor and Entertainment. It does not have any listings under Health or Dieting. The book itself was amusing and had some gold statements in it, however, I tend to believe it would not have gotten as much attention had the public not created a storm around it. By drawing attention to the book, they made it popular.

 

 

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