A short memorial piece by Barry Smith, published in The World of Fine Wine
While I was teaching at Birkbeck College in the early nineteen nighties, and a colleague of Roger Scruton, we would meet in passing to exchange a few words en route to give our lectures. One time I happened to have seen an exhibition with the striking title: Between discipline and desire. I mentioned it to him saying that the title seemed to encapsulate the whole of life. He looked at me puzzled and said, “But for me discipline is desire.” Roger was nothing if not interesting. I smiled and headed off to give my class wondering what on earth he meant. It was years later when reading his essay, The Golden Mean, in this magazine, that I finally understood his remark.
In that essay, he charts moderation as a way to live and be on good terms with one’s species. It avoids the excess of binging, and as he saw it the equal extreme of abstinence. It requires equilibrium, not taking the easy way, not being swept along. But that is hard won:
...if there were an easy way back to the world of moderation, we would take it. But there’s the rub: balance needs discipline, be it the discipline of the tightrope walker or that of the impartial judge. (WFW Issue 1)