Russian Jesus gives up food to meditate on how he can improve crypto messenger Telegram
Pavel Durov heads into the desert of his soul for inspiration
It's coming up to 1pm, you haven't eaten a morsel in seven hours, and you've been smashing your head against the same work problem for the last two. What do you do?
If you answered "go and get some lunch", you're an idiot.
The titans of tech didn't get where they are today by fulfilling every basic human desire, did they?
Dead Steve Jobs, peace be upon him, had a bunch of hangups about food.
He flirted with fruitarianism, which is like Veganism Pro – fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and grains only. But he also made fasting fashionable for Silicon Valley in pursuit of "euphoria and ecstasy", a symptom known to the medical community as ketosis – when the body produces ketones in the absence of glucose.
Obviously I might lose some muscle mass as a result, but I believe that if I manage to come up with new great ideas for Telegram during the fast, it will be beneficial for all of the millions of Telegram users
It's not healthy, nor did it spare him the ravages of pancreatic cancer.
But the young bucks of the Valley and beyond are even more hardcore (read: insane). "It's not dieting, it's biohacking," HVMN (pronounced "human") CEO Geoffrey Woo told The Guardian in 2017. Because everything's a "hack" now, isn't it? From wiping one's bath down with half a grapefruit to starving oneself.
"Ketones [there's that word again] are a super-fuel for the brain [they aren't]," said the ever so aptly named Woo. "So a lot of the subjective benefits to fasting, including mental clarity, are down to the rise in ketones in the system."
And this is from a man who sells "nootropics" (cognitive enhancers).
But these supposed benefits of falling into a near-starvation state haven't been lost on Russian Jesus, aka Pavel Durov, founder of Russosphere social network VK and encrypted messenger Telegram.
His straightedge lifestyle is well known – no caffeine, meat, drugs, alcohol or fast food have passed his lips for the last 15 years. Or so he says.
Yet Durov, who exiled himself after Russian authorities demanded the keys to his users' private data, is still stumped as to how he can improve Telegram, according to The Independent, and yesterday he told the service that he was quitting food on a quest for inspiration.
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The news site quoted his Telegram post as saying: "This month I'm trying something more radical, with consuming no food at all.
"I've been on a water fast for the last six days and am feeling great so far. Since zero food consumption improves clarity of thought [citation needed; not Woo please], I also got many things done on the product-management side.
"Obviously I might lose some muscle mass as a result, but I believe that if I manage to come up with new great ideas for Telegram during the fast, it will be beneficial for all of the millions of Telegram users.
"And making the lives of our users more enjoyable has been and will be my number one priority."
A whole month is just about doable. The ex-paper cited survivalists' "rule of three" – three minutes without oxygen, three days without water and three weeks without food before the sweet embrace of death. A spoonful of Ben & Jerry's should nudge Durov over the threshold. Or cause fits of diarrhoea – it's not clear.
The whole thing, as these things tend to, reeks of pretentious vision quest. Heck, The Independent even used a picture of a ripped Russian Jesus in the desert, where the satanic call of a Big Mac will surely tempt him.
Anyway best of luck, Pavel. We hope you have a safe word. Whether anything comes of this communion with his inner Christ remains to be seen, but if we don't hear from Durov come July, fear not.
After all, what is the body but a cage for the transcendental? ®