finding pleasure
November 5, 2011, 6:07 am
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , , , ,

Sometimes we think pleasure is narcissism.  I’m sure we may not in our day to day lives, but the din of the popular culture pushes getting mine and getting more.

Pleasure has been neatly tied to money.  In Philip Larkin’s poem, money becomes a man – an understated incarnational event – that chastises him for not living his life:  Quarterly, is it, money reproaches me: / “Why do you let me lie here wastefully? / I am all you never had of goods and sex. / You could get them still by writing a few cheques.”  Clearly this poet is not convinced that pleasure should be quite so tied to acquisition and consumption.

There are of course other more hopeful routes to finding pleasure.  Here is one written by a disciple of the stoic Lucretius.  For him pleasure is found in a restrained, measured life; the diametric opposite of a life of narcissism and consumption.  He adds that pleasure comes from taking risk, making friends and helping people.

Here is his path:

[It is impossible to live pleasureably] without living prudently and honourably and justly, and also without living courageously and temperately and magnanimously, and without making friends, and without being philanthropic.

Lucretius’ disciple

Stephen Geenblatt, The Answer Man, The New Yorker


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I’d lean more towards Lucretius – though sometimes money does have the ability to cut gordion knots.
Stoicism got a revival in Tom Woolfe’s “A Man In Full” – which I enjoyed.

Comment by blackwatertown

I’m with you – full on stoicism may be a bit unrealistic. I have never read Tom Wolfe – now on my list – thanks for recommending.

Comment by Peter Rudd

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: