Pleasure Takes Practice

I’m sometimes sorry I don’t have a way to express this without getting all “woo-woo” on the atheists, but I guess, all I can do is speak from my own experience and hope it rings true with you, or that you can at least see what I’m getting at close enough to extrapolate something useful from it.

Because I do believe that pleasure is revolutionary, that acting on our desire for pleasure and believing that we deserve it, has the potential to transform our lives, for the better. And I know that every time we talk about this, folks raise the objection that, while they think pleasure is a good idea, they don’t want to get too caught up in it, that other things might be neglected.

Which is why I think that there needs to be some thing after pleasure, something like “pleasure in accord with the will of the universe,” but I realize that such a sentiment is funny to atheists and useless to those of us who believe that the universe is governed by judgmental capriciousness. So, maybe I mean something like “pleasure that serves us, and others, well” or “pleasure that does not add to the suffering of one’s self or others.”

Do you see what I’m getting at? Someone can take a month and in it sleep with twenty different people and, if it makes her feel alive and vibrant and decadent and joyful and hedonistic and well-pleased and happy, etc., then there’s no problem. But if someone takes a month and sleeps with twenty different people and feels like shit about herself because of it, even if she enjoys the sex itself and finds in it some measure of pleasure, that does her little good.

It’s not the impulse to feel good, even for a short time, that’s the problem, though. It’s the shame and other baggage that doesn’t have to be inherent that we need to address.

I’m not sure how to do that.

As I was telling the Professor at dinner tonight, a lot of us seem to agree that there’s something inherently wrong with the structure(s) by which we relate to each other. And yet, when we talk about revolution, we only, as far as I can tell, talk about how we’ll address the problems that are obvious in the current structure. We rarely talk about what’s working and why.

So, when we go to implement new systems, they aren’t any less inherently fucked-up than the old structures, because we’ve carried with us from the old way a belief that we’ve destroyed the injustice of the old structure without the realization that, without something new to guide us, we’ll set up new structures to resemble the old structure, because that’s what we know.

Which is why I think it’s okay that I don’t know how pleasure will save us. I don’t want to impose any of this way, the way that hurts so many of us, on the future. I just want to be open to the new shapes a just relationship to pleasure might bring.

I’m thinking of giving up the term “the Patriarchy,” because though I use it as a jokey way to mean all those structures, and though I believe that things between men and women are FUCKED UP, with a capital FUH, I think it helps gloss over the shitty ways men are to each other (not that we always have to talk about men) and it focuses on just one part of how the system works, without having to address how the whole thing makes life unnecessarily hard–dare I say it?–unnecessarily unpleasant for a whole lot of people, and not just because of their gender.

This time of year, when it doesn’t get any sun, the boob freckle is faint, like a ghost of pleasures past.


I may never get to the point where I easily believe that I deserve pleasure. I’m kind of fucked up. But I’d like to at least commemorate the random spot on my breast that makes me smile; it seems so frivolous. I don’t believe it exists for any other reason but to delight me and bring me pleasure.


Ha, this is kind of a weird meandering post, but I like it, so what the fuck, huh?

9 thoughts on “Pleasure Takes Practice

  1. Well, the question is what the will of the universe is, isn’t it? As for the boob freckle, you need to get some 18th-century beauty-mark patches to use on it over the winter. I think the will of the universe is completely clear about that.

  2. Ha, yes, even the universe loves my boob freckle! But was it you I was talking to about how my hands flutter around me like danty birds? Because, if so, look up there at that hand caught in mid-danty-bird action! I thought I was just holding it back out of the way so that you could see the right side of my body, but even at rest like that, it looks ready to flutter around me. It’s like they just can’t help being frilly. I have frilly hands.That’s so bizarre to me I can’t help but laugh.

  3. You told the whole blogosphere about the fluttery hands. Hmmm, fluttery hands are very 18th-century-feminine, too. Surrounded by linen (or lace, if you were rich) frills, waving a fan (or a ladle, or whatever, depending on wealth). Maybe you just have an 18th-century body?

  4. Ha! Yes, and I’m not going gray, I’m just slowly developing the powdered wig look. I’m kind of digging this idea of an 18th-century body. I wonder if that means I have good chances of hooking up with someone as hot as Thomas Jefferson?

  5. I think those count as freckles, if they’re small and dot-like. I don’t know. I don’t really understand what the difference between freckles and moles are. I suspect I have both.

  6. Atheist here. But, one that’s done a considerable amount of partying. So, yeah, pleasure. Yeah, hangovers. So, I don’t know if the baggage is inherent, but moderation is sort of "built-in" to a lot of things. Even as a kid–you have too much ice cream–you get the BRAIN FREEZE! So, maybe our wariness of pleasure comes from an unconcious collection of all those experiences where we over-indulged.

  7. If my brain were working, I’m sure I’d have something to say about this. It’s my favorite subject of yours, I thin,Oh! I wholeheartedly approve of the pictures of the boob freckle. You have a lovely decolletage, dear. Very well built for, ah, presentation.Hah, now I’ve got all sorts of wicked ideas involving my costume design books and that silly sewing machine taking up space on my floor. (And, okay, wicked ideas in general. Pleasure, right?)

  8. B, this post confuses and concerns me. Pleasure is good. Trust me, I speacialize in it. Sure it takes practice to know what gives you pleasure. And it’s important to be aware enough of the effects of your actions to know that the pleasure that is your life isn’t doing any harm to those around (or far away from) you. Once you have that covered you should be able to take pleasure in taking pleasure. "pleasure in accord with the will of the universe" works, but maybe pleasure that doesn’t upset the balance of the universe is better. After all, the universe is pretty resilient. I think it would like to see you enjoy yourself. Smiles and laughter are contagious, so your pleasure could be the first dominoe that contaminates the entire universe. Give it a shot. It’s better than this shame you speak of. If you have sex with 20 people and it brings you and them pleasure then great, go have sex with 20 more. If it makes you feel like shit, well then where’s the pleasure? I mean, of course there was the actual sex. If you have sex with 20 people and don’t enjoy any of it then either you have been doing it wrong or you need to seriously rethink the process by which you decide who to have sex with. But after all the sex if you are left unhappy then you aren’t actually doing what gives you pleasure after all. I don’t think you need to be afraid of pleasure, you need to learn to define it for yourself. So enjoy your boob frackle, and your cooter mole, and anything else that gives you pleasure. Smile at the universe. I promise, it will smile back. :)

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