Friday, June 29, 2012

Why Pleasure Matters

I was moved by an essay called "Face Forward," by Jim Lewis, published in a recent issue of W. Here are some quotes:

Glamour is unfair -- one of the only things in this unfair world that are admirable for being so. ... Glamour is among the most superfluous of things. Many have never seen it, let alone borne it; many more have paid it no mind. ... Because it's nothing, really: just a bit of flash and glitter, a smile, and goodbye. It's not going to save the world.

No, but it's one of the things that can make the world seem worth saving. Pleasures aren't so easy to come by, after all, and the purer the pleasure, the more pointless and inexplicable, the more we tend to prize it.

I like the poetic tone of the essay, and I'm interested in the context of fashion and glamour. By the time he starts talking about pleasure, though, I've moved into thinking about sex. I often wonder why it seems so vital, so significant to write about sex. Sometimes, I mentally disparage my work by thinking of it as "cock and pussy stories," my own insulting version of the phrase "cock and bull." I worry about whether I'm wasting my talents, and wonder why I'm so interested in writing about people fucking.

But I do think writing about sex is really important, in addition to being fun. (I use the tag "sacred calling" on my blog for a reason.) And I think Lewis's words on glamour go a long way toward explaining one aspect of why. Pleasure is special, fleeting, significant. It makes life worth living and the world worth saving. And it is under siege, from myself and my own internal Puritan, and also from others who want to disapprove of where I find my pleasure or regulate it. Many people find pleasure terribly threatening, and that could only be the case if it mattered.

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