- Milan Kundera
In everyday language, the term 'hedonism' denotes an amoral tendency to a life of sensuality, if not outright vice. This is inaccurate, of course: Epicurus, the first great theoretician of pleasure, had a highly sceptical understanding of the happy life: pleasure if the absence of suffering. Suffering, then, is the fundamental notion of hedonsim: one is happy to the degree that one can avoid suffering, and since pleasures often bring more unhappiness than happiness, Epicurus recommends only such pleasures as are prudent and modest. Epicurean wisdom has a melancholy backdrop: flung into the world's misery, man sees that the only clear and reliable value is the pleasure, however paltry, that he can feel for himself: a gulp of cool water, a look at the sky (a God's windows), a caress.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
From "Slowness" (1995),
Why has the pleasure of slowness disappeared? Ah, where have they gone, the amblers of yesteryear? Where have they gone, those loafing heroes of folk song, those vagabonds who roam from one mill to another and bed down under the stars? Have they vanished along with the footpaths, with grasslands and clearings, with nature? There is a Czech proverb that describes their easy indolence by a metaphor : 'They are gazing at God's windows.' A person gazing at God's windows is not bored; he is happy. In our world, indolence has turned into having nothing to do, which is a completely different thing: a person with nothing to do is frustrated, bored, is constantly searching for the activity he lacks.
Posted by G Shrivastava at 7:45 PM