Dr. Jaime Torres, Vice President of Community Relations & Partnerships at Urban Health Plan, a community health network, writes:
How important it is for people to know that everyone is in a fight all the time. And that fight is between the pleasure of respect—seeing meaning in people and things—and the satisfaction we get from lessening meaning, having contempt. This is the subject of a groundbreaking issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known titled “The Two Pleasures.” In it Eli Siegel describes the fight we all have, and how it was present in one of America’s great writers. He begins:
One thing that is clear in the history of man is that he has had pleasure of two kinds. Man has had pleasure from seeing a sunset; from Handel’s Messiah; from seeing courage in someone; from a great rhythm in words. He has also had pleasure from making everything he can meaningless; from changing architecture into broken eggshells; from making the mighty malodorous; from trivializing. Man, then, praises; he also diminishes. The same lips that can curve and droop into a sneer can be apart in astonishment. Seeing meaning, then, has given pleasure; taking it away has also given pleasure.
Contempt, as Aesthetic Realism sees it, sustains everyone. The pleasure of making less of things is a seeming need. There is a feeling that if we couldn’t make things less, despise them, we should be nobody in a large, intricate, and dark world. Contempt, it seems to us, is the foundation we need for our desire to be somebody; to matter.
What I have just said is relevant to the American writer, Edgar Allan Poe: this, to be sure, is apparent through recent TROs. In this number, I look at the fight between the pleasure from meaning and the pleasure from contempt, in the mind of Poe. And Charles Pierre Baudelaire, of France, is looked at also. >>Read more