A Joyful Rebellion
subverting the fear factory through hedonistic pursuits #101
“Pleasure is the first good. It is the beginning of every choice and every aversion. It is the absence of pain in the body and of troubles in the soul.” - Epicurus, philosopher (341-270 BC)
HEDONISM hēd’n iz’em / n.
1: the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life. 2: a lifestyle of enlightenment and enjoyment. 3: a most pleasurable outlook.
We live in an age of manufactured fear. A time when the constant spectre of scarcity and competition looms over our collective consciousness, driving us to chase after an ever-elusive "good life" that we believe exists just beyond the horizon. This relentless pursuit of success has rendered us as baby ducks, shepherded through life by our insecurities, afraid of taking personal responsibility for our own happiness and exercising our free will. In this frantic race against time, we have forgotten the value of leisure and pleasure, and have become mere hamsters on a wheel, running, sweating, and sacrificing ourselves at the altar of productivity.
But it wasn't always this way. The lost art of hedonism, a philosophy that celebrates the pursuit of pleasure as the highest good, can be traced back to ancient Greece. The hedonists of yore were well-versed in the language of leisure, seeking joy and fulfilment in both the sensual and intellectual realms. They believed in the intrinsic value of a life well-lived and saw personal responsibility as the cornerstone of a life filled with pleasure.
The Cyrenaic school, founded by Aristippus in the 4th century BC, advocated for the pursuit of immediate, intense pleasures. They believed that the true essence of happiness could only be found in the present moment, and that the avoidance of pain was the ultimate goal. Epicurus, a contemporary of Aristippus, took a more moderate approach to hedonism, emphasising the importance of mental pleasure over physical pleasure. For Epicurus, a life filled with simple joys, friendship, and intellectual contemplation was the key to lasting happiness.
As centuries passed, hedonistic ideals found their way into the works of great poets, artists, and philosophers, each adding their own unique perspectives on the pursuit of pleasure. The Roman poet Horace, with his famous phrase "carpe diem" (seize the day), encouraged readers to savour the pleasures of life before they slip away. The Renaissance saw the rebirth of hedonistic thought, with artists like Botticelli and writers like Boccaccio celebrating the joys of love, beauty, and earthly delights.
However, the tides of history would turn against hedonism as the rise of Puritanism and the Protestant work ethic took hold. The pursuit of happiness gradually gave way to an emphasis on hard work, discipline, and self-denial as leisure and pleasure came to be associated with sin and sloth. It was during this period that the seeds of our modern, fear-driven society were sown.
In today's world, the lost art of leisure and pleasure has been replaced by a culture that rewards self-deprivation, glorifies suffering, and perpetuates the myth that the "good life" can only be found through constant striving and sacrifice. We have become so obsessed with the idea of success that we have forgotten how to enjoy the journey itself. As a result, we find ourselves locked in an endless loop of worry and exhaustion, chasing after a finish line that seems to recede further into the distance with every step we take.
But what if we were to stop and consider the possibility that the good life is not something to be earned but rather something to be embraced? That in the quest for happiness, we need not sacrifice our own well-being on the altar of productivity?
The hedonists of the past would tell us that pleasure is good, and self-deprivation is, in fact, a form of self-sabotage. Instead of fearing our own desires, we should learn to embrace them, recognising that the pursuit of pleasure can be a noble and fulfilling path in and of itself.
Imagine a world where we reclaim the art of leisure, where we prioritise our own happiness and take personal responsibility for our own well-being. We wouldn't be helpless little ducks following societal norms and expectations down a predetermined path in this world. Instead, we would be bold, free individuals, unafraid to explore the depths of our desires and to embrace the pleasures that life has to offer.
This reimagined world would be one where we redefine success, recognising that a truly good life is not measured by the number of hours we spend working or the size of our bank accounts, but rather by the quality of our experiences, the depth of our connections, and the richness of our inner lives. We would learn to appreciate the simple joys of a leisurely stroll through a park, the warmth of an embrace, and the quiet satisfaction of a well-prepared meal shared with friends.
As we begin to unshackle ourselves from the hamster wheel of modern society, we may discover a newfound appreciation for the moments of pleasure that punctuate our days. We might learn to savour the sweet taste of a perfectly ripe fruit or the soothing sounds of a babbling brook. These experiences, once overlooked in our mad dash for success, would become cherished treasures, essential components of a life well-lived.
In reclaiming the lost art of hedonism, we would not only rediscover the value of leisure and pleasure, but also forge a new path to happiness--one that is rooted in personal responsibility and free will. By embracing our desires and cultivating a healthy relationship with pleasure, we can begin to break free from the manufactured fear that has held us captive for so long.
The good life, it turns out, is not a distant, imagined finish line, but rather a series of moments, each one a precious opportunity to revel in the beauty, love, and joy that life has to offer. It is a life where we prioritise our happiness and take the time to nourish our souls, where we recognise that pleasure is good and self-deprivation is counterproductive.
The time has come to step off the hamster wheel and rediscover the joys of leisure and pleasure. Let us embrace the wisdom of hedonism and remember that a truly good life is one that is filled with joy, love, and the courage to follow our own desires, unburdened by the fear that has shackled us for far too long.
The Hedonism Handbook by Michael Flocker
The Hedonism Handbook is your ticket to rediscovering the blissful excesses of life, where the only prescription is a triple-martini lunch, a crusty loaf slathered with unapologetic butter, a tan as deep as your existential angst, an unfiltered cigarette, and lounging in a hammock beneath the celestial ballet, pondering the human condition.
The brilliantly witty Michael Flocker, whose incisive, self-deprecating humour is like an intellectual antacid in a world overrun with self-help indigestion, masterfully crafted this whimsically irreverent guide to the hedonistic lifestyle. Flocker regales readers with comical tales of historical debauchery, coupled with practical tips for daily indulgence, while sprinkling in lists of pleasure-seeking icons, famous quotes, and sardonic cautionary tales about the hazards of an overly organised life. The Hedonism Handbook is a ten-part ode to uninhibited enjoyment, designed to transport readers from the claustrophobic confines of regimented living to the boundless playground of sensory delight.
This alluring compendium is not only a delight to read but also a crash course in reviving the lost art of leisure and pleasure. A word of caution, though: while The Hedonism Handbook may elicit fits of laughter and knowing nods, it also harbours the power to upend your life with reckless abandon. Proceed with a mix of courage and trepidation, for a world of existential mirth and delight awaits!
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Have a fabulous weekend.
Peace and love,