Walking on Saturday night in Jamaica Plains after a night of drunken drama ( my attempt at a hedonistic life), feeling tired of the snow and the city that makes it (and sometimes me) so ugly.
The whiteness of the snow
turns black in the city.
Where can I rest?
“ The blossoms of the heart are scattered; by evening the tree itself has been turned to firewood. Who can escape?” [ Saikaku p.154]. There is no escape from the evanescence of reality. The hedonist realizes this and instead of seeking a way out, I would say like the Zen Buddhist, plunges head first into life’s physicality. If we are stuck, why not make the best of it and immerse ourselves in pleasure? While I see the draw to this, I do not buy it. Making the pursuit of pleasure paramount in life seems like a way of distracting ourselves from many truths. Mainly, that all things end, all is sadness (mono no aware), and that the self is not. People who constantly pursue pleasure cling to the notion that this pleasure will continue to give the good feelings, the fulfillment, that it has given them in the past; They in turn forget that all is change. These feelings do not continue, they become dull and can even end up hurting you, like they did Saikaku’s prostitute. I believe that the Hedonist runs away from his sadness or at least tries to over-compensate it. I think we have to embrace the sadness of our existence so that we can see the whole beauty of it. As Momokawa puts it, “ [mono no aware] is a sadness that is constantly evolving towards gaiety”[p.11]. Finally, hedonistic living, by its very essence, is self centered as it is fueled by the desires of the individuated self. This kind of living sees everything as a dichotomy; there is pleasure and pain, good and bad, and I only want one side of the story. I think this fundamentally stems from the notion as self as separate from other; I want that. When really it is I am that; thus there is no need to seek or to pursue. When we live from emptiness, we transcend the dichotomy and we are freed from desire and the attachment to those.