Thursday, June 11, 2009


Life's Greatest Pleasure

Table talk of C.S. Lewis, from a transcription of Alastair Fowler, "C.S. Lewis: Supervisor," Yale Review 91.4 (October 2003) 64–80:
Similarly out of the blue, he proposed to dispute what life's greatest pleasure was. Great art? No. Mystical ecstasy? No: something more generally accessible. Simultaneous orgasm? But that wasn't it either. "I'll tell you," he said; "it's the pleasure, after walking for hours, of coming to a pub and relieving yourself."
For a similar sentiment, see Thomas More, Utopia, Book II (tr. G.C. Richards, rev. Edward Surtz):
Bodily pleasure they divide into two kinds. The first is that which fills the sense with clearly perceptible sweetness. Sometimes it comes from the renewal of those organs which have been weakened by our natural heat. These organs are then restored by food and drink. Sometimes it comes from the elimination of things which overload the body. This agreeable sensation occurs when we discharge feces from our bowels ...

corporis voluptatem in duas partiuntur formas, quarum prima sit ea, quae sensum perspicua suavitate perfundit, quod alias earum instauratione partium fit, quas insitus nobis calor exhauserit. nam hae cibo potuque redduntur, alias dum egeruntur illa, quorum copia corpus exuberat. haec suggeritur, dum excrementis intestina purgamus ...
Fowler's article has other charming anecdotes, including this one about Edgar Lobel ("Lobe" in the transcription of the article is a misprint):
Memory feats were common enough in Oxford then, especially among classicists. Edgar Lobel the papyrologist and fungiphage, to mention one, modestly denied having Homer by heart – but added, "Mind you, if you said a verse I dare say I could give you the next one."
Related post: Primal Pleasures.

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