The Tyranny of Pleasure

The Tyranny of Pleasure

The Tyranny of Pleasure

The Tyranny of Pleasure

Synopsis

This provocative book stands our sixties' liberation on its head, taking an inventory of its unintended side-effects.--Le Nouvel Quotidien. (Philosophy)

Excerpt

Human societies seldom understand the history that shapes them. They are inspired to action by obscure motives, and the resulting change sometimes cannot be measured in significance for years to come. Few realized, for example, in 1964, that a significant cultural break had just occurred in all the industrialized countries. No one appreciated, in 1971, the fundamental importance of the end of the Bretton Woods monetary system. Similarly, no contemporary of the 1740s was aware that a demographic cycle fraught with consequences was under way in the West.

The true interpretation of history is retrospective. It takes time, often generations, to identify the true significance of an historic event. Thus, let us not be too preoccupied, day to day, with idle theories that all too often fail to address what is essential.

An example is our relationship to pleasure and to sexuality, that “tyrant, Eros” which Plato said was capable of “insinuating itself into our hearts and controlling our every movement.” However, it's not for lack of talking about it! Michel Foucault noted, twenty years ago, that a superfluity of speeches, narratives, testimonies, and all forms of rhetoric had made us, at least since the 19th century, “a society that is singularly up front about” sex. “Western man,” he added, “has become a beast of consents.” And Foucault invited us “to ponder a society that for more than a century has been noisily fustigating its hypocrisy, generating prolix discourses about its own silence, striving to enumerate all the . . .

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