Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pleasure Seekers

I have written a lot about sin and hypocrisy recently.

Right now though, I want to look at sin, pleasure and the nature of evil.

To the utilitarian, the basis for moral choices is the relative amounts of pleasure and pain that the action will cause. I'm not here to refute that, in fact it might be argued that I am here to support it. Let me tell you, I am not. I am however going to talk a lot about pleasure and pain.

Utilitarianism has shaped a lot of the choices made in the current culture for better or for worse. For instance, free love in the 60s was looked on as good because it was very pleasurable and there was no pain involved (at least they were able to convince themselves that there wasn't). However, rape is considered (rightfully) wrong because the pain that it inflicts is given much more weight than any pleasure experienced by the rapist. This theme of pleasure and pain is constantly on our minds. But why? Should we be so focused on this?

I don't know if we should be as intensely aware as we are, but the awareness itself is a good thing. God created us with an innate understanding of pleasure. We gain pleasure through good things (food, beautiful vista, good music, sex) and experience pain through evil (illness, assault, ugliness). There are some things however that people choose to do that are condemned by others. One of these things is Rock Music. It is said that rock is too loud (causing physical pain), inherently violent (causing pain in others) and inherently corrupt (causing pain in the soul). All these things may be true, but why then do people choose to listen to this music? Is it because they like pain? Are we a culture of masochists? I'm not going to deny that it sometimes seems like it. But what is masochism? It is the derivation of pleasure from pain. In other words, the reason masochists do what they do is for the pleasure, not for the pain. If rock music is for masochists, it is based on the pleasure received and not on the pain. However, I think it goes deeper than masochism, though related. I think that there is some beauty in rock music. Beauty causes pleasure in the beholder and so the listener of rock music (or the player of rock music) does what he does because of that beauty and pleasure despite any pain it may cause.

That then is my thesis. Whatever pain we cause ourselves through bad choices is, in our minds, a side-effect and secondary to the pleasure that is inherent in the good things of this world. There is nothing created that has only evil because to say that something is evil is to say that it lacks something. There is not one created thing that is total lack. Total lack means non-existence. Therefore, everything that exists has the potential to produce pleasure to some extent or another. We are all pleasure-seekers and we know where to find it.


Robert Gotcher said...

Okay, but Rock music is often played too loud. And it is intended to be played loud, which often reduces is subtlety and its capacity for adequate use of dynamics. As you know, I like rock music, but only when it is played at a normal volume. And I like music that allows the full play of musicality best.

Nate said...

I know it's often played too loud and intended that way. I agree with you, you know that. However, I still contend that it is because of some pleasure received that people blast out their ears with Rock Music.

Tina said...

Okay. I'll agree with that.

Robert Gotcher said...

Oops. That was me.

Nate said...

This is the problem with letting your highschoolers onto blogger....