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Welcome to the Pleasure Dome

* Memefest has commissioned Melbourne based writer extraordinaire Darren Tofts to share his thoughts on PLEASURE. We are delighted to publish them here for your pleasure.

A personal history & an invitation

Pleasure is a coveted, quintessentially human emotion.  More than simple enjoyment, it is a rhythm of feeling, thought and living.  I mean, isn’t that why we are all here?  Isn’t it why our atoms have come together from elsewhere, colliding at the speed of light, dynamic, as we sit sort of comfortably on drab plastic chairs?  While in those same utilitarian armatures, the electric charge of our minds and the humours of our bodies will bristle with static like the ambient, background chatter of the universe.

Many years ago Herr Freud thought he had discovered pleasure (his best work was on delusion).  During the Viennese Doktor’s century pleasure defined not only the utopian future to come, but also something that was inextricably human; a drive always becoming, yearned for and desired (lustprinzip just don’t cut it for non-German speakers).   After Freud let the grinning Cheshire cat out of the bag, pleasure’s carnival spread throughout the decades like butter on hot toast.  But more than a fustian “principle” it was a force recognised for what it was in all its inflections– the simple poetry of the everyday, from a cuppa in the morning to a tincture of absinthe at night, the odour of a rose and religious or carnal joy.  Pleasure was the gastronome’s obsession during the Banquet Years of Paris’ Belle Époque, a style of living in Italy’s Dolce Vita of the 1950s, as well as the new optimism of post-war hope for better futures.  The hedonism of 60s’ counter cultures was less boring and much more fundamental than hippies, yippies, of turning on and dropping out.  And after Vietnam and the Cuban Missile Crisis it was like, man it’s fucking good to still be alive.  Dr Leary, kindly pass the Kool-Aid.

By the early 1970s we were seduced by the nourishment of new ideas; strange, compelling and louche, like The Joy of Sex by the aptly named Alex Comfort. French enfant terrible Roland Barthes teased us with its rhythms from the gape of garments to the joy of text.  In his droll po-mo way he even gave the new human lexicon of literary pleasure a new name, “textasy” (I know, I know...). Moving right along from the bohemian pomp of the cafés of Saint Germain, British new wave band Joy Division sang more soberly of pleasure’s “sense of style and good taste” and in so doing politely captured the intellectual voluptuary’s paradise, of which we still can’t get enough.  In the 80s Frankie Goes to Hollywood raffishly welcomed us to the Pleasure Dome and its earthly delights.  At the same time in France Marguerite Duras wrote sublimely and tenderly of lovers in its thrall.  By century’s end we were so hyper we all became cyborgs and Donna Haraway turned us on to the new rhythms of becoming-machines.   And the Y2K virus was a fizzer after all.   It was party time.

Now, in the second decade of the third millennium, you are invited to enter Plato’s cave for yet another symposium, a carnivalesque celebration of the luscious entanglement in critique, dispute and performance. We can be thoughtful and astute, rhetorical and provocative.  Either way there will be a riot going on, a delirious J. G. Ballard-like crash of ideas.  

Find a forum to think and share ideas.  You know there’s probably one in town.  Take it as an opportunity to speak in a voice that will be heard openly, emphatically and generously.  There will no doubt be give and take, the rustle of ideas and the hustle of opinion.  Just as the ancient Aztecs in Mexico courted Xochipilli, an obscure god of art, festival and song, choose your own talisman, accept it into your pantheon.  In our own way we can spread and share thought amongst ourselves like a virus, in the prophylactic safety of erudite discussion, even a naked lunch.  We can be host and parasite, language and misunderstanding.  And remember when Dr Burroughs operates, shit happens, okay?

So, pleasure… 
Speak of it in your own voice.   
Or in someone else’s–  “Shooting stars never stop, even when they reach the top”.
And remember…
Don’t be shy
We know you like it
We know you want it
We can mishear some music lyrics.  We can go to Mars and back in an instant
Get the t-shirt and rock on:  Pleasure: this is what we are

Darren Tofts
voluptatem scriptor @2016


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