Life is a Desire
from the series: Pleasure in the Anthropocene
When was the last time you felt radically alive? When did you feel so nourished by life that you felt full just by existing? When were you so in love with life that you savored every second, unable to stop smiling at the beauty of creation?
To experience this way of existing requires that we live in relation with the more-than-human world.
Life is already a love story. The love story happens in us and between us and the world. We are attracted to other beings and materials - physics call this force. But it is not only a force. It is a desire. Our desire to be in touch with others, because only through the other can we experience ourselves. When we meet the other, we create something new. It seems to be an essential striving of the universe: the desire for more.
We hardly ever feel satisfied because desire drives us into newness. Constantly. I see it as the universe's impulse to grow, expand, and evolve. Empty hedonism is the form this impulse or urge has taken in our modern world. Real hedonism channels the energy into what's good, true, and beautiful. It acknowledges that our drive for more is one unique expression of our desire. And it acknowledges that we are ecological: every other being has its unique expression.
We dance between our drive for more and other beings' drive for more.
My existence inevitably takes something from someone else's existence. Be it an apple I eat that someone else could have eaten, be it the place I occupy that someone else could have occupied. I don't deny this reality. And with this comes great responsibility—the responsibility to constantly ask myself what desire I genuinely have. For if I fulfill a desire that doesn't matter to me, I unnecessarily take something from someone else - human or non-human.
Hedonism might tell us something fundamental about existence: that we are innately driven by more, that we yarn for experiencing pleasure, that we crave the new, that we long for the other.
The question then is: how do we take on this responsibility? How can we responsibly stay true to our desires without exploiting and destroying the planet?
I will talk more about this next time.