This blog is an outlet for moments of joy and presence in a world of increasingly profound distraction and pain.
It is not a place for musings about the declining state of the union or about any other of life’s immovable and antagonizing objects.
It is about this:
Unusually radiant sunlight, the wonder of mechanical watch movement, a map of the world, interwoven threads of a comfortable wool shirt, the names of great cities along with their upside-down reflections in gold, a sliver of blue sky also reflected in the gold, and the faint reflection of the American flag that is the back of the case holding my “phone”…all embody pleasure for me.
And it is about this, which also embodies pleasure:
For the most part I will share the focused pleasure I inhabit when I am painting and drawing, but other stimuli will often make their way into my writing and photographs.
Each word in the title Focused Pleasure is important.
Pleasure (the feeling of joy in its various manifestations) is something we all experience from time to time, and most of us would say that we are starved for more of it, generally speaking.
One might go as far as to say that we are all devoted to seeking and finding pleasure. But this is not so. People habitually make choices and indulge thoughts that repeat or amplify various levels of stress and pain.
What I am talking about here is not the so-called “Negativity Bias” in which negative or painful experiences make a bigger impact on our psychological experience and memory than do positive experiences.
When equal measures of good and bad are present…the psychological effects of bad ones outweigh those of the good ones. This may in fact be a general principle or law of psychological phenomena, possibly reflecting the innate predispositions of the psyche or at least reflecting the almost inevitable adaptation of each individual to the exigencies of daily life. <Bad is Stronger than Good, Review of General Psychology, link>
No, I am talking about something worse than this. I am talking about the pernicious habit of choosing (usually unconsciously) the more troublesome path, something Freud explored quite a bit in his essay Beyond the Pleasure Principle <link>. He began to notice in his clinical work that there was a whole lot of behavior going on that led people away from, not toward, pleasure, and this led him to go ‘beyond’ the idea that a drive for pleasure is always in the driver’s seat.
This blog is an unequivocal affirmation of pleasure and seeks to reinforce the conscious choice of pleasure indulgence.
The modifier “Focused” is in the title for several reasons. The first is to repudiate its antonym, un-focused, and to imply that un-focused pleasure is more ephemeral and unfulfilling.
The second is to suggest that a focused mind will be more aware and therefore more prone to choose pleasure and avoid “repetition compulsion”.
The third is to characterize whatever pleasure is discussed as being more intense than it otherwise would be, in the way that a magnifying glass focuses sunlight in such a way that a dry leaf can be made to burn.
And so I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you shift your minutes, hours, and days towards pleasure and away from pain.