rough notes

an excerpt from a book re-read too many times.

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From: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, by Milan Kundera. Try it, you’ll like it…

“Laughter? Do people even care about laughter? I mean real laugher, beyond joking, mockery, ridicule. Laughter, an immense and delicious sensual pleasure, wholly sensual pleasure. . .

“I said to my sister, or she said to me, come over, shall we play together? We stretched out side by side on a bed and began. By pretending, of course. Forced laughter. Laughable laughter. Laughter so laughable it made us laugh. Then it came, real laughter, total laughter, taking us into its immense tide. Bursts of repeated, rushing, unleashed laughter, magnificent laughter, sumptuous and mad. . . . And we laugh out laughter to the infinity of laughter. . . . O laughter! Laughter of sensual pleasure, sensual pleasure of laughter; to laugh is to live profoundly.”

This quotation is from a book called Parole de femme (Woman’s Word). It was published in 1976 by one of the passionate feminists who have made a distinctive mark on the climate of out time. It is a mystical manifesto of joy. To oppose male sexual desire, which is devoted to the fleeting moments of erection and thus fatally engaged with violence, annihilation, and extinction, the author exalts, as its antipode, female jouissane – gentle, pervasive, and continuing sensual pleasure. For a woman who is not alienated from her own essence, “eating, drinking, urinating, defecating, touching, hearing or even just being here” are all sensual pleasures. Such enumeration of pleasures extends through the book like a beautiful litany. “Living is being happy: seeing, hearing, touching, drinking, eating, urinating, defecating, diving into the water and gazing at the sky, laughing and crying.” And coition is beautiful because it is the sum of “all of life’s possible sensual pleasures”

. . .

Only a fool could laugh at this manifesto of joy. All mysticism is excessive. The mystic must not be afraid of ridicule if she wants to go to the limits, the limits of humility or the limits of sensual pleasure. . . .

Up above, as the vault of this temple of pleasure, is the sound of laughter, “that delightful trance of happiness, that utmost height of sensual pleasure. Laughter of sensual pleasure, sensual pleasure of laughter.” Unquestionably, such laughter is “beyond joking, mockery, ridicule” the two sisters stretched out on their bed are not laughing about anything in particular, their laughter has no object, it is the expression of being rejoicing in being. Just as someone in pain is linked by his groans to the present moment (and is entirely outside past and future), so someone bursting out in such ecstatic laughter is without memory and without desire, for he is emitting his shout into the world’s present moment and wishes to known only that.


Written by mitchellirons

April 21, 2002 at 2:35 am

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