EP&M Online Essay
There is pleasure in the contemplation of the object one desires; there
is a pleasure in tasting, touching, hearing, or seeing the object; and
there is a pleasure in the remembrance of the object enjoyed.
This pleasure, what is it? Is pleasure specific to the object and
unique to the person, or is pleasure general and universal? In
other words, do we partake of the idea of pleasure, or is pleasure an
object of reality. The kiss is to all humanity a pleasure.
Then, since a kiss is known as a pleasure to all, let it be the focus
of our inquiry.
A kiss is produced when the
flesh of one touches the flesh of another. Equality between those
engaged is not necessary, nor is it necessary that the kiss be from or
to one conscious, alive, or human; the kiss of a sleeping child, to one
departed, or to a beloved pet. These kisses all are of a kind:
the kind, generous love -- an affection as unselfish as it is noble,
and magnanimous for it is unsolicited. Like a gift from nature,
this kiss passes over the object loved as does the rays from a generous
The kiss of greeting and
parting passes like the moment, sweet in fragrance and brief in time;
it passes lightly over the cheek or through the hair. Sometimes
this kiss is a hair's breath from the hand of the adored or respected
object. Occasionally the kiss is repeated severally upon either
cheek and accompanied with a hug, drawing for a moment the two objects
to one. Whereon, in the instant, the kiss dissolves and the
friend is gone. This is the kiss of mortals passing on their way
through the brief time of life, acknowledging in this little pleasure
the joy of life.
Embracing lovers kiss as
though they would draw the object of desire into themselves; every part
of the flesh swells, as does a fruit ready to be taken -- liquid,
plump, yet firm and tasty. This kiss is the most violent, as it
is imbued with appetite, and like appetite, when the mouth opens it
does so with the intention to bite. Watch two lovers biting as
though, if they could, they would eat the other up. The eyes of
the lovers may at first be direct, but soon they will roll, the lids
will close till all the will is lost to the pleasure of desire.
Unlike the gentle kiss of kindness, or the airy kiss of friendship, the
kiss of desire is fleshy and strong.
The kiss of play comes
in many forms: The pursing of lips silly or sensual; the bold kiss to
the air with both hands, or with one hand thrown gallantly to the side;
and the wink is a kiss of intimacy from mind to mind. The kiss
above the nude and extended hand is a grand and public gesture; and the
play of lips is the pretending of a delighted imagination.
The kiss of power is seldom
welcomed, for this kiss commands possession; the pleasure of this kiss
is usually acquisitive and as such leaves nothing to the subject.
It is like masturbation, and those who might take pleasure in it
consider themselves so base that their pleasure is in the depravity of
the soul. But even here the kiss is a pleasure shared.
Of what pleasure is the kiss
of a salt breeze, from the shimmering leaves, or from the grasses
dancing about the knees? These too are like a kiss from one life
to another, but here a form of pure delight from objects unmindful to
one with a mind.
With just a summary view it
is seen that all kisses are of the flesh; that kisses are conceived in
the mind and performed in time; that kisses are actions from volition
in animate objects. Therefore, the kiss is of the material world,
not of the realm of idea. Yet, granting this, are we any closer
to understanding pleasure. Remember, anticipation and
contemplation; what are these.
The anticipation and
contemplation of any pleasure is, like that of the kiss, an association
with objective sensation. Although one can have a pleasant
thought of a pleasant thought, that former thought was itself of an
object. There is no pleasure in the immaterial: Pleasure is
sensational first, then perceptive, then rational. All pleasure
is in the flesh, whether in the flesh of the lips, or in the flesh of
The sum of all pleasure is
life; life is the wellspring of joy; and the kiss: well, the kiss is
the participation of a person in the reality of existence. This
"On Pleasure" © 2006 by Michael
Michael Curtis is a poet, sculptor,
professor, and architect who has appeared on these pages many times.