"Life cannot be one continual orgasm"

By Harriet Staff

And other words of wisdom from John Ashbery, via This Recording:

JA: I don't know. I'm wondering why all these people want that ambiguity so much.

KK: Have your speculations about ambiguity produced any results as yet?

JA: Only this: that ambiguity seems to the same thing as happiness - or pleasant surprise, as you put it. (I am assuming that from the moment that life cannot be one continual orgasm, real happiness is impossible and pleasant surprise is promoted to the front rank of the emotions.) Everybody wants the biggest possible assortment of all available things. Happy endings are nice and tragedy is good for the soul, etc, etc.

KK: You speak after my own heart but you speak more as an aesthetician than as a man. Perhaps there is really no distinction between the two, but some pleasures do free one from desiring others.

JA: Name one.

KK: The pleasure of relief from pain frees one temporarily from the desire to suffer.

Originally Published: January 20th, 2011