Macchine Desideranti

Andrés Neumann

Pleasure and Passion inspire the path towards oneself

Andrés: My pleasure, right now, will be to walk down and join you. I’d like to have a quick meditation with you.  So, I ask you to please adjust the position of the body, uncross your legs, and close your eyes. You can also move your arms, your body, do everything you need to feel pleasure right now.

Public: Excuse me, can we turn off the air conditioning? It’s too high over here.

Andrés: Excellent idea. This is a practical example for all of us to develop our senses to feel pleasure. A very important thing in each moment of our life.

Public: Sorry, but I would like to go to the bathroom (…)

Andrés: Great, here we have someone with courage! Everyone else is invited to do the same, if needed. While we wait for our friend to come back to the room, we can meditate, each one for themselves. What do I know about my own pleasure? What do I need? What do we need at this precise moment? To drink water, what else?

Public: to lower the lights.

Andrés: To lower the lights, great idea! Let’s try to have a shared experience! In this room we are all researchers, we are researchers of the truth. So, let’s try to apply this criteria to every moment of our life in a practical way, to understand pleasure and passion – the topic of this conference. Who else?

Public: Let’s open the door, so the air can come in.

Andrés: Ok, let’s open the door, very good idea! A lot of things happen when we come into touch with our pleasure. For example: does anybody need a little back massage? You are invited to arrange yourselves. Why is the door half open only, and not completely?

Public: Because people pass by.

Andrés: So, we’ve learned something new, when we look for pleasure, things that might cause an inconvenience to another person occur. What should we do then? What should we do in such a case? It’s necessary to negotiate between different needs. So, we’ve also learned that for our own pleasure, we have to find a way in order to make others feel pleasure as well. Otherwise we may annoy the people who walk through the corridor and vice-versa. It seems easy, but it tends to be neglected and a double attention is needed. What else can we need?

Public: Play music.

Andrés: Music is an excellent example, but other colleagues think, and I agree, that if we listened to music perhaps we’d struggle to hear what we are saying. But it’s interesting, thanks for the contribution, because it allows us to see how to negotiate pleasure, and understand how difficult it is to be aware of and share our pleasure, since we are trying to share it. But as we can see, it’s not always easy, because it implies different possibilities. Have they all come back yet?

Public: No, not yet.

Andrés: Good. The experiment that we are doing together has already shown us some interesting facts about pleasure that we didn’t know a few minutes ago. How? By simply sharing our experiences, as scientists usually do in their laboratories. What do we really know about man’s pleasure, about our own pleasure? Nothing should ever be taken for granted. I would like to hear your opinions about what pleasure is. Anyone who has the courage to say: “to me the pleasure is …”

Public: I raised my hand to go to the bathroom.

Andrés: Okay, this is a simple and practical pleasure. Our physical needs. The satisfaction of a need is a pleasure. But are all the pleasures satisfactions of needs only? Or are there other kinds of pleasure as well?

Public: The hot shower water on my skin gives me great pleasure.

Andrés: Well, did everyone hear? We all enjoy hot shower water, but how hot? Wait, wait, we are still talking about the temperature of shower water. Nothing should be taken for granted, let’s stick to the issue. We should not go on until we better analyse it. We are researchers and we have to remember that. We are scientists and we have to investigate seriously, right? This is a very subtle point.
When taking a shower, how hot should the water be in order not to get scalded? This is very subtle, we all have the experience of this when we move back and forth a knob when we are looking for the right temperature for the shower water. We also know that this isn’t the same for everyone. And we get a direct experience of how close pleasure and displeasure are, inch by inch of a knob. So, how do we regulate it? It’s not easy, we are all looking for the right intensity, the right temperature, to feel pleasure. But life is not always like this, we do not always have a knob in our hand. Take an example from relationships, where we can notice very well how subtle the feeling of pleasure can be.  And we are here to closely investigate the meaning of a Word: pleasure, a word we use every day. Why are we here now?

Public: For pleasure.

Andrés: For pleasure. So, this morning we came here because we expected that it would give us pleasure. What could I say now, or do, to fulfil your desire, to give you the sense of pleasure for which you have come?

Public: Continue like this.

Andrés: Ok. But if I continued like this, after a little while we’d all fall asleep. So, this is an important point about pleasure, pay attention, it is very important. Who inside us can feel the pleasure? This is a question …

Public: The child in us.

Andrés: The child who wants to play, ok, but even the child falls asleep. So, what can we do to get to know better that child who can feel pleasure? If there is no one inside us, even with beautiful music, and me talking, after a little while we all fall asleep.

Public: It is necessary to be present to ourselves.

Andrés: Yes, the colleague here is talking about something very important. Being present to ourselves, this is a very important point. In the society in which we live, in which pleasure is sometimes measured by the number of likes on Facebook, I don’t really know who inside me feels the pleasure of 37 likes. Is it the boy? Is it a real pleasure? I have no answer for this, but it is certainly an issue that we should investigate. We all know that the consumer society is based on pleasure, but on what pleasure? About the pleasure of having a bag or shoes of such and such Brand? In which way is this pleasure related, or not, to my pleasure? This issue is much trickier than it seems. How can we call the muscle in my body, mind or feeling that will grant pleasure? The muscle that will grant pleasure is Desire. My desires push me in the direction of pleasure. Pleasure is the light at the bottom of the tunnel. My desire… in every moment I desire pleasure. Do you agree?

Public: Yes.

Andrés: Ok, now we must be conscious scientists, and study our own desire. Since we don’t know enough about this. For this purpose, I would advise you to study what a French philosopher named René Girard had to say about the issue of desire. He talked about something called Mimetic Desire. So, for example, the desire for a Gucci bag, where does it come from? Is it a desire of my own, or does it come from somewhere else, from outside of me? Is it mine or is it a cultural imprinting?

Public: It is induced.

Andrés: Induced. So, what is the difference between the child and me, between the induced desire, the likes on Facebook and the Gucci’s bag? These are issues that we don’t research deeply enough. I assure you that René Girard will be a great help. His starting point is the study of human literature. The heroes of literature:
Shakespeare, Cervantes, Don Quixote. Take Don Quixote for example: everything Don Quixote does is meant to resemble a romantic hero about whom he had read as a child. So, we can see that Don Quixote, or ourselves, we don’t act in order to fulfil our own desires. We will start to see that we do almost everything by a mimetic desire. So, by observing our desires with greater attention, we will find a way to advance on the path of this research. And there is, in the title of this conference, another magical Word: Passions. What happens with our passions? In which way are they related, or not, to our desire, to our pleasure? Do our passions always draw us towards pleasure?  We are counsellors, gestaltists, artists. Take an example from an artist: a writer locked in his room to write his book, does he always feel pleasure? Probably not. Does a counsellor always find pleasure with his clients?
Margherita has already told us that they don’t at times. So, what keeps me going while this fuel is missing? I don’t know, we are here to find out. Because, take an example from us who are here today, maybe someone has left a crying child at home.  Maybe this morning someone was having sex with their husband or wife, and had to say “now, excuse me, I must go”. Terrible, the need to choose between a pleasure and another pleasure, or expectation of it. These are all things that need to be investigated deeply.  The passions. Our passion for Gestalt for example, or for music. Yes, we are inhabited by passions. So, starting from today we can study the connection between our desire, our pleasure and our passions attentively.
We can start researching this in a specific way. For example, in our modern times there is an entire BDSM subculture that I am actually researching myself. People who tie and hang themselves with heavy ropes. Sadomasochists, ok? A quite popular subculture, with Facebook groups, workshops, followers. What makes a person allow somebody else to tie him up with heavy ropes? Or what makes somebody want to make a slave out of somebody else?
Why does this happen? What pleasure is sought by the one who binds, and what pleasure is sought by the one who is tied?  We are talking about extreme cases but interesting for our research on pleasure. For me it’s a mystery but I try to understand, because everyone has known experiences and relationships that have been violent, where we have been violent ourselves. It’s an invitation to research thoroughly, if Margherita invites me again next year, we can continue our conversation, and you will tell me about your findings.