Sex, Drugs and Chocolate

PDF EBook by Paul Martin

EBook Description

"I adore simple pleasures. Sex, Drugs and Chocolate PDF EBook They are the last refuge of the complex."

"Anything becomes a pleasure if one does it too often."
Oscar Wilde

Mr Martin would disagree: pleasure, in any form, is anything but simple and our propensity to perform the acts we associate with pleasure often has little or nothing to do with joy.

Wilde was a man who had plenty to say regarding most things and, like Suetonius' twelve caesars (all too briefly mentioned by Martin), he thought he knew a thing or two about pleasure. He's not the only one. Apparently, scientists now tell us, along with the other mood- PDFenhancers like sugar, chocolate, caffeine, broccoli, and even curly kale, we've been self-medicating with salt even though we know too much is bad for us. Hardly surprising considering that archaeological evidence dating the use of psychoactive substances back at least 10,000 years and the provenance of the world's oldest paid occupation would both suggest that people have been trying to enjoy themselves for quite a while now.

Given the inventiveness with which man has sought to satisfy his urges over the years it is not unreasonable to expect a book dealing with pleasure to provide some measure of the stuff itself but by concentrating almost solely, albeit in disappointingly little real detail, on the (secondhand) science whilst providing only a cursory overview of the history and culture of pleasure this book feels like a missed opportunity (for a shot of instant gratification along historical lines you could try John Brewer's 'The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century' or T H White's 'Age of Scandal'. However, if you prefer your pleasures deferred why not wait for the promised new history from Penguin by Oswyn Murray). An approach which focuses on the biology in an effort to explain the evolutionary benefits that pleasure (and its subtle relationship to pain) has for the individual might have provided some respite from the onslaught of received opinion contained within and, in turn, produced a more interesting read by applying its thesis in more depth to the case studies of some of history's more infamous libertines and bon vivants. Unfortunately not. It is an approach that also allows for no proper consideration of those collective outbursts of merriment and mayhem that periodically litter history (the Restoration of the English monarchy and the late Eighteenth century, as already mentioned, and following as it did on the heels of the 'Age of Reason' are two periods that spring nimbly to mind but are given short shrift by the book). With this lack of depth the book offers itself no choice but to head out at a tangent: after taking great pains to establish as distinct from pleasure both desire and addiction it then expends long sections of the book dealing with both.

The workman-like writing lacks the graceful prose of, say, a Steven Pinker: someone capable of rendering more detailed, complex and sometimes contentious issues in a manner that can make them seem self-evidently sensible even to the layperson. Not to say that this is a difficult read, far from it. Rather, it is just dull. All of which disappointments, ultimately, had me seeking solace in substances with a high-cacao content. Like this book? Read online this: The Pleasure Garden An Illustrated History of British Gardening, Drugs in Britain.

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