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N FREDRICKSON--True Hedonism: The Philosophy of Being Gay

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best—" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.

My dear gay friends, love yourselves. Let the goal of your life be named Pleasure; consider Happiness the highest good. Set no god, ideal, or person above it. Denounce as a blasphemer and apostate of Truth anyone who proclaims a higher value, for those who are not rich in self-love will find their treasury empty when they seek to enrich others. Seek in all things the maximization of Pleasure. However, having decided to be happy and to be a faithful follower pleasure, use all your resources in its pursuit and acquisition.

We are rational animals. We should, then, use our cunning to increase and sustain our pleasures. And, although we live in a world that sometimes scorns the intellect, we should not be ashamed of the pleasure we take in thinking, in the activity of being rational animals. Likewise—for the mind only knows the comely form of Reason by moving through the world—I ask, Do we glory in the sensations of the body? Then Reason tells us we should care for our bodies. They are the temples of her twin sister, Pleasure; they are the holy spaces where fragrant incense fills the nostrils and sacred foods ravish the tongue, where hymns are offered in praise of the Beautiful, and where we worship the hot, wet, softness of the flesh with the dance and play of sex. Again I ask, Are we social animals, delighting in the company of our fellows? Then we ought to cultivate our social ties, our bonds of friendship.

True hedonism is rational. It is not the nearsighted pursuit of every possible occasion of pleasure. The devotee of Pleasure takes the long view and thereby acquires that peculiarly intense modality of pleasure known as Happiness. The hedonist knows that it is unpleasant, and thus immoral, to unduly upset the equilibrium of one's mind, body, and life. A hedonist is never prudish, but will abstain, knowing that disciplined, self-imposed restraint from satisfying a desire will only make the ultimate satisfaction of the desire more pleasurable. As a true and rational hedonist, she enjoys the unique quality of anticipation.

Is not desire painful? Yes, beautifully so. Hedonists know, with intimate and scandalous clarity, that pain has its place as a compliment to pleasure. Apply yourself to this art, the subtle science of increasing and sustaining your pleasure, and you will come to know yourself. The startling powers and limits of your body and mind will be revealed to you. The nature of your surroundings will become clearer, for the character of one's environment has much to do with one's own nature. Indulging in this, the naughtiest, most subversive, most masturbatory of pleasures, namely, the contemplative, you will, O my friends, become true hedonists; you will be happy; you will be gay.


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