‘In life there are two things which are dependable. The pleasures of flesh and the pleasures of literature.’ – Sei Shonagon
I’ve looked at this prompt from Quote Quest every day since it was released, and actually before when browsing the upcoming prompts list and I really couldn’t feel it inspiring much in me at all. Then I read the other posts linked up for this week and I realised why I wasn’t thinking of anything useful to say, it’s because I don’t overly agree with or relate to the quote.
While I totally see where those who do agree with, or relate to it are coming from, my response to the quote is a little more ‘what you chattin’ about?’ than anything else.
I think it’s the use of the word dependable that makes me question this quote. Lots of things are dependable in life, and if I were to make a list of those things I’m not sure I would have included sex and literature on that list. Now, I realise sex and literature are likely to always exist but are they really dependable for everyone? And should we expect them to be?
Perhaps pleasures of the flesh would be more likely to make its way onto my list of things you can depend on in life. Reading though, don’t get me wrong, I know all being well we all learn to read, but not everyone sees reading as a pleasure and I think sometimes people who are into books can be a bit obnoxious towards those people who don’t find joy in books.
Then there’s the debate over what books are worth reading, and what books are just glorified toilet paper. My opinion if you enjoy reading something then everyone else should keep their opinions to themselves and get stuffed. Discouraging people from talking about books and reading because they’re not reading books you consider to be ‘worthwhile’ is just a shitty thing to do.
That said, if someone truly doesn’t find any pleasure in reading I don’t think there should be any judgement placed on them for that. I know so many people who for various reasons just do not see the joy in reading. To them, it is a chore, a headache and not a means to enjoy themselves.
I’m not one of those people, I do find pleasure in reading, but I don’t do it anywhere near as much as I used to. I’ve enjoyed all sorts of books from Twilight to Tess of the d’Urbervilles. I’ve also got bored of books within a few pages that others have raved about and devoured books that other people think are utter shite. I apologise for neither.
When I do read a book I tend to do so via audiobook. After having two new books downloaded onto my kindle for eye-reading and not touching them, I decided that maybe just returning to an audiobook was a better idea. I love having the stories read to me and I definitely commit more of the book details to memory when I listen to a book compared to when I read it with my own eyes.
My little boy struggles with reading, amongst other things, and is actually going to be screened for dyslexia when he returns to school after lockdown. We had a conversation the other day where he told me audiobooks and reading on your phone is cheating and not proper reading! Well, you better believe I set him straight on that line of thinking. Why on earth would we discourage people from consuming stories and information in whatever way they enjoy. I think schools very much focus on paper books though and I think in this day and age they’re missing a trick, and perhaps more youngsters would find their way to enjoying a wider range of books if they were taught that any way you enjoy reading is fine, especially if you are someone who finds eyes on paper reading a challenge.
I could rewrite those last few paragraphs about reading and just change certain words to cover how I feel about the ways in which people ‘should’ enjoy sex. First of all, I think there is a natural assumption that we all want sex and will all enjoy sex and those that don’t are somehow malfunctioning. I think if we were to talk more openly and positively about sex in general as a society, then we’d maybe have a better understanding of those folks who don’t feel the urge to have sex as a frequent part of their lives.
For those of us that do enjoy sex as one of the pleasures in our lives, there is again a very definite sense of the right way and wrong way to do it. If you ask me, the only right way is consensually. What folks do inside of that consent is their business, who are we to say they’re enjoying it the wrong way just because they’re doing it differently to how we might do things.
That includes the frequency of sex, type of sex acts done, who you have sex with, amount of people you have sex with, the list goes on and on I’m sure. Personally in my sex life right now we regularly include fingering, P.I.V and blowjobs and not much more, ooh, except nipple licking/sucking, I do enjoy that I must admit. To some folks that might seem like a very small list of things, especially compared to some of the things I’ve previously written about enjoying, but the truth is this is the most satisfying and pleasurable sex I have ever had. In this relationship the pleasure of the flesh is dependable. I know I can get it and I know I will enjoy it. This is the first time in my life though I have felt that way. In previous relationships, I either couldn’t depend on getting any sex, or I couldn’t depend on the fact I would enjoy it.
I don’t think we should be precious about sex or reading, some people are so far up their own backsides regarding how great they are at one or the other or both in some cases, that in my opinion, they start to totally miss the point that neither sex nor reading should be about whether or not you can pass an exam in them, but more about how much joy they bring to your life.