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7 June 2007

The Most Reliable Form Of Pleasure?

The impending visit of Monsieur Exquisite to England and our subsequent weekend at my London pad got me thinking about the good old days when we were still resident on the same continent before he abandoned Nowheresville for Paris, Berkeley, Paris again (now) and (soon) Philly (not that I can blame him really).

Back in the day, Monsieur Exquisite and I would spent hours trying to out-pretentious each other and he was absolutely adamant that his favourite quotation - anticipation is the purest form of pleasure - came from Flaubert's L'Education Sentimentale in its English translation. However, trusty Google disagreed. In fact, the only source that kept coming up was episode 16 of season 5 of Dawson's Creek (then, embarrassingly, my favourite TV programme, which was much maligned by Monsieur Exquisite), in an exchange between heroine Joey and her English lit. professor Wilder, while discussing their favourite novel endings:

Joey: How do you remember something that never happened?

Wilder: Fondly. You see, Flaubert believed that anticipation was the purest form of pleasure...and the most reliable. And that while the things that actually happen to you would invariably disappoint, the things that never happened to you would never dim. Never fade. They would always be engraved in your heart with a sort of sweet sadness.

I was delighted at the thought that ME's favourite quotation could have come from DC but eventually, the mystery was solved; the DC episode is very closely paraphrasing Julian Barnes' novel Flaubert's Parrot, which lets ME off the hook to some extent. I hadn't read anything by Barnes at the time but went right out and bought the book, found the extract and immediately emailed ME, who was in the Quartier Latin at the time. It turns out that Flaubert rather implied that anticipation was the purest form of pleasure but the quotation is definitely all Barnes' (I think to infer this, you really have to read the whole of l'Education Sentimentale in the original French, which sounded like much too much effort just to prove a point):

Isn't the most reliable form of pleasure, Flaubert implies, the pleasure of anticipation? Who needs to burst into fulfilment's desolate attic?

Appletiser (incidentally, when did Appletise even gain an r?) begs to differ, claiming to be "100% Pure Pleasure," which would therefore mean that Appletiser is the purest form of pleasure, or that anticipation is the purest form of Appletiser? Or something.

Also, posting blog entries at this late hour is bound to come back to haunt me...

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