In the erotic art, truth is drawn from pleasure itself, understood as a practice and accumulated as an experience; pleasure is not considered in relation to an absolute law of the permitted and the forbidden, nor by reference to a criterion of utility, but first and foremost in relation to itself.—Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume I
Here I have compiled the texts of many earlier authors on the topics of love, sex, and relationships.
I did this because the literature was becoming a real mess and I thought it would be good to have everything summarized neatly in a single place.
Pleasure, Power & Purpose
Everyone needs to attain a balance of pleasure, power and purpose over the course of their lives.
Maybe you concentrate on pleasure and power first and get to the more purposeful stuff later. That’s OK.
But you should always do what you can when you can, because nothing in this life is certain.
Whatever you do, don’t let your pursuit of one goal wreck the pursuit of another.
There are plenty of books about how to be more successful, how to become a better person and live a more meaningful life.
This treatise is about pleasure and desire. The joys of the senses. The rapture to be had in mindfully coming into contact with the outside world – nature, our bodies, other people’s bodies, the cultural artifacts of minds other than our own.
Some people talk as though the pursuit of pleasure gets in the way of worldly wealth or a life more spiritual. That’s not true.
So long as your hedonism doesn’t endanger or dishonor you, you can pleasurably become just as rich and enlightened as you want.
Who Should Study the Principles of Pleasure?
Anyone who is interested in living a balanced life. Pleasure, power, and purpose are all fundamental drives of the human psyche.
Living The Life
Once you’ve become educated and started making some money, you should rent or buy a nice place in a major city where there are good people or where you need to work.
Furnish your home with beautiful things: comfortable beds and couches, cushions, candles, fragrances, flowers, books, pictures, musical instruments, materials for drawing and painting, board games, and so on.
Men and women alike should establish a relaxed and regular grooming ritual.
After you’ve woken up, relieved yourself and brushed your teeth, apply fragrant oils and ointments to your face, and a little bit of makeup, some red for your lips, according to your custom and preference.
Take a shower every day and apply oil or lotion to your arms and legs every other day. Enjoy a soak in the bath a couple of times a week.
Shave your face, if you need to, a couple of times a week. Shave your armpits and pubic hair and pluck out other body hair every week or two, depending on your need, preference and custom. Also: deodorize!
Do this regularly and without fail.
Have breakfast in the morning and lunch in the afternoon, plus maybe a light dinner in the evening if you need it.
Attend to any urgent or important business in the morning.
After lunch, as time allows, and according to your tastes, chat with your friends, play games, watch videos, go to the gym, read a book, have a snooze.
If you don’t like these things then choose something that you do enjoy.
In the early evening, get dressed up and go out with your friends and acquaintances.
Meet at each other’s houses, go out drinking, engage in conversation, go to the cinema, watch a game, attend a show or concert.
If you’re on the lookout for a partner, make sure there are plenty of suitable people in your group, and impress them with your knowledge, wit, and generosity of spirit.
If you can talk about a wide range of subjects, both the high brow and the popular, you’ll be highly regarded in your circle.
At the end of the night, meet up with one of your lovers at your well-appointed and fragrant home.
Entertain your partner with affectionate conversation and gestures that charm the heart and soul.
You should forge and foster friendships with a mix of childhood playmates, colleagues, neighbors, kindred spirits, confidants, and, if needs be, comrades-in-arms.
Choose friends who tell the truth, take your side and who are constant, firm, loyal, unenvious, trustworthy and discreet.
Assuming you’re at liberty to do so, fuck whoever you like as long as they’re not family or friends.
If you’re using sex for some purpose other than pleasure, you can disapply this rule, subject to the usual caveats, e.g. not ruining your reputation or your lovelife if you’re pursuing power.
If you need someone to help you woo a potential partner, then pick someone who is bold, quick-witted, resourceful, courteous, urbane, and a good reader of people.
A lover ingenious
With friends far and wide
Seizing the moment
Can win over easily
A hard-to-get prize.