Pain, pleasure and need


Louis-Ferdinand Céline

The pain exhibits itself. Pleasure and necessity have shame. This thought by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, taken from his famous novel Journey to the End of the Night, if at a quick reading it seems to be right, even taken for granted, reread in a more exegetical way is instead contradictory. It consists of two sentences. The first concerns pain, an element of awareness of one's disadvantaged condition, which can be legitimately made manifest, having nothing negative in itself towards the community which is shown, for many reasons, not least the will to arouse pity. The second sentence speaks of pleasure and necessity, which in Céline's intention should be in contrast with the first, because shame induces one to hide and not to reveal itself, and here the contradiction arises. However, while pleasure, being of a different nature from that of pain and necessity, produces feelings different from those deriving from the latter, pain and necessity in the broadest sense of the terms, belong to the same family. Necessity, as a privation or lack of requisites necessary for the realization of a project or for a simple improvement of one's existence, generates spiritual discomfort and dissatisfaction, from which pain arises (Schopenhauer). Pain and need belong to the same spiritual cell and then, if it is true that the state of need can generate shame, pain should also cause the same consequences and not be exhibited. Or perhaps, and this I think is the most exact interpretation, necessity can also be shown, because it pertains to the set of natural moods of every human being and therefore being in need is not absolutely shameful. After all, shame, as Truman Capote asserts, is not having a dirty face, but it is shameful to keep it dirty.

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