Thursday, September 22, 2005

"Pure Pleasure"

"Broadly then, what keeps adults from joining in children's games is, generally speaking, not that they have no pleasure in them; it is simply that they have no leisure for them. It is that they cannot afford the expenditure of toil and time and consideration for so grand and grave a scheme. I have been myself attempting for some time past to complete a play in a small toy theatre, the sort of toy theatre that used to be called Penny Plain and Twopence Coloured; only that I drew and coloured the figures and scenes myself. Hence I was free from the degrading obligation of having to pay either a penny or twopence; I only had to pay a shilling a sheet for good cardboard and a shilling a box for bad water colours. The kind of miniature stage I mean is probably familiar to everyone; it is never more than a development of the stage which Skelt made and Stevenson celebrated.

"But though I have worked much harder at the toy theatre than I ever worked at any tale or article, I cannot finish it; the work seems too heavy for me. I have to break off and betake myself to lighter employment; such as the biographies of great men. The play of 'St. George and the Dragon', over which I have burnt the midnight oil (you must colour the thing by lamplight because that is how it will be seen), still lacks, most conspicuously, alas two wings of the Sultan's Palace, and also some comprehensible and workable way of getting up the curtain.

"All this gives me a feeling touching the real meaning of immortality. In this world we cannot have pure pleasure. This is partly because pure pleasure would be dangerous to us and to our neighbours. But it is partly because pure pleasure is a great deal too much trouble. If I am ever in any other and better world, I hope that I shall have enough time to play with nothing but toy theatres; and I hope that I shall have enough divine and superhuman energy to act at least one play in them without a hitch..."
From On Lying in Bed & Other Essays by G.K. Chesterton