Tuesday, April 14, 2009

No Simple Pleasures?

From the May 2009 While We're At It section of First Things Magazine:

The circus came to town yesterday. At midnight on March 23, ten elephants walked through the Midtown Tunnel and along 34 Street, on their way to Madison Square Garden: the 139th annual Animal Walk of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Circus. The great gray legs of the pachyderms, their swinging trunks, that strangely rapid shuffle that they do: a simple pleasure to see. Except that the animal-rights activists were out in protest at the entrance to the tunnel. There are no simple pleasures remaining in our puritanical times; each human pleasure is run through the great fires of human guilt, where it must be consumed. Or perhaps I mean each small and innocent joy must be consumed. What strange days: The complex pleasures of human sexuality are declared simple and guilt-free, while the simple pleasures of a circus parade are rendered complex and guilty.