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Spring 2024


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A New Interview
A Q&A with Michael Nylan

Now up on the MIT Press blog, Michael Nylan provides a short interview unpacking The Chinese Pleasure Book. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full interview. An excerpt appears below:

Q: “Did researching pleasure help you find it in your own life?”

A: “Yes, absolutely. When one is translating classical Chinese, one has to think about the precise word to translate the precise pleasure being described, and rolling those ideas over in the mind is marvelous. Also, I have enjoyed discussing the book, even the problems in writing the book, with trusted friends and with some new acquaintances.”

Q: “Could you describe your own philosophy of pleasure?”

A: “I am a firm believer in the Chinese model, which says first, that I have no identity apart from my social engagements, and second, that different parts of me will come to the fore in different social engagements, and all of them belong to the situation as it unfolds. Another firm belief: I recently read in The New York Times that neuroscientists are debating whether the pleasures to be had from watching porn are or are not the same as those to be had from viewing the “Mona Lisa.” I believe they are not the same, although I do not expect to be able to prove it. The Chinese do not use the word “pleasure” for many short-term delights, nor do they expect to be relieved of pain in life.”