Aaron Schuster
Absolute Lust—The History of Pleasure



12.10.19, 16:00

Forum Stadtpark

In his lecture, Aaron Schuster asks whether pleasure even has a history. The question is a serious one, given that many thinkers have noted the concept’s relative resistance to change. Aldous Huxley, in an essay titled “Wanted: A New Pleasure,” complained about the monotony of pleasure over time and its lack of novelty and inventiveness. Jacques Lacan echoed this sentiment when he lamented the cultural failure to invent a new perversion. Sigmund Freud, on the other hand, pointed to an interesting tension or contradiction contained in the German word Lust, which can be used to signify both desire and satisfaction. Starting from this linguistic peculiarity, Schuster proposes a way of understanding the history of pleasure (Lust), as the development or working out of the different possible relations between desire and satisfaction. This history involves various cultural shapes of pleasure leading up to and including contemporary forms of hedonism, but it also has an “end,” culminating in “absolute pleasure.” What is the ultimate form of pleasure? That is the question this lecture seeks to answer.