Delight Springs

Monday, July 8, 2013

Consummatory experience

Some of my earliest blog posts narrated a Spring Break trek in March 2007, when I drove from Murfreesboro TN to a philosophy conference in Columbia SC, via the Florida Grapefruit League. I forget if the conference was an excuse to take in some baseball, or if it was the other way around. I enjoyed both.

I do recall that I was feeling my oats, after finally kicking a long winter's illness. I had just a couple of simple points to make, at the conference and in the post, about life's priorities. I stand by them still. 

From the vault, 3.9.07:

Anhedonia & consummatory experience

I commented in public on two philosophy papers this morning, one concerned with John Dewey's notion of "consummatory experience" and the other with the phenomenon of "anhedonia" -- the loss of zest, spring, joy, delight -- and what French philosopher Gabriel Marcel might have to teach William James about it. I was concerned to make just a couple of points: 
1. Consummatory experiences are better had & enjoyed than talked about & analyzed.
2. The more consummatory experiences you have, the less likely you are to experience anhedonia.
I made those points, but not (of course) so concisely. This being an academic philosophy conference, and philosophy being a discipline that trades chiefly in words, I was expected to talk at much greater length about those two points and others besides. I did not disappoint.
But I hope my confreres will do what I did yesterday: go outside, breathe the fresh air, take in some new sights, walk around... even if you don't have a consummatory moment, you'll still feel better and will be far less vulnerable to the dreaded anhedonia (which, btw, our French speaker pronounced not as rhyming with "Caledonia" but instead with the greater stress on the penultimate syllable -- so I learned at least one thing this morning). 
I also related my experiences of the past week, which to my mind show that it is indeed possible to chase down your consummations (or at least become open to them) if you want to.
Next stop: the mountainous environs of Asheville, NC. Then, to invoke the inevitable baseball metaphor, I'll round 3d and head for home.
That was a fun trip. The next and final stops were indeed consummations. My friend in the mountains is doing great and at long last, last I heard, is planning a December wedding. And home's still a prime destination.

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