Contrary to popular belief, Epicurus defined pleasure as the absence of pain. His hedonism did not reduce man to a savage brute dominated by and operating solely in pursuit of wild passions. He was after ataraxia. Peace of mind.
Is pain the absence of pleasure? You know very well that it is. Better put, it is the absence of the mere capacity of feeling and even desiring pleasure. In ten or twenty years you will laugh at yourself, how you spent a fair amount of your youth in such state — your senses dulled, incapable of anything else but grief. Over what, you have forgotten.
Does pain go away and leave no trace then?, Kawabata wrote. You agree. You too sometimes even feel sentimental for it.
And when you finally wrap your head around the idea, you are stunned. Your mind has somehow grown accustomed to being occupied, much to your dismay, by a battalion of concepts that drifts back to a common denominator no matter what you do, made into an ever-expanding patchwork of images and words. Your mind is shocked over the sudden evacuation, over the emptiness, over the voidness of thought and much more of feeling.
It felt like a slap, but it didn’t sting. Nor has it left a beep red mark. Only the warmth lingers. And you have learned, better than anyone else I should add, how to make the most out of what remains.