Zadie Smith On Joy Vs. Pleasure

by Kimverlyn

Thought Catalog

In “Joy” Zadie Smith discusses the difference between pleasure and joy. According to her, pleasure is just that—nothing more, nothing less. It is straightforward and therefore usually involves something rather trivial. A candy bar, for example, might bring someone pleasure because it’s uncomplicated and induces instant gratification. But it’s also primitive in nature.

A relationship, on the other hand, isn’t that simple, and therefore cannot be associated with easy pleasure but with joy, which Zadie calls “that mixture of terror, pain, and delight,” which she “find some way to live with daily.”

I guess one way of distinguishing joy from the rest of your emotions is by detecting that acute sensation of dread—dread that this joy will not last, or dread of the inevitable death of us all, which will halt this ecstatic sensation. For me, that feeling also defines love. I known I’m truly in love with…

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