Adam Phillips has been called “the Oliver Sacks of psychoanalysis,” and in his remarkable new book, Unforbidden Pleasures, he writes about agency and desire in an utterly transformative way.
Ileene Smith: Am I correct in thinking that unforbidden pleasures are often interior, and that your point is that… they are low-hanging fruit, there for the taking?
Adam Phillips: Most of the pleasures of our lives, I think, are in fact unforbidden. The whole range from enjoying one’s coffee in the morning to walking outside on a sunny day. I think that there’s a huge range of unforbidden pleasures but they are partly invisible—making a list of them might almost sound banal. So I would say that most of our pleasures, most of our real enjoyments, are actually unforbidden pleasures.
Oscar Wilde shows us the way the forbidden both excites pleasure and shapes our interest in it. Secondarily, though, he shows us the incredible unforbidden pleasure of interesting conversation between people. In other words, he shows us that maybe our primary unforbidden pleasure is conversation, is exchange.