The Dangerous Pleasure of Art
Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene is an 800-page British allegorical poem from the late 1500s about Christian knights or whatever that nobody reads anymore but we don’t care about that. What we care about this 14 page section, which I am going to give you and go over in detail so you don’t need to know anything about it when you walk in the door, where one of the knights enters into the Big Bad’s pleasure garden and nearly gets ensnared.
That part of the poem, called the Bower of Bliss, is more than an adventure story (it’s a terrible adventure story) and more than a great bit of poetry (it is an insanely powerful and influential bit of poetry). It is a tour-de-force intellectual analysis of the relationship between art and morality, illusion and reality, sex and masculinity and violence and pornography and women — one that outshines 100 philosophers and 1,000 think-pieces about Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Louis CK, Jeffrey Tambor and Woody Allen. Hot takes are for babies; let’s get a context hundreds of years old for the things that concern us now.
Teacher: Geoff Klock