Headlining one of the busiest Homecoming weeks in recent memory, the Honors College welcomed Dr. Willard Spiegelman, editor of the Southwest Review and the Hughes Distinguished Professor of English at SMU, to speak on his new book, Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness. Formerly heralded by New York Magazine as "Best Dressed Academic," Dr. Spiegelman entertained a full house in the Honors Commons on October 22nd, discussing the necessity of pleasure in a balanced life. He proposes that pleasure equates to calculated uselessness, and that maintaining calculated uselessness in one's life is a necessity. When you reach age fifty, Dr. Spiegelman states, "you realize your life is half over, which is not necessarily the case at age forty." He advocates living for pleasure after age fifty, as pleasure should trump duty at this point in your life.
As part of a thoroughly entertaining presentation littered with his own brief renditions of show tunes, Dr. Spiegelman defined the seven pleasures: Reading, Walking, Looking, Dancing, Writing, Listening, and Swimming.
The centerpiece of his book of essays is the Pleasure of Dancing—according to Dr. Spiegelman, good dancers are simply better human beings. All of the pleasures described in his book are pleasures that can be enjoyed alone.
Following his lecture, Dr. Spiegelman continued to demonstrate his wonderfully dry sense of humor, as he fielded questions from both students and professors. When asked, "isn’t a book of essays just like a series of blogs?" he responded, "I wouldn’t know because I don’t read blogs, or anything else on a screen really other than e-mails." On whether he felt if "there are other Pleasures that you missed in this book, like Talking?" he was quick to respond, "Yes, that will be left to the next book."
Dr. Spiegelman's new book, Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness, is published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux and is available at Amazon.com, where it has already earned a 5-star rating.