He had bitten into a peach and was smelling the pit-streaked flesh. I think I smiled, recognizing my own mannerism. These peaches were a baffling delight, certain ones, producing the kind of sense pleasure that’s so unexpectedly deep it seems to need another context. Ordinary things aren’t supposed to be this gratifying. Nothing about the exterior of the peach tells you it will be so lush, moist and aromatic, juices running along your gums, or so subtly colored inside, a pink-veined golden bloom. I tried to discuss this with the faces across the table.
“But I think pleasure is not easy to repeat,” Eliades said. “Tomorrow you will eat a peach from the same basket and be disappointed. Then you will wonder if you were mistaken. A peach, a cigarette. I enjoy one cigarette out of a thousand. Still I keep smoking. I think pleasure is in the moment more than in the thing. I keep smoking to find this moment. Maybe I will die trying.”
Possibly it was his appearance that gave these remarks the importance of a world view. His wild beard covered most of his face. It started just below the eyes. He seemed to be bleeding this coarse black hair. His shoulders curved forward as he spoke and he rocked slightly at the front edge of the chair. He wore a tan suit and pastel tie, an outfit at odds with the large fierce head, the rough surface he carried.
I tried to pursue the notion that some pleasures overflow the conditions attending them. Maybe I was a little drunk.
From Don DeLillo’s novel The Names.
Three Peaches on a Stone Ledge with a Painted Lady Butterfly, 1695 by Adriaen Coorte (ca. 1665–1707)