Pleasure in a toothache

As there are people who take pleasure in murder, there are those who will find pleasure in toothache. I did not see this at first, although I should have, for you know, I have read Dostoevsky right through (though only in the fine English translations of Mrs Edward Garnett). But happening myself upon a most exquisite, indeed excruciating, toothache, developing at the back of my lower left jaw, I turned immediately to Dostoevsky’s “Notes from Underground.”

My strategy with toothache has long been more material than contemplative. After having ignored it for as long as possible, I would counter-attack with the salt-water swish, with almond extract, or topical clove oil, or even an aspirin, inserted against the labial frenulum. This had always worked before, letting me do things like sleep. But this time I had a “wisdom toothache,” which would not be confined, for it had invaded not only the mandible but the maxillary sinus, and was enhancing the dizziness from my stroke. After a few days of escalation, I decided that something had to be done; for it is difficult to carry on with other human activities when distracted by such a toothache.

Well, alas, this is Canada, and as I did not have a “dental plan” with any employer, or the equivalent bureaucratic papers, I had to try my luck with the dentists of the neighbourhood, and find service à la carte. I spent a morning in this useless wander, during which I found each of the dentists had been privately isolated in a “family practice,” and couldn’t just see someone with a toothache, even if he had cash. But everywhere there is an exception, and I found him in the afternoon.

Thanks to modernity, in the form of 500mg amoxicillin capsules and 600mg tablets of ibuprofen — prescriptions so obvious, I could have ordered them for myself, but only if I’d first obtained a medical degree — I am now beginning to relax. (Perhaps I am already snoring as I write this.)

The pleasure in a toothache is, of course, the pleasure of moaning, when you can command an audience to endure you. To the nasty person, lacking respect for himself, so that he will make a spectacle of his degradation, it can be a voluptuous pleasure. But where the pleasure in a murder does not require an audience, the malignant pleasure of moaning by day and by night is pointless when it is performed solo.

I was thus unlucky, I could get no pleasure from my toothache.

That is why the eco-warriors and Hamasniks (&c) cannot allow themselves to be left alone. Not only have they not the capacity for the contemplative life, but they need someone who can be forced to listen to their despicable moaning.