The function of a wall is to demark, to separate two worlds. There are short boundary walls, enormous fortress walls, and great symbolic barrier walls as in ancient China. Society builds the walls, then induces us to bump up against their confines and test the outer limits of survival and pleasure. The confines of society are vast and wide, limitless, but it is we who maintain the walls, reinforce them with mortar. Society wants us, like conditioned animals, to press a button or pull a bellstring that drops the social reward top-down, always within the walls. We wage wars, compete, consume, dissipate, and lay waste within these walls, all for what we call right or truth or duty or mandate from the heavens. Freud was incomplete in defining pleasure as a survival mechanism. Pleasure is a serious social business, not infantile or subjective. It objectifies all phenomena. It makes all our superstructure of ideas sufficient. It justifies the walls.

Pleasure is a kind of necromancy, a pleasure in dead things, in contingent and impermanent things, exemplified by the petty pleasures that society manufactures for us as balm or as opiate. What an enormous effort, then, to put down the surfeit of pleasure and burst through these walls. The walls are not so impervious after all. In fact, they are familiar. Society has been erecting them around us from our earliest moments of life. Which is to say that throughout life we unconsciously maintain them, augment them, see them as inevitable. Even those who say they flout convention do so within the walls, do so with the tools society has already put into their hands.

We can pass through these walls, pass through them like ghosts. And once past these walls we can rush into the night sky of moon and stars, or the daylight where the unaccustomed sun dazzles our eyes. And we can drink deep draughts of fresh, revitalizing air. And we can wonder why we complicitously and cravenly put up those walls in the first place.