Leaving Pleasure Island

Pleasure Island


Pinocchio is a morality play masquerading as a kids film. One of the most important symbolic metaphors in the film (and book) is that of Pleasure Island. In this article I will attempt to unpack the significance of this symbol and dissect how it applies to my life. At a very basic level, Pleasure Island is a place where the pure pursuit of hedonism is the only motive. The question that’s

Pinocchio lost his way.
Pain is all that emerges from Pleasure Island

asked is “What’s wrong with the pursuit of pure pleasure?” Even as children, this question can be answered. Although a full articulation of it is not always achieved. I say, what’s wrong with the pursuit of pure pleasure is the overwhelming hangover at the end of the party.

Pinocchio narrowly avoids becoming a donkey, a full blown jack ass. Taken together with Peter Pan, these stories could be an attempt to express St. Paul’s famous dictum: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” We have all been to Pleasure Island, we have all suffered the oppression of victim-hood. In this article I seek to find my way off Pleasure Island and to avoid becoming a donkey. What I discover is that to  avoid being a Jackass, I need to bear the teeth of a wolf.

Teaser Quote

My great big ears are now matched by my great big eyes though. These are all the better to see and hear you with. And my great big teeth are all the better to eat you with too. So beware, be brave and most importantly of all, be honest with yourself.


It is definitely a place that is wonderful and strange. Pleasure Island is a land that has an aura of freedom and anarchy. It is of course the furthest thing from that. It’s a cursed placed that will turn naughty little boys and girls into  donkeys. First called the Land of Toys in Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, it became Pleasure Island in Walt Disney’s 1940 film adaptation. Today,

Frivolity at Pleasure Island.
What’s wrong with the pursuit of pure pleasure?

Pleasure Island is a physical location you can visit at [Walt Disney World] in Orlando Florida. Pinocchio of course, is led astray by some wicked minded scoundrels and that’s how he wound up there. Luckily, he escapes. Jiminy Cricket sounds the alarm and Pinocchio gets out of dodge.

The Land of Toys or Pleasure Island is of course one of the embedded morality plays in Pinocchio. It is demonstrating within the tale how easily it can be to get lured into treacherous frivolity. I maintain here though that a certain amount of frivolity is necessary. Pleasure Island however, clearly shows how there can indeed be too much of a good thing. Going further, this fable becomes a metaphor for us to use as a guide. There can be many places that could be called Pleasure Island in our lives, and Jordan B Peterson suggests that Post Modernism is one such real world example of this metaphor in action.




There is no helping someone who brays. In order to leave the island I first need to see it for what it is. The coachman who runs the island wants to create jack asses ready for slavery. That is the challenge I face: recognize the peril ensconced within the pursuit of pure pleasure. Just like

Pinocchio - The Coachman
He’ll Steal, then sell your soul

Pinocchio and Lamp-wick, we have been tricked by the glaring lights of Pleasure Island. The window to do this is very short, and the challenge to look – really look, at personal responsibility is tough. After all, the coachman banks on his axiom “give a bad boy enough rope and he’ll soon make a jackass of himself.” The danger is real.

However, the danger for slaves who retain their voice is worse. The thinking slave faces the double punishment of being a slave and knowing they’re a slave. What use is it to speak up at that point? This part of the metaphor, which neatly echo’s Plato’s allegory of the cave, perfectly encapsulates the depth of despair at Pleasure Island. As Chrissie Amphlatt once sang: There’s a fine line between pleasure and pain. To experience pleasure is to immediately recognize the inverse capacity to experience pain. When I first fell in love, I knew how much it would hurt to lose my girlfriend then and there. So talking only makes it worse.


Sadly Pinocchio is the only one in the film to get out “alive.” Furthermore,  for the remainder of the film as a puppet, Pinocchio retains the ears and tail of a Jackass. Only when he becomes a real boy does he lose the scars of Pleasure Island. As far as we’re aware Lamp-wick didn’t survive the ordeal. This reveals how important it is to recognize pleasure island for what it is and escape as soon as (humanly possible). Even though I’ll always have these ears and tail, I and desperate to preserve my eyes and my mouth.


I’d like to write this with the full benefit of hindsight. Unfortunately, I’m not 100% sure I’ve  recognized it. I was never drawn into typical identity politics (- perhaps because I’m a white

Last Week Tonight's Pleasure Island
The smarmy voice of John Oliver denouncing escapees.

male?). However, I was drawn into conspiracy identity politics. All the worlds a stage and we men are merely actors – and someone named Rothschild is directing? No. If the butterfly effect is anything to go off then one person or even family is directing the mess we are in.

Free thinking, being creative, pursuing art, making films and now a podcast; these are what form my pleasure island. I smoke, but I’m not spending my days swilling brandy and puffing cigars. Instead I am spending my days contemplating the great thinkers of the twentieth century. I’m searching for authentic ways to make meaning in the 21st. I can’t, or won’t, be able to do this forever – or at least that’s what society says.



Fight or flight. I eluded to the sense that my time is short. I feel as though I already have a tail and ears. Now is when I need to escape, or fight my way off this island. The fight however, is a fight against victim-hood. I lose all responsibility if I see myself as a victim, or in other words – a victim has no ability to respond. In New York in the early nineties there was a saying: “Victim’s ask for it.” Dwell on that.

Consider what “victims ask for it” means. We have, as humans, the capacity to be both predator

Responsibility is important
Reject this offer!

or prey. So the coach man victimizes us and convinces us we are prey. Yet he fears the voice. The coachman fears the teeth of the predator.

Perhaps then, the way to fight my way off Pleasure Island is not to run and hide and play the coachman’s game. Instead the flight is internal and it’s a fight between Predator and Prey Identities .Just as I needed to recognize I was in Pleasure Island and see it for what it was. I also need to see myself as a vicious monster capable of doing harm. Once I snarl, the coachman will run. Once I snarl his goons will hide. Yet, as soon as I snarl the ears and tail go from that of a donkey, to that of a wolf. In other words, I need to be prepared to inflict pain in order to accept responsibility.


Pleasure Island is not one place. Instead it is a state of mind. Anytime someone can convince you you’re ill, sick or a victim then you become susceptible to the slave trade. There is no glory in wearing the coat of the victim, only the self-induced suffering with comes from wearing Medusa’s poisoned fleece. Ironic that Medusa is now a clothing brand. Rather, there is a need to be willing to inflict pain. To bring all my resentments forward and recognize them for what they are.

The cost of any activity is paid in full when you partake. I have paid a price for spending time at Pleasure Island. That price is steep and the escape continual. Even Pinocchio found that he had no home to go to one he left the island. My great big ears are now matched by my great big eyes though. These are all the better to see and hear you with. And my great big teeth are all the better to eat you with too. So beware, be brave and most importantly of all, be honest with yourself.

You, as I did – as I do, knew instinctively that Pleasure Island was anything but. Do not be seduced by victim-hood, instead learn to tame the beast inside that is the beast you are.

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TG Episode 03 – Life’s a Bitch!

Life is a bitch

Life’s a Bitch and then you die.

Fight Nihilism! Episode three contains one story only. In this story I take you from the depths of despair that is Nihilism and Cynicism through to the motivated hope of a transcendental goal. Without struggle there is no hope, but struggle is arduous and can produce cynical perspectives. Our job is to find the hope that is there and to resist the draw to cynicism.

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GRAMMAR – The Power Inherent in Nouns

And God Said: Let there be Light, and he saw the light and he saw that it was Good.

If you’ve been keeping  up with YouTube furor recently then you’ll no doubt know the name “Jordan B Peterson.” For years he was a professor of little to no world fame and then, like a bolt of lightening, he resisted using Pronouns such as Zer and Ze in reference to Transgendered people (please note, this is a great oversimplification on my part to emphasize a point, Peterson’s particular battle is much more nuanced and regards legislation regarding pronouns among other compulsion that he objected to). Immediately, this has highlighted the power of nouns, specifically in this case Pronouns, because Peterson has been thrust onto the world stage.

Yet what is more important is that he elucidates how nouns (or more correctly giving something a name) has the power to conform and channel the abundant chaotic energy of the world into actuality and order. This is such an important insight, so I do highly recommend watching the short video below and then watching the full lecture series called Biblical Series, which is available at Peterson’s YouTube Channel:

I mentioned in an earlier post that the Trivium is the antidote to fake news. This is a true statement, but it doesn’t really do justice to what learning the trivium is all about. In this post I am very much going to focus on Nouns and their remarkable power that is largely taken for granted or goes unnoticed. Just to give you a brief example of this – think about what happens when you start to label containers and shelves in your kitchen. Not only does your kitchen have more order to it all of a sudden, but it has definition. That is the power of nouns right there. The Trivium then, is a process in which the world is understood filtered firstly though Grammar, then analyzed logically and then enunciated rhetorically. In other words: Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric. There are many places on the internet now that you can go to learn more about the Trivium, and I do highly recommend that you do. However, this is as much as a disclaimer as anything else to say, that I am working to complement these sources by presenting my own experiences and understandings of the Trivium method.

Speaking of Nouns in particular, you may remember from school that a noun is a person, a place or a thing. Yet, as Peterson so clearly articulated in the clip above, it is in the act of naming something that it becomes a person, place, or thing. This is essentially magic!


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