Manual Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to Be Happy

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Much better, Bruckner argues, would be to accept that happiness is an unbidden and fragile gift that arrives only by grace and luck. A stimulating and entertaining meditation on the unhappiness at the heart of the modern cult of happiness, Perpetual Euphoria is a book for everyone who has ever bristled at the command to be happy. Toon meer Toon minder. Lively, corrosive, brilliant Weighing in on the side of the anti-happiness underdog is this sublime rhetorical performance by the novelist and philosophe Bruckner, denying serially that the individual has a duty to pursue happiness; that happiness could be a social goal; that happiness is the opposite of boredom, or the absence of suffering, or the fulfillment of plans.

Perpetual Euphoria is more than a book.


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It is a manifesto. It is a work of genius.

It is my bible. Bruckner's range of reference is admirably wide Vertaling Vertaald door Steven Rendall. Reviews Schrijf een review.

Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to Be Happy

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Pascal Bruckner The Paradox of Love 29, Frans Jacobs Lust en het goede leven 12, Alain Badiou Happiness 55, Ross Abbinnett Politics of Happiness 57, Rima Rudner Choose to Be Happy 18, Ray F Carson Unconditional Happiness 10, Carol Graham Happiness Around the World 34, Like everybody else, they dream of a wonderful synthesis that combines professional, romantic, moral, and family success, and beyond each of these, like a reward, perfect satisfaction.

As if the self-liberation promised by modernity were supposed to be crowned by happiness , as the diadem placed atop the whole process.

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But this synthesis is deferred as they elaborate it, and they experience the promise of enchantment not as a blessing but as a debt owed a faceless divinity whom they will never be able to repay. The countess miracles they were supposed to receive will trickle in randomly, embittering the quest and increasing the burden.


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They are angry with themselves for not meeting the established standard, for infringing the rule. When we wonder whether we are happy, we are already no longer happy. Hence the infatuation with this state is also connected with two attitudes, conformism and envy, the conjoint ailments of democratic culture: a focus on the pleasures sought by the majority and attraction to the elect whom fortune seems to have favored.

Unhappiness is not only unhappiness; it is, worse yet, a failure to be happy. By the duty to be happy, I thus refer to the ideology peculiar to the second half of the twentieth century that urges us to evaluate everything in terms of pleasure and displeasure, a summons to a euphoria that makes those who do not respond to it ashamed or uneasy. This is a perversion of a very beautiful idea: that everyone has a right to control his own destiny and to improve his life. How did a liberating principle of the enlightenment, the right to happiness, get transformed into a dogma, a collective catechism?

Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to Be Happy

The supreme Good is defined in so many different ways that we end up attaching it to a few collective ideals— health, the body, wealth, comfort, well-being — talismans upon which it is supposed to land like a bird upon bait. Means become ends and reveal their insufficiency as soon as the delight sought fails to materialize. So that by a cruel mistake, we often move farther away from happiness by the same means that were supposed to allow us to approach it.

Be Happy

Whence the frequent mistakes made with regard to happiness: thinking that we have to demand it as our due, learn it like a subject in school, construct it the way we would a house; that it can be bought, converted into monetary terms, and finally that others procure it from a reliable source and that all we have to do is imitate them in order to be bathed in the same aura. There are other ideas—freedom, justice, love, friendship—that can take precedence over happiness.

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How can we say what all people have sought since the dawn of time without slipping into hollow generalities? I am opposing not happiness but the transformation of this fragile feeling into a veritable collective drug to which everybody is supposed to become addicted in chemical, spiritual, psychological, digital, and religious forms. Related posts : The unavoidable and burdensome responsibility to be happy Are married people happier?