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L'Euphorie perpétuelle by Pascal Bruckner
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L'Euphorie perpétuelle (edition 2000)

by Pascal Bruckner, Pascal Bruckner (Auteur)

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Happiness today is not just a possibility or an option but a requirement and a duty. To fail to be happy is to fail utterly. Happiness has become a religion--one whose smiley-faced god looks down in rebuke upon everyone who hasn't yet attained the blessed state of perpetual euphoria. How has a liberating principle of the Enlightenment--the right to pursue happiness--become the unavoidable and burdensome responsibility to be happy? How did we become unhappy about not being happy--and what might we do to escape this predicament? In Perpetual Euphoria, Pascal Bruckner takes up these questions with all his unconventional wit, force, and brilliance, arguing that we might be happier if we simply abandoned our mad pursuit of happiness. Gripped by the twin illusions that we are responsible for being happy or unhappy and that happiness can be produced by effort, many of us are now martyring ourselves--sacrificing our time, fortunes, health, and peace of mind--in the hope of entering an earthly paradise. 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."… (more)
Member:br.jacamon
Title:L'Euphorie perpétuelle
Authors:Pascal Bruckner
Other authors:Pascal Bruckner (Auteur)
Info:Grasset (2000), Broché, 280 pages
Collections:Your library
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Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to Be Happy by Pascal Bruckner

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French (2)  English (1)  All languages (3)
I got the feeling that Pascal Bruckner is one angry French intellectual who knows his way around irony and I think when it comes to existential unhappiness nobody can compete with French intellectuals. After all if "hell is other people", then the only life we live is hell of an opportunity to investigate what it really means to be happy. And investigation of a fundamental concept is what Bruckner does with a sharp wit and ruthless criticism.

Take for example this part: "The majority conception of happiness has long since moved beyond the soppy, rose-colored realm of popular literature; it has become hard, demanding, and inflexible as well. This is mortification that comes to us in the guise of affability and indulgence and commands us never to be satisfied with our condition. The severe visage of the old preachers has been replaced by the omnipresent smile of the new ones. Therapy with a smile: that is the incontestable market advantage Buddhists have over Christians. That is why Buddhism is making inroads among the rich in temperate countries, whereas Protestants and Catholics are converting poor people in the tropics." And then he hits Dalai Lama and he hits him hard, so hard that I could feel the pain (which at the same brought tears to my eyes because I laughed so hard).

Should we be happy? Did it become a duty? What is the punishment of failing this duty? Unhappiness? But then what is the punishment of never-ending pursuit of happiness? Maybe the real punishment of trying to be happy is the process itself in which you are continuously tormented by marketing, PR, gurus, innovators, gym instructors, bosses, friends and everything else. Bruckner does not pretend to give any easy answers and nowhere in the book does he refrain from asking difficult, disturbing questions.

I wouldn't hesitate to give the book 5 stars if only I could feel more at home with this translation, in some sentences it really sounded weird but nevertheless I'm thankful to everybody who spent effort to convert the original into a form I can more or less grasp. This made me happy, indeed... On a second thought, maybe not that much! ( )
  EmreSevinc | Apr 12, 2011 |
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Happiness today is not just a possibility or an option but a requirement and a duty. To fail to be happy is to fail utterly. Happiness has become a religion--one whose smiley-faced god looks down in rebuke upon everyone who hasn't yet attained the blessed state of perpetual euphoria. How has a liberating principle of the Enlightenment--the right to pursue happiness--become the unavoidable and burdensome responsibility to be happy? How did we become unhappy about not being happy--and what might we do to escape this predicament? In Perpetual Euphoria, Pascal Bruckner takes up these questions with all his unconventional wit, force, and brilliance, arguing that we might be happier if we simply abandoned our mad pursuit of happiness. Gripped by the twin illusions that we are responsible for being happy or unhappy and that happiness can be produced by effort, many of us are now martyring ourselves--sacrificing our time, fortunes, health, and peace of mind--in the hope of entering an earthly paradise. 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."

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