Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to Be Happy Hardcover – 30 Jan 2011
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Perpetual Euphoria is a beautiful essay. Lively, corrosive, brilliant.... [W]oven from pure emotion. -- Le Journal du Dimanche
A writer who has inherited the mantle of the French moralists' grand tradition. -- Le Monde
Pascal Bruckner's essay is a subtle attack, both scholarly and ironic, against the new obligation of being happy. -- La Croix
As an essayist in the tradition of Kundera and Montaigne, Bruckner has a bracing knack of distilling the attitudes of the contemporary moment and helping us appraise them anew. --The Age
"The happiness-promotion and happiness-backlash schools are locked today in a weird, symbiotic struggle. Weighing in on the side of the anti-happiness underdog is this sublime rhetorical performance by the novelist and philosophe Bruckner...Musing in terrific style on fun, boredom, and "the great disorganising power that is everyday life", Bruckner anatomises the self-defeating logic of attempted happiness revolutions" --Stephen Poole, The Guardian
From the Back Cover
"Pascal Bruckner, the anti-Pangloss of our time, engagingly reminds us that it is better to lead a rich life with tears than a happy one lacking meaning."--Alan Wolfe, author of The Future of Liberalism
"Pascal Bruckner might well be the most distinguished essay writer in France today. He is both inordinately talented and prodigiously politically incorrect. No one better unmasks the pieties of the reigning intellectual cant. Whether one agrees or disagrees with him, he does the life of the mind an invaluable service."--Richard Wolin, author of The Wind from the EastSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
Saying all that though it is not a zippy slogan ridden read. It's a work that requires effort, thought and time. It is also a grown up scholarly piece. From someone who usually sticks to fiction it has made a delightful change.
Pascal Bruckner, and Steven Rendall (translator) have produced a masterful book for the English language readers, who will love the use of the words, even when disagreeing with some of the content.
In song we have had a range of people prescribing happiness: Bobby McFerrin: "Don't worry, be happy"; and Mary J. Blige's "Be Happy". Bruckner's language is no less melodic.
Bruckner declares: "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. The most elaborate wisdom and sciences have to confess their inability to guarantee the felicity of peoples and individuals. Felicity, every time it touches us, produces a feeling of having received a grace, a favour, not that of a calculation, a specific mode of behaviour. And perhaps we experience the good things of the world, opportunities, pleasures, and good fortune to a degree that we would have abandoned the dream of attaining Beatitude with a capital letter.
To the young Mirabeau, we would like to reply: `I love life too much to want to be merely happy'" (Bruckner, Perpetual Euphoria, 2010, p. 6).
This brilliant book is worth reading several times, and unlike most books, it gets better each time.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I the book at least modestly stimulating, occasionally very funny, given that Bruckner can turn a really clever phrase now and again.
"Perpetual Euphoria" is a thought-provoking study of happiness today and how both religious and secular developments of the past few centuries have affected our view of happiness. The author also considers boredom and suffering, and asserts that the secret is not to care about happiness, but to allow it to come as it will and just enjoy the times that it does.
Bruckner lays out what might be considered a more European view of happiness. In America, we put more emphasis on striving to be happy, and I think that our view is the correct one--partially or even largely mitigating tough situations is possible through forced cheerfulness. But as in The Tyranny of Guilt, in "Perpetual Euphoria" Bruckner proves himself such a sinewy thinker that you will likely enjoy reading his work even when you disagree with it.
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!
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