By Michael Foley
In a wry tackle how modern tradition is antithetical to happiness, Michael Foley paints a philosophical yet highly unique portrait of the cultural landscape—and comes up smiling
The excellent news is that the good thinkers from background have proposed an analogous ideas for happiness and fulfillment—the undesirable information is that those turn into the very issues such a lot discouraged by way of modern tradition. This knotty challenge is the topic of Michael Foley's wry and available research into how the fascinating states of health and wellbeing and pride are always undermined via glossy life. He examines the elusive situation of happiness universal to philosophy, non secular teachings, and modern psychology, then indicates how those have gotten more and more tough to use in an international of excessive expectancies. the typical demanding situations of incomes a residing, retaining a dating, and getting older have gotten battlegrounds of existential angst and self-loathing in a tradition that calls for conspicuous intake, high-octane partnerships, and perpetual formative years. eventually, instead of denouncing and rejecting the age, Foley provides an exciting technique of not only accepting yet embracing today's world—finding happiness in its absurdity.
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Additional info for The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes it Hard to be Happy
While Odysseus attempts to console Achilles within the underworld with information of his renown on the earth, the mythical warrior replies: allow me pay attention no soft speak of dying from you, Odysseus, mild of councils. greater, I say, to wreck sod as a farm hand for a few terrible countryman, on iron rations, than lord it over the exhausted useless. 281 ‘To philosophize is to profit easy methods to die’ is the English model of the French of Montaigne who took it from the Latin of Cicero who took it in flip from the Greek of Plato. Buddha was once there earlier than them all: ‘I don't use magic to increase my lifestyles. Now, ahead of me, the timber come alive. ’282 to profit to die is to benefit to dwell. demise is the giver of lifestyles. As Elvis warned, ‘It’s now or by no means. ’ loss of life may also expand existence. The clergymen within the groups on Mount Athos in Greece put on black to remind themselves in the course of each waking second of mortality, and but in general stay into severe previous age. So the key of a longevity will be acknowledging that it truly is brief. And if this acknowledgement doesn't expand existence, it definitely improves its caliber. There are not any circumstances of Alzheimer’s one of the Mount Athos clergymen. Acknowledgement is every thing. Reactions fluctuate, from the recognized rage of Dylan Thomas, ‘Do no longer cross light into that sturdy night’, to the attractive popularity of Marcus Aurelius: ‘Observe how temporary and trivial is all mortal existence; the previous day a drop of semen, day after today a handful of ashes. So spend those fleeting moments on the earth as Nature might have you ever spend them, after which visit your relaxation with strong grace, as an olive falls in its season, with a blessing for the earth that bore it and a thanksgiving to the tree that gave it existence. ’283 those reactions seem to be opposites – yet either face the unwelcome fact. And in simple terms via this acknowledgement can come the original flaring, an incandescence encouraged through the possibility of extinction. One instance is the phenomenon of past due kind, a flourishing universal within the ultimate section of painters’, composers’ and writers’ lives. inspite of the numerous variations in artists and humanities, there's a universal wild impatience – verging on frenzy – that's possessed by means of obsession, rejects virtuosity, rhetoric and end, bursts out of traditional shape, transcends process, surrenders unsleeping keep watch over for instinctive energy and is completely detached to viewers and reception. So those works usually surprise contemporaries who brush aside them as infantile, crude, fragmentary, unfinished and repetitive, the goods of deteriorating minds. in simple terms a lot later can they be favored for his or her exhilarating energy, what the critic Barbara Herrnstein Smith outlined because the ‘senile sublime’. 284 And, ironically, by way of operating solely for themselves, those painters, writers and composers speak much more at once and extremely. with out wish to please, provoke, attraction or reassure, intensity can communicate nakedly and urgently to intensity. The works of Picasso’s final decade, produced in his eighties and nineties, have these types of features and in addition a scandalous eroticism.