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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Misery

A man after my own heart: The Advantages of Pessimism by Alain de Botton:

For those teetering on the verge of despair, there can paradoxically be no finer book to turn to than one which seeks to grind man’s every last hope into the dust. The Pensees – far more than any saccharine volume touting inner beauty, positive thinking or the realisation of hidden potential – has the power to coax the suicidal off the ledge of a high parapet.

If Pascal’s pessimism can effectively console us, it may be because we are usually cast into gloom not so much by negativity as by hope. It is hope – with regard to our careers, our love lives, our children, our politicians and our planet – that is primarily to blame for angering and embittering us…

We should honour Pascal, and the long line of pessimistic writers to which he belongs, for doing us the incalculably great favour of publicly and elegantly rehearsing the facts of our sinful and pitiful state. This is not a stance with which the modern world betrays much sympathy, for one of its dominant characteristics and – in my opinion – its greatest flaw is its optimism.

A woman after my own heart: “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” (acoustic version) by Garbage. (The original single version is also excellent – official video here.)

When I was in school, a teacher once hurled the word “pessimist” at me like an insult. I was too young to think of it, but I should have hurled back “optimist” in the same tone of voice. Alas, alas.

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