Wednesday, Sep 8, 2010
by PopMatters Staff
by Adam Phillips
The Guardian (4 September 2010)

“We all want to be happy, we want our children to be happy, and there are countless books advising us how to achieve happiness. But is this really what we should be aiming for?... I want to begin with three fairly obvious propositions that are also misgivings about the right to happiness or its pursuit. And I’d like to suggest that the right to frustration may be more useful and interesting – more enlivening – than the right to happiness. That’s to say I want to waylay the common, all-too-plausible idea that the solution to frustration is satisfaction, or that happiness is the answer to unhappiness, or that if we get rid of the bad things, the good things will start happening. Happiness and the right to pursue it are sometimes wildly unrealistic as ideals; and, because wildly unrealistic, unconsciously self-destructive.

Because happiness is not always the kind of thing that can be pursued, we should view it, more often than not, as a lucky side effect but not a calculable or calculated end. Making it such an end all too easily brings out the worst in us. If this is a version, to rewrite John Lennon’s famous line, of “happiness is what happens to you when you are doing something else”, it also suggests that scarcity is integral to a sense of reality; that we should be thinking of what Philip Larkin in “Born Yesterday” called “a skilled, / Vigilant, flexible, / Unemphasised, enthralled / Catching of happiness” rather than the engineering of it.”

Latest in General Culture

Frank Miller and the Rise of Cryptofascist Hollywood
— Rick Moody (The Guardian, 24 November 2011)
The Monoculture Is a Myth
— Steve Hyden (Salon, 10 October 2011)
All-TIME 100 Best Nonfiction Books
— TIME (TIME, 2011)
The UK Riots: The Psychology of Looting
— Zoe Williams (The Guardian, 9 August 2011)
Why Don't We Love Our Intellectuals?
— John Naughton (The Observer, 8 May 2011)
Oh, Britannia, How You Have Changed
— Andrew Sullivan (The Sunday Times, 24 July 2011)
How Google Dominates Us
— James Gleick (The New York Review of Books, 18 August 2011)
Can Watching ‘Jackass’ Turn You Into One?
— Tom Jacobs (Miller-McCune, 7 June 2011)
Going, Going, Gone: Who Killed the Internet Auction?
— James Surowiecki (Wired, 17 May 2011)
Is There a New Geek Anti-Intellectualism?
— Larry Sanger (LarrySanger.org, 6 June 2011)

Latest in Psychology

Rapture Ready: The Science of Self Delusion
— Chris Mooney (Mother Jones, May 2011)
One Professor’s Attempt to Explain Every Joke Ever
— Joel Warner (Wired, 26 April 2011)
The War on Unhappiness
— Gary Greenberg (Harper's, September 2010)
Over the Moon: The Myth of Happiness
— Adam Phillips (The Guardian, 4 September 2010)
The 8 1/2 Laws of Rumor Spread
— Taylor Clark (Psychology Today, 16 September 2009)
The Science of Success
— David Dobbs (The Atlantic, December 2009)
Why Does Music Make Us Feel?
— Mark Changizi (Scientific American, 15 September 2009)
Jung and Polanski
— Tom Jacobs (Miller–McCune, 2 October 2009)
Understanding the Anxious Mind
— Robin Marantz Henig (The New York Times Magazine, 29 September 2009)

//Mixed media

Authenticity Issues and the New Intimacies

// Marginal Utility

"The social-media companies have largely succeeded in persuading users of their platforms' neutrality. What we fail to see is that these new identities are no less contingent and dictated to us then the ones circumscribed by tradition; only now the constraints are imposed by for-profit companies in explicit service of gain.

READ the article