The Tyranny of Happy: On Contemporary Over-Performance

Jeanne Proust at Strand Bookstore

Thu, Aug 15 at 7 p.m.   |   90 minutes

In this Olio, we will explore the manifestations and possible reasons for the repulsion people feel for their suffering peers, and how that repulsion might be connected to the pressure for performance in a narcissistic “burnout society” we live in.

To the conventional “How are you?”, most people would automatically answer the emphatic “GREAT” we all know, and rarely question.

Why display such a positive attitude towards the people who inquire about our wellbeing, even when our life might be falling apart?

In this Olio, we will explore the manifestations and possible reasons for the repulsion people feel for their suffering peers, and how that repulsion might be connected to the pressure for performance in a narcissistic “burnout society” we live in.

We'll try to redefine what a more "authentic joy" could be and the benefits of a certain type of laziness, by discussing views we can find, for instance, in the essay "The Agony of Eros" by Byung-Chul Han, but also in several classical works of continental philosophy by Bertrand Russell, Pascal or Epicurus. Some quotes to ponder before our conversation:


Pascal — "The sole cause of man's unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room."

Russell - “One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.”

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

Jeanne Proust's research focuses on Théodule Ribot’s Diseases of the Will, both in philosophical and psychological perspectives. While teaching at different universities here in New York, Jeanne is advocating for a widening of philosophical education beyond the academic frontiers.


Venue: Strand Bookstore

What is Think Olio?


Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

Read more about our mission, our story, and how we are doing this.

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Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.