The Tyranny of Happy: On Contemporary Over-Performance

Barnett Newman, The Stations of the Cross, Lema Sabachthani, Twelfth Station [detail], 1965

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.”




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue for our Friday night residency.




Interdisciplinary Learning with the Best Professors


Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.


Learn about joining the Scenius for $10 / month



Other upcoming Olios


Oct 15

Olio Seminar | Kafka will Ruin Your Life and Make You Laugh About it

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Strong Rope Brewery

Sign Up - $60

Oct 21

Attraction or Fetish? Exploring Racial Trends in Dating

Taught by Kim Nguyen
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Oct 22

The Fear of Leisure

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Threes Brewing // Greenpoint

Sign Up - $15

Oct 23

Eros: The Geometry of Desire

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at Moon Rise Studio

Sign Up - $15

Oct 27

Olio Breakfast Club | Frankenstein: Who is the Monster?

Taught by Patricia Kim
1 p.m. at Threes Brewing // Greenpoint

Sign Up - $15

Oct 30

Olio Workshop | Modern Anxiety and Ancient Healing Arts

Taught by Darryl Aiken-Afam
7:30 p.m. at St John's Episcopal Church

Sign Up - $125

Nov 4

Olio Fiction Workshop | Challenging the Received Boundaries of Genre

Taught by Kat Rejsek
7 p.m. at Little Roy // Flatbush

Sign Up - $175

Nov 15

Do You Have Kids? The Politics of Motherhood

Taught by Ifeoma Ike
7:30 p.m. at The William Vale Hotel

Sign Up - $15

Nov 22

Anti-Education

Taught by Vishwa Adluri
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


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