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.


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Other upcoming Olios


Aug 20

Dementia Americana: The Persistence of Forgetting

Taught by Ward Regan
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $15

Aug 21

Prospect Park Philosophy | Art vs. Reality

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:15 p.m. at Prospect Park (Grand Army Entrance)

Sign Up - $15

Aug 21

Philosophy Club | "God is Dead"

Taught by Jeanne Proust
8 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Aug 22

Margaret Fuller, Beethoven, and Revolution in the Minds of Women

Taught by Christina Katopodis
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Aug 24

OlioHouse Finale | The Problem with the End of the World

Taught by Michael Prettyman
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Aug 28

Eastern Philosophy and Relationships: The Interplay of Yin & Yang

Taught by Darryl Aiken-Afam
7 p.m. at The Assemblage | NoMad

Sign Up - $15

Sep 17

Mediated Intimacy: The Dating App Landscape

Taught by Pani Farvad
7 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Sep 19

* Sold Out * OlioTrip | Cienfuegos, Cuba

Taught by Teresita Levy
10 a.m. at Cienfuegos, Cuba

Sign Up - $


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