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Why the pursuit of happiness naturally includes melancholy

June 19, 2008
“Obviously that opening is a bit hyperbolic for rhetorical effect. I will admit that. But it is, at the same time, a kind of expression of real danger. I think that being melancholy is an essential part of being a human being. I think to be a fully expressed human being you must be willing to delve into melancholy as much as into joy. If we try too hard to get rid of that melancholy it’s almost like we’re settling for a half-life.”
clipped from www.smithsonianmag.com


Eric G. Wilson

Richard Robinson, http://www.robinsonphoto.com





Interview: Eric G. Wilson


Why the pursuit of happiness naturally includes melancholy

  • By Megan Gambino
  • Smithsonian.com, June 05, 2008



Eighty-four percent of Americans claim to be happy, a statistic that Wake Forest University English professor Eric G. Wilson finds “strange at best, troubling at worst.” With a litany of self-help books, pills and plastic surgery to feed Americans’ addiction to happiness, he says, “It’s now easier than ever before to live a trouble-free life, to smooth out the rough edges, to hide the darkness.” In his recent book Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy, Wilson—a non-recovering melancholic by choice—praises sorrow as the muse of many writers and songwriters, warning that to rid life of it is to rid life of a vital source of creativity.

You compare the loss of melancholy to other apocalyptic concerns: global warming, rising oceans and nuclear war. What about happiness is life threatening?
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