Allain de Botton on … status, happiness, and the ‘murican dream

I finished the above Allain de Botton YouTube on status/inequality/happiness it asked the basic question: Given all of the material advances in the west, and the fact that people are wealthier than ever before, why are people more unhappy now?

For starters, are they less happy? I don’t know if I buy this, it might be us looking back with rose tinted glasses.

Second, there were lots of points in this film thtat were well articulated. On the whole, while it is not as useful as reading a book, I feel that the topic of the film and the treatment were: at worst, not a waste of time…stimulating; and, at best, thought provoking.

Allian de Botton is, to be blunt, a little funny looking, he is not particularly sharp or savvy (there is some irony, because he talks about sharpness and cleaness and vanity in the film), and he appears to approach the question with some unrevealed revelation, I suspect he has strong convictions on the topic, which is at odds with his documentary prose. It’s a curious point of the documentary, he takes an impartial voice, out of what(?) some pedagocical concern, I suppose.

But what to infer? The thesis of the film asks the question of status, and explores status symbols, it devotes some time to people who opt out (the bohemians), and it makes claims about the relative unhappiness or poor state of the modern condition. The film treats the bullish-on-success, A-types as if they are worthy of a lot more skepticism, but I got the sense that the bohemians were much more sympathetic characters. This, I believe, reveals my bias, but I am positive de Botton is of the persuasion that materialism and status are things to be conquered from within. I am unable to recal the quote, but it was de Botton recalling the conclusion of a french enlightenment thinker. I think the idea that came from that quote has to do with the idea that wealth and power could be measured in subjective terms, depending on what the individual chooses to define. The powerful idea is that the individual is subject only to his/her own narrative. If you have the power to realize that your inner- narrative controls your life, and in addition, if you are able to scrutinize your own inner-narrative, you may stand a chance at discovering mistakes, from which you can alter your commitments/how you spend your resources to better realize what is good, or best, in life.

Also, factoid I leared in the film is that ideology is a term coined by Marx. … go fugure.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s