Sustain-Ability?   /   Summer 2012   /    Book Reviews

Pascal Bruckner’s

Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to Be Happy

Carl Elliott

At the core of Perpetual Euphoria is a fascinating question. How did the pursuit of happiness come to be felt as an iron-clad duty? over the past two centuries, happiness and self-fulfillment have become the marks of a meaningful life. In fact, in many parts of the West, not only are we obligated to be happy, we must also develop a self-presentation that displays our happiness to the world. This means that we are constantly pretending to be happy, even when we are miserable. So elusive is happiness that many people see it not merely as an object of desire, but also as a target to be tracked and pursued relentlessly, like a SWAT team on the trail of an armed terrorist.

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