By the duty to be happy, I thus refer to the ideology... that urges us to evaluate everything in terms of pleasure and displeasure...on the one hand, we have to make the most of our lives; on the other, we have to be sorry and punish ourselves if we don't succeed in doing so. This is a perversion of a very beautiful idea: that everyone has a right to control his own destiny and to improve his life.
Today, luxury resides in everything that is becoming rare: communion with nature, silence, meditation, slowness rediscovered, the pleasure of living out of step with others, studious idleness, the enjoyment of the major works of the mind""these are all privileges that cannot be bought because they are literally priceless.
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Ultimately, 'how's it going?' is the most futile and the most profound of questions. To answer it precisely, one would have to make a scrupulous inventory of one's psyche, considering each aspect in detail. No matter: we have to say 'fine' out of politeness and civility and change the subject, or else ruminate the question during our whole lives and reserve our reply for afterward.
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The writer has a life and a personality but the problem of today is that most of those writers have exactly the same life; they belong to the same social class, the same milieu, they have the same experiences. Once you read one of those books, you have read them all. And this is a problem.
There is no life without guilt anyway, at least in the Western world. I think in other civilizations it might be different but if the world is getting Westernized all over, guilt will enter through the technology and democracy and their actions. It will come side by side so there won't be anymore innocent societies in the future I think which in fact is not such a bad thing.