British philosopher Alain de Botton wants you to think about certain parts of your life the way you’d think about impotence. He’d also like it if more of us put skulls on our desk, and toured moer ruins and glaciers to feel small and insignificant. But it sounds reassuring, the way he puts it.
Botton’s lecture, “On Pessimism,” is a great distillation of the limits of optimism, self-help, and the cultural norms that everybody can succeed wildly at both love and work. He puts pessimism in a historical context, and notes how it can both curtail our unnecessary contemplations of failure, and also give us focus. It’s akin to Steve Jobs’ appreciation for death.. Botton’s talk has good audio, a great reading, and is well worth the roughly 40 minutes. Plus, there’s a sing-along.
via How Rational Pessimism Can Save Your Day.