Thursday, September 02, 2010

Don't worry, be sappy. And: The Law of action?

This is shaping up as a banner season for debunking mindless Happyism. Gary Greenberg's cover story, "The War on Unhappiness," anchors the current (September) issue of Harper's. And the forthcoming (October-ish) issue of Skeptic will feature my own similarly inflected cover piece, "Ignorance of Bliss." I have two reasons for loving that title, aside from its delicious swipe at the familiar aphorism. One, it really nails the current state of knowledge (or lack thereof) regarding "happiness and its causes" (as a popular conference on the subject is known).

Two, I actually thought it up. :) *

Hmmm. Wonder if all this has Gretchen Rubin's panties in a wad?


"When asked if his actions had helped prepare him for what he was doing, Lee said, 'Oh yeah. Everything I do in life, everything one does in life, prepares you for what you are going to do.' "
quote from coverage of yesterday's Discovery Channel hostage crisis, which ended when police sharpshooters killed hostage-taker James Lee.

(Just being a smart-ass here.)

* SHAMblog historians (to the extent that any such species exists) take note: To the best of my own knowledge and recollection, that represents my very first use of an emoticon in a front-page post. It seemed appropriate somehow.


RevRon's Rants said...

Just clicked on the link to the Harper's article, only to discover that in order to read more than a couple of paragraphs, one must take out a paid subscription to the magazine. And after all the discussions we've had, bemoaning the New Wagers' love for upselling! :-)

Steve Salerno said...

Hey! Where's your loyalty to the breed? Without paid subscriptions, how is Harper's gonna pay writers the same exact rates they paid in 1990?

RevRon's Rants said...

While I've always been an ardent supporter of the whole breeding process, I just couldn't pass on this opportunity. Harper's just isn't one to which I choose to subscribe.

Heck... I wish companies currently paid us freelancers as much as they did in the '70s, when the "awl bidness" was king in these parts, and money was to be thrown about rather than accounted for.

Jenny said...

Steve wonders: " . . . if all this has Gretchen Rubin's panties in a wad?"

Even that (the wad) probably wouldn't burst her happiness bubble.

Congrats, Steve, on the aptly titled article. I look forward to reading it.

See Otter said...

Actually the phrase "ignorance of bliss" pre-dates your article and can be found all over the web in various minor usages, but that's ok at least you have deployed it in a somewhat novel context.

Steve Salerno said...


Well, as the Michael Keaton character says in "Night Shift," I invented's just that somebody else thought of it first.

I often wonder if any phrase or even word is "totally unique." For example, do you suppose anyone has ever said this before:


Is it possible that I have just written something that has never been written before in recorded history?

And...does anyone care?