this is good tech-nique

March 21, 2007

FoSO sent me an indirect reference to this Slate piece on the midlife happiness downturn (which bottoms out and starts the long haul back up at age 45.)

Is asking someone "are you happy" a reliable way of knowing that they're happy? Not that I can think of a better one.

What I find more alarming about this article is this bit:
The authors also find that over the last century, Americans, both men and women, have gotten steadily—and hugely—less happy. The difference in happiness of men between men of my generation, born in the 1960s, and my father's generation, born in the 1920s, is the same as the effect of a tenfold difference in income. In other words, if my father had little money compared to his contemporaries and I have lots of money compared to mine, I can still expect to be less happy. Here, curiously, the European pattern diverges. Happiness falls for the birth years from 1900 to about 1950, and generations born on the continent since World War II have gotten successively happier.
It might be a bit facile but it seems like the whole relentless grind of a consumerist economy might be to blame... an entire giant industry devoted to making us feel not quite content with the stuff we have now, and then pointing out the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Also, is it a coincidence that the middle aged happiness downswing corresponds with the child-raising years, and all the anxiety and sacrifice that time can entail?

Transcription of the Moment
before to make the holy mountain,
i want to know how was the mind of a master...
i hire-ed a guru...
and he came to teach me how to be a guru,
and he gave me the lsd!

when i want to search the actors
i said you need to make love with the director...
with the holy mountain i did it
with the black girl, with all the girls!
this is good tech-nique.
....nnnnot with the men

--Alejandro Jodorowsky, from this youtube'd documentary on his work on "El Topo" and "The Holy Mountain"...I dug it up after Bill the Splut wrote about how awful "El Topo" was. (He said "it was time travel in reverse--after 2 hours, I checked my watch and found that 50 minutes had gone by")