The Wellness Syndrome

“Ehrenreich had a series of questions about Seligman’s book Authentic Happiness (‘which I had found just as elusive as he was turning out to be’). She was particularly interested in the happiness equation, which she describes as ‘one of the most irritatingly pseudoscientific assertions in his book’. The equation — H = S + C + V — describes how one’s enduring level of happiness (H) is determined by three factors: (S) your set range; (C) circumstances; and (V) things that you can change. In other words, happiness is determined by the person you are, and the circumstances you have — some of which are more amenable to change than others. Suspicious of the scientific basis of the equation, Ehrenreich asked, ‘What are the units of measurements?’ Seligman reluctantly explained that, ‘C is going to decompose into twenty different things, like religion and marriage.’ Although Ehrenreich tried to tease out a more elaborate and coherent explanation from him, she could not get one. ‘But clearly Seligman wanted an equation,’ Ehrenreich sums up in her reflections, ‘because equations add a veneer of science.’”
(pages 23-24)

Subject headings associated with the quotation

1. Seligman, Martin E.P., 1942. Authentic happiness. 2. Ehrenreich, Barbara. Smile or die. 3. Positive psychology. 4. Well-being.

Bibliographic Description

Cederström, Carl, 1980- author
Text (visual) : unmediated
The Wellness Syndrome / Carl Cederström and André Spicer. – Cambridge : Polity, 2015.
163 pages ; 22 cm.
First published in 2015 by Polity Press. – Reprinted 2015 (twice).
ISBN 9780745655611
I. Spicer, André, author

How to Use Books

“. . . . Newspapers are like every other kind of influence. What you get from them depends on what you bring to them.
You must not expect the newspapers to be a popular educator complete and all-sufficing in penny numbers. That isn’t their job. Their function is to provide you with the latest chapters of books you are supposed to have read from the beginning elsewhere; to tell you the most recent happenings; not what has gone before to cause those happenings. That you must find out for yourselves by reading.
If you regard them as pure entertainment, as a means of whiling away a railway journey, if you don’t yourself think about the ‘news’, if you aren’t willing to regard critically the events of your own day, if you are not prepared to try and sort out the important and significant things from the superficial and know why and how they are significant, how can you expect to play an intelligent part as a citizen of a democratic nation? Yet, undoubtedly, it is your duty to do so. To an ever-increasing extent the affairs of the world are, for good or for ill, governed by the opinions of ordinary men and women. Unless these opinions are based upon a reasonable and knowledgeable interest you mustn’t expect much from democracy. Therefore if any phase of current events should appeal to you, if any item of news should drive home to you your absolute ignorance of its main features, follow it up, not by making a task of it, but by finding readable books covering the ground in a popular manner.
Such reading will help you to be critical, providing the facts and ideas with which to check the newspapers’ presentation of events and movements – both the things they tell and the things they omit to tell. We are not suggesting that your newspaper this morning, or any day, is deliberately trying to delude you. That may be unlikely – but it is for you to judge. And you’ll be very unwise to forget that the recent war would never have happened if large numbers of ordinary people, in certain countries, had not allowed themselves to be misled.”

(pages 23-24)

Subject headings associated with the quotation

1. Press. 2. Newspapers. 3. Democracy.

Bibliographic Description

McColvin, Lionel R. (Lionel Roy), 1896-1976, author
Text (visual) : unmediated
How to Use Books / by Lionel McColvin. – First paperback edition. – [Cambridge] : Cambridge University Press, 2016.
93 pages ; 18 cm.
First published in London for the National Book League by Cambridge University Press, 1933. – Second edition, 1947. – Reprinted, 1948.
ISBN 9781316612002


“In his forty-third year William Stoner learned what others, much younger, had learned before him: that the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another. […] In his extreme youth Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access; in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart.”
(pages 194, 195)

Subject headings associated with the quotation

1. Love.

Bibliographic Description

Williams, John, 1922-1994, author
Text (visual) : unmediated
Stoner : A Novel / John Williams. — London : Allen Lane, 1973.
278 pages ; 21 cm.
ISBN 0713904666

England, England

“‘Let me put it this way. You are our Official Historian. You are responsible, how can I put it, for our history. Do you follow?’
‘Clear as a b-ell, so far, my dear Jeff.’
‘Right. Well, the point of our history – and I stress the our – will be to make our guests, those buying what is for the moment referred to as Quality Leisure, feel better.’
‘Better. Ah, the old e-thical questions, what a snake-pit they are. Better. Meaning?’
‘Less ignorant.’
‘Precisely. That’s why I was a-ppointed, I assume.’
‘Max, you missed the verb.’
‘Which one?’
‘Feel. We want them to feel less ignorant. Whether they are or not is quite another matter, even outside our jurisdiction.’ Dr Max now had his thumbs stuck in the pockets of his taupe waistcoat, a gesture indicating to viewers humorous scepticism. Jeff would have happily hung the fellow out to dry, but he pressed on. ‘The point is that most people don’t want what you and your colleagues think of as history – the sort you get in books – because they don’t know how to deal with it. Personally, I’ve every sympathy. With them, that is. I’ve tried to read a few history books myself, and while I may not be clever enough to enroll in your classes, it seems to me that the main problem with them is this: they all assume you’ve read most of the other history books already. It’s a closed system. There’s nowhere to start. It’s like looking for the tag to unwrap a CD. You know that feeling? There’s a coloured strip running all the way round, and you can see what’s inside and you want to get at it, but the strip doesn’t seem to start anywhere no matter how many times you run your fingernail round it?’
Dr Max had taken out a little notebook and his silver propelling pencil was poised. ‘Do you mind if I a-ppropriate that? It’s frightfully good. The bit about the CD wrapper, I mean.’ He scribbled a note. ‘Yes? So?’
‘So we don’t threaten people. We don’t insult their ignorance. We deal in what they already understand. Perhaps we add a little more. But nothing unwelcomely major.’”

(pages 70-71)

Subject headings associated with the quotation

1. Intellectual life. 2. Knowledge, Sociology of, in literature. 3. History.

Bibliographic Description

Barnes, Julian, 1958- author
Text (visual) : unmediated
England, England / Julian Barnes. — London : Jonathan Cape, 1998.
266 pages ; 22 cm.
ISBN 0224052756

Les particules élémentaires

“C’est une chose curieuse, le désir de connaissance… Très peu de gens l’ont, vous savez, même parmi les chercheurs ; la plupart se contentent de faire carrière, ils bifurquent rapidement vers l’administratif ; pourtant, c’est terriblement important dans l’histoire de l’humanité. On pourrait imaginer une fable dans laquelle un tout petit groupe d’hommes – au maximum quelques centaines de personnes à la surface de la planète – poursuit avec acharnement une activité très difficile, très abstraite, absolument incompréhensible aux non-initiés. Ces hommes restent à jamais inconnus du reste de la population ; ils ne connaisent ni le puvoir, ni la fortune, ni les honneurs ; personne n’est même capable de comprendre le plaisir que leur procure leur petite activité. Pourtant ils sont la puissance la plus importante du monde, et cela pour une raison très simple, une toute petite raison : ils détiennent les clefs de la certitude rationnelle. Tout ce qu’ils déclarent comme vrai est tôt ou tard reconnu tel par l’ensemble de la population. Aucune puissance économique, politique, sociale ou religieuse n’est capable de tenir face à l’évidence de la certitude rationnelle. On peut dire que l’Occident s’est intéressé au-delà de toute mesure à la philosophie et à la politique, qu’il s’est battu de manière parfaitement déraisonnable autour des questions philosophiques ou politiques ; on peut dire aussi que l’Occident a passionnément aimé la littérature et les arts ; mais rien en réalité n’aura eu autant de poids dans son histoire que le besoin de certitude rationnelle. À ce besoin de certitude rationnelle, l’Occident aura finalement tout sacrifié : sa religion, son bonheur, ses espoirs, et en définitive sa vie”.
(pages 269-270)

Subject headings associated with the quotation

1. Rationalism. 2. Knowledge, Theory of.

Bibliographic Description

Houellebecq, Michel, 1958- author
Text (visual) : unmediated
Les particules élémentaires : roman / Michel Houellebecq. — Paris : Flammarion, ©1998.
316 pages ; 18 cm. — (J’ai lu ; 5602)
ISBN 9782290028599

The Remains of the Day

“. . . . Then there was the question of what sorts of costume were appropriate on such a journey, and whether or not it was worth my while to invest in a new set of clothes. I am in the possession of a number of splendid suits, kindly passed on to me over the years by Lord Darlington himself, and by various guests who have stayed in this house and had reason to be pleased with the standard of service here. Many of these suits are, perhaps, too formal for the purposes of the proposed trip, or else rather old-fashioned these days. But then there is one lounge suit, passed on to me in 1931 or 1932 by Sir Edward Blair – practically brand new at the time and almost a perfect fit – which might well be appropriate for evenings in the lounge or dining room of any guest houses where I might lodge. What I do not possess, however is any suitable travelling clothes – that is to say, clothes in which I might be seen driving the car – unless I were to don the suit passed on by the young Lord Chalmers during the war, which despite being clearly too small for me, might be considered ideal in terms of tone. I calculated finally that my savings would be able to meet all the costs I might incur, and in addition, might stretch to the purchase of a new costume. I hope you do not think me unduly vain with regard to this last matter; it is just that one never knows when one might be obliged to give out that one is from Darlington Hall, and it is important that one be attired at such times in a manner worthy of one’s position.”
(pages 10-11)

Subject headings associated with the quotation.

1. Fashion

Bibliographic Description

Ishiguro, Kazuo, 1954- author
Text (visual) : unmediated
The Remains of the Day / Kazuo Ishiguro. — Vintage International Edition. — New York : Vintage Books, a division of Random House, 1993.
245 pages ; 21 cm.
Originally published in hardcover in Great Britain by Faber and Faber, and in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, in 1989.
ISBN 0679731725