Wie kann ich nicht unglücklich sein

How Can I Not Be Unhappy?

For years I imagined that a life filled with weltschmerz was incredibly chic. I believed that not just the entire two years I spent in Barcelona but my whole life, really. Until three years ago—the events are not relevant here—I lived in that error. But then I began to waver completely in this belief. Almost as soon as that happened, other, no less grotesque ideas collapsed like a house of cards. For example, the idée fixe that slenderness is an essential prerequisite for intellectuality, or that tragic loneliness is merely the result of lacking a doppelgänger.

Often I claimed I could no longer bear life; I desired nothing more fervently than to die, a desire that I learned from numerous like-minded people. I carefully filled my notebooks with daily “deprinotes” and adapted countless quotations from the noir pantheon of literature, until I noticed that they were all from men. But several of them were really rather good.

In any case, I was constantly getting on my friends’ nerves with my constant weltschmerz. I had rehearsed too much of it. I was also getting everything mixed up. My coolly closed-off and absent gaze alone was not enough. When I strolled through the streets, trying to attract the attention of passers-by in the hope that they would alleviate my inner struggles with charming encounters, I came up empty. When I sat in cafés and wanted to radiate my intangible feeling of unhappiness from my fragile and yet increasingly transparent shell of elegant melancholy, it merely fell flat.

There are a hundred reasons for melancholy. One serious one: most people think significantly and live banally. So do I. Perhaps it would be much more elegant to live simply and enjoy the moment and feel immortal in it. But is that interesting?

In the art world, at least, pure joyfulness is regarded as foolish, indelicate, and not very productive. Narcism, even immoderate, is not. Personally, therefore, I can only endure art if I get away from it regularly. That is, by the way, also the only way to keep the constant confusions of my art historical, literary, and political personality structure in check. To that end, I sometimes seek psychological help as well. At the beginning of Anti-Oedipus one comes across something like the following comment from Foucault: Do not believe that because you are a revolutionary you must feel sad.

In the meanwhile, I no longer find people and characters who live in the world without any joy at all to be chic but rather at most boring. There are many such characters in Goethe. Eduard, for example, who in an exchange of letters addressed to himself perpetuates his unrealized contact to his beloved Ottilie and in weak moments even imagines the impermissible, even when the good woman does something that insults the pure idea he has of her. How can I not be unhappy when far from her? he asks. (mehr …)