Life is a preface to death. In-between there is, luckily, room for joy – even happiness. As Terry Tempest Williams says in Refuge, “Buddha says there are two kinds of suffering: the kind that leads to more suffering and the kind that brings an end to suffering.”
My book, The Happiness of Burnout, deals with the latter. You can read the preface here:
A proper philosophical question is: Which life is worth living? The question invites a plurality of answers from different perspectives. This plurality leads toward an affirmative practice that asks: How might one live a flourishing and happy life without any transcendent guidance?
This book deals with these questions. It tells the case story of the Danish artist Jeppe Hein’s (JH) burnout.
The material for this book is based on more than 100 hours of interviews with JH. Most interviews were unstructured. In addition, I interviewed his family and some of his closest friends. Interviews with the latter were more structured in order to check for accuracy; however, I also left a part of these interviews open to see whether I could obtain new knowledge or perspectives on the process.
During the process of writing this book, some memories changed. This is normal. Memories are not static, but something that we recreate or reedit in light of present events and new knowledge. This emphasizes that a life is never organized in a static fashion. It’s constantly being organized. A life is changing.
Thus, it can be tempting to see burnout as something that marks everything as either being before or after, at least for compositional reasons. Still, the relationship between the cause and effect is not something solid. Sometimes an effect can cause new causes to emerge. This stresses that ethic is a compositional capacity that uses narrative elements in order to tell, retell, or invent a room where various experiences can be expressed.
While I tell the story of JH, I will constantly mix it with other thoughts and ideas related to burnout. For example, I will present burnout as illustrated in Graham Greene’s novel A Burnt-Out Case. I will relate the story of JH to Greene’s thoughts. Also, I will add perspective by conversing with theories and thoughts from both psychology and philosophy—most notably the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Finally, I will relate JH’s story to his art.
The purpose of this is to create a broad site where certain experiences can fold, unfold, and refold in order to share thoughts related to how one might overcome the various setbacks that all lives encounter.
Finally, I might add that this book doesn’t aim to outline one roadmap to accomplish a life worth living. Basically, it does not believe that there is one truth regarding a happy life (or that any unchangeable certainties exist), nor that one path will be suitable for all. Rather, it offers different perspectives, addresses various challenges, and poses questions and ideas that some might find inspirational in his or her quest toward living a happier and flourishing life.
You can read more here.