The guy whom I have been friends with the longest took a look at the books I have selected to read in 2019 and says the books can be broken down into three categories:
1. How to have more materialistic success
2. How to score better with women
3. Everything to fill my head with all that goes wrong in society
It’s impossible to argue with this. He doubts that my reading will lead to happiness. He doesn’t believe in happiness, he thinks balance is what I should seek, not happiness.
Are the books I read making me happy? I use them as a drug. I get a sadomasochist dopamine rush from reading about the miserable state of our economy, our culture, people’s limiting mind sets. It hurts me to read about misery, but at the same time I also get off on it. Why? Because if I am not happy it’s ‘juicy’ to read about how other people aren’t happy either. And I get some narcisstistic pleasure from understanding the system we are inevitably all a part of. I am not making myself into a likeable character to follow, am I? But that’s good, I don’t want you to like me, I want you to figure me out completely. I want you to take a good look at all I am and conclude for yourself to what degree I am an asshole, if I am an effective human being, if I am making the best of the few talents I was lucky to be born with.
So I am the villain of this story. What I hated the most about the book ‘The happiness project’ by Gretchen Rubin is that she didn’t show me the dirt, she did not bare her soul to me. As a reader I felt cheated. She stayed on the surface. I felt like I was reading the attempts of a very spoilt little rich kid trying to fill her time with all sorts of little pleasures. There was no depth, no true self-criticism, none of the monsters we all have hiding under our beds.
I want my happiness project to be the opposite. If I do shitty things I want my reader to see me do shitty things.
So yes, I read about how to get more women, more money and I read about society’s misery, to understand what goes on in the world, absolutely, but in a way also to keep making sure that I have largely escaped the system, I am not locked in a dehumanizing job, I have money, I have healthcare, I am not an abusive alcoholic, I manage to build up a savings account, I read about misery to beat my pessimist mind, to make me see that I am one of the lucky ones.
My reading is mostly escapist in nature. Because:
1. I already know how to seduce women. Am not great at it, but when I have a lot time to focus on it am not bad at it either. If I don’t do it more often it’s because apart from the undeniable thrill it makes my life very, very messy and believe it or not I really do not enjoy hurting people at all. Am also not the kind of person who easily forgets. The women I sleep with never leave my thoughts. So when I sleep with a woman I have to consider the fact that this lady will become part of me for the rest of my life. My mind often shoots back to the women I have been intimate with. And since it is impossible to keep deep meaningful connections going with many people, I know that most of the women I sleep with I will have to let go, keeping only the beautiul, but in a way also haunting memory of a moment of total intimacy. I keep reading about seduction because am deadly afraid that while am not out hunting I will unlearn how to do it and when the need will arise again I will be incapable of accomplishing anything.
2. My reading about materialist success is perhaps even more problematic. When it comes to women I know the theory and I have some experience actually doing it. When it comes to making a lot of money I sort of know the theory but I have zero experience in actually doing it. Some people think I make a lot of money, but that is bullshit. Am like riding a bike while I know it’s just as possible to fly in a private jet. Doing what it takes to make really a lot of money still scares me. And am too fucking lazy and passive. Reading about making money is part of my hope that some day, suddenly, something I read will spur me on to action.
Silly wishful thinking, I know.
3. I have already explained why I enjoy (in a masochist way) reading about society’s misery, in particular the catastrophic and ever widening gap between the super wealthy and the rest of us, the working poor.
My friend knows me very well. He is not without prejudices towards me and sometimes he still puts me in the wrong box, sometimes I stil surprise him, like when it turns out am less depressed than he assumes I am, or more up to speed with mainstream culture than he thinks possible given that he sometimes thinks of me as some sort of meditating unwordly recluse cut off from normalcy.
He is right about my reading selection though.
Apart from improving my German no real changes in my happiness levels are to be expected from these books.
Yet I will read them, because I want to make sure our conclusions are correct.
I am using the most typical addict’s excuse:
Just these last ones and then I will quit.