Manual The Joy of Life

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As we strive to embrace the virtues of restraint, of doing less, of leaving space, we risk destroying that which we seek. But this is nevertheless something we need to grapple with.

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For Brinkmann, it is not only a question of our psychological wellbeing — although it is that too. His arguments are compelling.


Imagine that you have cancelled all your unwanted plans, said no to all your groan-inducing invitations, resisted tempting purchases, turned off your TVs, phones and computers. You are missing out on absolutely everything and feeling very smug about it, too.

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You are, in this moment, sitting at home, on your own, doing nothing. What happens next? But the solution cannot be to force ourselves to sit quietly in a room alone, because, contrary to our own omnipotent fantasies and risible delusions of self-control, we cannot choose what we feel or what we think.

We have to ask, why is this such an impossible thing for us to do?

The Joy of Life by Émile Zola

Why do we persist in filling our lives, even when we do not want to? What is it that we are avoiding?

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Ultimately, why do we continue to do the very things that make us unhappy? It asks us to be with the question rather than leap to the answer. As for Jono and Jomo — well, for me, saying no and missing out are not where I find my joy. There is something sad about it, because one feels its passing as one experiences it — it is not some kind of permanent aspiration, a solid state.

The simple joys of life

Along with Picasso 's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon , Le bonheur de vivre is regarded as one of the pillars of early modernism. In the central background of the piece is a group of figures that is similar to the group depicted in his painting The Dance — In the picture, there are several nude bodies of women and men in a landscape drenched with vivid color. James B. Cuno and Thomas Puttfarken suggest that the inspiration for the work was Agostino Carracci 's engraving of Reciproco Amore or Love in the Golden Age after the similarly named painting by the 16th-century Flemish painter Paolo Fiammingo.

Based on the many similarities with the engraving, in particular its theme of pastoral fantasy and its composition with the circle of dancers in the background, Cuno came to the conclusion that Carracci's engraving had a decisive influence on the final composition of Le Bonheur de Vivre. According to Hilton Kramer Le bonheur de vivre , owing to its long sequestration in the collection of the Barnes Foundation which never permitted its reproduction in color, is the least familiar of modern masterpieces.

Yet this painting was Matisse's own response to the hostility his work had met with in the Salon d'Automne of , a response that entrenched his art even more deeply in the esthetic principles that had governed his Fauvist paintings which had caused a furor and which did so on a far grander scale, too. Le bonheur de vivre features a large amount of cadmium sulfide-based yellow.

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