Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Max Ophuls and Happiness

Last night I watched Max Ophuls' magnificent Le Plaisir - if there is a greater master of the tracking shot than Ophuls, I do not wish to know. The last line of this film, based on Maupassant short stories, is, 'But, my friend, happiness is not a joyful thing.' This morning on my breakfast show I see a discussion about whether children should have happiness classes in school. This would, of course, produce a generation of depressives. Will we never stop whining about happiness and get on with the real business of life which is, my friend, reading the stories of Maupassant and watching the films of Ophuls?


  1. I was just watching your favourite breakfast show, which is also mine, and saw the piece on happiness. Apparently the average age for when depression sets in has dropped from 30 to 15. . . which is depressing.

  2. If people stopped worrying about happiness all the bloody time they might see that the joy of things is much more important and much more real.
    When you wake in the morning and look at the dawn and wonder to yourself how the hell do I paint that. Not capture, -that is the talk of the happiness hunter,- paint, all of the time knowing that near-enough is the best you can do while drawing joy from that fact.
    It is the ship of fools type of thing or the monk raking sand.

  3. i asked a friend once if he was happy, because he seemed to live a life relatively free of cares, with lots of sex. He thought for a while then said: "i feel very alive."

    Happiness, i fear, is like Tyr Na Nog - if you head straight for it, you suddenly find yourself 5 miles away, lost in the country and covered in thorn-scratches and what not. Or like the Grail in the old tales, you can only find it when you're not looking for it. Surely it's supremely selfish to set happiness as a goal, rather than, for example, to live a good life, to give others pleasure, to learn something about shoes or the stars or a foreign language, something a bit more concrete and pragmatic.

  4. would happiness classes be like those laughter workshops I've heard about? I think it would be a good idea!

  5. Letter from an Unknown Woman