Both of yesterday's CoPhi Groups #2, and today's in HAP 101, independently hit upon "self-help" (vis-a-vis Boethius, Seneca, and we'll see, respectively) as report topics. Synchronicity? Or just happy coincidence?
Whatever you call it, yesterday's reports were good. But I find Boethius not very helpful, with his suggestion that the divine perspective sub specie aeternitatis is humanly consoling; and Seneca just to a point well short of self-annihilation.
What about happiness self-help, specifically? Can you read a book and make yourself happy, in precisely that order and by that agency? Yes, I'm sure of it. I don't think I've found any of my Happy books in that section of the bookstore, though. There's plenty of philosophy, history, speculative and literary fiction on my list, including (paradoxically) the existential/apocalyptic novels of the late southern Roman Catholic apologist Walker Percy. His Moviegoer, Last Gentleman, Love in the Ruins, Lancelot, and Second Coming provided amusement and a needed purchase on the mind of a slice of my mysteriously opaque adopted region.
Percy also wrote Lost in the Cosmos: the Last Self-Help Book You'll Ever Need. The latest edition, I notice, has lopped off the last three words... so I can say without circumspection or self-reflection that the amended title is flat-out false. There must have been about ten thousand or so s-h efforts in the intervening years since Percy published his somewhat smart-ass paroday of Carl Sagan's Cosmos back in the early '80s.
It caused me some consternation, then, for I considered myself a big fan of them both. I wasn't at all sympathetic with Percy's religion, but I thought his critique of Know Nothing Republicans, Hollywood hipsters, and consumerist America in general was hilarious and mostly on target.
Plus, I found Percy's and Shelby Foote's teahouse.
I finally decided Percy and I just saw the world too differently, he from the perspective of a lost soul seeking redemption and I from that of a star-struck cosmic connector like Carl. But it's still fun.
We're also reading "The Color of Happiness" in Bodhisattva's Brain today, in HAP 101. More on that later.
Also in CoPhi today: something completely different.