Positively Stupid

Some think I’m an alarmist. A pessimist. Mistaken. In need of anti-depressants. A Debby Downer.

I laugh. I’m a realist and a pretty cheerful one at that.

Still, years ago, after hearing many praise Dr. Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism, I read it. By the time I finished, I was furious because I actually paid money to be told to deny reality. Reading his book was, for me, not a positive experience.

So I was glad when Barbara Ehrenreich wrote Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. I was even happier when I discovered Peak Shrink of Peak Oil Blues has a couple of excellent posts on the topic:

The Tyranny of Positive Thinking

“Do You Have a Panglossian Disorder?”

For anyone wondering how American become so positively stupid, I can also suggest a couple of good books.

The American Religion by Harold Bloom (1992)

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter (1970)

Both of these delve into the melding of Calvinism and commerce in the American psyche.

For those who wonder how to keep on keeping on without religion and self-delusion, I also recommend Derrick Jensen’s 2006 Orion article “Beyond Hope.”

For some quick, funny views of reality, I also recommend viewing some of the demotivational posters at Despair.com.

Here’s one for those who’ve fallen prey to magical (but positive!) thinking:

The abyss is, folks. It just IS. We can live good lives knowing that.



One Response to “Positively Stupid”

  1. Linking around the blogosphere « eats shoots 'n leaves Says:

    […] He also targets feel-good hucksters like Tony Robbins [with whom ensl once spent a week as a fellow participant at an Aspen seminar] for doctrines which blame the individual for dilemmas caused by systemic failures. “It doesn’t matter what the [corporations] do to the structure of society,” he says, in the doctrines of the feel-gooders, the responsibility is transferred to the individual and any analytical thought is rejected in favor of feel-good thinking. [Cassandra at Uncommon Scolds shares the same insight.] […]

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