Alain de Botton, a Swiss-British author and philosopher has a utilitarian eye on everything that we experience every day. He ventures into the wide spectrum of topics, varying from friendship, sex, desire, self-help, religion and art, only to answer: what makes like meaningful? With his brilliant and genre-rattling books including ‘How Proust Can Change Your Life’, ‘Essays In Love’, ‘Status Anxiety’, ‘Art as Therapy’ and ‘The Course of Love’ among several others, the author rightfully occupies his unique position as a bestselling author across the world. From the first book, ‘Essays In Love’, at the age of 23, the author has often turned things around, philosophically re-forming ideas to create a practical framework, which according to Botton comes from his own experiences and fascination to discover more about human emotions.
“I have always needed to process my emotions in order to find balance between joy and suffering, pain and pleasure. I feel amazed and touched when someone understands a few things I mean,” says the author.
‘How Proust Can Change Your Life’, ‘Essays In Love’, ‘Status Anxiety’, ‘Art as Therapy’ and ‘The Course of Love’ among several others, the author rightfully occupies his unique position as a bestselling author across the world
As an eloquent author and a public speaker, Botton, in most of his books examines the modern notion of love. Botton delves into what all can be expected from love. “I believe our expectations are never higher because we see relationship difficulties around us all the time and despite the challenges, we still cling to highly ambitious ideas of what relationships should be like,” explains the author and adds that most of us attribute our love failures to specific individuals. “I have always been fascinated about how wrong our romantic ideas of love have founded admiration but another view about love deserves to be explored,” he adds.
A rebellious individual since the adulthood, Botton, leads quite an odd life. According to the author, his rebellion has helped him become a writer as he started reading and writing for himself outside the academic system.
“I have always needed to process my emotions in order to find balance between joy and suffering, pain and pleasure,” says the author.
“I had adolescence and that was full of rebellion. What I was doing at the school was with the feeling that it is the primary route to doing well in life but I learnt that school fails to teach us that how to choose the right job and how to form satisfactory relationships,” asserts the author and reveals that he has been a shy person and battled anxiety as well. “Writing helped me. I was shy and it took long time to overcome it. I tried to do so through understanding the fact that people judge but that is not the totality of my being,” shares the philosopher.
While our culture continuously presents us with charming non-tragic tales of riches to rags, according to Botton, such examples only propose misplaced fears to hold back people from trying new things. “A central problem of our mind is that we know so much in theory about how we should behave but engage so little with our knowledge in our day to day conduct. We ignore our real commitments and hence do not believe in wise things,” he opines.
With profound and universally pertinent topics unfolded with pessimism, Botton’s books have secured much longer shelf life in India than any other contemporary author. He feels that pessimism is one of the greatest promoters of happiness. “Though it may sound strange but I believe that many Indian readers like my pessimism,” muses the author and reveals that currently he is writing a book on the topic of resilience.