Posts Tagged ‘Derren Brown’

see also What is Happiness/Wat Is Geluk?

http://derrenbrown.co.uk/

Derren Brown, the magician, mentalist, entertainer, has recently published a new book: Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine, Bantam Press, September 2016.

A Sunday newspaper reviewer of the book that I read was being either deliberately obtuse, or just plain ignorant in his write-up.

If I was to ask you what you thought of happiness, 10 to 1 you would say something like I did: something to do with fun, friends, good times.
Lack of worries comes into it. Control of one’s life is not something occurs immediately, but it is what it mostly amounts to also.  And also, as the current mood has it, of giving up that control if the fun-factor is high enough.
In other words our ideas of happiness are mostly tied up in the life-style tropes that ads feed us. At the heart of the marketing is this equation:

Happiness = Wealth, Youth, Health
In that order.

We can only be happy if we have plenty of money.
We can only be happy if we are young.
Health, well, we need that to do and enjoy all the extreme sports, the trail hikes, the yachting? we see as necessary to be happy.
Because happiness is, to use a metaphor, about bungee jumping into excitement, extreme experiences. Preferably somewhere sunny, hot: a tropical setting.

So, what did Derren Brown say happiness is? The reviewer pinned it down as something like ‘constant contentment.’
Couldn’t be more different.
All excitement – slippers and cocoa.

Derren Brown wrote how he hates being a magician – he has seen the reception side of trickery and it’s no fun. He hates the big production showman deals. He admires the skill, the craft, oh yes, but it’s the message. Or the lack of message. The message is usually Admire Me! Or production-line entertainment.

Derren Brown is a thinker; for him everything must have a meaning, a purpose.
His latest shows in particular, have all been to do with empowerment. That is, empowerment of people, ordinary people: the passive audience, who have stumped up the money for the travel and the show.

In his latest show MIRACLE, he implores the audience to consider their moment in time, their uniqueness; to consider the miracle of their genetic heritage and the millions of risks and successes throughout millennia that have led from the beginnings of life itself, to themselves at that precise moment. How they are all part of that.
It is, he says, miracle on miracle we are here , and also here now in this theatre.

For Derren Brown happiness is not what we have been sold.
We desperately need another narrative than the one we have taken on board without realising, and on which we still base our ideas of fulfillment, success, happiness.
He wants to provide an alternative narrative.

His narrative is by no means The Answer.
His narrative is meant as a corrective to the Wealth,Youth, Health equation.

Happiness is not about spending loads of cash.
Happiness is not all about running around on tropical beaches.
Happiness is not about being a morally vacuous and patronising vacationer, in places where locals are in awe of out Western ways, our wealth. OK, that last bit’s mine.

The narrative he is putting across could well be the one we need most in post-Brexit Britain.
It is about valuing what we have, our uniqueness, our quirkiness, our ‘character.’
It is appreciating what is in front of us, around us, here, now.
And it is not about hopelessly, endlessly yearning  for that other that costs so much in money, air-pollution, and political and cultural harm to other countries. And that bit’s mine, too.

Derren Brown’s book is about the need to re-evaluate, re-think, re-consider ourselves, our lives, our communities, our world, and our places in the world.

 

 

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