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Clément Rosset - the man and his 'joyful' perspective on 'cruel reality'

Clément Rosset - the man and his 'joyful' perspective on 'cruel reality'

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Posted by Jan Evandro on May 10, 2000 at 03:40:13:

Clément Rosset

The medieval poet Martinus von Biberach wrote:
I don't know who I am
I don't know when I'll die
I don't know what I am going to
I am surprised that I am so cheerful

The French philosopher and professor at the University of Nice; Clement Rosset, cites Biberach to support his view that 'life is tragic, cheers to life!'. Rosset writes that he's a person with Joie de Vivre. When people say this of themselves you need to look further and check things out. Rosset advises us to have low expectations of life, that's the only way to be satisfied. Rosset has an 'bah humbug'attitude towards everything; 'No big deal', 'nosense!'seems to be his natural perspective towards everything he encounters. He cites the captain Haddock from the Tin Tin cartoons; 'I have no problems with philosophy, but today I prefer to drink a beer'. He's disrespectful and provocative towards great thinkers; especially the great metaphysical theories of Kant (who of course thought he knew the magic formulae for happiness) and 'buddhist' Plato are thrown in a bath with acid. Rosset mirrors the pessimistic perspectives on life of Schopenauer and Nietsche; whose happiness seems to be derived by endulging in the senselessness and tragedy of life. Like Rossini's Barber of Sevilla who is hunted and bullied by everyone and decides that he's the happiest man in the world. How ironic is the irony of Rosset; he becomes happy by tragedy. Human compassion? For todays Diogenes Rosset that only exists in Tolstoy's works. Sarcastic and crypto-pessimistic guy this Rosset! When he takes his line of reasoning one step further he wouldn't be able to write books at all; since every theory is nonsense; so is his…. (of course this opinion says something about my character too!)

I especially don't agree with Rosset's theory that we like to think that we have an identity but that this is humbug since the changing environment changes our character continuously. We adapt our behavior to changing circumstances but our character by and large stays the same during our life. We can compare it to jeans; when we grow older we understand that our primal behavioral inclinations in many situations are counter-productive. We learn to control and 'tame' our basic instincts which still are alive and kicking inside. The appearance of the jeans gets a bit bleaker when we wear it many years. However the distinctive shape of the trousers stays the same.

When we look at Oldham/DSM we see a good match with Rossets character and the Serious Style / Depressive disorder:

- sharp appraisers of others; unhesitating critique of others
- life is a grind; do what you need to do to survive; keep on plodding
- cynical, bah humbug-outlook
- judgemental towards others
- the realist
- unfiltered gaze
- penetrating
- quite critical of others
- see the dark side of life in sharp focus
- sober
- contrasting with today's 'think positive'culture
- stay with the dark side
- unable to express positive feelings or enthusiasm (towards others works)
- see what is not right
- have a very definite point of view

What is very good at Oldham's text about this style is that he points to the fact that contrary to what other people might think; the serious style person often feels not bad at all despite his cynical comments; aux contraire!


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