“Trying to tell someone that life is a perfect business that can be made ideal is one of the quickest ways to depress them.” he said, “The best way to cheer anyone up is to tell them that life is difficult for everyone. We suffer all of us alone, thinking that we are unique in our sufferings - we are not, they’re actually what binds us together and being able therefore to say we are a broken species is the first step towards consolation and an act of friendship.”
Cliveden Literary Festival has made De Botton’s talk on Emotional Education available on YouTube here, and if you think lockdown might offer an opportunity for self-improvement, it’s well worth a listen.
The Cliveden Literary Festival is the chicest, most sophisticated of its kind - a Glyndebourne for books - and takes place annually (this year’s dates are November 14th & 15th). If in need of a cultural fix, why not catch up on some of last year’s sessions - The Art Of The Novel with Howard Jacobson, Ian McEwan, Kate Mosse, Ben Okri and Leila Slimani; Emotional Education with Alain de Botton; Britain’s Sharpest Airhead with Emily Maitlis and many more.
Alain was also a recent guest on Walpole Women in Luxury speaker's Elizabeth Day's How to Fail podcast, where he discussed how to be human and stay (relatively) sane in the grip of a global pandemic. Take a listen here.