Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tonight: "The Imp of the Perverse and the Power of Negative Thinking" with Guardian Journalist Oliver Burkeman

Tonight--Thursday January 23--we hope you'll join us for an illustrated lecture with Guardian journalist Oliver Burkeman in which we will learn about "The Imp of the Perverse and the Power of Negative Thinking," a concept drawn from Edgar Allen Poe’s story of the same name. Not just a literary metaphor, this idea is supported by contemporary theories of psychology and has profound repercussions in our daily lives.

As he explains:
The imp of the perverse is the overpowering urge to do exactly the wrong thing in any given situation: to throw yourself from the precipice – or just to spill the red wine on the carpet, or to procrastinate on a crucial project – solely because you shouldn't. It's one example of what modern psychologists call "ironic effects", which sabotage us in all sorts of ways, from habit change to climate change, and which help explain why happiness seems to elude us the harder we try to attain it... this talk will explore the fascinating world of ironic effects research, the absurdities of the positive thinking movement, and the history of efforts to defeat the imp – via a "negative path" to happiness that involves embracing pessimism, uncertainty, insecurity and failure instead.
He will also signing copies of his excellent book The Antidote, copies of which will be available for sale at the event.

Full details follow; Hope very much to see you there!
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'A Cloud of Unnameable Feeling': The Imp of the Perverse and the Power of Negative Thinking: Illustrated lecture and book signing with Oliver Burkeman, writer for The Guardian and author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
Date:  TONIGHT Thursday, January 23
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)
***Books will be available for sale and signing

In Edgar Allen Poe's story of the same name, the imp of the perverse is the overpowering urge to do exactly the wrong thing in any given situation: to throw yourself from the precipice – or just to spill the red wine on the carpet, or to procrastinate on a crucial project – solely because you shouldn't. It's one example of what modern psychologists call "ironic effects", which sabotage us in all sorts of ways, from habit change to climate change, and which help explain why happiness seems to elude us the harder we try to attain it. This talk by Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, will explore the fascinating world of ironic effects research, the absurdities of the positive thinking movement, and the history of efforts to defeat the imp – via a "negative path" to happiness that involves embracing pessimism, uncertainty, insecurity and failure instead.

Oliver Burkeman is the author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, published by Faber & Faber, which the LA Times called "deeply insightful and entertaining". He writes a popular weekly column on psychology for The Guardian, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate and Salon. The Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has cited his journalism as evidence that 'professional standards are breaking down' in the media.

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