Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton
  • Born: December 20, 1969
  • Nationality: English
  • Profession: Writer

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If we are not regularly deeply embarrassed by who we are, the journey to self-knowledge hasn’t begun. Personal Growth, Experience and Development
Whereas the Bedouin who survey 100 miles of empty sand and crave company and can psychologically afford to offer each stranger a warm welcome, his urban contemporaries, at heart no less well-meaning or generous, must in order to preserve a modicum of balance, live without any acknowledgement of the millions of human beings sleeping arguing. Copulating, and dying only inches away. Modern society does not help us to put forward our more dignified side. Human Nature
A city like London is sociable in a sense that there are people gathering in bars and restaurants, concerts and lectures. Yet you can partake of all these experiences and never say hello to anyone new. And one of the things that all religions do is take groups of strangers into a space and say it is OK to talk to each other.
All tours are filled with humiliation. My publisher once hired a private jet to fly me to a venue where 1,000 people were waiting. It almost bankrupted him.
As an atheist, I think there are lots of things religions get up to which are of value to non-believers - and one of those things is trying to be a bit better than we normally manage to be.
As for despair, it comes about when I have been a fool and hate myself and despair of my personality. I am prone to gloom, but not depression as such.
Booksellers are the most valuable destination for the lonely, given the numbers of books that were written because authors couldn't find anyone to talk to.
I always feel that I am writing for somebody who is bright but impatient. Someone who doesn't have unlimited time. That is my sense of the reader. So I have got to get to the point. Time
I am always anxious.
I am conscious of trying to stretch the boundaries of non-fiction writing. It's always surprised me how little attention many non-fiction writers pay to the formal aspects of their work. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I am not a foodie, thank goodness. I will eat pretty much anything. A lot of my friends are getting incredibly fussy about food and I see it as a bit of an affliction. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
I assemble my ideas in pieces on a computer file, then gradually find a place for them on a piece of scaffolding I erect.
I feel that the great challenge of our time is the communication of ideas. Time
I keep a picture of my beloved children close by. Also, water and plenty of pads and pens.
I know a lot about writing, but I don't know much about how other industries work. I've tried to use my naivety to my advantage. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I learnt to stop fantasising about the perfect job or the perfect relationship because that can actually be an excuse for not living.
I love the idea of a university as away from capitalist values, where people can do things that don't immediately have to pay their way. It's like a monastery in a way, and that beautiful refuge has been destroyed by dogma about what this stuff is for. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I passionately believe that's it's not just what you say that counts, it's also how you say it - that the success of your argument critically depends on your manner of presenting it. Success
I think people want to get married to end their emotional uncertainty. In a way, they want to end powerful feelings, or certainly the negative ones.
I was a very un-literary child, which might reassure parents with kids who don't read.
I was foreign and Jewish, with a funny name, and was very small and hated sport, a real problem at an English prep school. So the way to get round it was to become the school joker, which I did quite effectively - I was always fooling around to make the people who would otherwise dump me in the loo laugh. Sports & Athletics ;Humor
I was uncomfortable writing fiction. My love was the personal essay, rather than the novel. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I waste most of the day, then finally start to write around 3 P.M., totally disgusted with myself for my wasteful nature. Nature
I went to church and couldn't swallow it. The music was nice but I don't belong there. Music, Chants & Rapps
I'm also interested in the modern suggestion that you can have a combination of love and sex in a marriage - which no previous society has ever believed. Society ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Families, Children & Parenting
In Britain, because I live here, I can also run into problems of envy and competition. But all this is just in a day's work for a writer. You can't put stuff out there without someone calling you a complete fool. Oh, well. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
It's almost a blessing when we meet people who naturally want to do the sort of things that are in high demand in society. What a gift to do that, as opposed to other people who would say, 'I want to be a novelist but actually I have to be an accountant.' Society
It's clear to me that there is no good reason for many philosophy books to sound as complicated as they do.
It's very hard to respect people on holiday - everybody looks so silly at the beach, it makes you hate humanity - but when you see people at their work they elicit respect, whether it's a mechanic, a stonemason or an accountant. Respect ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I've had my successes and failures. I know many academics in my field loathe me. I've come to loathe them back, as it seems only polite to do so. But at heart it's absurd; we should band together against the big common enemies.
Kant and Hegel are interesting thinkers. But I am happy to insist that they are also terrible writers.
Le Corbusier is an outstanding writer. His ideas achieved their impact in large measure because he could write so convincingly. His style is utterly clear, brusque, funny and polemical in the best way. Humor
Many moments in religion seem attractive to me even though I can't believe in any of it. Religion & God
My father paid for my education; then he made it clear that I was on my own. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
My greatest joy comes from creativity: from feeling that I have been able to identify a certain aspect of human nature and crystallise a phenomenon in words. Nature
My writing always came out of a very personal place, out of an attempt to stay sane.
Never, ever become a writer. It's a nightmare.
On paper, being good sounds great but a lot depends on the atmosphere of the workplace or community we live in. We tend to become good or bad depending on the cues sent out within a particular space.
Pick up any newspaper or magazine, open the TV, and you'll be bombarded with suggestions of how to have a successful life. Some of these suggestions are deeply unhelpful to our own projects and priorities - and we should take care. Life
Social media has lots of benefits, but compared to Christianity, it tends to group people by interests. Religion puts you with people who have nothing in common except that you're human. Religion & God
Status anxiety definitely exists at a political level. Many Iraqis were annoyed with the US essentially for reasons of status: for not showing them respect, for humiliating them. Respect
The Arab-Israeli conflict is also in many ways a conflict about status: it's a war between two peoples who feel deeply humiliated by the other, who want the other to respect them. Battles over status can be even more intractable than those over land or water or oil. Respect ;War & Peace
The arrogance that says analysing the relationship between reasons and causes is more important than writing a philosophy of shyness or sadness or friendship drives me nuts. I can't accept that. Friendship
There are few more effective ways to promote tolerance between suspicious neighbours than to force them to eat supper together.
There are people who say, 'Oh this guy is quite thick.' I think the reason is that, increasingly, I don't mind being simple in terms of literary expression. Others say, 'No, no, no. He went to Cambridge. He got a good degree. He must be Einstein.'
Virtue is its own reward. We only invented concepts like heaven and hell to describe how we feel. We don't feel good doing bad and it's nice to help someone.
We are certainly influenced by role models, and if we are surrounded by images of beautiful rich people, we will start to think that to be beautiful and rich is very important - just as in the Middle Ages, people were surrounded by images of religious piety.
We may seek a fortune for no greater reason than to secure the respect and attention of people who would otherwise look straight through us. Respect
What bothers me is that there is so much emphasis on food, rather than gathering and meeting - so that there is all this effort in creating the right food, whereas the food is only a small part of whether the encounter is successful or not. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
What is fascinating about marriage is why anyone wants to get married. Families, Children & Parenting
When I see someone like Richard Dawkins, I see my father. I grew up with that. I'm basically the child of Richard Dawkins.
When I'm writing, I write all day. Other days, I sit around thinking. Or I run around from one meeting to another, out in the world. It varies, and I like that.
When work is not going well, it's useful to remember that our identities stretch beyond what is on the business card, that we were people long before we became workers - and will continue to be human once we have put our tools down forever. Business, Commerce & Finance ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Work is a way of bringing order to chaos, and there's a basic satisfaction in seeing that we are able to make something a little more coherent by the end of the day. Work, Workers & The Labor Force

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