Happiness studies and positive psychology, which started seriously taking off in the 1990s, are "scholarly fields that combine Eastern religions, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and behavioral economics - but above all represent a shift of focus among some psychologists from mental illness to mental health, from depression and anxiety to subjective well-being."
Ask David Foster Wallace - or Leslie Jamison: "I’d been afraid that meetings were basically lobotomies served alongside coffee-flavored water and Chips Ahoy!; afraid that even if sobriety could offer stability and sincerity and maybe even salvation, it could never be a story. But Infinite Jest knew better. It wasn’t that the novel’s brilliance survived the deadening force of sobriety. Its brilliance depended on what sobriety had wrought."
This isn't new; once digital designs became possible, and embroidery machines could run all day and night, the costumes had to step it up to match. The early days of change were harsh: "Irish dancing solo costumes went through a very bad period in the early 2000s. ...There were feathers, animal prints. It was almost like the more gaudy you could make it, the better.” Now it's all Swarovski crystals, and "classic Celtic patterns are once again in style, just a lot more blinged out, blindingly so."
The belief that humans are perfectible leads, inevitably, to mistakes when ‘a perfect society’ is designed for an imperfect species. There is no best way to live because there is so much variation in how people want to live. Therefore, there is no best society, only multiple variations on a handful of themes as dictated by our nature.
"As dancers, we grow up in studios surrounded by people with similar abilities. We take for granted these incredible skills that we've spent years perfecting because everybody around us can do much the same as us. We sympathize with our friends who end up in "boots" for their broken metatarsals and we mourn the loss of the incredibly refined senior dancers once they retire. But the demands of being in a ballet company are such that we don't waste much time considering the potential loss of our own career."
"The use of YouTube is no accident. The internet is a great way for fans to party contrapuntally. Online musicians have turned dozens of songs into fugues, from 'Uptown Funk' to the 'Star Wars' theme and 'Old MacDonald'." (Even the fight songs of the two Super Bowl teams got fuguified.) "Others are making older pieces easier to understand. By adding scrolling videos to the music - each voice marked by different lines of colour - Stephen Malinowski lets fans follow the subject with their eyes as well as their ears."
"We see quite clearly that students' personalities change when they go to university," Sonja Kassenboehmer of Monash University, the paper's lead author, said in announcing the findings. "It is good news that universities not only seem to teach subject-specific skills, but also seem to succeed in shaping skills valued by employers and society."