In many languages around the world, the equivalent of the word joy has been slowly replaced in recent decades by three letters from the standard universal language: fun. As is often the case when a word is inserted in the global communication network, it becomes less rich and expresses a generic and formatted version of more complex feelings.
Words are not just conceptual bags, they are also corsets and social control tools. While more and more global individuals have mimetic “fun” moments, less and less have access to all the depth, richness and singularity of joy. Besides, to play on words a little, in Latin, funus means death, funeral. It seems sometimes that fun is reactive, sectarian, like the egocentric exclusion of many parts of the world, while joy affirms the world and anticipates it creatively and generously.
There are many forms of joy: childish, religious or mystical, loving, intellectual, friendly. This time to mention an exact etymology, the Latin word source, gaudia, was a plural noun — meaning rejoicings — formed from the verb gaudeo, I rejoice, itself formed on an Indo-European root related to the word admiration. Joy is a physical and spiritual experience: perhaps it is the human experience par excellence that expresses the fact that the spiritual and the physical are, from time to time, in symbiosis and unification, the body expressing the vibrations of the spirit and the spirit celebrating an admirable and glorious presence in the world. Joy of the mystic, joy of the lovers, joy of the children who play, joy of the thinker who swims in the ocean of concepts, joy is an enjoyment, but which always includes in it an angelic part: it is the presentiment that in a dimension unknown to worried realists, we develop ample white wings that make us capable of flying, we are both responsible for earthly harmony and intoxicated by the divine wine of life.
Joy is never entirely selfish or exclusive: it connects us to the world by introducing us to hidden and sublime dimensions. Joy renders us talkative, pushes us to forgive and to understand. As it is not only enjoyment or fun, it also makes us more responsible and ready to fight for the harmony it suggests. The archangel Saint-Michael does not only have wings, he also comes with a sword. He is active in the fun-eral of evil. “It is in joy that courages are reshaped,” wrote the author Victor Cherbuliez in the nineteenth century.
While fun can make us blind to all those — and even cruel to those — who are not in our little circle of enjoyment, joy asks us: how is it that our earth is not a kingdom of common harmony? Even childlike joy is generous and inclusive. In this sense, joy brings with it gems of politics. Who knows, perhaps we should build a new global political proposal based on joy? Communism was too obsessed with work, which no doubt involves its magic and joys, but indirectly. Capitalism is too obsessed, as its name indicates, by capitalization, accumulation, while joy, conversely, is an abundance that disperses rather than seeks to retain at all costs.
Joy is a direct connection to the richness of the Creal and the cosmic love story between the Multiple and the One. Theoretical anarchism is no doubt close to a politics of joy. And the distrust it inspires reveals our more general fear of joy: it is the terror we experience in the face of dissolution and dispersion, it is our escapism from disorder and our refuge in order. We cling to our identity — and in that process we are not fully wrong. Because realized joy is not only dispersion, it is also access, beyond the pettiness of the Ego, to the greatness of the Self.
The creative universe is a love dance between the pure Multiple and the pure One — for every multiplicity supposes ontologically Unity, as pointed long ago by philosopher Plotinus. Deep joy is simultaneously the apprehension of our infinite richness and the intuition of the singular person we are, the identity which makes us angelic, in the image of the divine. Someone who is in joy is both out of herself and in herself.
In the end, joy is always mystical, a movement of admiration for the All and for its echo in each of us. “There are joys that are an inexhaustible source of strength for the soul,” would add novelist Laure Conan. Joy reveals to us the soul of the world, and our participation in the destiny of it.