By Jacky Bowring
A depressive sickness or a passing feeling? psychological detachment or a precursor to genius? depression is a serious a part of what it's to be human, but every little thing from Prozac to self-help psychology books turns out rationale on removal all symptoms of disappointment from modern life. A box advisor to depression surveys this ambivalent idea and takes a trip throughout the articulation of depression in various languages, from the Russian toska of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin to kaiho—which is expressed within the dancing of the Finnish tango. depression is located within the ancient traditions of death’s presence in paradise, the tears of nature, in addition to nostalgia, pathos, and melancholy’s presiding god, Saturn. In modern society, depression turns into a way assertion within the emo way of life. This consultant reveals depression in the paintings of writers reminiscent of W. G. Sebald and Jean-Paul Sartre, the artwork of photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto and multi-media artist Gerhard Richter, the flicks of Andrei Tarkovsky and Patrick Keiller, the song of Erik Satie and Tom Waits, the structure and landscapes of ruins, and the twenty first century’s predilection for memorials.
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Extra info for A Field Guide to Melancholy
Although there is agreement that sadness is generic, melancholy is culturally inﬂected, and has been since its origins. The legacy of melancholia appears in both Western and Eastern writings, and while there are substantial agreements and complementarities, it is hardly a universal ill – like smallpox. There are arguments that ‘melancholia’ as ‘clinical depression’ is a construction of the West. 17 The context differs across cultures, and melancholy might therefore vary in ways as subtle as an accent, or as profound as an entirely different lexicon, as explored in Chapter 4.
This is further developed in Critique of Judgment (1790) in which he grappled with the predicament of solitude. He argued that on one hand the melancholy detachment of solitude can be considered Sublime if it is motivated by self-sufﬁciency and perhaps asceticism. But on the other hand, it is ‘partly hateful and partly contemptible’ if it is founded upon misanthropy. A Sublime sadness must be founded on ideas and could be found in a place of retreat, a place for contemplative solitude. ’40 Kant’s place of solitude, the locus of melancholy, cannot be, however,‘so altogether inhospitable as only to afford a most miserable retreat for a human being’.
The key poets of Romanticism – William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats – are all believed to have suffered from depression. Byron’s lines from The Dream capture the conundrum of melancholy as both madness and genius: And this the world calls frenzy; but the wise Have a far deeper madness, and the glance THE CONUNDRUMS OF MELANCHOLY 39 Of melancholy is a fearful gift; What is it but the telescope of truth? ‘I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day’, is the beginning of one of the darkest expressions of nineteenth-century genial melancholy, the words from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ so-called ‘terrible sonnets’.