SUZY SPREADWELL #1 by John Linton Roberson, available at Google Play Books!
I Didn't Write That!
21 August 2008
  The Death of Melancholy

As I suspected, we're medicating away our souls.

One would think that Keats's life would have fostered bitterness in him, but he remained generous in the face of his difficulties. He didn't flee to the usual 19th-century escapes: Christianity or opium, drink or dreaming. Though he unsurprisingly underwent pangs of serious melancholia (who wouldn't, faced with his disasters?), he nonetheless never fell into self-pity or self-indulgent sorrow. In fact, he consistently transformed his gloom, grown primarily from his experiences with death, into a vital source of beauty. Things are gorgeous, he often claimed, because they die. The porcelain rose is not as pretty as the one that decays. Melancholia over time's passing is the proper stance for beholding beauty.

...Alienated from home and happiness, we sense what is most essential: not comfort or contentment but authentic participation in life's grim interplay between stinking corpses and singing lemurs. This "fit" shivers our souls. In this tense mood, we are in a position to understand the relationship between beauty and death.... He then says that if our "mistress" shows "rich anger," we should take her hand and let her "rave" and "feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes."

...These associations make for several conclusions. The "wakeful anguish" of sharp melancholia can lead to a shuddering experience, a "fit." This vital moment grows from an insight into the nature of things: Life grows from death; death gives rise to life. This insight animates melancholy, makes it vibrant. But it also intensifies the pain, for it emphasizes this: Everything, no matter how beautiful, must die. Rather than flee from this difficult position, the melancholic appreciates things all the more because they die...

Melancholia, far from a mere disease or weakness of will, is an almost miraculous invitation to transcend the banal status quo and imagine the untapped possibilities for existence. Without melancholia, the earth would likely freeze over into a fixed state, as predictable as metal. Only with the help of constant sorrow can this dying world be changed, enlivened, pushed to the new...

When we, with apparent happiness, grab hard onto one ideology or another, this world suddenly seems to take on a static coherence, a rigid division between right and wrong. The world in this way becomes uninteresting, dead. But when we allow our melancholy mood to bloom in our hearts, this universe, formerly inanimate, comes suddenly to life. Finite rules dissolve before infinite possibilities. Happiness to us is no longer viable. We want something more: joy. Melancholia galvanizes us, shocks us to life.

I personally think that the brain meds are prescribed far too readily now, and have since the 80s when my peers were the first ones to learn to get addicted to them.

But regarding the above quote: We're not all Keats. What about those unable to articulate what misery makes them feel, who aren't artists? What do they do about it?

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