Thursday, August 5, 2010

Against happiness: in praise of melancholy

I have received my first unemployment payment so have brought a book!! YAY!!!!  Books I must point out are a real luxury I am being a devil!! The book is called ‘Against happiness’ by Eric G.Wilson. I have yet to fully read it, but have read the intro and chapter one and so far I am really enjoying it. The premise is that Melancholia is a normal and great muse!! I smile because I feel it is true, I have been at my most creative when filled with sadness. When I am happy, I am in the moment, enjoying it, not thinking or worrying about anything else, for that would distract me from my happiness. Really, what motivation is there for me to do otherwise? But, when I am feeling melancholic… I know I reflect, explore, think, feel, express and look for change. I ponder on who I am, where I am at, why, and where do I want to be. I wouldn’t be who I am today without melancholia. God bless it.

I must state that the writer makes a distinction between melancholia and depression. He understands the need for medication for those who are suffering depression, but he feels there is too much pressure in the U.S.A. for people to be happy. In fact he feels that there is an expectation of happiness and wonders if some people might be unnecessarily taking anti-depressant medication because they feel they are not ‘happy’, therefore they must be depressed, but in fact they may be melancholic. He sees melancholia as a natural part of a full life.- “I for one am afraid that our American culture’s overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life”. I agree wholeheartedly with him, we shouldn’t expect to be happy all of the time and it is perfectly normal to feel sad sometimes. 

“Surely we don’t want to settle for this one-sided world, this lopsided existence. Surely we want to develop full and capacious hearts capable of experiencing….If we don’t foster comprehensive hearts such as these, then we run the risk of living as abstractions, phantoms, ghost with no gusto for life.”

Bravo!!! I say.

“Against happiness: in praise of melancholy”- Eric G. Wilson. (2008) ISBN -10: 0-374-53166-8

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