in support of melancholy

From here:

I do, however, wonder why so many people experiencing melancholia are now taking pills simply to ease the pain. Of course there is a fine line between what I’m calling melancholia and what society calls depression. In my mind, what separates the two is degree of activity. Both forms are more or less chronic sadness that leads to continuing unease with how things are — persistent feelings that the world is not quite right, that it is a place of suffering, stupidity, and evil. Depression (as I see it, at least) causes apathy in the face of this unease, lethargy approaching total paralysis, an inability to feel much of anything one way or another. In contrast, melancholia generates a deep feeling in regard to this same anxiety, a turbulence of heart that results in an active questioning of the status quo, a perpetual longing to create new ways of being and seeing.


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.

Poets are friends with melancholy. All artists are. Probably scientists as well.

2 thoughts on “in support of melancholy

  1. i am not a poet nor an artist per se.
    i have not been able to let go of
    bill frankonis as easily as i have some others who were once close to me.
    in one of his letters long ago he wrote that he only needed a couple of
    friends and that i was one of them.
    his spirit has always been with me — never changing, never judgemental.
    i’ve rarely been depressed in my life and i’ve had some terrible disappointments — some with respect to myself and some with others.
    i’ve been looking for updates from you and today’s entry reflects that
    spirit of waf that generates melancholia is me. thanks for putting it in perspective.
    wondeful I

  2. I think the differences between melancholy and depression are quite significant as you have noted them. I, too, wonder at the wisdom of pills for melancholy.

    My thoughts are with your family in this time of loss.

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