Sunday, July 24, 2005

Melancholy

ive often wondered what the true meaning of melancholy is. or rather the true feeling. its such an elusive emotion, kept in the dark, almost a default setting for the human condition. and yet so many seem to know it so well. do we all know it the same, as if its programmed into our very DNA, we know what it is, yet we never do. and even then, you are given to wonder, does everybody feel that sinking, sweet sadness that creeps up when you need it most and least.

and how to describe it. ive heard that feeling called self-indulgence, wallowing, and a dozen things, but thats not how it feels. if it was simple wallowing, how is it accepted in those wonderful, soul-tearing songs that drag or lead you back to that magical melancholy. things like yellow ledbetter, everybody hurts, im lonely (but i aint that lonely yet), holiday in spain, little fall of rain (from les mis), throw your arms around me, even the real thing, nuts as th song itself is. these songs can make you cry and love that you are crying. they contain fantastic lines written by people who seem to understand, and who have found a way to somehow articulate what you cant or wont. "i guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower, makes you talk a little lower".

a few months ago i found myself thinking that guys, because so many are incredibly emotionally stunted, did not feel this incredible, moving emotion, that they were somehow not able to find the sensitivity or subtlty to really get it. but i realized recently how very short sighted that opinion was, and is, but it also brings up a strange idea. not to bitch again about lit, but they have spent some time teaching us that certain people, like Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby, are incapable of feeling true love, or any kind of real emotion. i beleive that yes there may be those who cannot feel love, but are there those who escape or lose melancholy. what do these people do? how can they live without that sweetness that only comes through a period of self-evaluation? and how can they bear to embark on self-evalutation without first a feeling of melancholy and a deep desire to understand. that feeling of looking into your own soul and trying to dig at the inadequacies is as painful as poking your own eyeball with a pointy stick, but somehow it all seems so fascinating. until you reach a real black spot, something you wish nobody could ever see, least of all you, and you recoil in horror, yet somehow that wistful cobwebby feeling draws you right back in till you want desperately with that desperate knowing, to know more and more and you venture out (or in) again.

the dictionary from MS Word has this to say about melancholy; sad, depressed, downheated, miserable, down in the dumps, down, low, glum, gloomy, unhappy, despondant, dejected, dismal; encarta seems to have got it a bit better;

1. pensive sadness: thoughtful or gentle sadness
2. gloomy character: the gloomy character of somebody said to have an excess of black bile, one of the four bodily humors that were once thought to determine people’s health and emotional state (archaic)

although the last is perhaps a little odd.but still, they are beginning to get the idea i think. the fact is, there are no words, and not to repeat the hackneyed cliche, but is like trying to describe colour to a blind person. the closest i can come is to refer to the feeling resting in your stomach when you cry for somebody else. its detatched, and slightly cold, but still present, slightly surreal and beautiful, like lace and cobwebs, somehow not solid. in fact, no, the best way to describe this feeling of which i am now in the grip, forcing me to sit crying at my computer, trying to quietly to analyze what i could never really understand, the only way to describe, is in the smooth, even piano beat, understated violin, simplicity of sound, or even an amazing soprano effort (a la mio babbino caro). its in a slow steady ballad or an aria of broken, unrequited love. its everywhere, and we recognise it, glorify it, yet never really seem to speak of it. thats so strange. thats so human.

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