The beauty of melancholy

Ever felt like this is the best time in your life and wished that time would just freeze this very instant so no changes ever occur for an indefinite period, allowing you to fully savour the moments as they inevitably pass? And realise it’ll never happen and change WILL come, and resign to fatalism while resolving to enjoy and remember every second, for you know, deep inside, it’s too good to last? I guess what I’m asking is, in a nutshell, ever looked longingly into a snow globe?

And you wonder. How’s that possible? Being happy and sad at the same time. A bit happy, and a bit sad. Happy about knowing you appreciate it enough to be happy, and sad because you know it won’t last long enough. How much is enough anyway?
This almost contradictory flawed happi/sadness is a gem in itself and I would call it melancholy.

Melancholy. Such a beautiful word. Isn’t it? Mellon-kuh-lly.

mel·an·chol·y [mel-uhn-kol-ee]
plural -chol·ies

1. a gloomy state of mind, esp. when habitual or prolonged; depression.
2. sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness.
3. Archaic. a. the condition of having too much black bile, considered in ancient and medieval medicine to cause gloominess and depression.
b. black bile.

4. affected with, characterized by, or showing melancholy; mournful; depressed: a melancholy mood.
5. causing melancholy or sadness; saddening: a melancholy occasion.
6. soberly thoughtful; pensive.

To be melancholic is not as depressing as it they would have you believe. It’s a nice feeling, it’s gentler than being disappointed and preferable to being suicidal. It’s easier to recover from than absolute joy. Like a buffer region. And all the while, you maintain your composure and get to keep your chin up. What’s not to like?

To be melancholic is to like talking but prefer to be alone. You’re melancholic if you chide yourself for getting too carried away, brace yorself from impending disappointment, but don’t necessarily nip the source of potential hurt in the bud. To be melancholic is to be wise but not practical. It’s like a small cosy town in the midst of a looming never-ending wilderness. It’s like, being in the snow globe. You know everything’s perfect inside and it’s not about to change and yet the temptation of the outside world gnaws incessantly, deep inside.

And it’s really not about self-pity either! No one’s looking for a sympathy vote.

I’ve always felt a predisposition to melancholy. It’s comforting if only because it isn’t extreme. And to stay melancholy, which, I believe, is preferable to alternating irregularly between joy and hate or depression, is to distance yourself and watch from an aloof perspective. To not get drunk on transient elixirs. To abstain. To be apart. Alone maybe? To not have your personal space violated, in any way.

What is an A.T. Field? There are things we do not wish to admit to ourselves. There are lies that we tell ourselves to keep our sanity. There is knowledge so horrifying that our own subconscious suppresses it to keep ourselves from knowing it. This is the Absolute Terror Field – the border of the mind that we dare not cross. In the series Evangelion, the physical manifestation of the A.T. Field made the Angels undefeatable by conventional means. Only by breaking apart their own A.T. Fields and revealing to themselves the truth that lies within can the pilot of an Eva unit sunder an opposing A.T. Field. And you wonder why Shinji is so terrified of that cockpit…

[From: everything2 and originally Neon Genesis Evangelion]

The AT field is a very existential [and] angst[y] concept. It also bears resemblance to the “morphogenetic field“[which is another interesting idea I fancy] of Rupert Sheldrake.

Kaworu states that the AT field is the wall that surrounds a person’s soul.[1] It would theoretically follow that all humans (and likely most animal organisms) have AT Fields of some sort.

[From wiki and originally Evangelion]

Personal space is such a big issue you know? To me it is. The AT Field idea [it’s entirely fictional!] is particularly interesting. Barring the fact that solidity can be explained by simple physics, it is fascinating that objects are seemingly impermeable but cosmic rays [like tachyons or gluinos] CAN go right through you. Again simple physics will tell you why; but in the context of everyday life, you don’t even FEEL any sensation of being tunneled through. It’s the pain threshold. Constantly in pain, but only alerted to it after a certain limit.

I once read that the Walkman, and other similar devices, really caught on in the cities because the feeling of being enveloped in a sphere of sound was a virtual psychosomatic substitute for personal space, which itself was in short supply in the increasingly crowded cities. Agreed. When I listen to *real* music [read: not the crap you get on local radio -92.4FM], a surreal dimension overlays the real one, and I’m miles away from the nearest person, mentally and physically.

At this juncture, it is important to define, what personal space is. What is personal space?

Personal space, an updated form of Edward T. Hall’s 1966 proxemics, is the region surrounding each person, or that area which a person considers his domain or territory.[1] Often if entered by another being without this being desired, it makes them feel uncomfortable.

It’s something we must have to feel distinct and unique, as opposed to feeling like a tissue/cell in some gigantic organ/organism.

It is said a human baby will shrivel up and die [well, I’m not very sure about the shrivelling part] if not touched/massaged [whatever] regularly. Apparently, oxytocin gets released in a female brain when they hug [for example] and it makes them trust the “hugged” more. And sometimes, more than a million words of consolation, a simple hand-on-the-shoulder trick gets the river[s] flowing. So yes, touch [literal/metaphorical] is important, and to be touched might involve entering personal [restricted] airspace [literal/metaphorical]. But if it’s that important, why make it cheap? Why misuse and abuse it? Why strip it of all meaning? Touch implies trust, or does it anymore?

To be touched [in more ways than one] would mean getting involved. It would mean giving up the desired seat of Zen-dom. To plunge back into the material world and do stuff with material consequences, as opposed to staying afloat in a mental arena. To do, there must be an urgency or a need to be done. To be done, there must be commitment. Some people can’t even handle airy talk, let alone solid truth, so why bother with concrete commitment? [Now’s NOT a good time to point out awful metaphors. I’m STILL trying!]

The point about morphogenetics is interesting to wrestle with. No scientific credibility, SO WHAT? God isn’t scientifically credible either; millions still believe. Imagine, if your ego really hit a all-time low, then others could literally walk right through you. Talk about feeling invisible.
What gives us our shape? What’s the shape of a gingerbread man’s soul?

Is our mental image of ourselves the exact same as the true physical image? Obviously not. Case in point: people with dietary disorders. How can they perceive themselves as fat when you swear they’re swaying in the wind?

I’m guessing most people have a mental image that’s similar to the true image, but the chances of that image getting corrupted is high enough. And the worst part is, you’re not even consciously tailoring the image; IT is handed to you. Residual self-image anyone?

Well that’s at least one advantage that melancholic people have over fellow humans then. The stoic realisation that no matter what, for better or worse, they exist, if only by virtue of feeling bombarded/overwhelmed by the possibilities for disappointment, and nothing can change that. The acceptance that death may actually be release from the cage, not entry into a unbelievable quasi-dimension.

No. Stop sniggering. Being melancholic is not about being goth. Death isn’t an ultimate either. It’s just par for the course; yet another melancholic anticlimactic event.

Seriously, people who believe in heaven or hell secretly dream of living forever. WHY THE HELL would any sane rational being want THAT?

Does all this sound cliche? Maybe it does, I can’t tell. Maybe it should and we’re all fulfilling unspoken unwritten archetypes. I certainly don’t feel like the hero anymore. I’m probably the senex iratus, the real-life equivalent of Wobbly-headed Bob.

Is that a good thing? Probably not.
It’s nothing to be happy about. Nothing to write home about.
I wouldn’t complain, I shouldn’t. It’s fine really. It’s not perfect. It’s…melancholic.

Nice only because it could be a lot worse. A LOT worse. BUT it’s not. And I appreciate that. And if I MUST be thankful, I’ll thank my lucky stars? I’m not altogether spoilt. I’m just melancholic.


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