By Jonathan Flatley
The marvelous declare of this publication is that living on loss isn't really unavoidably miserable. as a substitute, Jonathan Flatley argues, embracing depression could be a highway again to touch with others and will lead humans to productively remap their dating to the realm round them. Flatley demonstrates doubtless disparate set of modernist writers and thinkers confirmed how aesthetic task can provide us the capability to appreciate and alter our relation to loss.
The texts on the heart of Flatley’s analysis—Henry James’s Turn of the Screw, W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, and Andrei Platonov’s Chevengur—share with Freud an curiosity in realizing the miserable results of inauspicious losses and with Walter Benjamin the desire that loss itself may possibly turn into a way of connection and the root for social transformation. For Du Bois, Platonov, and James, the point of interest on depression illuminates either the ancient origins of subjective emotional lifestyles and a heretofore unarticulated group of melancholics. The affective maps they produce make attainable the conversion of a depressive melancholia right into a method to have an interest on this planet.
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Additional info for Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism
This idea appears to have originated in the early Christian Egyptian desert monks who were, due to their isolated mode of living, particularly subject to such a mood, which John Cassian described as a “weariness or distress of heart . . ”29 The notion of a disease of the black bile did not disappear during this period so much as the sin of acedia existed alongside it as a 36 • Modernism and Melancholia kind of spiritual disease. Occasionally acedia was viewed as something that might motivate you to find your faith and to search for the meaning of God (William Langland’s Piers Plowman might be read along such lines), and thus even here there appears to be the potential for a positively valued flip side to the depressive phenomenon.
If the melancholic person knows what it is to fall, as Kristeva puts it, into “an abyss of sorrow, a non-communicable grief that at times, and often on a long term basis, lays claim upon us to the extent of losing all interest in words, actions and even life itself,”33 then such a person may be inclined to dwell on the sources of her or his grief even when not depressed precisely in order to figure out how in the future to avoid depression. In other words, the aesthetic production of the melancholic may be an attempt precisely to combat depression, not, as one might assume, by way of an escape into aesthetic pleasures but precisely by directing her or his attention toward melancholy itself.
It suggests that even as we are able to see farther and better, it makes us feel smaller. This ambivalence is amplified by the figure’s funereal character: we modern subjects owe our “progress” to the dead bodies stacked beneath us on which we stand. We are haunted by the dead even as we are lifted up by them. As we know, over a period of centuries, regularized clock time organized daily existence in new and various ways. 4 Standardized clock time also has transformed how people have experienced their bodies and their daily emotional lives, inasmuch as the clock was used (and perhaps invented in order) to measure the workday.
Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism by Jonathan Flatley