Friday, February 22, 2008

Arguing the Upside of Being Down

Author Eric G. Wilson has come to realize he was born to the blues, and he has made peace with his melancholy state.

[. . .]

The English professor at Wake Forest University wants to be clear that he is not "romanticizing" clinical depression and that he believes it is a serious condition that should be treated.

But he worries that today's cornucopia of antidepressants -- used to treat even what he calls "mild to moderate sadness" -- might make "sweet sorrow" a thing of the past.

"And if that happens, I wonder, what will the future hold? Will our culture become less vital? Will it become less creative?" he asks.

I share Wilson's sense of caution as well as his natural predilection for melancholy. But unlike Wilson, I don't make any particular effort to romanticize emotions. In fact, I'm not sure they serve humanity's best interest. We scoff at Mr. Spock's clinical mind-set; passion, we argue, is vital to our humanity. But who said "humanity" is the standard upon which we must judge our future selves?

I'll leave the final word to Morrissey.


Justin said...

Emotions aren't in humanity's best interest? And then you close the post with a song?

I suppose I'm probably missing your point.

Also, is there anything that says a post-human existence couldn't be psychically amped up, more emotionally complex and imaginatively rewarding than life as we currently experience it? So many people lead detached, isolated and shallow personal and emotional lives, due to media oversaturation and estrangement from the environment, as it is.

I'm not sure how muting ourselves will help in any qualitative way, but maybe I'm just a naive, optimistic Dr. Forbin kind of guy.

Mac said...

Hi Justin--

Re. the Morrissey tune: I particularly like the line questioning whether "I'll still be human" if tomorrow ever comes.

Also, is there anything that says a post-human existence couldn't be psychically amped up, more emotionally complex and imaginatively rewarding than life as we currently experience it?

That's an inspiring alternative to a lot of the ironically "dark" posthuman futures one encounters while Net-surfing.

Justin said...

Well, imagining alternatives is a bit of a hobby horse of mine (but let's be fair, I just draw comics).

dad2059 said...

That's a good point, most post-human depictions do tend toward Gibsonesque dystopia.

Justin is correct also.

And comics are good for the imagination.

rorschach said...

Speaking of "comics" and being good for you, and your mind, check out the graphic novel, "Watchmen."

Talk about grand...

Justin said...

Hey, that's totally bizarre, I almost countered the Morrissey quote with a Watchmen quote:

"An impending world of exotica, glimpsed only peripherally."

Big sloppy kisses, Rorschach. You're my hero. Never give up, never compromise!

that rorschach cat said...

Heh. Thanks. Mister Ecks suggests I should start my own blog (see my tendentious screed about the drone meme being unkillable, below).

I'm giving the idea some serious thought. Just wish I'd spelled Morrissey correctly, above. Hi ho.

rorschach said...

Oh, crud. Forget the Morrissey ref. Wrong post/comment. Sheesh...

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting article.

I, too, have a mild form of depression, dysthymia, which is chronic and difficult to effectively treat, being both genetic and environmentally-based; it mainly allows one to be fairly functional, but one tends to see things in kind of a down or critical manner.

I think dysthymia is a Latin mashup of "bad humor," or bad attitude or similar. I wouldn't deny I have a somewhat pessimistic outlook, but sometimes I think that it's a pragmatic one, given the state of the world these days, and my perspective on the near future and beyond for humanity.

I take 150 mg of Effexor XR each morning, but I'm seriously thinking of slowly reducing it to zero, so that I can get off it after the last several years of using it. It kind of blands one out--I think I'm ready to suffer the slings and arrows of whatever outrageous fortune life has in store for me, as I would definitely like to get some of my edge back, and am willing to work on more natural or healthy regimes like working out, which I've found quite beneficial as an alternative to medication. Never felt better, physically, emotionally, and mentally, than when I was regularly working out every other day long ago.

I'd like to be a bit more productive and creative in my life and work, and anti-depressants only go so far in allowing (or even suppressing) that capability.

Bsti said...

uh....Mac? I just heard handsome devil at work, and I'd Really like to know WTH that song is about. I read the lyrics and still don't get it.
Enlighten me?

Mac said...


"Handsome Devil." It's about mammary glands and unrequited lust, with some silliness thrown in just to make things confusing! said...

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