I once asked my friend why the melancholy disposition was considered to be sin as opposed to a source of religious truth after the eighteenth century. Her understanding was that melancholy is a sentiment of self-indulgence, which would remove an individual from the redemption of God.
I thought about it. To a certain extent, I agreed. When I am feeling melancholy, I do not seek to leave my state of melancholy. I suppose, in that way, melancholia is a disease quite unlike other diseases. What does that even mean, a disease? Diseases are classifications assigned by individuals who wish to understand individuals who do not fall within their “healthy-minded” conception of the world, and so they seek to place hierarchies that privilege their own existence while leaving the rest as an other. Is that all life is: trying to understand the world that is not accessible to us and calling all that which we do not understand to be something strange?
Melancholy is a sentiment of indulgence in the sense that an individual in a state of melancholy does not seek to exit a state of melancholy. An object in motion stays in motion. And, in this case, an object at rest doesn’t give a shit.
Lately, I’ve been feeling as if I am object at rest. More than the deterministic lens in which I view my life, it constantly feels as if I am the source of inertia in a world that is propelled by forces that have ignored me. I am the stillness that exists while objects around me constantly push and pull me towards propensities that are not mine. It is the world that propels me to act while there is my being that remains stagnant. The world is the agent, and I am the subject. I contradict Newton’s third law of motion. The action of the world may meet me, but I do not meet the world with an equal and opposite reaction. The world does not heed my screams; it simply passes through me like a river current moving around a rock. It is infinite, and I am not.
All I want to do is remain in my state of melancholy, but it is the world that compels me to exit. I wish to continue to remain in my self-indulgence, but it is the world that does not allow me to do so. I want to remain in a state of stillness, where I could be separated from the world. But the world does not allow stillness. The world is indifferent towards my wishes. The world blistering whiteness of a blank Word document, and I am the minute etchings of words that are carved into its infinite whiteness. When I finally reach the end of a page — when I finally feel as if I have reached some sort of coherence and structure in the world — I would press enter one more time, and then there would be another page with another flash of whiteness.
Unless, of course, I set the settings to no page breaks, and then I am constantly overwhelmed.
I am so far from all that is the world. I am so far from myself. All I want to do is escape the world, and the world does not let me escape from itself. Of course, it makes ontological sense, as I am an entity of the world, so it is inevitable that the continuance of the existence of the world would necessitate the continuance of my own existence. But, sometimes, most of the time, I wish it weren’t the case. I wish that I was not a part of this world. The world is constantly in motion. This summer, living in New York, I have especially felt the constant motions of the world. I may be able to count the leaves of a barren tree in winter, but the sight of thousands of falling leaves in fall overwhelms me. I am able to conceptualize little numbers, such as living in the Main Line, but cities as big as New York frightens me.
My fantasies were a bit different than most people’s growing up. I never really fantasized about wealth or power or glory. I actively, and successfully, suppressed those thoughts because they did not seem real to me. Whenever I would fantasize about a life that was unlike the one I had, my mind would immediately identify the schism, and the thought would be no more. I did, however, fantasize about leaving the world for a bit. There was this white chasm that had envisioned… think about the scene in the “White Christmas” episode of Black Mirror where Jon Hamm’s character was extorting the cookie in a computer generated an infinite white room — that was the white chasm in which I fantasized about. I just wanted to enter this space and never leave… at least, for a little bit.
The speed in which this world moves and propels me is overwhelming. I feel as if I am tied by a rope to a chariot. While I am able to keep up with the horses for a short while, namely when I was a child, the stamina of the horses eventually becomes too much for me. Because I am tied by a rope to the chariot, I am a part of the chariot. But, also, because I am a part of the chariot, I cannot escape from the chariot. I keep up with the chariot as much as possible while I still have the will to do so. But, sooner or later, I will collapse from exhaustion and fall down onto the ground. But, the chariot, being the powerful being that it is, continues to plough on without me. It is indifferent to the scrapes and burns that result from me being savagely dragged on the ground, leaving a trail of skin and blood behind me.
The world passes by me so quickly. As the stressed high-school student that I was, the world passed by me really quickly. All I wanted was to escape from the current of this world. But I cannot escape from the world that I occupy any more than a rock can not escape from a river current that it occupies. The world does not care if I think the world passes by me too quickly. To some extent, I have little care for my own feelings as well. I have little idea if my feelings of the world passing by me quickly are even real at all. It is what I feel at the moment, and then my fantasies form in order to address my inadequacy, but then that’s the extent of it.
Of course, my fantasy of exiting the world in a white chasm were never realized. It seems that the technology to leave this world does not exist yet, so I am still confined to continue existing in this world that does not care for my existence. The only way that I could stop the flow of the world is to die. Through dying, I would be severing my attachment to this world. If I am no longer a part of the world, then the forces of the world would no longer be able to affect me. Dying, to me, is the equivalent of cutting the rope to the chariot that propels me to run even when I no longer have the energy to continue running. I would finally be free from the heartless nudging of the world — from the world that would never care for me in the way that I have wanted to cared for the world.
But, unfortunately, there is a sort of permanence to dying. Once I die, I cannot un-die. If I could un-die, then that would certainly be ideal. Then I would be able to cut my rope to the chariot whenever I was tired and reattach it whenever I was not tired. But, sadly, the world was created in a way where the rope that ties you to the world cannot be cut and repaired. Death is the end, and the state of timelessness that entails can only be achieved at the end through death. Once we have been unconsensually thrown into this world, we cannot escape unless wish to exit for good. It is an exhausting night at a rave in which we enter that does not allow re-entry. Once we exit, we cannot come back.
And, like raves, life is saddening.