Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Black dog ...

... Melancholy’s Whole Physician. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Many years ago I did some editing work for the Carrier Foundation Clinic. One of the paper's I edited had to do with the history of depression. It seems that at various times and places melancholy has been practically epidemic. I was so common the English during the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods that it was known as "the Englishman's disease." It was widespread among Athenians during the time of Pericles.
When I was an adolescent and even as a young man I thought of myself as melancholic. But it was delicious sort of melancholy, a kind of sweet sadness - I think of Tchaikovsky's line, that "it is all so sad and yet so sweet to muse upon the past" - but nothing remotely like the truly crippling depression I have known others to truly suffer from. In my case, even that passed with age. I have a certain dispassionate interest in things and persons that makes of life a continuing pageant. Then again, I may just be shallow.

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