I've been enjoying taking bite-sized intellectual chunks out of The Book of Life for the last few weeks. Here's how they describe themselves:
WHAT IS THE BOOK OF LIFE[?]
That's pretty stankin' ambitious. I like it. It's an easy "food for thought" source for when I'm hungry for thought-food. And although I may not agree at times, I enjoy it.
Most appealing to me at this moment is their advocacy for what they call "The Melancholy Position" in relationships. On their entry for "Loyalty and Adultery," they write,
There is in a sense only one answer of sorts, and it can be called the Melancholy Position because it confronts the sad truth that in certain key areas of human existence, there simply are no good solutions. If we embraced the Melancholy Position from the start, we would need new, sadder, vows to exchange with our partners in order to stand a sincere chance of mutual fidelity over a lifetime. Certainly something far more cautionary and downbeat than the usual platitudes would be in order – for example: ‘I promise to be disappointed by you and you alone. I promise to make you the sole repository of my regrets, rather than to distribute them widely through multiple affairs and a life of sexual Don Juanism. I have surveyed the different options for unhappiness, and it is you I have chosen to commit myself to.’ These are the sorts of generously pessimistic and kindly unromantic promises that couples should make to each other at the altar.
This is something I can connect with a little. I understand that "there are no good solutions." I have meandered through a few of these this year where I've encountered, enabled, and instigated problems that cause heartbreak all round, where no solution brings anybody out on top. And week after week I find myself more and more resolved to Melancholy because none of the other solutions look particularly appealing. If there was a good solution for my problems, I'd embrace it. But there isn't one.
As I take responsibility for the social and mental places I've put myself, my desire to make music and art has plummeted. Perhaps if I can embrace the Melancholy Position, I can rebuild my relationships with my partner, my friends, my self. I know that some artists have been able to embrace the heartbreak and change in their lives to create something beautiful.
I'm not a romantic. I don't revel in my sadness and heartbreak. Even when I stumble into sulkiness, I don't do it as a personal expression in order to show people how sad I am. But as a non-romantic, perhaps I can jive with my musical side again if I can just embrace the Melancholy and build from there, to build from a place where I know that things won't change that much, where a singular step forward is always a comparatively important one.
But I can't fully embrace the Melancholy Position yet. I still have a bunch of self-help and psychology to get through and I'd like to get through all of this in as methodically as I possibly can.
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