Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Pathology of Melancholy

Thomas Feiner and Anywhen, Dinah and the Beautiful Blue

Depression and death are black holes for melancholy. Their gravitational force is such that they claim melancholy almost wholly, leaving only small particles available for the remainder of the pathology of the self. For the un-nameable malaise of a Friday afternoon in summer, contemplating the passage of another of one's years, another circling, an ascent, a descent, the perfect annual spiral. And there are particles available for the particular state of mind brought on by the return from voyages, where the space of domestic life seems so poignant, a distant friend. And, too, for that which is most elegant in Latin, Post coitum omne animal triste ... if not la petite mort, then la petite post mortum.

The Little Death and the Beautiful Blue claim particles of melancholy, along with the sound one hears across the valley, a cliché perhaps that it is a church bell, and even one shrouded in the mist of a summer's morn, yet it causes a pathological affect in the small channel that connects the inner ear into the brain's most contemplative chambers, flooding them momentarily in the fugitive fluids which are the carriers for the fleeting pain of poignancy. The Physician's Guide to the Pathology of Melancholy is a slim, yet dense volume, largely considered an addendum to the weighty tomes on Death and Depression. It is seen by some as a hymnal, a litany of lyrical effects. And by others a wish list, an itinerary, a gazetteer, a route through a certain map of the human heart and mind.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Gerard Manley Hopkins, Waves. Study from the Cliff Above, Freshwater Gate, July 23,1863

The apparition of a line upon a page. Careful tracing. The discipline of drawing. These past few weeks of silence afford time to draw, the nudging of form, limning of space, dropping into details. Through the measured, studied investigations the mind grows its own convolutes, the spatial sense expands, the awareness of phenomena is heightened.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, Clouds, July 29 or 30 and July 31, 1863.

The prospect of a page and a pencil is laden with anticipation. Revelations. Imaginings. Inventions. Against the slick rendering of computer generated imagery is the humility of drawing, the humanism of representation. Almost as though unmediated, like automatic writing, the eye feeds the hand.

Peter Greenaway, still from The Draughtsman's Contract

(Mr Neville making the drawing - the actual drawing by Greenaway himself)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Contemplation of the Sublime

Confrontation, contemplation, the yielding of one's self to what is beheld. An alarming, piercing reality. A sense of suspension. The vertiginous falling into the world. The trance-like experience of immersion, submersion. Solitude, tranquility, isolation. Many of the actors in Werner Herzog's Heart of Glass performed under hypnosis, amplifying the oneiric atmosphere. The hallucinatory lucidity that lies slightly askance of the quotidian. How many degrees must one move to enter this realm, the everyday surreal sublime? What must shift for things to enter the pleasing unease? To allow one's self to suddenly fall, tumbling through the pane into the otherworldly realm that lies nearby, or within.

"Strange! So infinitesimally narrow is the threshold between the two realms, and yet no one raises their foot to cross it! The other reality borders on our skin, yet we do not feel it! Our imagination stops here, where it could create new land."

Gustav Meyrink, The White Dominican, 1921

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A New Year State of Mind

Straying through a world of pages, words, lost, loving being lost. Journeys of the mind this year. Faraway ... so close. A journey through the most utilitarian of places becomes a mystical ascension. The car park building is arranged around a perfect spiral, on the pretext of searching for a park one loops, ascends, up the line of grace, a helix built around the wonder of centrifugal force, the phenomenological ecstasy of driving, up, up, 8 floors, 9 floors, 10 floors, on ... 15 floors, then ... sky ... vast celestial dome of blue, and an expanse of open desert-like space. Vacant and tranquil. Transported within the city, to another world within. Scratch the surface and the city is surreal.