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miss misery

supposedly, misery makes for great writing. from the depths of anguish comes a sort of purity of feeling, a deeper, more honest sort of creative output. or some such crap. personally, i think that from misery comes a load of self-pity and very little else, at least, when it comes to the way that most of us experience it.

i think what’s at issue here is possibly a choice of words. when people talk about the sort of intense emotion that causes some great (although frequently awful) literature, they aren’t talking about the slow, grinding pressure of being crushed under the burdens of everyday life, in a seemingly contradictory existential state of being thrust into proximity with people, while feeling no sense of identification or companionship with them.

what brings out the poet in everyone is more what i would characterise as “anguish”, that horrific, stabbing tearing feeling that your world is being destroyed. you know, that feeling of having your siginificant other leave you, sleep with someone else, give you a venereal disease (or, if you were born under a lucky artistic star, all three at once).

hey, if you haven’t experienced this sort of thing, i highly recommend doing it at least once, if only to get the creative juices flowing. (i can say that, because i’ve gone through it, more than once, so i can sit back and smugly assume that i’ve paid my dues.)

what i don’t recommend is falling into the trap of prolonged, slow, dull depression that seems determined to squeeze on your throat until it presses every last breath out of you in a drawn-out, tedious cycle that pushes you, ultimately, into an unremarkable hole in the ground. this is how people who once had dreams of creativity end up being that annoying person who spends too much time talking about what their life was like ten, fifteen, twenty years earlier. this is not the misery that leads to some sort of artistic epiphany. this is the kind of thing that leads to a long series of half-finished projects of questionable worth that have a nasty tendency towards an inexplicable sameness, no matter what you do, much like every event in your life...

of course, if you wait long enough, this sort of monotony will eventually drive you stark raving mad, which, as we all know, is only a sliver away from genius.

so cheer up. whatever kind of unhappiness you have in your life now, some day, you’ll be able to transmute it into a magnum opus. until then, stuff sucks.


as long as you're here, why not read more?

mental health mondays :: where even the depressed ones are happy

this past week saw the publication of the annual world happiness report, a look at nations around the world and how people in each of them feel about their lot in life. i started following this a few years ago, and this year it occurred to me that it would be fun to look at how the happy places compared to the crazy places. i mean, what if those countries aren't really all that happy, but just have an extremely high rate of psychotic/ delusional disorders?

so, i set to work putting together a comparison. as it happens, that's a bit trickier than it sounds, because information on any kind of disability is more difficult to come by than you might think. and no type of disability is more controversial than a mental illness, which means that there are even more complications around definitions, seeking treatment, prognoses, record-keeping... it's hard to tell how reliable anything you're looking at is. [not that there aren't some good sources.]

and what sources there …


i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:

am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…