My melancholy is the most faithful mistress I have known.
What wonder, then, that I love her in return.
~ Søren Kierkegaard
Nick Cave – As I Sat Sadly By Her Side (live in Berlin 2001)
Tx to denriktigasolvind
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Love Letter (live)Tx to oliv6733
*GOOD READ: Melancholy as an Aesthetic Emotion
By Emily Brady and Arto Haapala, in Contemporary Aesthetics, (article viewed online, 2009-09-08)
When discussing the problem of emotions and art, recent philosophers have most often considered it in two contexts-music and fiction. Music, usually lacking an easily definable propositional content, is an art form in which emotions have the most dominant role to play; in our western tradition it is common to describe certain kinds of movements as ‘sad’ and others as ‘joyful’, and it is appropriate, in some sense, to feel these emotions while listening to a piece of music. The problem has been how to characterize more specifically the connection between a composition and the emotions it is claimed to express. The question of fiction and the emotions has been in the forefront because of the apparent paradox of our response to fictions; why, for example, are we moved by the fate of a fictional heroine when we know that the object of the emotion is not a real one, but only fictional.
The emotions considered in these contexts have been, typically, fairly straightforward and uncomplicated, for example, joy, sadness, and especially in respect to fiction, fear in its various degrees, with horror as an extreme. These sorts of emotions point to some of the logical and philosophical issues arising from art and emotions, and although not enough attention has been paid to the nature of these emotions themselves, they are sufficiently understood for exemplifying the dilemmas mentioned. This has also meant, however, that many other significant and interesting emotional qualities have been neglected.
The sublime is one of these emotional qualities that has been neglected but it has seen a small revival in neo-Kantian aesthetics. Another emotional quality that in some respects resembles sublimity has been almost completely forgotten. Melancholy is no less complex a phenomenon than sublimity, and it has a role to play in many works of art. Looking further back into the history of philosophy and literature, there are chapters in which the topic is touched upon. There have been many studies of melancholy, but sustained treatments of the concept have been ‘clinical’, where it is equated primarily with a mental illness or a dominant temperament. Robert Burton’s classic, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), is one exception, since its scope is broader than the clinical definition. Still, in these very different and varying accounts melancholy is not explicitly connected to aesthetic considerations (except perhaps in some poetic works).
We want to show the relevance and importance of melancholy as an aesthetic emotion. Melancholy often has a role in our encounters with art works, and it may also be significant in our aesthetic responses to the natural environment. But the complexity of melancholy, the fact that it is fascinating in itself, suggests a further thought-that melancholy might be considered as an aesthetic emotion per se. Melancholy invites aesthetic considerations to come into play not only in well-defined aesthetic contexts but also in everyday situations that give reason for melancholy to arise. It is the special character of melancholy, and that which differentiates it from sadness, sorrow, despair, and depression, which distinguishes it as an aesthetic emotion. GO TO ARTICLE