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Philosophy

An Anatomy of Melancholy

In what ways might melancholy and a gradual (or rapid, accelerating) slide into sadness or feelings of hopelessness be the natural heir of organic experience in a material world that is always and already dissonant with energy diffusion and the endemic thermodynamic burden of what amounts to irremediable emotional and corporeal loss and decay?  All cultural life, all interpersonal and shared value – it is beautiful, sparkling, effervescent in all the Cosmic darkness, but always also so profoundly transient.  As a measure of human intelligence or intuition, we are (or must inevitably become) all too aware of the detuning frequency of energy and life that defines each arc and trajectory of personal, sentient experience.

When the rate at which the world breaks overtakes that at which it might ever and plausibly remake itself, we might recognise in macrocosm those individuated fading embers we experience in the course of life as the life of the world and that, in essence, can be a horror to behold.  The gradual winding down of our Universe (itself) into thermal equilibrium and heat death is one of the hardest lessons to hear; if you listen carefully you can hear the resonant disappointment of a human civilisation that is growing old.

Context: The New Anatomy of Melancholy

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