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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Melancholy

Many creative people are also given to melancholy, to the point where we might consider melancholy itself a component of creation itself. Less than ideal working conditions, delayed or non-existent rewards, the inherent solitude of many types of scholarship, and many other analogous factors (I am too lazy to list) contribute to dysphoria. I get a little jolt of satisfaction when my work is cited favorably, when I get a spike in hits on my blog, when my articles are accepted, but these events are infrequent.

Instead of eliminating melancholy, I prefer to anatomize it, control or minimize it through conscious effort, use it and listen to its messages. What is your melancholy telling you? I argued a lot with one therapist who said that my being more productive would not make me happier. I'm sure she was correct in saying that productivity would not eliminate dysphoria, but I was right that publishing more would help me manage the problem by removing a significant source of frustration.

It seems superficial to want rewards for what we do: admiration, renown, prestige and respect, power, money. Since scholarship is inherently rewarding, it is too much to ask that it also bring such conventional rewards. Yet people (including myself) do want such things even when they don't want to admit it to themselves.

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