*Melancholy*, by László F. Földényi

by on April 30, 2016 at 2:58 pm in Books, Philosophy, Uncategorized | Permalink

I very much like this book, it is one of my favorites of the year so far.  It resists being excerpted, as it is an old-style think piece in the style of Montaigne, or for that matter Robert Burton.  Every page is idea-rich and should be read carefully and slowly, and that is rare these days.  Here is just one bit:

Melancholics are prominent…precisely because they are too full of life; because of them, existence overflows itself.  This explains their unappeasable sense of absence: since they have left the world of moderation, overflowing is inconceivable without being emptied.  The universe is damaged in their person; hence, melancholics’ sense of being among the elect, but also their self-hatred to the point of self-annihilation.  That makes them strong and outstanding, but also exceedingly frail.  Their strength is infinite, because they have gained knowledge of the end, but they are unhappy, since having experienced the ephemeral nature of humans, they have lost their trust in existence.  Their strength and frailty, their unhappiness and their heroism, cannot be detached from each other.  This leads us back once again to the starting point of our argument, to the Aristotelian question “Why is it that all those who have become eminent in philosophy or politics or poetry or the arts are clearly melancholic?”

Definitely recommended.

1 Attila Smith April 30, 2016 at 3:54 pm

The excerpt is a bit too grandiloquent for my taste, but I’m ready to believe that the book may be of interest.

2 dearieme April 30, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Maybe it was better in the original Hungarian.

3 Moo cow April 30, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Dating one is exhausting. Especially if you tend to be one yourself.

4 Dave Barnes April 30, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Too many diacriticals in his name.

5 Attila Smith April 30, 2016 at 5:00 pm

A Hungarian without diacritics is like a student without beer.

6 rayward April 30, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Melancholics suck all of the oxygen out of the room. I suppose that has an affect (or is it effect) on everyone else. Too full of life? Surely the author is being ironic. Very early in my career I worked for a man who was bi-polar (my diagnosis) – melancholic is the romantic term. People were drawn to him like flies to sugar. He was a self-absorbed ass. Not too many years ago (but not enough years ago) I was involved (well, more than involved) with a bi-polar woman (again, my diagnosis). My suggestion to anyone involved with such a person is the same advice I gave to my nephew about women who are into horses and interior decorating: run as fast as you can.

7 Troll me April 30, 2016 at 5:47 pm

As long as they’re not prone to whining a lot about how tough fate has been, sometimes they can be a source of very interesting reflection on things.

8 anon April 30, 2016 at 5:55 pm

The external melancholics are entirely different creatures than the internalized, serene seeming, ones.

9 The Engineer April 30, 2016 at 5:55 pm

I’m sorry, that’s just gibberish.

10 Brian Donohue May 1, 2016 at 9:30 am

Yeah, I’m trying here, but that reads like “Horoscope/Fortune Cookie for the Melancholic”.

11 Donald Pretari April 30, 2016 at 6:00 pm

I suppose the paradox is that people who are inclined to tell themselves “What’s the point?” end up doing so much.

12 yenwoda April 30, 2016 at 7:38 pm

“all those who have become eminent in philosophy or politics or poetry or the arts are clearly melancholic?”

Poetry and the arts, ok. Politics?

13 Zeitgeisty May 1, 2016 at 8:57 am

I can edit that paragraph so that it says the same thing more clearly in 60% fewer words ..

14 prior_test2 May 1, 2016 at 11:18 am

So, is ‘definitely recommended’ a greater or less accolade than ‘self-recommending’?

15 Merijn Knibbe May 1, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Let’s see what happens to Trump

16 Delft May 1, 2016 at 6:41 pm

Say what you will about his propensity to pander to the authoritarian left, TC does have good taste in books.

17 Xenosthename May 2, 2016 at 9:29 am

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”

– Charles Bukowski

18 Some Other Tom (I Forget Which) May 5, 2016 at 1:12 pm

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: