Friday, April 18, 2014

Theme: Depression

  • Jean Améry titled his renowned book on voluntary death, Hand an Sich Legen - To lay Hands on Oneself. Beyond the argument of Amery (who killed himself in 1978), I've always found this image very appropriate. It describes with precision and grace a terrible gesture; it highlights the movement, inscribes it in time. It emphasizes, in particular, its slowness: the hand must be raised – it is consciously raised – and then it falls and hits.Read more
  • The most salient feature of our world is that God is dead. Or at least he appears to be dead. Perhaps he is on life support. Or maybe he has become an embalmed version of what he once was, appearing lifelike, but really dead. Nietzsche, formally and most famously, pronounced God dead. But perhaps the truth is closer to what Emerson said, less famously, half a century earlier: we live as if God were dead.Read more
  • I’ve spent a good deal of time lately reading up on the set of historical, medical and philosophical conditions known for centuries as melancholia and more recently as depression. My interest is that I’ve been commissioned to write a book about melancholia, but I’ll be writing it because it’s a subject I’ve lived with and thought around most of my life.Read more
  • In March 2009 Ben Bernanke, normally neither the most cheerful nor the most poetic of men, waxed optimistic about the economic prospect. After the fall of Lehman Brothers six months earlier, America had entered a terrifying economic nosedive. But appearing on the TV show 60 Minutes, the Fed chairman declared that spring was at hand.Read more
  • The parallels between Europe in the 1930s and Europe today are stark, striking, and increasingly frightening. We see unemployment, youth unemployment especially, soaring to unprecedented heights. Financial instability and distress are widespread. There is growing political support for extremist parties of the far left and right.Read more
  • In Japan, in the 1980s, the term “kar­ôshi”, or “death from overwork”, was coined to describe cases where people have essentially worked themselves to death. In the late 1990s, when Japanese began to see suicide rates skyrocket, another term emerged in the media as a national concern.Read more
  • In a 1930 essay titled “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren,” John Maynard Keynes ridiculed economists for having a high opinion of themselves and their work.Read more
  • There are two histories of suicide: one of the despair, hopelessness, and anger that shaped the doing of the deed, and the other of its legal, social, and cultural consequences. The first is concerned with motives, states of mind, and the chains of causation and circumstance that might lead someone to take their own life. The second attends to the plight of survivors, the response of society, and the fiscal, judicial, and declaratory actions that dealt with the body and goods of the deceased.Read more
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