Monday, June 23, 2008

Mal de vivre

The French call depression mal de vivre. In a book about
it (Histoire du Mal de Vivre: De La Melancolie a la
), Georges Minois concludes that it has got
worse among us in the "West" because of historical
pessimism and the loss of good authority. “He also cites,”
says Anita Brookner in a Spectator review of the book,
“the consumer society, the infantilizing effect of popular
culture and consequent absence of catharsis, the lack of
intimate satisfaction, and the medicalization of what is
essentially a metaphysical condition.”

Hm. Another French writer, Philippe Labro, fell into a
sudden and mysterious depression that left him at times
virtually unable to move. Somehow he came through it,
however, and wrote a book about the experience called,
wonderfully, Tomber Sept Fois, Se Relever Huit (to fall
seven times, to rise eight).

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