Thursday, June 2, 2022

Sadness waking us up to real life (quotes)

Camille Pagán:

"It’s permanence that distinguishes grief from other emotional pain. The unfixable nature of never — that’s what makes it so terrible to bear."

Patrick Harpur:

"In the life of the body, it is loss that dismembers us. Our hearts are broken; we bleed, hurt, ache; we are gutted. Bereavement opens us up like a scalpel, we fall apart, we feel cut up into little pieces. Grief numbs us; our bodies feel odd and separate; we seem to be living in a dream, in another world."

Julie Reshe:

"Before my own descent, I’d been confused when my PhD mentor, the philosopher Alenka Zupančič at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, suggested that the common striving for happiness constitutes a repressive ideology. What in the world could be wrong or repressive about the desire to make the world a happier place?"
Yet, after observing myself, I came to agree with her. Look around and you’ll notice we demand a state of permanent happiness from ourselves and others. The tendency that goes together with overpromotion of happiness is stigmatisation of the opposite of happiness – emotional suffering, such as depression, anxiety, grief or disappointment. We label emotional suffering a deviation and a problem, a distortion to be eliminated – a pathology in need of treatment. The voice of sadness is censored as sick."

Oliver Burkeman:

“In case this needs saying, it isn’t that a diagnosis of terminal illness, or a bereavement, or any other encounter with death is somehow good, or desirable, or ‘worth it.’ But such experiences, however wholly unwelcome, often appear to leave those who undergo them in a new and more honest relationship with time. The question is whether we might attain at least a little of that same outlook in the absence of the experience of agonizing loss. Writers have struggled convey the particular quality that this mode of being infuses into life, because while ‘happier’ is wrong, ‘sadder’ doesn’t convey it, either. You might call it ‘bright sadness’ (as does the priest and author Richard Rohr), ‘stubborn gladness’ (the poet Jack Gilbert), or ‘sober joy’ (the Heidegger scholar Bruce Ballard). Or you could just call it finally encountering real life, and the brute fact of our finite weeks.”


Camille Pagán. Life and Other Near-Death Experiences. Lake Union, 2015.

Patrick Harpur. The Philosopher's Secret Fire: A History of the Imagination (2002). Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2003. p. 254.

Depressive Realism.” Julie Reshe. Aeon. January 9, 2020.

Oliver Burkeman. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2021.

child looking out rainy window sadly
Image by Shlomaster from Pixabay

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