Beauty in Melancholy

Happiness is great. The emotion we all pursue. What is life? Many might say it the eternal pursuit of happiness, everything else is just a means to an end. We look at the horizon and hope there is happiness, as we continue our journey.

Every one of us would have experienced overwhelming joy, a state of euphoria, a moment which we wish could have been frozen, saved and recorded so that we could relive it in at our whim.

Beneath these pile of happy memories which we chose to never forget, we also have our memories of sadness. Poor sadness doesn’t get as much space in the long term memory as its celebrated cousin Happiness does. Some sadness does sneak into the long term memory (mostly against our wishes and tries to stay there).

With the extremes taken by Happiness and Sadness, somewhere in the middle lies “melancholy”, like a ticking clock whose sound is eternally present yet hardly noticed.

Oh! Melancholy(mel-​​uhn-​​kol-​​ee) you beauty! strip away your meaning and you would still remain an elegant word by pronunciation.

Melancholy has not be confused with being depressed. You won’t be exactly jumping in joy in a melancholic state, nor cover yourself in a pond of tears caused by your sadness. Melancholy has sadness in it; sadness not caused by regret but caused by hope and uncertainty. A state in which I ponder about myself and my experiences.

“My melancholy is the most faithful mistress I have known; what wonder, then, that I love her in return.” — Søren Kierkegaard

Of all the things that cause melancholy in me, movies and books with a bittersweet ending are the best.

Ancient greeks who had mastered the art of theater figured out long back that tragedy is a better form of art than comedy or satyr. Aristotle boldly claimed that tragedy cleansed the heart through pity and terror, purging us of our petty concerns and worries by making us aware that there can be nobility in suffering. Comedy can not make you empathize nor can comedy ever be personal. No one will ever say “I feel you” to a piece of comedy.

Shakespeare’s tragedies are also more memorable than his other work.

To be or not to be? That is the question. — Hamlet

Such a beautiful amalgam of words. Yet all it does is poses a question of suicide. Every adult would have at one point in their life posed this question to themselves in a melancholic state of mind. I can empathize more with the tragedy of Hamlet than the dramatic courtroom success of Portia in Merchant of Venice.

Jack’s death in Titanic, everyone’s death in The Departed, Dobby, Snape and multiple other deaths in Harry Potter. All these great works of art would not be the same without these tragic moments. The death of a protagonist elevates the story.

How would I feel when tragedy is not appreciated in art?