Somewhere in late 18th-century Europe a friend, Laetitia, by letter warns her beloved, Euphoria--a young, gay and unsuspecting mistress--against the almost inevitable seductions of the infamous and maundering philanderer, Melancholia.

An Epistolary Essay In Forewarning Of Melancholia

Dear Euphoria,

Melancholia is one of the more destructive downfalls in existence that you can suffer! Once engaged, he is easily the most difficult humour to surrender, the most difficult companion to forswear or to repudiate. It is therefore no exaggeration to solemnly declare and aver to you or to another that Melancholia—of all humours—is best when avoided at all costs; he is not to be courted or to be carelessly entertained. Whenever confronted with the opportunity to make his acquaintance, decline the offer through all means at your disposal—even having false hope would be better than to acknowledge his rude presence. When he is seen on some busy avenue approaching in your direction do not hesitate to quickly turn the other way! Your judiciousness in doing so will be bountifully rewarded. And when he perchance deigns to entice you with a kind word where none will graciously offer any, promptly refuse it. For by not accepting his ruse he is discouraged from trying again. Furthermore, regarding Melancholia, the much-used truism that ignorance is bliss cannot be over-emphasized enough or to the point of triteness.

Melancholia delights in currying favor with the afflicted and the habitually morose. He gives false hope to the simple, and comfort to the bereft. By endless promises he lulls the unwary and the incautious, and seduces the dejected and disheartened. Through guile he wins the confidence of his victims and entices them with sweet assurances of his faithfulness, that there is none like him. With a false mirror, he deceives the weak-willed into believing in his deceitful reflection, a false image of ostensible benevolence and goodwill. Through incessant reminders he prevents his deceived victims from forgetting the unwavering cruelty of this world and to religiously recall the superabundant kindnesses and generosity of none other than him. Through deceit and half-truths Melancholia erects and builds his crestfallen lovers into a false picture of security and unconditional, positive regard; only to watch them fall headlong from the precipice with their hopes and false sense of safety dashed to the hard, unforgiving ground below forever whenever the mood suits him! Throughout all this orchestrated tragedy Melancholia works insidiously, conscientiously, employing and using methods that he knows only too well and always with a single-minded goal to destroy. Be forewarned, therefore, that Melancholia employs several principles for mental siege of his hapless victims.

The first principle of Melancholia is to prefer falsehoods and prevarications over truth. Where a true friend always tells a companion what he or she needs to hear, Melancholia tells that soul only what he or she wants to hear and thereby does that poor soul a great disservice. Though Melancholia beguiles with relish, he is of the mind that every iota of knavery goes the distance, that a trail of breadcrumbs entices as much as a meal of mutton. Unending weariness and a listless look invites destruction, but Melancholia protests in overabundance that ennui and boredom are “health to thy navel and marrow to thy bones.” As Jonathan swore his faithfulness to David in the Old Testament, so swears Melancholia to them who would give ear to him; and feigns as a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Melancholia is in reality friend to none and an unchaste blight and scourge to all. He counsels against chastity and good sense and delights in causing the young bride to abandon the betrothed of her youth. Melancholia dances to the music of psalteries and harps and cymbals and entices you to drink and be merry when mirth is in the house of fools and when deliverance is in the house of the thoughtful only. When vigilance is required, he makes an exception for a little sleep and a little slumber. By bearing false witness against your neighbors, he works discord and strife where there was only peace and harmony. And through theft and fraud, Melancholia reaps where he did not sow.

Melancholia’s second principle is to spread the delusion that all is not for the best in the end. He contradicts and overrules master Gottfried Leibniz’s dictum that we live in “the best of all possible worlds” as absolute rubbish. Melancholia would have us all believe that we quite literally live in the worst of all possible worlds—in a hellish Golgotha on earth, in fact! Melancholia blesses those cursed souls that heed Pessimism; and curses those blessed souls that instead heed Optimism. He deceitfully declares that all of God’s benedictions are really curses and an onerous loan to be repaid in the future at great interest. “God’s blessings are essentially usurious!” insists Melancholia. Also, he would coax and canoodle everyone into the false belief that Hobbes is right about the state of life and nature—that we all are condemned to lives that are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” To hear such dark tidings is rude when one is feeling merry; but to hear the same woebegone news is baleful and bane when one is already crestfallen and morose. Indeed, to heed Melancholia is to reject all hope and to embrace the abyss! Even a happy death is preferable to the delusions of Melancholia. A caveat to all that it is better to immediately disown Melancholia upon his genesis in the homestead of one’s mind by surrendering him to the wilds of your mental forests where your cognitive wolves can devour him, rather than let him grow to adulthood and take root in your psyche as an arch-nemesis to the throne of your psychological and spiritual “kingdom.”

Melancholia’s third and final principle is the dissemination of nihilism, the philosophy that nothing actually exists and that existence and values are meaningless. It was Melancholia’s pernicious influence that moved King Solomon of ancient Israel to proclaim at the end of the Book of Ecclesiastes: “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity in this earth!” Melancholia would gleefully distort and warp Solomon's pronouncement to mean that all is utterly valueless, meaningless, and useless. However, despite Melancholia’s wishes King Solomon provides a qualification to his declaration: the one and only real meaning in life is to work, to enjoy the fruits of your labor, and to worship the Lord your God. But Melancholia instead deceives and proclaims, “God is dead! Read [the unborn, future] Nietzsche or Wittgenstein if you do not believe me!” If Melancholia has his way, he would have us all believe in the delusion that all is dead and meaningless and without value: that Life and the Self are meaningless, purposeless and intrinsically valueless; that Morality is non-existent and void; that Faith is subjective, relative, and thus devoid of reality and meaning; that Anomia is the norm du jour and the ne plus ultra! “Deal with it,” laughs Melancholia derisively, “for your kind matter to me not at all. You are temporary, short-lived, transitory…here today and gone tomorrow like a fleeting vapor. You do not even outlive the very dust that you trample on!” So how does one dismiss and put aside Melancholia’s negating nihilism? The answer is simple enough. Avoid, resist, and put out of your precious psyche—where the battle is either lost or won—Melancholia’s seductive, but baneful voice and suggestions! Do not let him or his lies in your mind. Instead, always safeguard it against Melancholia. Always be vigilant and watchful of your thoughts as well. If you follow these simple instructions, you shall be safe and well from Melancholia’s nihilism and numbing negativity.

Finally, in conclusion, my dear Euphoria, simply shun Melancholia and all appearances of him to the highest degree. Do not allow yourself to flirt with him or carelessly permit him to court you. Do not let him beguile and charm his way into your mind and psyche with his frequent indulgences of your occasional—but only temporary—moments of emotional weakness, self-pity, and dejection. Never admit or allow Melancholia into your realms of thinking and believing and hoping. So my dear, dear Euphoria—sister and friend of my heart and bosom—if you heed all my words of warning and exhortation (in this letter) against that malevolent Lothario of Despondency then you shall do well and ultimately survive to flourish once more! As to that last (part), I can promise you this myself. Because all I have written about to you thus far I know and therefore speak from my own experience, my dear sister. Till we meet again, dear friend! Au revoir!!

Godspeed from Your Sister and Most Loyal Friend,


Essay by Ngoc Nguyen The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 606 times
Written on 2019-05-20 at 21:30

Tags Melancholy  Letter  Friendship 

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