Tell me about The New Black.Darian Leader is a British psychoanalyst who in a great way undermines today’s ideas about depression. He starts with the premise that we live in a society of hyped optimism, where depression appears as a danger that goes against optimism – it’s something for people who gave up the fight for success or whatever. Today we use the terms depression and stress too much – they dominate psychiatric and self-help discourse.They’re debased terms; you might be ‘depressed’ if you miss the bus.Absolutely. Or just the common boredom of children can be described as depression. But what Darian does is to return to the difference between melancholy and mourning, and he makes a great distinction between them. It’s very good to return to these different roots of depression, and to stay with them – not as traumatic things, but as something pretty normal which has been forgotten.So we should re-codify depression?Not perceive it as a unified term, but to see it as various different things, which is why he is using the old terms of melancholy, mourning and loss.Darian is also critical of the pharmaceutical industry: depression appears as something universal that can be quickly dealt with using pretty much universal types of drugs. But, as he points out, this denies the fact that the symptom is connected to some cause beyond the depression. He shows that in depression everyone has a different logic and a different individual story, which can be linked to loss – of another human being, of identity, of a job, of health or love. It can also be linked to being stuck in circulating around some lack.
Are you allergic to Twitter? Do you befriend people outside your target demographic? Then you may be suffering from an undiagnosed personal branding disorder.• Schizoid Branding Disorder: You have been overheard proclaiming that Twitter is for blowhards with ADHD. You profess a love of “nature” and “reading books” instead. You refuse to chat with people online, and your cell phone service charges extra for texting. You call Blackberries “Crackberries” and claim that you’re not even a little bit curious about the iPad. When someone asks you a polite question, such as “What’s your current distribution capacity?” you merely roll your eyes and shrug, then wander off without answering.…The next time you find yourself disparaging iPhone apps or raving about the restorative effects of growing organic milkweed in handmade windowboxes, it’s imperative that you seek professional help immediately. Remember, there’s no shame in admitting that you’re indifferent to your own multi-platform marketing initiatives, as long as you can see clearly that it’s not normal. The sooner you can admit that you’re sick, the sooner you can address your ineffectual sales tactics and build a more resilient, dynamic personal brand that will resonate with a wide range of potential customers, now through the end of the fiscal year.
I propose instead that we do what we can to prepare for that long life, and then we annihilate time.I’m not the first to think of this, although I’d gladly snatch credit from the Zen masters. Live in the moment: A sentiment overripe from use, but how many of us have actually tried it when wagging fingers insist that as responsible people we should worry about the future as well as prepare for it. The timeline is unforgiving, as we are expected to atone for our pasts as well. Adulthood is an extended act of penance (thrice-weekly gym and no cookies), and old age is your comeuppance for all those unrepented acts of wantonness. Time is society’s dream of your life. It doesn’t have to be your life.
I would rather share the fate of my maternal forebears — old old age with an intact mind in a ravaged body — than the fate of my other grandmother.
One of the things that makes me fear that Idiocracy was more a documentary than a comedy is the frequency with which you see “tl;dr” being used in the blogosphere in response to anything longer than, say, three paragraphs. Maybe someone could try seeding the clouds with Ritalin.
I can’t begin to tell you (or at least I prefer not to tell you) how many times while reviewing the original text I found myself thinking, “I didn’t know that. Why, I’ve been making that mistake for years.”…In an alarmingly real sense, the alternative title now could be Even More Things in English Usage That the Author Wasn’t Entirely Clear About Until Quite Recently.
That’s Bill Bryson, in the foreword to his Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words. I’ve been reading that and June Casagrande’s Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies over the last few days. It’s fun to read stuff like this, but it’s a bit mortifying to realize how many mistakes I’ve been making for years. At least I can use the excuse that I’m only writing on an insignificant little blog. It’s supposed to be written in a loose, conversational style!
I’ve scoffed before at those who see harbingers of cultural doom in everything those damned kids today are saying and doing, and I accept that a language is often going to be driven by popular usage, no matter how much it causes the grammar scolds to gnash their teeth. But I do feel a little more sympathetic to them now, because so many of the mistakes I’m now aware of in my own writing are due to the fact that I’ve always heard people talk like that. And sometimes the differences are so subtle, you don’t notice them until someone takes the time to point them out. If, as I’ve argued before, texting, Twittering and Facebook posts (oh my!) are creating a sort of sea-level when it comes to the forms of writing that most of us use, one that reinforces mediocrity and minimal effort, where are people going to be exposed to anything that teaches them differently?
Outwardly, Ramadan upholds the ideal of open-mindedness. But it’s an open-mindedness that avoids critical thinking and making judgments. His call for embracing multiplicity and diversity is about avoiding the challenge of intellectual clarification and moral judgment. Yet his celebration of diversity is deceptive, too, because his cheering of difference is actually oriented only towards those whose views echo his own. His acceptance of ‘all outlooks’ certainly does not extend to classical liberal thought; indeed, it’s worth noting that the only strong argument consistently pursued through his book is a critique of the liberal virtue of tolerance.…In line with the values transmitted by the therapy culture that is currently widespread in the Western world, Ramadan wants, not toleration, but respect, validation and uncritical acceptance. That is why he, like numerous other multiculturalists, rejects tolerance on the ground that it is patronising or is ‘not enough’.Ramadan’s claim that people do not want to be tolerated is another way of saying that they don’t want to be judged – but they do want to be affirmed. In his own way, Ramadan gives voice to the Western therapeutic imagination’s estrangement from making value judgments. Contemporary Western culture’s refusal to judge goes hand-in-hand with its celebration of the therapeutic value of affirmation and boosting self-esteem. This sensibility inexorably leads to the affirmation of individual and group identities, an act which has become something of a sacred duty in recent years. It is this gesture of granting respect-on-demand which constitutes the real insult these days, since it does not actually take people seriously. It is about making people feel good about themselves rather than seriously engaging with them – and that is the real form that patronising ‘intellectual charity’ takes today.
Having enjoyed my usual year-end ritual of reading a Rilke poem, it occurs to me that starting off a new year with one would be pretty cool as well. So here’s one from his Book of Hours, as translated by Barrows and Macy. The last line especially gives me chills, despite (or perhaps because of) the sense of ominous foreboding: