On Melancholy

Melancholy isn't about anything. Melancholy has a style or manner but no subject. Melancholy is a way of thinking, a way of thinking _about thinking_, and it needs to consume the sufferer and thus needs layers and strata and veneers in perpetuity in which to cloak and conceal itself. Melancholy is not a preocupation with death, nor a recoiling from shop interiors or human fellowship, nor is it a lack of interest in things of the world, though these may be characteristics of melancholy. It's more a particular complexion to thinking, a tightening, a spiraling, a funneling, a drilling, an incising, a helixing, the direction of this cogitation being always _down and in_, as when an oral surgeon begins screwing into your molar during root canal. A preocupation with death, a recoiling from society, an anhedonia, an obsession with conscience, these follow with melancholy, but any transient theme will soon give way to something worse, something darker and meaner, something less lucid, because the goal of melancholy is its direction and force and shape. Continuity of the illness. Any meaning of melancholy is vehicular, decorative, like a viny overgrowth on the gates of the crypt where the sufferer is cast down for his or her imprisonment. _All the world is melancholy_, Burton says, _every member of it_.

-- RickMoody