If you had asked me what it was I needed, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you; my desires had no specific object, and my sadness had no immediate cause; or rather there were so many causes that I wouldn’t have been able to isolate a single one of them.
Gustave Flaubert – November
Jackie Bowring’s important book, The Field Guide to Melancholy? (“a blue guide to melancholy”) rescues melancholy from the medical profession and reminds us of its significance in the propagation of art. This guide is an antidote to the modern idea that a quest for happiness is a valid or even feasible raison d’être.
Any book that lists as its genres, philosophy, art, psychology, music and literature, is likely to find me a sympathetic reader, more so when it is written with such elegance and concision. Added to this bounty is the citation and interweaving of Adorno, Bachelard, Barthes, Ingmar Bergman, EM Cioran, Tacita Dean, Flaubert, Anselm Keifer, Kierkegaard, Orhan Pamuk, Arvo Pärt, Susan Sontag, Tarkovsky … let me stop this list. Bowring cites most, if not all, of the artists I write about on Time’s Flow Stemmed. If you share an interest in these artists and possibly a propensity for melancholy, you will find this book rewarding.
For a legitimate review you can read this one by Dylan Trigg.