Project Minima:

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Acedia: the lost name for the emotion we're all feeling right now*


image of Acedia by Hieronymus Wierix


     It begin as a deceptively slight shift in thought, or rather...a quick succession of thoughts that distract me from my right mind.  I've been working too long and need a break; maybe I should read a mystery novel to clear my head.  I tell myself I'm too weary to concentrate.  I tell myself that it is a matter of respecting my limitations, and of being good to myself.  If I manage to read one book, and then return to my other obligations, no harm is done.  But often, one book does not satisfy me.  My "rest" has only made me more restless, and as I finish one book, I am tempted to pick up another.  If I don't check myself, I can slip into a state both anxious and lethargic, in which I trudge through four or five paperbacks a day, for three or four days running.  I am consuming books rather than reading them.


    I may have begun with a well-written novel, but soon I am ingesting whatever I can get my hands on.  Morbidly conscious of the time I am wasting.  I race feverishly through a book so preposterously and badly written that it nauseates me.  If I pick up a more serious book, something that might bring me to my senses, I am likely to plow through it so thoughtlessly as if it were a genre thriller...My days are not lived so much as wasted in compulsive reading.  I stop answering the phone and getting the mail, ignoring everything but the next page, the next book in the pile...


     It amazes me how quickly acedia can deaden what has long been a pleasure for me, and with what facility despair will replace the joy I once found in the act of reading.  But my dilemma is less literary than spiritual.  If my torpor is left unchecked, I lose the ability to savor not only reading, but life itself.  I develop a loathing for fresh food, letting salad greens and strawberries languish in the refrigerator while I fill up on popcorn... 

                                                                                from Acedia & Me by Kathleen Norris


I couldn't believe when I read the above passages!  It was exactly what I've been doing/feeling.  I've read several books on the topic, and this one has been the most comprehensive thus far.




As for as Kondo-ing goes, I'm completely stuck at art supplies.  


I did finishing going through my books and unloaded all my art therapy books, psychology, women's studies, fiction and art magazines.  Kept all my art books.   That ended up being about 25 boxes to the Salvation Army.


Papers were a real drag.  I got rid of about 10 boxes of papers


And that's the way it is/was