Sunday, October 18, 2020

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

   *from theconversation.com

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

 

14 comments:

  1. Sorting out old stuff can be a real energy drainer. I hope acedia gives way to some restorative creativity!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes and yes, Valerie. Actually, after posting this dire note (and reading a few more books), I did gather myself up to sort through more of the art supplies. A local charity that uses art-making with hospitalized children has contacted me, so that adds motivation to get this done.

      What is so difficult, I think, is being an artist has been part of my identity for 50 years, working in a variety of media from basic stuff to esoteric. And parting with it all is mind-blowing. I have so much of every sort and adding the art therapist aspect, there's the addition of multiples of each medium. eiyiyi. poor me, huh?

      Delete
  2. But don't you create stuff for your own enjoyment? You don't have to give it all away..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I know, and I'm not giving it all away. I'm keeping pastels, pencils, pens, charcoal, various paints, brushes, sketchbooks, et. al. But I have so much stuff that I know I'm not going to go back to.

      I used to work very large and very intensively -- 5 x 9' oil paintings; 7' tall carved wood sculptures painted with encaustic (melted beeswax, damar crystals, oil paint, glossed over with a propane torch); large (2 x 4') egg tempera paintings where I made the paint by hand using pure pigment & egg yolk ground fine with a glass mortar and pestal. Making the board to paint on prepped with my own gesso by heating a mixture of powdered rabbit skin glue and marble dust, painting 8 coats, letting it dry and then sanding it each time until it was like porcelain. Clay polychromed sculptures. All sorts of things that are not going to happen anymore. But these are not the kind of materials that are kid friendly either. So I don't know what I'll be doing with them. Stone carving tools, yada, yada, yada.

      Delete
    2. And beautiful - all of your work!

      Delete
  3. 'rabbit skin glue and marble dust' sounds very Roald Dahl. I hope you keep blogging, your artistic outlook & garments & stories are refreshing in a cookie cutter world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha, yes it does sound rather magical, doesn't it? I do believe I'm coming around as I've packed up 5 boxes of supplies for that charity to pick up. Your commenting as helped stimulate my thoughts on the matter, so I do thank you for that, Valerie.

      Delete
  4. Oh. Acedia, as described, was me from age 11 to about 40!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm reading another interesting book about it now which is very clearly written called The Noonday Devil by Jean-Charles Nault. The one I quoted from above is more autobiographical and she too began at 11 and carried on and off with it throughout her life. Both books are religious which is not my speed, but I'm finding the whole concept of Acedia resonating.

      Delete
    2. I gavce away the Noonday Devil when I moved, I think. I gave away so much when I moved. And I miss it all now but there was no room for it. Still I wish I could have seen your psychology and women's studies books. I still refer to a Rollo May book I bought on your recommendation decades ago.

      Delete
    3. Hi Sally, I don't miss the books at all. Not so far.

      Delete
  5. You are a patch of green in a concrete world.
    Too much concrete.

    ! I believe you are not getting rid of your stuff, but, rather, dispersing and sharing your cosmic mojo !

    Too ennuic to accede to acedia, even. Or have I not noticed. Actually, stupefaction is the word that has been coming to mind. Oh, Weltschmerz.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, after reading that last book, I've come to the conclusion that acedia is too thoroughly tied up with religion for my involvement. So, yeah, I can try on ennui, stupefaction and weltschmerz. But tell me, why are you Anonymous?

      Delete
    2. some weird sin

      Delete