• Read with me!

    When a giant angry turnip was elected president of the United States in the apocalyptic year that was 2016, I started to feel a little down. Naturally my response was to buy an unabridged copy of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy. My get-out-of-bed-without-crying-plan is to read a little piece of this gargantuan lump of knowledge daily, and I will illustrate it as I go.

Recent Posts

Anatomy of Melancholy, 280-282 — Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. III, Subsect. 11 — Concupiscible Appetite, as Desires, Ambition, Causes

For commonly they that, like Sisyphus, roll this restless stone of ambition, are in a perpetual agony, still perplexed, semper taciti, tritesque recedunt [they fall back continually, silent and sorrowful] (Lucretius), doubtful, timorous, suspicious, loath to offend in word or deed, still cogging and colloguing, embracing, capping, cringing, applauding, flattering, fleering, visiting, waiting at men’s doors, with all affability, counterfeit honesty and humility. 

Anatomy of Melancholy, 269-271 — Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. III, Subsect. 8 — Emulation, Hatred, Faction, Desire of Revenge, Causes (a THIRD illustration)

“A moth of the soul, a consumption, to make another man’s happiness his misery, to torture, crucify, and execute himself, to eat his own heart. Meat and drink can do such men no good, they do always grieve, sigh, and groan, day and night without intermission, their breast is torn asunder.” 

Anatomy of Melancholy, 271-279 — Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. III, Subsect. 10—Discontents, Cares, Miseries, etc. Causes

“The common etymology will evince it, Cura quasi cor uro [cura (care) = cor uro (I burn my heart)]; Dementes curae, insomnes curae, damnosae curae, tristes, mordaces, carnifices, &c. biting, eating, gnawing, cruel, bitter, sick, sad, unquiet, pale, tetric, miserable, intolerable cares, as the poets call them, worldly cares, and are as many in number as the sea sands.”

Anatomy of Melancholy, 269-271 — Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. III, Subsect. 8 — Emulation, Hatred, Faction, Desire of Revenge, Causes (again)

“As Cyprian describes emulation, it is ‘a moth of the soul, a consumption, to make another man’s happiness his misery, to torture, crucify, and execute himself, to eat his own heart.'”

Anatomy of Melancholy, 266-269 — Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. III, Subsect. 8 — Emulation, Hatred, Faction, Desire of Revenge, Causes

But being that we are so peevish and perverse, insolent and proud, so factious and seditious, so malicious and envious; we do invicem angariare, maul and vex one another, torture, disquiet, and precipitate ourselves into that gulf of woes and cares, aggravate our misery and melancholy, heap upon us hell and eternal damnation.

Anatomy of Melancholy, 259-261 — Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. III, Subsect. 4 — Sorrow a Cause of Melancholy

Note to self: You skipped Subsection 3, a “Division of Perturbations” because it seemed to make more sense to draw individual perturbations before drawing the catalogue. I guess? Subsection 3 didn’t make much sense, really. Sometimes Burton says there are four perturbations but goes on to name three, and then sometimes there are seven or […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 253-258 (again) — Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. III, Subsect. 2 — Of the Force of Imagination

  Oops I just realized that I did two drawings for Part I, Section 2, Member III Subsection 2, but none for Part I, Section 2, Member III Subsection 1. I guess I should backtrack a bit. I just really wanted to draw a bugbear: “What will not a fearful man conceive in the dark? […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 252-253 — Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. III, Subsect. 1 — Passions and Perturbations of the Mind, how they cause Melancholy

I almost missed a subsection! God forbid. It was short (relatively speaking) so I forgot it until today: Thus in brief, to our imagination cometh by the outward sense or memory, some object to be known (residing in the foremost part of the brain), which he misconceiving or amplifying presently communicates to the heart, the […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 253-258 — Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. III, Subsect. 2 — Of the Force of Imagination

  Work in progress… Well no progress really. I started this one before Covid-19 hit the US, and for a month now I haven’t managed to force myself to return to it. I finally realized that the poor thing reminded me so viscerally of normalcy that I just couldn’t handle working on it for now. […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 249-250 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. II, Subs. 7 – Sleeping and Waking, Causes

    Well, this section is brief and straightforward: “Nothing is better than moderate sleep, nothing worse than it if it be in extremes or unseasonably used.” Be particularly careful not to sleep “overmuch” because too much sleep will induce a “great store of excrements in the brain.” Also, do not sleep after “hard meats” […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 245-249 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. II, Subs. 6 – Immoderate Exercise a Cause, and how. Solitariness, Idleness (cont.)

We have covered idleness, so now on to solitude. In brief, unless you are freaking Socrates – and let’s be honest about this, because it is important, we are none of us Socrates – excessive solitude is bad for you and bad for everyone around you. This section had me thinking about those pro-introvert comics […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 241-244 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. II, Subs. 6 – Immoderate Exercise a Cause, and how. Solitariness, Idleness

  I didn’t draw “immoderate exercise” because who is ever melancholy from exercising too much? I really can’t identify with that at all. All I got from that bit was a good quote to whip out the next time your marathon-addict friend is espousing the joys of running until you feel like you are going […]

Pictures of Theories: The Scarcity Principle

The Scarcity Principle, Social Psychology: “Scarcity, in the area of social psychology, works much like scarcity in the area of economics. Simply put, humans place a higher value on an object that is scarce, and a lower value on those that are in abundance.” (Wikipedia) A special holiday theory, just in time for Christmas. For more on […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 233 – 237 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. II, Subs. 5 – Bad Air a Cause of Melancholy

  Well, this section offers up just what I would expect from Burton at this point: Air should be neither too hot nor too cold, and melancholics should absolutely not sleep with their windows open because that nasty, dark night air will make their usual state of despondence… even more despondent: “The night and darkness […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 233 – 237 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. II, Subs. 4 – Retention and Evacuation a Cause, and how

  This section right here is the reason no one finishes this book. Retention and evacuation of what, you might ask? Body goo. This section is pretty much just about the kinds of goo and gross stuff that your body excretes. Poop takes the leading role, because everyone loves poop. There is a section on […]

Pictures of Theories: The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

  The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, Psychology: “This phenomenon occurs when the thing you’ve just noticed, experienced or been told about suddenly crops up constantly. It gives you the feeling that out of nowhere, pretty much everyone and their cousin are talking about the subject — or that it is swiftly surrounding you. And you’re not crazy; […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 230 – 233 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. II, Subs. 3 – Custom of Diet, Appetite, Necessity, how they cause or hinder

  This section is mostly about how people eat different things. Some people think that the things that some other people like to eat are gross. Also foods (like frogs and snails) that make one person melacholic and filled with gall might not have that effect on someone else who is more accustomed to eating […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 228 – 229 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. II, Subs. 2 – Quantity of Diet a Cause / Drunkenness

This is a picture of Pseudolus, drunk and garlanded. I couldn’t resist an extra drawing for Partition I, Section 2, Member II, Subsection 2, in which there are a few paragraphs on drunkenness. “Quid ego video? Cum corona Pseudolum ebrium tuum. [What do I see? Your friend Pseudolus, drunk and garlanded.]” So now you know […]