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.
“Our villages are like molehills, and men as so many emmets.”
“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.”
“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.'”
“Look into our histories, and you shall almost meet with no other subject, but what a company of harebrains have done in their rage. “
“Vice, when successful, is called virtue.”
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.
“‘Other sins last but for a while; the gut may be satisfied, anger remits, hatred hath an end, envy never ceaseth.'” (Cardan, lib. 2 de sap.)
Today we are reading about/dwelling on shame: “as forcible a batterer as any of the rest.” Once again, suspiciously apropos to the world out there.
This drawing is just a little too much, isn’t it? Well, you know what else is too much? Just absolutely everything right now. So how fitting that today’s section is on fear!
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 […]
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? […]
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 […]
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. […]
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” […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
I can’t articulate exactly why, but this is one of my favorite quotes so far: “Some cannot endure cheese, out of a secret antipathy.” (233) And then there is this: Milk, and all that comes of milk, as butter and cheese, curds, &c., increase melancholy (whey only excepted, which is most wholesome): some except asses’ […]
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 […]
Are we done with this interminable “meats” section yet? Oh no. No we are not. Now that Burton has cataloged the different kinds of foodstuffs, he is on to just how much of these foodstuffs one should consume: As a lamp is choked with a multitude of oil, or a little fire with overmuch wood […]
Today I read the drinkable liquids section. You know what else is bad for you? WATER. Especially if it is from a moat. Don’t drink the moat water. And then there’s this: All black wines, over-hot, compound, strong thick drinks, as Muscadine, Malmsey, Alicant, Rumney, Brownbastard, Metheglen, and the like, of which they have thirty […]
Hey look, I’m back at work on the read-along! I picked up where I left off: reading the parts of The Anatomy of Melancholy that have not been read in approximately four hundred years. It has been a rough reentry. Today, I read about fruits and vegetables, also known as vegetals. All classical, Medieval, and […]
Much like meat, fish are generally bad news for the melancholic: Rhasis and Magninus discommend all fish, and say they breed viscosities, slimy nutriment, little and humorous nourishment. On the finer points, there is much disagreement over “fumadoes, red-herrings, sprats, stock-fish, haberdine, poor-john, all shellfish.” And what do you know, “Messarius commends salmon, which Bruerinus […]
I drew another squid. “It is most true, stylus virum arguit,—our style bewrayes us.” — The Anatomy of Melancholy, Robert Burton
I drew another containing/contained/spirit snail drawing, inspired by The Anatomy of Melancholy. But this one is also inspired by a lesser-known Patricia Highsmith short story called “The Quest for Blank Claveringi,” originally published in her 1970 short story collection, The Snail-Watcher and Other Stories. I couldn’t find it online anywhere, sadly, so I can’t link […]
In this section I learned that garlic will fuzzle your brain and give you peevish children who are likewise “fuzzled in the brain.” That’s a real quote, page 214. Also this: Such another I find in Martin Wenrichius, com. de ortu monstrorum, c. 17, I saw (saith he) at Wittenberg, in Germany, a citizen that […]
Burton does not have a lot of good things to say about old people: Full of ache, sorrow and grief, children again, dizzards, they carl many times as they sit, and talk to themselves, they are angry, waspish, displeased with every thing, suspicious of all, wayward, covetous, hard (saith Tully,) self-willed, superstitious, self-conceited, braggers and admirers of themselves, as […]
The stars rule us, God rules the stars, and we can rule ourselves if we’re smart: Natural causes are either primary and universal, or secondary and more particular. Primary causes are the heavens, planets, stars, etc., by their influence (as our astrologers hold) producing this and such like effects… they do incline, but not compel; […]