Anatomy of Melancholy, 192 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. I, Subs. 2: A Digression of the Nature of Spirits, Bad Angels, or Devils, and how they cause Melancholy – Terrestrial Devils

So as mentioned before, Burton seems to say that there are six types of devils-spirits: fiery, aerial, terrestrial, watery, subterranean, and fairies/nymphs/satyrs/etc, but then terrestrial and fairies/etc. seem to collapse into the same category. Which is to say, I am really not sure what “terrestrial” devils are, according to Burton, but I drew one anyhow. […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 177-181: Pt. I, Sec. II, Mem. I, Subs. I – Causes of Melancholy. God a Cause

Do you suspect that you suffer from melancholy? Have you recently offended God? Well, it is just possible that He cursed you. In which case, I guess you need to cancel that appointment with your therapist and pray or something instead. You know who else God cursed with sadness? Nebuchadnezzar: That God Himself is a […]

A of M, 143-146: Melancholy in Disposition, improperly so called. Equivocations

This little section is about sinking into a transient melancholy due to, say, a fleabite versus the “continuate disease” of melancholy. Burton does not have much patience for “errant,” or transient, melancholy, and he would prefer people stop calling “oops I stubbed my toe and it sucks” melancholy at all: Melancholy in this sense is the character […]

A of M, 139-143: Dotage, Madness, Frenzy, Hydrophobia, Lycanthropia, Chorus Sancti Viti, Ecstasis

Lycanthropia, which Avicenna calls cucubuth, others lupinam insaniam, or wolf-madness, when men run howling about graves and fields in the night, and will not be persuaded but that they are wolves, or some such beasts. Aetius and Paulus call it a kind of melancholy; but I should rather refer it to madness, as most do. […]

A of M, 137-138: Subsect. II – The Definition, Number, Division of Disease

What a disease is, almost every physician defines. Fernelius calleth it an “affection of the body contrary to nature.” Fuschius and Crato, “an hindrance, hurt, or alteration of any action of the body, or part of it.” Tholosanus, “a dissolution of that league which is between body and soul, and a perturbation of it; as […]

Pictures of Theories: Performativity

Performativity (specifically Judith Butler’s iteration), Gender Studies: Philosopher and feminist theorist Judith Butler offered a new, more Continental (specifically, Foucauldian) reading of the notion of performativity, which has its roots in linguistics and philosophy of language. She describes performativity as “that reiterative power of discourse to produce the phenomena that it regulates and constrains.” She […]

A of M, 116-118: Mushroom men and Monsieur Nobody

So 118 pages into this diatribe against humanity, Burton unsurprisingly sums up his argument as follows: “They are all mad.” If you are “reading” along but have fallen 116-118 pages behind, all you really missed is: “They are all mad.” Or more specifically, somewhat, they are all “E fungis nati homines,” which roughly translated means men […]

A of M, 102-104: The more things change, the more they stay the same

“For I see no reason” (as [Aristotle] said) “why an epicure or idle drone, a rich glutton, a usurer, should live at ease, and do nothing, live in honour, in all manner of pleasures, and oppress others, when as in the meantime a poor labourer, a smith, a carpenter, an husbandman that hath spent his time […]

A of M, 95-98: You know what liberty poets ever had

Let them be rude, stupid, ignorant, incult, lapis super lapidem sedeat, and as the apologist will, resp. tussi, et graveolentia laboret, mundus vitio, let them be barbarous as they are, let them tyrannise, epicurise, oppress, luxuriate, consume themselves with factions, superstitions, lawsuits, wars and contentions, live in riot, poverty, want, misery; rebel, wallow as so […]

Read with me!

When a giant angry turnip was elected president of the United States last year, 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.