Feel Better

The Book of Disquiet: Fragment 29

“After the last drops of rain began to fall more slowly from the rooftops and the sky’s blue began to spread over the street’s paving-stones, then the vehicles sang a different song, louder and happier, and windows could be heard opening up to the no longer forgetful sun. From the narrow street at the end of the next block came the loud invitation of the first seller of lottery tickets, and nails being nailed into crates in the shop opposite reverberated in the limpid space. It was an ambiguous holiday, official but not strictly observed. Work and repose coexisted, and I had nothing to do. I’d woken up early, and I took a long time getting ready to exist.

I paced from one side of the room to the other, dreaming out loud incoherent and impossible things – deeds I’d forgotten to do, hopeless ambitions haphazardly realized, fluid and lively conversations which, were they to be, would already have been. And in this reverie without grandeur or calm, in this hopeless and endless dallying, I paced away my free morning, and my words – said out loud in a low voice – multiplied in the echoing cloister of my inglorious isolation. Seen from the outside, my human figure was ridiculous like everything human in its intimacy.

Over the pyjamas of my abandoned sleep I’d put on an old overcoat, habitually employed for these morning vigils. My old slippers were falling apart, especially the left one. And with my hands in the pockets of my posthumous coat, I strolled down the avenue of my small room in broad and decisive steps, playing out in my useless reverie a dream no different from anybody else’s.

Through the open coolness of my only window, thick drops of leftover rain could still be heard falling from the rooftops. It was still somewhat moist and cool from having rained. The sky, however, was triumphantly blue, and the clouds that remained from the defeated or tired rain retreated behind the Castle,* surrendering to the sky its rightful paths. It was an occasion to be happy. But something weighed on me, some inscrutable yearning, an indefinable and perhaps even noble desire. Perhaps it was just taking me a long time to feel alive.

And when I leaned out my high window, looking down at the street I couldn’t see, I suddenly felt like one of those damp rags used for housecleaning that are taken to the window to dry but are forgotten, balled up, on the sill where they slowly leave a stain.”


The Effect of Rain and the Limpid Space

Rainy message, the effect of rain on our moods? Nails being nailed into crates, Christ on the cross? Something about the limpid space though makes it okay to feel the pain of that nail in the wood. This feels like a possibility for hypnotherapy? The limpid space giving that dissociated healing place where Fernando can go, perhaps when struggling with melancholia?

  • How does the imagery of rain connect with your feelings of pain or sorrow?
  • What does the limpid space signify for you? How does it contribute to healing?

A Holiday’s Paradox and Existential Readiness

The irony of it being a holiday, which would also signify a holy day, and yet without our routines and structures, we can often see all the overwhelming freedom of these days and end up doing very little. Which is fine if you want to relax, but I don’t think that’s what he’s seeking here. I love that sentence: I took a long time getting ready to exist. This seems to point to the self, as if existing in the capacity he is describing is like having to step into a certain self, having to step into almost a costume of the self. I would suggest an Enneagram four, sort of taking this melancholic suit and putting it around himself, not necessarily in a conscious way, Which then, of course, begs the question, who is Fernando when he’s not wearing the suit?

  • What does “getting ready to exist” mean to you? Who are you when you are not wearing “the suit”?

Loneliness and Ridiculous Intimacy

Fascinating phrase: the echoing cloister of my inglorious isolation. Cloister would suggest that it’s something safe and cosy and nice, but the isolation makes that echo in a way that makes it feel impotent and empty and meaningless. This is an interesting concept to the idea of the ridiculousness of intimacy. What is it about intimacy that is ridiculous here? In our lives? This reminds me of how I live my life around a series of T-shirts, unless I’m having to present my public face. And I have two piles of T-shirts, the ones I really like which are very lifting and quite faded, and the ones that I sort of knew, and I think well if I’m going on a picnic with someone I want to wear a T-shirt, I’d probably wear one of those so I don’t look like a kind of faded, hippie bum or something.

  • How does the image of the echoing cloister represent your feelings of isolation?
  • What makes intimacy appear ridiculous to you? How do your material choices reflect your internal state?

Yearning and the Witness of Happiness

Isn’t it so interesting that there is a part of us, which I guess is sometimes called the witness, who does recognise the potential for happiness, that there is a sort of door behind which the transcendent grace of the Almighty, or the one or the cosmic Heraclitean spin of life resides. And we catch glimpses of that, and it is a sort of an offering. It’s like a hand saying come on. You can enjoy this, but then this self, this way of being in the world, turns away or closes the door or something like that? And maybe he gives us a sense of what it is, that is “some inscrutable yearning,” which again feels like it’s sort of the bars of this particular cage.

  • How does the concept of the “witness” resonate with you in terms of understanding happiness?
  • What does the “inscrutable yearning” signify, and how does it act as a barrier to happiness in your life?

Feeling Alive and the Symbolism of Abandonment

What do we mean when we say we feel alive? Is it just a matter of focus as the Buddhist would say? But you just focus on something and you kind of go into a hypnotic trance and you give your full attention, then you feel most alive. The aliveness of the thing you are focusing on, and you’ll become part of that thing, and it becomes part of you and you are alive and it is alive or is it something else? Again, such a powerful image of the damp rag that is pulled up and put near the windows to dry, and then forgotten. There is a deep sense of abandonment here I guess? And what is that stain? Is it the stain of resentment? Is his very language a kind of stain rather than a reaching out And connecting?

  • How do you personally define feeling alive? What practices or experiences contribute to this sensation for you?
  • Can you explore the symbolism of abandonment in your life? What does the damp rag represent, and how does it connect to your sense of self?

Lottery and Self: A Dichotomy of Hope and Reality

That’s a very interesting transition isn’t it? From the first seller of lottery tickets, which symbolically at some level almost feels like that part of us that wants to hope that wants to dream that wants to think that things are gonna be great potentially, that we’re gonna win the jackpot, wherever that jackpot is in our lives in terms of romance or this or that or the other, and then at the same time, almost as if that other part of our brain that is more attached to the real or more dragged down by the real sort of says go, yeah dream on buddy, nailing the casket shut.

Melancholia, Work, and the Human Condition

There is something here about the self, needing to self itself out, pacing around the room, having self-focus thoughts, and I guess the question as well, what else would we be doing as human animals, who have these very interesting symbolic tools? There is something at once a little bit forlorn and sweet about this, I guess which is recognised by something, we might call our soul, that there must be more to life than this, walking around a little concrete room, having ideas about this or that. If we were living more of our animal existence, if we hadn’t had this capacity to band together, and micromanage every aspect of our existence in a crazy overly developed social instinct, it would be a very different story to sitting in front of a computer screen, doing abstract work, something connected to the melancholia here as well?