Friday, September 19, 2008

Celebrating Seasonal Affective Disorder


Here we go again, into what is for some people a six-month affective tunnel of sorts. It's as good a time as any to revisit the Dickinson staple:

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons --
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes --

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us --
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are --

None may teach it -- Any --
'Tis the Seal Despair --
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air --

When it comes, the Landscape listens --
Shadows -- hold their breath --
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death --

It has just been this equinoctial week that the evening light has angled in just so, illuminating the bark of the trees in a way that announces the ongoing death of the year. The obscuring haze of summer evaporates, allowing the startling blue of sunset to limn the trees just so. This is captured by the opening of Sylvia Plath's "The Moon and the Yew Tree," lines that blew me away when I first read them:


This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.

It is absurd, is it not, that in winter (in the northern hemisphere) the earth is actually closer to the sun than in summer, appalling, is it not, that a subtle angling away from the source of all life here is enough to plunge the planet into darkness? A religious metaphor perhaps...

4 comments:

lkhllywd said...

I chimed in on your behalf over at Furious Seasons. There are some really disturbed (and ill-mannered) people over there.

And I'm very familiar with that certain slant of light. Drives me crazy every winter.

Novalis said...

Thanks for the good word--I can use all the help I can get.

I hope the fading year treats you gently.

Anonymous said...

LOL, Ikhllywd, I was going to say the same thing about FS, although my post hasn't been "approved" yet. Novalis, your ears... er, eyes... must be burning.

I think the hostility toward psychiatrists is misdirected. I pick Big Pharma as the culprit, although, in reality, the problem is much more complicated than that.

Novalis said...

Yes, after that volley of absurdity at FS I hastened to switch this blog into moderated comments mode--to keep my own online household tidy at any rate.

Some people seem to think that the "emperor" that is mainstream psychiatry not only has no clothes, but is also...Stalin, more or less. In my opinion, he's not naked, but he is shivering and his garb remains rather shabby; he is generally well-meaning but still befuddled a good part of the time. He is quick to promise remedies, but frustratingly slow to deliver. To wear out the metaphor, we need regime change, not anarchy.