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Welcome to acedia, population YOU.

For a bit a concept has rolled around in my head; I've tried to share it with certain friends, but the words don't do justice to the ennui in my heart. This morning on the way to work, a selection from The Moth painted it in bright Technicolor.

Todd Hanson, writer for The Onion, started in on a piece about "A slacker details his relationship with depression… and couches." The Moth delights more often than not; inciting raucous laughter, or unavoidable sobbing. Initially, Hanson's piece really failed to connect for me. More than once I almost flipped to the next podcast awaiting me. For some reason my hand was stayed, despite being way more irritated and un-entertained than usually tolerated.

But soon, the reason I stayed with it was made clear. He talked of stumbling upon a copy of Dante's Inferno that had been kicked under the couch, only because he had exhausted every diversion present in the living room in which his couch resides. (He'd watched all the DVDs, finished all the video games, consumed all the porn.) In the preface to this masterpiece, he was slapped in the face with the concept of acedia: the profound sense of emptiness that comes from not believing in anything.

Acedia was felt to be "a sin of the worst kind, for it was specifically the sin of the failure to pursue god; a lack of making the effort necessary to seek out the joy of god, or of more generally of creation."

While I don't suffer from this sin fully, I've gotten whiffs of its pain in part due to a lack of understanding how some of my interests, pursuits and methods fit into a paradigm where they are not all disheveled, unrelated, and without merit; quite the opposite: putting the pieces together, they form a very coherent and compelling picture puzzle. Complete in its complexity, and not lacking. Click all the pieces together and the machine starts to hum; leave them scattered about and each is less than its consummate part of the whole.

I've long sought something which I had all the time; at times I recognize it, but at some point I'll "lose" it again, only to overlook it day in and day out until some strange cosmic alignment makes it stand out again.

Moments of clarity. I can only hope for more.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 26th, 2011 06:09 pm (UTC)
I read through this a couple of times and I'm still not sure what you're trying to say.

Do you mean that you suspect there's some common thread among the things you're interested in, but you can't always see it? And that when it disappears, all your interests seem to compete with (and distract you from) each other?

Because if so, then me too, sometimes.

Incidentally, I dreamed about you guys last night. You'd moved to a tiny island in a little-known (probably because nonexistent) archipelago off the BC coast, famous for odd effects of starlight. The archipelago was called something vaguely like "The Gawker Islands," but that can't actually have been it.
May. 28th, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC)
finally i found that word to describe my situation
Last night whilst trying to sleep I started listening to the same pod cast. When Todd Hanson talked about Acedia and how its leading to nihilism has caused him to be in a state of not caring or rather giving a shit about anything really echoed in my life.
As soon as the podcast was over I googled this word and found out to my dismay that someone by the name of Kathleen Norris wrote a book titled "Acedia and Me". I reason I say it was to my dismay was that its all about seeking god and prayer in the face of Acedia.
I am not a theist, I am probably what you would call a nihilist to begin with, I wish there was more clarity on how to deal with this.
No matter how much I try to make all the pieces click together I dont seem to get any relief. Can you tell me what exactly you mean by finding complexity and making the machine hum?
Jun. 9th, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC)
Totally.. i was just telling my friend this. . it was a HUGE relief to put a word on it. it's not depression .. its vacant...

I actually started meditating and felt the spirt part of mind body spirit snap into place.

Great story.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )