A Melancholic Exploration of Humanity (The Solitude of Man). Studies in Visual Representation and Melancholia
Is melancholia sweet? Is it an affect that lives especially in the openings enacted by cinema?
There is such a large archive to explore. In a way, cinema has always had its melancholic sweet tooth. Burials, flowers, planets (Saturn, of course, but not only), candles, dolls, empty churches, but also fireworks and bears and red pigs and quotations from poetry. The world has ended in films several times (and more), but no feeling of the end has acted as closure. There is always a question of the sublime and of the strange incident of melancholic persons behaving as rationally as possible in the midst of catastrophes. Melancholia has also often acted as a way of creating the identity of the solitary person: inside the story, but also in relation to an aesthetic object, as the spectator is in the cinema hall.
What are the visual forms of melancholia? We are interested not only in melancholia as a theme in cinema and visual arts but also – and perhaps mostly – in the creative ways in which melancholia is produced through images, montage and the plural strategies of art.
Papers will thus refer to, but will not be limited to, the following areas of research:
– Melancholia as a gift that comes with depression. As depression is caused by an identifiable particular event, melancholia has no strict origin. It can as such emerge as a supplement of depression
– The nihilism of melancholia: it desires the destruction of all that exists. This temptation to destroy everything could be investigated as well as one of the key features of melancholia: its desire for shipwreck
– Melancholia felt through the body: how does a melancholic body function. An entire phenomenology of melancholic perception can be opened for analysis;
– The sweet part of melancholia, the sweetness of suffering. The catharsis of self-destruction;
– The rationality of melancholia: during a catastrophe, the most rational behavior will often be that of the melancholic ones. For them, catastrophe never arrives as a surprise, but as a confirmation;
– Melancholia and total loss/ absence. The search for / faith into and absolute that cannot be represented: behind the objects, beyon them, traversing them, often as a spark. The taste for the aesthetic feeling comes from this: melancholia becomes a form of aesthetic perception: its truth belongs to aesthetics;
– Melancholia as a knowledge. Its cutting lucidity: there is no meaning or truth. Any form of self-knowledge can only be attained through melancholy;
– Melancholia and the question of time. Something always arrives too late. The melancholic person is never contemporary with her world;
– Melancholia and desire. A desire caught between the aesthetic cult for appearance and the search for an ungraspable authenticity;
– Melancholia as an old and continuous companion. Melancholy of the commons, the search for a solidarity that the world always rejects.
Please submit an original proposal of up to 300 words that focus on the ways in which melancholia is created, communicated and produced through aesthetic means, with a special attention to cinematic strategies and the techniques of visual arts.