Here’s a question that’s maybe better for the philosophy blogs, but I heard this phrase - “in praise of melancholy” – the other day, and it made me think of King Lear.
Now, nobody will say King Lear is a happy play. Words thrown around tend to be more like “gutwrenching” and “agonizing”. It is also heralded widely as one of greatest pieces of literature in the English language.
Nobody sees King Lear and comes out of it saying “Well, that was fun.” But here’s my question – does it make you happy? Do you, at some deep level, feel better about…things? I’m not talking about the entertainment of seeing a good production. I’m talking about watching the story of King Lear play out on the stage as if you were watching the lives of real people.
I’m trying to think of the best way to explain it. I think it’s similar to when people say they enjoy a good cry, or enjoy scaring themselves near to death. There is value in expanding the range of how you experience life – both the highs and the lows.
Another analogy that comes to mind is going to the gym and waking up the next morning in pain. The pain is really only at one level, and though it certainly hurts, your brain is able to go a level beyond and say, “Yes, but that’s good for me, I’m happy that I got the workout because it will ultimately improve my quality of life.”
Know what I’m talking about? Who can say it better than I’m doing here?