ROSA PARK OF CEREAL MAGAZINE
I think that the by the book definition of melancholy has a slightly negative connotation. I would say that in the English language the word ‘Melancholy’ describes a pervasive sadness that you can’t get rid of, but if I interpret it on a more personal level, I would say that melancholy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just an emotion in a very diverse range of emotions that we all go through on a day to day basis. No one is actually happy every single day, it’s not possible. And in that sense, I’m somebody who really embraces how I feel – if you’re sad then you’re sad, and so on and so forth. You just have to roll with it. For me, melancholy is a reflective feeling. When I’m melancholic I take the time to think about those things that I don’t think about on a superficial level, delving into more deep and meaningful emotions and thoughts. So yes, there is a great sense of reflection that I associate with melancholy.
Melancholy comes in varying degrees. I can always find it within myself to work when feeling melancholy, but only really when I do creative work, which differs a lot from the business-oriented work I do as a publisher. I do, however, think that a lot of creatives can harness their emotions to create beautiful things, and in that capacity, I can always channel my emotions, whether it’s melancholy or otherwise into the creative work that I do. But as you are using such a different part of you brain, it doesn’t work the same with the business side of things.
I think all western cultures are pretty accepting of melancholy, whereas East Asian cultures are not necessarily geared that way. In the west, you are encouraged to embrace your emotions. In this part of the world, you are allowed to embrace your emotions and talk about it openly without being judged, but at the same time, the ultimate goal is to be happy. So if you aren’t happy, you can talk about it and learn how to be happier. That’s the western mindset in a nutshell, in my opinion. Whereas in Asian cultures, it’s not the social norm to talk about being melancholic to everyone, and this can be considered socially awkward, and your happiness in life is not the end goal or objective. Your personal happiness isn’t a number one priority – it’s more a duty-bound kind of society. As for me, it’s important to be melancholic at times. You wouldn’t even understand what happiness is if you didn’t have sadness to counter it. Because the one cannot exist without the other. For me any emotion that exists is just something that we should embrace so you can channel it into something productive.
Motivation is so very individual, so it’s impossible for me to say with certainty. But what I will say is that historically a lot of famous creative people are quite depressive, most of my favorite writers killed themselves and the same goes for a lot of painters I admire. It’s a very big stereotype and generalization, but generally speaking many famous creators and icons felt intense waves of melancholy. Some may argue that you need to feel that much to create exceptionally beautiful work, but I obviously don’t condone killing yourself. There is a balance; you have to feel things more than the average person to create something that can then trigger emotion in the viewer. If you are a creator who wishes to inspire the people who see your art, yes, then you should probably feel ten times what other people feel. So in that sense you should embrace the melancholy, to help produce work that can deeply move people. But I’m always on the fence; I get that as an artist you have to feel intensely, not always good things. But I also know that many of the artists and writers I love ended up killing themselves, and I would of course never promote or support that.