Thursday, February 23, 2006

Nomenclature

I always feel better when I give voice to what I'm feeling -- when I name it, put it into words. I've been wandering about in a bit of gloomy fog lately (which is terrible to do, when one's parents are visiting and who knows how many months it will be before one gets to see them again!). I've been almost avoiding the blog, just because my brain was having trouble forming coherent thoughts.

But today, as I was drifting through the others' blogs, I thought to myself, "I really have been feeling a little melancholy lately." And, somehow, the word "melancholy" made me smile. Okay, so I was already on my way to having my mood lifting when I heard the fantastic news that Pink Cupcake sold her house and has bought the Dream Flat. But describing my mood as "melancholy" somehow picked up my spirits. Giving it a name somehow explained it. Separated it from me. Gave it form. Suddenly, I could fit myself into a narrative where I could cradle a cup of steaming tea while reading my book and looking out over the cloudy day.

If this is an act of construction, why does it make me feel better?

5 comments:

age of insomnia said...

Lacan referred to the "mirror stage", where an infant first sees himself in a mirror. The child does not see himself, but his projected self (the projected-I). Lacan claims this is the infant's first experience with langauge.

When we use words to talk about ourselves (like in a narrative: "you as an individual" is descibed through the word "I") we create a projected-I. The name (or the signifier) thus has power over the reality (the signified and referent).

For example, if I say "I'm not really cynical; I'm a romantic at heart," I'm not actually getting at the "truth" about me, I'm only defining myself through a different established signifier.

Lacan argues that we can feel traces of reality, but we can't explain them through langauge. The process of explaining our feelings through language is conforting, then, because it allows us to explain a reality about ourselves we can't comprehend through an explainable signifier.

But that's just Lacan.

Derrida, for example, says we can't even feel traces of reality, so the signifiers we use are conforting because it creates a reality where there is none.

Shannon said...

I like the word melancholy - it is pretty. I am glad you thought of it Miss Maryanne. My word I think of when I am somewhat melancholy is pensive. I wish pensivity was a word - it would be my favourite.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

I'm rather amused by the variety of the comments.

First, to Bernie -- ahem, "Age of Insomnia": the funny thing is that, somehow, emotionally I think I'm Lacanian. I'd like to think that there's reality behind the signifier, even if there is only a trace of it and language can't properly signify it. Especially when I'm trying to put my own emotions into words.

And to Shannon: somehow, I knew that you'd enjoy my enjoyment of the word "melancholy." And I looked up "pensivity" on the OED, to see if there was even an archaic usage of it, but I'm sorry to say that there isn't. But I think you're going to have to start using it anyway.

Shannon said...

I might - it is different in meaning then melancholy but I think almost always when I am feeling melancholy I am also feeling pensive, ah, I mean I have a feeling of pensivity.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Bernie again: now, how you've explained Derrida on your blog, I wonder if I'm not closer to that. Hm.