18 - The Antidote to Melancholy: Robert Burton’s Centuries-Old Salve for Depression, Epochs Ahead of Science

An impressive florilegium nearing a thousand pages strewn with a progenitor of hypertext, the book weaves together a cornucopia of quotations from earlier writers, from Seneca to Solomon, to illustrate Burton’s central points — many radical then, some radical still — about a subject he examines “philosophically, medicinally, historically, opened and cut up”; a subject of which he had an early and intimate experience.

This was my introduction to the word florilegium, an offshoot of commonplace books.

As years go by, and technology advances, we still continue to experiment and struggle with knowledge management. Be it personal knowledge or information meant to be published for wider consumption, the methods and formats continue to become available in newer forms.

I liked the usage of magnify by Robert Burton, when it comes to the positive impact of certain activities against melancholy. How does one magnify their spirit and lighten the self? He felt it was through reading, nature, walks, and art. Reading fiction has always been a way for me to magnify my spirit and expand my horizons by experience elsewhere.

Though, books can also make people uncomfortable, such as the ongoing waves in book banning in the US. It seems now may be the time I invite discomfort and melancholy as I open Maus to give it a proper read.