Everybody was feeling the melancholy. Each felt it in her own way. They used the word melancholy because of global post history. The humour became a politics. The ones who claimed they weren’t melancholic were in denial. Theirs was the deepest form.

Some were just tired, a word they would repeat to themselves vaguely. There was dread. Some had been wrongly accused of certain acts then cast out by those they had previously believed to be their friends and some’s erotic acts were a money. Many’s livelihoods were abolished by the state. This happened gradually, or in a single blow. Some retired to isolation in rooms or in villages—they were in the distance. Some were tried for acts which previously had been lauded acts of freedom. Some tried for decades to survive their institutions. Some kept moving on like a meter. Some raped in groups. Some sought an institution to take them in. Some couldn’t decide. Some wondered about affect. Affect they called it. Some tried to love. Some seemed to prosper. Many’s tumours were the political economy. Some compiled lists of their titles and accomplishments and wore these lists like luxury garments. Some wept at the cash machine. The queer ones. All have a share of both. Some spoke of their immune systems as a landscape. Their health would be pastoral, distopic. Their health would be doused with isopropylamine salt of glysophate, prothioconazole, iprodione. They would eat this and wonder about sadness. Some kept confusing reading with buying. They tried to prevent this. Some tried fleeing. Some just fucked. Some spoke of the melancholy as an autoimmune response to capital. The banal prosetheses, the miniaturized devices, the immaterial products, were entering the interior of the body. The economy was cellular: cells now limitlessly reproduced. The economy was not a metaphor but an event in corporality.

The melancholy was a chora running an unhindered course. It was the legitimate response to the illegitimate propagation of worldly lack. The lack would be overtaken, overcompensated, by unceasing cellular profusion. In this way organisms would wear themselves out.

Previous compilers of the handbook of melancholy have provided us with only an internal view. Within the current province of melancholy, everything else is merely an accessory. The melancholy is administrated. It is thorough.

Originally Published: May 2nd, 2013

Poet Lisa Robertson was born in Toronto in 1961. She lived for many years in Vancouver, where she studied at Simon Fraser University, ran an independent bookstore, and was a collective member of the Kootenay School of Writing, a writer-run center for writing, publishing, and scholarship. While in Vancouver, Robertson...