Manic-Depression, Bi-Polarity, and Falling in Love with Chantal Akerman

I like the term manic-depression, I feel it most accurately describes the processes by which my neuroses appear. Bipolar is a better description of my consciousness though. I feel like a Freudian nightmare, with my id and superego having more autonomy in my consciousness than my ego does. I can be manic, I can be lucid, and I can be depressed, but what is truly scary is when I become depressed in mania or manically depressed (which are two different states believe it or not). I feel I need to put these states into words at some point, maybe as a set of papers or possibly even a book. But what I’ll need to do first is read, a lot. And I’ll need to continue watching a lot. I can imagine a project now that looks something like the following.

1. Introduction: An Archive of Feelings, Thoughts, and Memory
This would draw greatly from Derrida and Ann Cvetkovich among many others who have written on ways to conceive of archives outside of dusty shelves of manuscripts and objects.

2. Depression
Also drawing heavily from Cvetkovich (she did write the book after all) but also from Freud and many other theorists who have tried to understand grief, mourning, melancholy, and depression. This is the ontological state of depression, which I define differently from the following.

3. Mania
Here’s where my new research really would need to begin. I have not seen much writing about mania and psychosis though I’m sure it exists out there. This is another ontological state, an embodied affect that feels completely normal until it is noticed, until it is read by me on to my body.

4. Depressed Mania
Here we’re going to have go really deep because the idea is that this is a cognitive state mapped onto an ontological one. I think there’s an intersection between my bodily states and my cognitive states that while related can be provoked separate of each other. If I map my depression and my mania first in bodily terms and then in cognitive terms it becomes necessary to ask the question of what happens when my depressed cognition meets my manic body, and vice versa.

5. Manic Depression
This is that vice versa. Distinguishing it from the previous state I hope will grant me some peace in understanding it.

6. Lucidity (an Epigraph)
What scares me about starting such a project is how easy it would be for me to get to the end of it and not be able to describe “me” anymore. If all of my memories become archived between the four categories, what happens to the real me? Perhaps I will have finally integrated the disparate parts of me into a whole, allowing me to live finally. Or perhaps in losing myself in my writing I will have to go on some soul searching journey to “find myself” and start again.

Now, why is Chantal Akerman in the title of this piece? Well, because I don’t know if I can go one this journey without her. I feel like Je, Tu, Il, Elle embodies mania in a language I have rarely been able to muster myself, and I feel like sections of Jeanne Dielman comfort me precisely because I recognize the cognition of my depression laced therein. Akerman was an artist I feel imminently connected too, and I will be watching more of her films to try and find out why.

I feel like this project has to be approached cinematically because cinema is in many ways my memory. This is a scary project, but also one I feel will be as essential to my life as my attempts to theorize ethics and violence.


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