Quote of the Day:
“There are few of us who have not sometimes wakened before dawn, either after one of those dreamless nights that make us almost enamoured of death, or one of those nights of horror and misshapen joy, when through the chambers of the brain sweep phantoms more terrible than reality itself, and instinct with that vivid life that lurks in all grotesques, and that lends to Gothic art its enduring vitality, this art being, one might fancy, especially the art of those whose minds have been troubled with the malady of reverie.” Oscar Wilde
One of the great advancements of our time is the ability to carry around whole libraries of music and books on a device that will fit in a pocket. It is this technological marvel that has led me to resume a long-delayed goal of becoming more well read on the classics. Thanks to my iPhone I finally got around to reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by one of the most quotable writers of all time, Oscar Wilde. Among many gems in the first half of Dorian Gray, I came across the most “bon” of “mots.” The “malady of reverie.”
How he must have leapt out of his seat when the phrase came to mind! I imagine he wrote it down, dropped his pen and took a brisk trot around his neighborhood to celebrate the moment and to burn off the endorphins, then probably sat down to a decadent meal and a bottle of wine or two, leaving the drudgery of writing behind for a day while he reveled in his own genius. My God, I’ve searched for that phrase my whole life.
If you write at all, if you read books, newspapers, or even blogs to keep your mind from wandering you know what I, meaning Wilde, mean by “malady of reverie.” It is a sweet sickness that few of us would see cured if the result was to permanently shut down our brains. Oh, sure, we’d like a vacation from the strange and sometimes frightful thoughts travellin’ through our minds all day, but none of us who think would trade the malady for blissful ignorance very long. Yet to be afflicted makes us argumentative, contrarian, suspicious and cynical in turns. It is wearisome and frustrating because for every epiphany achieved, a dozen new questions, problems and for me personally, inconsistencies present themselves and these new issues serve only to increase the disease along with the great pleasure we derive from it.
The “malady of reverie.” Damn, that’s poetry. And I know I haven’t captured the totality of what those good words connote, but enough I suppose. I think I’ll go to lunch and think of something else now.