Saturday, 17 July 2010

Summerbrain and Bulgakov

I have always felt less intelligent in the summertime. It sounds like such a ridiculous claim, but that is just the way it is. My brain slows down. It only thinks about happy thoughts as if it was just wired like that. I read slower than usual. It takes me forever to construct ideas, or to form my opinions. My feelings seem less intense. I manage to enjoy small things in life in much greater detail.

I am currently reading Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon. He starts the book with a stunning quote from Bulgakov:

Everything passes away - suffering, pain, blood, hunger, pestilence. The sword will pass away too, but the stars will still remain when the shadows of our presence and our deeds have vanished from the earth. There is no man who does not know that. Why, then, will we not turn our eyes toward the stars? Why?

I feel like in the summertime, I turn my eyes toward the stars all the time. I look for wonder, for beauty I can't possibly understand. I enjoy seeing and accepting the universe as a well-greased machine. I don't even try to understand what it is all about. I don't feel the urgency of my meaningless existence. I just exist and observe.

Come autumn, my mind will start to revolve more and more around the pettiness and frustration that is so essential to human experience. I look for answers to questions that inhabit my mind, sometimes in an extremely aggressive manner. I look for melancholy, because it keeps me sane. To only gaze into the stars makes one blind to life that we live and breathe every day.

Blouse: Tuuli's old
Skirt: Etam; bought it in Nice years ago, and still love it!
Sandals: H&M
Vintage scarf: Tuuli's old


Aury said...

I think summer tends to have this effect on a lot of people. Especially, on hot drowsy summer days when nothing seems to be happening, it seems as if everything slows to a complete stop and that the world is resting.

Modesty is Pretty said...

hehe I must admit my brain always thinks slower and I just think I'm a hopelssly romantic, seeing beauty in the simple things that sometimes we take for granted, I love to look at the stars, unfortunately for me I live in a place where there's seldom a starry night, I do remember those nights in Mexico though, when I would go to the balcony of my home and just stare at the beautiful starrry night, with everyone sleeping, lights out, complete silence, except for a dog walking by. I miss those times. Hopefully I'll be able to visit before the end of the summer.

Dorky Medievalist said...

I know The Noonday Demon and Solomon is describing his experience of clinical depression. I believe this is different from "summerbrain." I know what you mean when you say "summerbrain", especially when it's too hot to think and I agree that the autumn, especially because it is the start of the school year (whether in school or not), brings a kind of clarity to thinking, good or bad. I'm concerned, however, that the conflation of "summerbrain" with depression, however unintended (and I know you are really riffing on Bulgakov), is maybe a bit too ... uninformed? I don't know if I even mean uninformed, but I do think that depression, while certainly affected by season (and light), is not seasonal. It is much more deeply ingrained and difficult than a change of season.

Charlotte said...

Have you read Bulgakhov's "The White Guard"? Not a summer book--there's tons of snow--but remarkable all the same. I read it while I was in Kiev, and it's set just down the street from where I was living, which was a thrill.
I share your summer mind. I feel practically drugged in this weather, longing for the first cool breeze.

Karima said...

love that tie-dyed skirt! i seem to be always meditating in summer, i.e. lying around with an empty mind. just love the long days, insect noises and everything coming to a stand still.

The Waves said...

Dorky Medievalist: it was not my intention to compare depression to my "summerbrain" at all! I just happened to read the Bulgakov quote in Solomon's book. I don't think Bulgakov was talking about depression, but more about the human experience in general, and why Solomon decided to start his book about depression with it, I haven't figured out yet. I am aware that depression is a very serious illness - that is one of the reasons why I am reading Solomon's book. But this post was not about depression, nor was it about Solomon's book - it was basically about me saying that my life seems lighter in the summertime, with the help of Bulgakov's quote.

Charlotte: No, I haven't read The White Guard, but it is on my never-ending list of books to read!

Eyeliah said...

It is so true for me as well, I was thinking not 20 minutes ago how silly I am in summer. My thoughts are of beach, sun, fun, staying out too late etc etc.

Charlotte said...

Read it in winter, then--with a lot of warm beverages at the ready. Now I want to write about Bulgakhov's house and the way in which it's been restored as a museum. Next post!