Melancholia: (An Essay) by Kristina Marie Darling

Ravenna Press, 2012
ISBN: 970-0-9851520-1-7
45 pages

Kristina Marie Darling is becoming one of the foremost practitioners of the little book, of the poetic text as miniature object, as a kind of fragmented memento charged with mystery. Her newest publication, Melancholia: An Essay, a 5 x 6, perfect-bound book from Ravenna Press’ “Pocket Series,” is another elegant piece of evidence to support this claim: it is, as J.A. Tyler says, “a new jewel in the continuing assemblage of sparse and bright words from Kristina Marie Darling.”

After reading Melancholia, I went searching through the big mass of books piled precariously on my desk and through the many volumes sprawled across my engorged bookcases to look for one of Kristina’s previous jewels: the similarly-sized, 52-paged Compendium that Cow Heavy Books published in 2011 (Kristina and I spoke about Compendium at length in an interview at Big Other last summer). To my chagrin, I couldn’t find the book, and, looking amid the cramped interstices of my personal library, I realized that perhaps the proper place for Kristina’s exquisitely small books was not on any conventional bookshelf but rather in an escritoire’s inner compartment among wax seals and pen nibs of various sizes or in a curio cabinet or Wunderkammer among shark’s teeth, rare feathers, and old apothecary jars. Continue reading


Crazy Wisdom: von Trier’s Melancholia

This is from the Great Grotesque Thing I’m writing, but it has some topical relevance now so I’ll post it. Basically, it’s a reading of the film as Romantic art (with a little Buddhism as well).

Crazy Wisdom

Melancholia announces its Romantic intentions immediately. The title itself claims a place alongside the great romantic spiritual laments, like Coleridge’s “Dejection: an Ode,” Shelley’s “Stanzas: Written in Dejection, Near Naples,” and Keats’s great “Ode to Melancholy.” But the film’s true romantic touchstone is a little later in time: the film opens with the ethereal gloom of the overture to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

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