besotted by apoplexy
It is not often I am called to put on my critic’s hat, but this is one of those occasions.
I just came to know that the very state that I have been trying for achieve for myself lo these long years not only has a name but is under attack from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
They call it Stendhal syndrome and those ‘afflicted’ experience physical and emotional anxiety as well as panic attacks, dissociative experiences, confusion and hallucinations when exposed to art.
These symptoms are usually triggered by “art that is perceived as particularly beautiful or when the individual is exposed to large quantities of art that are concentrated in a single place,” such as a museum or gallery.
Or a woman.
They make it sound like a bad thing.
Stendhal syndrome is named after Marie-Henri Beyle, better known by his pen name Stendhal (the nom de plume borrowed from the German city of Stendal). He was born on January 23, 1783 in Grenoble, Isere, a district in France, and as far as I can tell spent most of his adult life chasing the ladies. Some went as far as calling him an obsessive womanizer. On 1822 he published an entire book, De L’amour (On Love), based on his relationship with Matilde Dembowski and the romantic passion between them. In 1821, between the end of this ill-fated affair and the publishing of the book, he wrote 215 love letters to the countess Clementine Curial declaring his love for her.
He was simply bursting with the stuff.
Apparently Stendhal syndrome was named after him because of the way he described feeling seeing Florence, Italy, an increase in pulse and heart rate and a dizziness from overexposure to beautiful art and immense beauty, in his book Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio.
And psychologists want to label this a ‘mental disorder’?
If so, then I long to feel such panic attacks, dissociative experiences, confusion and hallucinations.
What else is there?
They might call such feelings “merely a specific form of a more general psychopathology” but I call it the only damn thing worth living for. Leave it to the shrinks to ruin things by over-thinking them.
Anyway, Marie-Henri Beyle died March 23, 1842 hours after a brain hemorrhage on the streets of Paris. I can think of far worse ways to go.
His book dedications were to ‘The Happy Few’, referring to the few people who truly understood his writing.