How Do I Balance Depressing Literature?

My 3 Tips For Balancing Depressing Literature

1. Develop critical thinking skills 2:37

2. Don’t read depressing books to try and validate negative behavior 5:36

3. Don’t disregard the value of confronting evil and darkness in yourself and others 9:07

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Kiyu Wa says:

“humor is the politeness of desperation” roughly translated. A book that is Meaningful and sincere yet very funny is “barney’s version” by Mordecai Richler.

The one book I couldn’t read because I could not believe the world view that author expressed was the one you recommended by cioran.

christianman73 says:

I studied literature and philosophy and religion in college during the mid-to-late ’90s. At that time, in the academic environment of the Humanities at my university (and, apparently, in many other American universities too), “credulity towards metanarratives” (i.e. postmodernism, “the death of the author,” etc.) was taught to us as an important part of critical theory. I never *fully* bought into it, but I did take it very seriously, and it did influence my thinking. When I followed it out logically (because I wanted to be ruthlessly consistent in my thinking), over time, it led me to some fairly dark places, both philosophically, and in my actual, everyday life.

Now, I realize that some people will see this as a cop-out and will ridicule it, but one of the things that kept me from falling into nihilism and ultimate despair was a genuine, intellectual, philosophical, spiritual, and everyday life conversion to Christian faith. To be clear, I didn’t throw away my mind upon becoming a Christian. I still read and thought and listened widely. I also didn’t proceed to shove my faith down the throats of people. (I was happy and willing to discuss it, with people who were happy and willing to talk about it with me, but I didn’t force it on people.) Anyway, a thoughtful, philosophical Christianity helped to lead me out of an increasingly dark and despairing place many years ago.

I have long been a fan of dark-themed literature and movies and music, from Dostoevsky to “The Exorcist” to Ingmar Bergman films. If I had completely embraced postmodernism in college, it would probably not be mentally and emotionally healthy for me to continue to take in very much of those kinds of art. As a Christian though, the dark realities of this world don’t lead me to nihilism and/or despair. I used to be an atheist, so I do understand that religious faith is not something that everyone can believe and embrace. For me, though, it has, quite literally, saved my life more than once or twice.

Your Necessary Fallen Angel says:

Don’t die before reading The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Cary!

Richard Owens says:

This is a brilliant video man. I went through a phase of exactly what you said, reading dark literature for affirmation during years of very intense depression. I made the conscious effort after one point to read either stuff that had more of a balance or have a heavy and light book on the go. Murakami is perfect for the former, personally.

Anyways, you nailed it. Thank you.

Bel Santos says:

The Bell Jar make me soo depresive

idkwhattoputhereok? says:

You’ve always been a great creator in videos, and this shows how you’re also a great person. Even though it’s always shown but this shines on that, love what you do. Working on my own health in terms of being able to focus on things and not have anxiety from being in one position too long lol. Or focus on one thing due to the fact my mind is always racing. In the past few days I’ve been able to write two stories, one 1.5K words the other just a mere 850. But both showed my growth and I was proud. I’m rambling I apologize, to sum things up. Mental health can defiantly help anyone in their desire to read or write, as you portray so well here.

Zacarias Olivarez says:

Die Reading. Love it. Need that on a sticker please.

Bernie says:

Hi mate, following on from this video I’d just like to ask, how do you balance? Like just generally?

whatupdude96 says:

Good video. Wheres the 12 rules review?
Honestly though, great video.

Kenneth Hudgins says:

Good shit.

neoskeptic says:

4. Remember that your life isn’t as bad as the character(s) in the depressing novel you are reading.

Luna * says:

Jeez that video was awesome.. Thank you!

Michele Buckles says:

I recently let House of Leaves grab my heart and throw me around *sigh* I like walks in the fields and woods with my animals to lift me up <3

Maria B. says:

“Nothing matters” can motivate as well you know. We don’t really matter in this huge universe so why not try to create our own meaning, to value things that matter to us personally. People do it differently: religion, family, art, work…yes, nothing matters in the end but it doesn’t have to make us unhappy. We can try to be happy despite it all being pointless. Even if it kills us. And it will one day but maybe not today.

whatupdude96 says:

feels like a good intro…

cstz says:

I’ve been following your channel for long and never commented before, but this time I really want to. What you said rang especially true when you talked about how depressing, pessimistic literature (and cinema) is the only one credited as accurately describing reality. Isn’t that a kind of self-fulfilled prophecy? I’ve lost a friend (figuratively, for now) to drugs, alcohol and abusive relationships because she convinced herself that only a pessimistic outlook to life could be true and not lacking in critical thinking, and romanticized hardship so much, that she would rather sink into self-destruction and feel “true” than having a shot at anything else.
Also, when I was younger I had to take care of someone very fragile and unstable, and the one thing that kept me from falling apart was the half innocent, half stubborn decision that we would get through it, because not believing that that person would be okay was simply not an option.
I’m not trying to glorify my own willpower: my point is exactly that I was only able to believe in that because I had not yet been “infected” with the belief that life cannot be anything else other than miserable. If I had, I would have lost too much energy wallowing in despair and I would have been completely useless.
As you get older (and you read more, and see more movies, yes), the idea that life-can-only-be-despair tries its better to creep in, and it takes a lot of effort to keep it out. Thank you for reminding me that yes, life is shitty, but it doesn’t have to be just that.

Daniela Restrepo says:

Probably my favorite video of yours !

BigSpirtualSploader says:

I can see anyone who read Peter Sotos, probably thinks they’ve been through the Vietnam war and imply to be diagnosed with PTSD! L()L

glassanddiaphane says:

I prefer mixing the kind of themes, genre and media so I don’t keep the sad cycle going. I do like sad books and I’ve had depressive episodes throughout my life, so what I have found it helps is: 1) If I feel hopeless and lost, having suicide thoughts, I ask for help, take medication, go to therapy, work on meditation and mindfulness or all the above. 2) If I feel I’m having very sad thoughts I try to stay away from depressive stuff for a while, books are always going to be there and I can go back when I feel emotionally healthy or ready. 3) I try to mix the kind of materials I read, watch and listen, I can be reading very sad books and later watch a silly film or listen to music I find energizing. 4) Sometimes I wait for a couple of weeks to start another sad book because I’m too full (I’ve set my own limit) and when I feel ready, I start again.

Nicolás Bascuñán says:

From Crime and Punishment to True Detective (s.1) good depressing art always offer hope and meaning at the end.

Kek Network says:

Damn, Clifford. These are things I’ve been trying to tell people for a long time.
Thank you.

Alex Elsheimer says:

I really enjoyed what you said about depressing and not-so-depressing elements coming together to make a more honest reflection of life. The books that end up being my favorite don’t tend to really favor one extreme or the other (e.g. Catch-22 and If on a winter’s night a traveler). Having said that, I value variety above all so when the books I’m reading begin to weigh on me, I take a trip to Pratchett’s Discworld series or listen to one of my favorite classic Sci-Fi books on audio. This is kind of like a “factory reset” for my reading. Great vid man!

Edit: Forgot to mention that I read IT in middle school too! It definitely set a standard for future reading.

Michal Szczeskiewicz says:

4. Understand the author. his background and his intent. All writing is an expression of thought and value and an illustration of the world as it is and as it ought to be. It’s up to you, the reader, to decide if the author is correct, ethical and if the author is steering you in a direction you want to go.

This is contrary to the view taken in literature and humanities classes where we are taught to separate the text from the author and make the critic [hopefully, with the correct academic qualifications and the correct social/psychological/political viewpoints] the sole arbiter of the text. Ughm … know when you’re reading riveting and influential bullshit. Yeah, take a moment to think about what you just read. Even if you get swept by the words, think back and reflect with a sober mind.

Alijah Poindexter says:

where were you buddy i missed you

Ulisses Brandão says:

How great can a youtube video become in 2018? Well, we see records got broken here.
Congratulations man, promoting literature is already such an amazing thing, but besides that you also do some incredible videos like this one. Thank you man! Brazilian fan here by the way.

PS: Read Thomas Pynchon for god’s sake! hahahahaha

Craig Carr says:

Love your videos, but I have to make the observation that you looked healthier before you started with the weird diets.

Sravan S says:

You don’t balance depressing literature. You dwell in it. You come out as a warrior. Or give up reading. Or you can fall back into the abyss

Frances Morrow says:

You should post more philosophical talks like this! Also could you please review some Henry Miller? Love your channel!

Threecreation says:

w o w

this is the big one

avayeh vasch says:

I love listening to you <3

Bitch Please says:

Holy shit. This walking meme is more self-righteous with every passing day. Get off your high horse dude and fuck you and your holier-than-thou attitude

Scout Winchester says:


David Adams says:

Hamza Zaky says:

a fan from Moroco here. but related to the topic yeah i once was there. as i can remember when i finished crime and punishment by dostoevsky i went through black period.

Chad O'Neal says:

I read Story of the Eye after watching your video on it and it has fucked me up and changed me in ways I have never thought anything could. Thank you.

jim evans says:

There seem to be different forms of depressing, Blood Meridian is nihilistic, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is full of existential longing, and Felicia’s Journey which I am currently reading is just utterly and completely sad. Nihilism seems to be the bad ass way of looking at it, like Rust Chole the loner who just doesn’t care, the existential stuff puts me in mind of peaceful melancholic reflection, and poor Felicia just makes me want to cry, because there’s no filter of philosophy, there’s no world view that it doesn’t matter, it’s just real world problems not meant to make a point, or seem cool, so to me this is the most depressing kind of literature, no philosophy, nothing to dull the pain.
Anyone have any thoughts?

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