The chief value of The Antidote is to stop you feeling guilty if, like me, you never even tried positive thinking, knowing instinctively it wouldn’t work.
This was the right decision but guilt lingers, as if it’s your fault for not falling for bogus remedies like religion or positive thinking. Throughout approximately fortyfive years of depression, I also stopped taking various anti-depressants and abandoned several therapies and twelve step groups. I’m currently thirteen stepping Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous (while drinking or using extremely rarely). Perhaps I could start Self Help Anonymous. Maybe that is what this blog is.
SOME GOOD NEWS. (Finally!)
Towards the end of The Antidote we are informed we don’t need closure. Which cheered me during the long process of not being able to finish this promised part 2 of… https://markramsden13.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/born-again-stoic-have-you-heard-the-good-news-about-oliver-burkeman-part-1/
“I’m not into endings,” someone told me around the millennium. It’s taken me fifteen years to catch up with Sarah, whom some people called Sarah-tonin because she was a serotonin boost, she cheered people up. I filed this under new age nonsense, preferring to be profoundly miserable than explore change. There is now a name for Sarah’s solution, albeit a hideous neologism: openture, the opposite of closure. Really? I will never repeat that word, unless threatened or offered money. Unfortunately there isn’t another term for the acceptance of loose threads or, as used The Antidote, the realisation that there may not be sustainable happiness.
Does the journey-not-the-destination mindset have a name in Zen or Taoism? Something Japanese or Chinese? Maybe. Once more John C Parkin’s ‘Fxxk It’ surfaces from the sub-consciousness. https://markramsden13.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/the-way-of-f-it-new-age-charlatan-or-nu-buddha-sweary-serenity-prayer/
F**k it is a failsafe life raft, for whenever the waters get choppy.
YOU FORGOT MEMENTO MORI
Be that as it may, (surely ‘be-that-as-it-may-ism’ would be better than ‘opent**e’?), one ending that isn’t open is death. The Stoics recommended regular contemplation of the inevitable and so does Oliver Burkeman. This was no bloody use to Philip Larkin but it is hard to think what would have been. There’s no pleasing some people.
Terence Stamp’s fugitive supergrass in The Hit has had about a decade to prepare for his death. His seraphic calm creeps out John Hurt’s assassin, Top existential bantz here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjtg-QzRFhU
GORGEOUS music by Paco Pena. A superb film in many ways.
A much more focussed discussion of just about everything in the book is here:
Scarily well-informed and articulate, the host of radio show This Is Hell, Chuck Mertz, has not only read The Antidote, he has practically memorised it. Oliver Burkeman is very well adjusted, with a natural laugh. Before The Antidote I might have resented either of them for being happier than I am, or just less of a maniac. I am now less deluded. Less Deceived as Larkin might have said?
While we’re here I sometimes get distracted by Larkin’s startling resemblance to Eric Morecambe. (And there was no doubt what he thought of life so far: ‘Rubbish!’)
Nearly at the end of the road. We don’t need closure but one of Larkin’s conclusions might fit. It’s almost as good as ‘F**k it’: ‘Get Stewed. Books are a load of crap’.
…if we tire of fantasising about being Dracula or a Western gunslinger, as in ‘A Study of Reading Habits’, but will not be a victim to alcohol, damaging others in the process, we can always use a manual of coping strategies.
Oliver Burkeman is published under ‘This Column Will Change Your Life’ in the Guardian. Well, it will if you want it to. (He must have caught some American positivity living in Brooklyn.) What is indisputably true: The Antidote is not a load of crap. Quite the opposite.