Theoretical framework on depression discourse
Ann Cvetkovich, "Depression as public feeling"
This artistic research explores the discourse of depression through performing arts (dance and choreography), treating "negative" feelings (hopelessness, anxiety, apathy, depression, etc.) not only as medical conditions and pathologies of individuals but as socio-cultural determinants of the neoliberal-capitalist society. Such a premise is constituted on An Cvetković's definition of 'depression' as an affective indicator of social problems that today chronically maintain a general state of silence, exhaustion, and self-isolation of people, despite the wide-reaching therapeutic culture.How to avoid depression today, in times of the financial crisis of social systems, the growing economic disparities in the social classes, the endless multiplication of bureaucratic procedures, the pervasive corruption, the unsuccessful strikes, protests, “revolutions”, the ubiquitous wars and deaths of innocent people for profit or power, and above all, the ecological crisis of such devastating proportions that we are talking about the sixth biological extinction process in the history of planet Earth? How to resist the nihilistic eye of depressive realism (Colin Feltman) looking at the current neoliberal economic and social policies through total deprivation of state responsibility, forcing the emotional life of citizens to cope with the overall burden through the sphere of a privatized family or individual? That same individual, compelled to be defined by the ability to create projects and agendas within the corporate culture continually, the happiness industry, and the economic market. If that individual fails to respond to these needs – due to accumulated symptoms of emotional exhaustion, demotivation, lack of imagination, and long-term workplace stress - it is being pathologized as “depressed” and even neglected. How to think, in the “age of hopelessness” (Slavoj Žižek), about the new construction of social relations beyond the imposed “game over” position of rather accepting the apocalypse of the world, then thinking about the end of capitalism (Mark Fischer)? As Timothy Morton puts it, today, the whole world, including “little” us, is in deadly giant jaws – of ourselves as human species. The Anthropocene – whether we like it or not, whether we are aware of it or not – necessarily requires a rethinking of philosophy, politics, science, art, and community, because that is the first real anti-anthropocentric concept. It requires the understanding that the non-human is deeply embedded in all levels of the human - not only biological and social but also the very structure of thought and logic.Probing into areas of our experience that most of us are reluctant to acknowledge openly, this artistic research views depression discourse as unavoidable and a necessary part of social existence, and a worldview for re-examining conditions of human/s and beyond. Opposing to the tacit hegemony of contemporary positive thinking and assumption in cognitive behavioral therapy that depressed individuals have cognitive distortions, the research departs from the idea that negative feelings should turn into positive experiences through artistic creativity. The public recognition and depathologization of the depression discourse is seen as a political state by itself that connects and unites people, trying not to articulate what we think about capitalism, but how we feel in it. In a moment of widespread disappearance of the "welfare state," I wonder: How can we care for each other, even if we don't know each other? How to accept our unequal social and physical powers and abilities, and think collectively of ways to transform inequalities into equity? Should we keep performing our everyday social roles in front of and for each other, or will we question the responsibility over the state we are in today? By turning our individual issues into social, can we search for the rhythm of existence that will create "a new body of solidarity, love, empathy, and eros" (Franco Bifo) to think about the construction of a new world? How does the perception that we are deeply covered, surrounded, and imbued with all kinds of entities other than "We" change the thinking of the coexistence model today?