Friday, October 30, 2015

The Club Anhedonism

Anhedonia was famously the original title for Annie Hall, but it was thrown out because the word was deemed too esoteric for audiences (“Woody Allen Fights Anhedonia," NYT, 4/20/77). It's  strange since anhedonia's really an easy word to parse out with “an” being the not and “hedonia” referring to pleasure. Putting the two syllables together you get the inability to experience pleasure. Narcissism and anhedonia share some qualities, in that they can both be defensive postures which eschew the dependence on the outside world. Anhedonics may feel powerful to the extent that they don’t need or desire anyone or anything. Anhedonia frees you from vulnerability. It’s a perverse version of the Buddhist mantra “desire is but the beginning of suffering.” Those who go to silent retreats in Zen monasteries choose abstinence while the anhedonic ostensibly has psychological problems which make it difficult for him or her to enjoy the senses. In this regard anhedonia is a sister or brother ailment to depression, since its function, which is to some extent protective, has, at the same time, unpleasant consequences. But if Woody Allen wanted to call Annie Hall, a mild essay on cosmopolitan/melting pot neurosis, Anhedonia, what would be alternative titles for say the films in Bergman’s famous trilogy Winter Light, Through a Glass Darkly and The Silence. Pleasure is not only compromised, but absent in these filmic essays on the absence of God. There's a club Hedonism II in Negril, where anything goes. But where would the club Anhedonism be situated? On The Gulag Archipelego?

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