I Am A Proud Survivor of Stendahl Syndrome

Beauty is the hardest drug of them all, and I am an addict.

Last week I woke up one morning feeling not at all right with the world. I struggle to accept the insanity of the increasingly obsolete global system of industrialist capitalism . The tides of dread that crash on my shores when I consider the unnecessary limitations imposed by the old labor system that keep us overworked, underpaid and mentally and physically immobile are sometimes too much for me to face.

So I decided to walk to the store to pick up some fresh fruits and veggies in the hope that the brisk air and exercise would correct my mood before the day deepened. I geared up my mp3 player and set off, immediately blissed out by the sonic treat of The Sweet’s Love Is Like Oxygen. However at some point that bliss wore off and I found myself in some pretty messy depression. The world looked completely uninteresting to me. Like a movie I wanted to stop watching, and then maybe just stop watching movies altogether.

Winter. *sigh*

Iowa. *sigh*

Sigh *sigh*

I was lifted from my gloomy irrevelry by the motion and sensation of the grocery store and was relieved of my hopelessness by the selection of the perfect zucchini.

As I left the store I clicked forward to the next random track and ended up on a long time soul-shaker, Made Up Dreams by Built To Spill. The effect was almost immediate. I could feel the swell of emotion as the corners of my eyes dampened and decided to get the hell out of this parking lot before the waterworks began.

Stendahl Syndrome is a psychological phenomena wherein a person is so overcome by the beauty of something that they experience a profound emotional catharsis accompanied by overwhelming physical sensations. It is what we often call ecstasy or bliss. You are so stricken with the glory of some phenomena that you are rendered nearly immobile and experience an emotional cascade that causes near shuddering paralysis.

I would know, because I have experienced it countless times. It is the greatest blessing of my entire life. I cannot even remember the first time it happened, because as far back as I can remember, it has always been happening to me. I have been moved beyond the capacity of words by things of great beauty, especially music, my entire life.

Needless to say, my day was turned around. In my quest to acquire broccoli and bananas I experienced great depths of both despair and beauty. And has been the case many times, Built To Spill were to thank. Doug Martsch is like my fucking life coach, and he is just an incredibly nice guy with boundless creativity and talent who would never presume to be anybodies role model, but he has been my savior too many times to count.

The very next day I went back to the same store, in a far better mood, and in the most improbable turn Love Is Like Oxygen was being piped in as background music. That synchronicity was able to overwrite the prior association and as soon as I finish this article I am going to give it a listen and, hopefully, get my fucking rocks off.

Stendahl Syndrome for all!

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