19 February, 2009

Post-Story Depression

I don't know if there's a technical term, or what, but it seems like there should be a name for it, as I imagine it's not an unusual experience for many people. Though I do wonder about just how common it is, and the varying degrees to which different people experience it...

What I'm talking about, of course, is the feeling of depression you sometimes get after finishing up a story, whether it be a novel or a television series or what have you. You've spent lots of time investing yourself in this alternate reality, getting to know the characters, maybe even falling in love with some of them, and then bam, it ends, and you've got to say goodbye and move on with your (real) life.

For me, I get this feeling from time to time, and though I haven't scrutinized it all that much, it seems to be worse in the series I get absorbed in that actually have endings - and not necessarily sad endings. Like if a series just stops, or the ending is inconclusive, then it almost feels like it's not really the end, even if I have to stop entering that fantasy world. But if there's actually a wrap-up and conclusion, it's like the fantasy world is closing its doors to me and saying, the world continues on...*without you*. And that's like a dagger in the heart. It's like, I've gone through the adventure and the danger and the epic battles with these characters, but after all that I can't share in the "happily ever after" with them.

Obviously, I don't get depressed after every story I engross myself in, and I wonder if maybe part of the reason I like movies so much is because I can sympathize with the characters without getting *so* attached that I find myself having a hard time letting them go when the movie ends, because it's just not long enough for me to develop that kind of an attachment. And the degree to which I get depressed varies also, but it's kind of hard to believe that I could get so worked up over a fantasy, that sometimes the depression feels just as strong as when I lose real life connections. Is that normal?

But gee, all these exciting things happen in fantasy worlds, and these characters make powerful bonds to fight epic struggles against great foes in the name of pure love, and then when I'm faced with reality again, I have to come to terms with the fact that I live not only a boring but a pretty empty life, devoid of 'powerful' and highly 'meaningful' connections to people, and am severely lacking in the department of pure love. Frankly, it is depressing. So I guess there's really no surprise there. I mean, if I could give up my real life and become a fly on the wall to watch the characters from one of these series live out the rest of their lives, beyond even the bounds of the narrative, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I just can't help thinking how empty and meaningless real life is...

1 comment:

  1. Yes I definetly experience this. Back in the old days it used to really hit me hard, for days even. Now adays my series are mainly episodic so they feel like they never end, even though they do. I mean, I was sad when Seinfeld ended but when I turn on the TV and watch Seinfeld it doesn't feel like a nostalgic trip through the recorded history. Even though I know what happens, it might as well be happening right now, I can enter that world at any time. But a show like Gundam Wing, you're watching such finite events. It will always feel like I'm retreading the past when I watch it, I can't truly enter their world ever again.

    The last show that did this to me was The Sopranos. Makes sense since it is not as episodic and since it is a freaking massive series (7 seasons, one hour for each episode). I didn't even really enjoy it that much. It was hit or miss, some parts were amazing, some parts were snoozefests. But God it's sad that I've been shut out of their world forever, and yet they keep living on and on. For such a massive series, I find myself oddly feeling that they downright OUGHT to have made more episodes.

    And Harry Potter, damn. That series was immense. Every time they show the Simpsons episode with that excellent Angelica Button spoof, I get sadly reminded that I'll never be able to find out what Harry and the gang are up to ever again. I feel like... good stories are supposed to end, you don't want it to go on so long that it becomes self-parody. But on the other hand I can't help but to strongly suspect that these brilliant authors could have kept it going at the same high-caliber for a lot longer than they did, and in that respect it's kind of like they've knifed you, by not letting you stay in their beautiful world for a little longer.