Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘the black dog’

“Sometimes, like right now…”

In Depression, Life, The Examined Life, Writers on June 8, 2012 at 6:00 am

Black dog

Sometimes, like right now, this evening, when the black dog nips at my heels, I look out the window and attempt to remember what matters. Then something rises in me and suggests that it all matters, if only I pay attention. For instance, I paid a high degree of attention to that last period, after the word attention. I read recently that in poetry a period is an exclamation mark seen from above: down the shaft and the dot driven into the sod. That is, indeed, a high degree of attention and is enough to serve a person well for a while.


I wrote the above paragraph three months ago and saved the draft thinking I would get back it to. Never got back to it. I don’t remember writing it. Nor do I recall being chased by the black dog. (I have held for many years that it was Hemingway who labeled depression┬áthe black dog. Now, however, I am given to understand that Dr. Johnson was first with the phrase, though he would have been alluding to melancholia, as they called it back then. I am intent on not settling this. Occasionally I prefer to live in an imagined pre-Google world of ambivalence.) I find it interesting that I chose to write about paying attention, yet have no recollection of doing so. It is too frequently a personally inconsistent and troubling world.