I am constantly amazed at the effect of chemistry on mood. For example, I always hope that I die right as I’m waking up, because when I wake up, I always wish that I were dead. Well, maybe not dead all the time. But I’m not pleased. Yet you get a cup of tea in me and I can be literally thrilled to be alive. This morning, for example, as I slide into consciousness, I started thinking about Schopenhauer — never a good sign: another day, like the last, which I will work in order to survive to have tomorrow, which will be like the last. It is pointless! I never forget this intellectually, but with the right amount of caffeine, it doesn’t seem important, emotionally.
But consider the chemical soup that swims around in our brains. It really does define us. Let me illustrate.
Last week, when I was going through a thankfully brief period of depression, I decided to watch A Collection of 2007 Academy Award Nominated Short Films. I have seen it before. These collections are wonderful. The truth is that short films are generally better than features because they are organic. They only need to be as long as they need to be. Features are almost always shoehorned into something between an hour and a half to two hours long — regardless of whether the film should have been eight hours or, as is more often the case, 20 minutes.
This particular collection contains two incredibly charming, light-hearted films: The Mozart of Pickpockets and Tanghi Argentini. I was undoubtedly thinking of these films when I decided to watch it. But the disc starts with At Night. It tells the story of three young women who are being treated for cancer at a hospital. Under normal circumstances, I would label the film “poignant.” But in my state of mind, it was devastating; I sobbed pretty much nonstop through it.
I had hoped that I would be about to embed it here, but it isn’t available. It is rather long anyway: almost 40 minutes. Although you can watch the wonderful Tanghi Argentini. Just in time for Christmas! It is a wonderful, heartwarming film. It also made me cry — but not nearly as much.
Okay, so yesterday, I was feeling much better. Great, in fact. And I happened on a sketch comedy show called, Bruiser. It came out in 2000, and I’m shocked that I didn’t know about it, because it was Mitchell and Webb’s first television show. (They are in a cast of six.) It only lasted for one series — six episodes. It’s a weird show with a lot of incredibly annoying characters. The duo definitely got much more subtle — and funny — as time went on.
Here is a series of skits that originally played at different times and across different episodes. It is a parody of Q from the James Bond films. What’s remarkable is that there really isn’t much of a joke here. It’s just: what if Q had really stupid ideas. Yet it made me laugh to the point of asphyxiation.
I must still feel pretty good, because I just watched again, and I found it almost as funny. Ah, brain chemistry.