Okay, so the post title doesn't exactly fit, but I wanted to build off of Scott's "Old and New" post yesterday. Shoot me.
I AM going to talk about something blue, however, and surely these thoughts are borrowed, mostly from Harold Bloom. Maybe "Something Harold Something Blue" would have been a better title.
I'm a slight depressive. I like to be depressed. I used to fight it--being surrounded by people who are happy made me think that I was supposed to be happy too. Then, a few years ago, I had a shift in my world view. I decided that I liked experiencing a fuller range of emotions. I didn't mind feeling sadness as long as I wasn't sad all the time. (Strangely, this made feeling sad a happy experience, which perhaps messes up my logic.)
It's probably not surprising, then, that some of my stories are about depressing topics. I used to think this was amateurish--don't we seem to dwell on the depressing dramas when we first pour our hearts out? But, as I was recently reading some criticism by Harold Bloom, I saw how he was celebrating many dark writers. Bloom doesn't admire Faulkner because Faulkner knows how to show and not tell. No, Bloom admires Faulkner because Faulkner has explored and beautifully rendered the dark side of his characters. So, while a trickling steam of rejections has been depressing me lately, I feel hopeful after reading about the classics discussing depression.
Same thing with sympathetic characters. I can get caught up in rooting for a protagonist as much as the next reader. But, I'm still fascinated by the Momoi Gimpeis and the Joe Christmases and the Brods and the Mahlkes--the characters that seem to maneuver despite their hopelessness and nihilism.
But, I wonder: has the range of literary acceptability gotten smaller over the decades? Do people--even a small subset of people--still want to read about darkness? Or, more generally, do people still want to explore books about a variety of emotions, or have we centered more on reading for joy? Or, am I alone?