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The Anatomy Of Melancholy: Episode 33

August 2nd, 2020


This version is captioned, a non-captioned version can be found here.

This episode contains a detailed recipe for a dish of ram’s brain that will cure melancholy. It is a passage I once used when explaining to the uninitiated how The Anatomy Of Melancholy mixes credible advice with crazy seventeenth century nonsense. However, since talking to a neuroscientist last year I’ve had to abandon this approach. He considered the cure not to be totally beyond the bounds of possibility. His reasoning was that if our melancholic had low serotonin levels and the ram’s brain contained serotonin then eating the brain could help, provided it were cooked gently and the serotonin survived the stomach’s acids.

I enjoy being taken to a world in which coffee is just an exotic rumour, being so drunk you vomit is recommended once a month and drug called Bang puts its adherents into a state of ecstasy. Much of this comes as a welcome contrast to the author’s familiar promotion of moderation as the best policy.

So far no one has stepped forward to persuade me that I’ll be cheered up by having hot ram’s lungs applied to my forehead. Surely that is crazy seventeenth century nonsense, but then maybe we shouldn’t dismiss anything without trying it out.

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