Friday, August 9, 2013

BM: Was Lincoln's Depression the Fuel for Greatness?

Joshua Shenk wrote a book called Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness. I read an article by him about it, not the book itself, but the title spurred something in me. The following is what it spurred.

The gnome was puzzled as soon as he departed the esophagus. His fellow gnomes were shoveling what looked like solid sadness into great ovens that burned around the president's stomach.

A slightly taller than average gnome approached him with a clipboard.

"You one of the new men?"

"Sir, yes, sir." The new gnome straightened his posture. "Reporting for duty in service of my country, sir."

"Good, good," said the superior gnome. "Fetch a shovel and get to burning that depression."

"Sir, is it constitutional to damage the emotions of the commander in chief, sir?"

The superior gnome frowned over his clipboard.

"That's why we're here, private."

"Sir, I read that depression was the cause of his greatness, sir."

"No, no. The fuel." The superior gnome came closer. "It's the fuel of his greatness. And what do you do with fuel?"

The new gnome kept his eyes forward.

"Sir, store it in something safe, sir?"

"You're a cute one. What do you do with gasoline? Burn it. What do you do with coal? Burn it."

"Sir, so what you're saying is..."

"What I'm saying is that if we want this president to get anything done we've got to find all his depression and set it on fire. Now come on. He's got to emancipate the slaves and win the biggest war this country's ever seen! It's going to take a lot of depression."

"And cause it, I'd assume.” And then he remembered to add, “Sir!"

The superior gnome pointed to the nearest oven, which billowed with a smoky melancholy.

"That is not our problem! Now fetch a shovel or start cleaning the stoves. The grease that builds up in there is figuratively and literally bad for morale."


  1. Damn. We got little gnomes adding fuel to the fire.

  2. I want me some gnomes. I have a few emotions that could use burning...

  3. I could use some gnomes shoveling my own emotions in a furnace. Burn, baby, burn!

  4. So that's what's going on with our emotions. Little gnomes?

  5. I would happily donate some of my own melancholy/depression/anxt to the furnace to make people great. I wonder whether there is a market for anger as well? Automatic - no ignition needed...

  6. Oh those gnomes get in everywhere don't they. Still they may have a point!

  7. Reminds a bit of one of the few South Park episodes I've seen...

    Step 1. Depression
    Step 2. ?
    Step 3. Win the war and emancipate the slaves

    It took a while, but forces converged, all the elements of step 2 fell into place, and it worked. Interesting piece, John...and thanks for pointing the way to a book I'll definitely be placing on my to-read list. ^_^

  8. You have a very strange brain, John. [That's what I like most about you.]

  9. Strange indeed, and, as Tim said, that's why we keep coming back for more.

  10. Your introduction totally turned me off that book.

    Your story, on the other hand, is a very fun exploration of why.

    Up with gnomes. Down with ignorant interpretations of depression.


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