Afternoon Inquisition 11.18

I have a list of what the.real.boy and I call the “ungoogleable” questions; but these are more conversation starters for parties than blog-friendly questions.  (Unless you all really want to answer this year’s question:  does anyone really like that candy known as Circus Peanuts?)

So, I’m turning to another list of questions this week; the Proust Questionnaire.  You can read all about his answers later, but first answer me this:

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?


A B Kovacs is the Director of Døøm at Empty Set Entertainment, a publishing company she co-founded with critical thinker and fiction author Scott Sigler. She considers herself a “Creative Adjacent” — helping creative people be more productive and prolific by managing the logistics of Making for the masses. She's a science nerd, a rabid movie geek, and an unrepentantly voracious reader. She doesn't like chocolate all that much.

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  1. I <3 Circus Peanuts, but you have to get them fairly fresh. These things are usually sold in far too large quantities and end up hard and stale on the shelf — and they’re truly nasty under those circumstances.

    But fresh ones… mmmmm…

    The lowest depth of misery, unfortunately, is that place where you seriously ponder ending your own life. Most people can’t possibly imagine that feeling, but if my stint on a crisis hotline taught me anything…

  2. I think it would be continuous physical agony (brain stimulation caused? or just non-lethal injuries). Combined with a real or perceived loss of everything you hold dear: family being killed, or similarly tortured, every other person suffering in the same way… Yeah. I can’t think of anything worse than every being to be suffering excruciating pain and crushing emotional distress.

  3. @DesktopIcon:

    At first, I thought “oh, that’s just fantasy role-playing fun for kids!”… then I read the details.

    Now you need to apologize for making me cry.

  4. I love circus peanuts as well. They’re soft orange marshmellows shaped like peanuts that taste like bananas, what’s not to love? However, only by the Brach’s ones. The no-name brands can be vile.

  5. I would say perceived loss of what you thought was permanent or sacred. This could be anything from your marriage to your religion to your life. I’ve experience two of the three and it was pretty incredible.

  6. I don’t know if it is the most Miserable I’ve ever felt, but When I had Nerve Damage in my feet I was pretty miserable. I was in so much pain I cried myself to sleep every night for about two months, I’ve also lived with depression which has made me feel pretty miserable too.

    The worst I can imagine would be a knowledge of absolute solitude caused by you. I can’t imagine the mix of grief, guilt and loneliness that would come from that.

  7. Another circus peanut fan!

    The lowest depth of misery is being in pain (physical, emotional, whatever) and knowing that it is never going to get any better.

  8. Right after a loved one dies… those moments when you slip out of denial and realize what’s happened… it feels like the entire world is crashing down, physically, on your heart.

    Or maybe it’s spending an hour with my mother in law.

  9. The death of a loved one would probably be it … or maybe the “permanent loss” – I have watched some people really suffer as their parents and grandparents lose all ability to even recognize them.

    Although not comparable, being in love and not being able to be with that person is quite excruciating as well.

  10. For many years I lived with undiagnosed depression. Everything was misery for me for lots of years.

    But now my depression is very well managed. Misery comes for me now when depression symptoms return. It’s true misery for me because my life absolutely rocks – I have a terrific family and a nice house and a great job and everything I could ever want – and yet my body reacts as if I’m in the middle of a crisis.

    I’m so very fortunate to have a family who, if not understands what I am going through, at least understands how to react when I am symptomatic. But it still makes me absolutely nuts when I can’t make my body understand what my mind and consciousness are experiencing. Ugh.

  11. @Elyse: Now, Elyse, I would think that you of all people would appreciate the gratuitous flirting that goes on from time to time.

  12. The day the one person that up that point I had actually trusted, and loved completely left.
    (sad sappy and true)

    To quote the Star Wars Robot chicken from last weekend “Want to see me tempt fate? Can it get any worse? I’m saying that ironically so I should be okay”

  13. For a little less than a year after my first divorce my ex had the kids then I got custody of them. About 6 years after that she kidnapped them and I didn’t get them back for almost a month. She used that time to brainwash my oldest son into thinking he was abused. It took awhile to overcome that.

  14. The lowest depth I’ve been to was after the breakup with my first girlfriend. That’s the only time in my life I would say I clearly showed symptoms of clinical depression (for six months).

    It only made things worse to realize that I was more depressed by losing a girlfriend than I was by the death of relatives who cared for me longer and more deeply than she did. That made me feel more worthless than I already did.

    Since then, I’ve been dumped from much better relationships but never hit that level of depression again.

    So the depths of misery (mine, at least) don’t necessarily correspond to an objective evaluation of the situation.

    It’s not a satisfying answer, but I think most people here would agree there’s much more evidence than my own case: The lowest depth of misery is a specific concentration of neurotransmitters and filled receptors in the brain.
    I sound like a robot or a Vulcan, but I think that’s the ultimate answer.

  15. The lowest depth of misery is reached at that time when you realize that the one thing that made you happy has left your life, never to return, and you can blame nobody but yourself. Knowing this is knowing the truth that you will never feel joy again, you will exist until the end of your days in a state of perpetual suffering.

    I shouldn’t have left my Han Solo action figure where the dog could get at it.

  16. @Masala Skeptic: Dude! Not helpful!

    But yeah, seriously did not think about the very specific answers that have been posted. I was thinking more in the airy-fairy, theoretical way Proust answered them.

    I am an ejit.

  17. Eating circus peanuts. :-D

    They’re in the same category as Peeps and Twinkies: inorganically-based, processed food product substances. Something not quite, but almost totally unlike food. (Apologies to Douglas Adams!)

    (Warning – you asked.)

    All kidding aside, I have to agree with Mrs. Schaarschmidt. I don’t have full-blown depression, just it’s evil kid brother, dysthymia. That’s bad enough.

    It’s also impossible to completely explain to someone that hasn’t been there, because it is totally subjective. How can one explain the deep abyssal sadness, feelings of worthlessness and incompetence, of total failure in life? It’s almost the antithesis of what one should feel in an average reasonably accomplished life.

    I can’t speak for everyone that has had this disease, but I can say that I have regrets in life – lots of them. Opportunities passed up, relationships lost or damaged, promotions missed or not pursued. And worst of all, the worry that it might be passed on to my two kids.

    Another is at the death of a loved one, human or otherwise. (I do NOT conflate the value of humans with animals here – just the grief at the loss.) The anguish one feels that a beloved and unique individual is gone forever, that there will never in the history of the cosmos be another person like that one. This is especially true when a young and promising life ends all too early in a preventable accident or disease.

  18. Suicidal clinical depression. I can imagine no greater depth of misery. I don’t doubt that the loss of a spouse or child must be a most horrible misery. I know the misery of divorce and break up. I know the misery of not being able to see my children for years. Job loss, failure, inability to attain a goal, physical pain – all of these carry a load of misery. But to know something is wrong with your brain, to feel the horror of deepest depression day after day, to believe that the only way for the hell to end is to end your life, this is the deepest misery I have ever experienced. Thank science for medication!

  19. Hmm, I seem to be one of the few happy and cheerfull people around here…

    Haven’t lost any close loved ones after I got old enough to understand, haven’t had any breakup after a long relationship that I didn’t feel was a smart thing to do, haven’t any horribly rejected love….

    I don’t think I’ve ever felt truly miserable in my live really.

  20. I think that question only has a few honest answers, and we all know them better than we’d like. I think these kinds of questions therefore require a dishonest answer.

    So, I’ll just say that it’s this.

  21. The death of a young child produces the lowest depth of misery. One need not be a parent to empathize with someone who has suffered so profound a loss.

  22. I’m not a parent, but I think it would be having your child abducted and never knowing what happened, or having your child murdered. Of course any time a child dies before a parent that would lead to depths of misery. I guess not being a parent relieves me of the chance to ever experience the lowest depth of misery.

  23. In my mind, there can be nothing worse than being in extreme pain both physically and mentally, whether it is by torture, horrible accident, etc.

  24. First, circus peanuts are evidence of the possibility that Satan does indeed exist:)

    I have 2 horrible moments. One is getting a call at 2am and learning that your husband has been in a horrible car accident and then having to wait hours before you know if he will live or not. Then being told he has severe brain damage and will likely be a veggie. (He has completely recovered now). Second, after my mom died, I sometimes had dreams about her. I remember how unbelievably happy I was to see her, then I’d wake up and remember the reality. That moment of reality made me terribly sad.

    I think the most tortuous thing would be to watch one of my kids hurting, either physically or emotionally.

  25. Well circus peanuts are clown poop and only clowns like them.

    As for Proust, I”ve been to his grave…it’s very simple and plain. His dad and brother that really did not like him (they were healthy physicians and Proust lived for his illnesses) are buried there with him….that has to be miserable.

    To hear the latests from the dude…see my video

  26. Hmm….

    Okay, as a depressive, a parent, a dead pet and dead marriage survivor, as well as an ex-heavy drinker, I’m going to make a stand for alcohol.

    All the other things you guys have mentioned are misery. Some of them are misery without the sense of an end. But I contemplate suicide, on average, about twice a week, so I can’t back suicidal depression. And while loss–of a loved one or loved object or just of love itself–can induce horror and misery that defy description, there is this to be said about it: It isn’t a Yukon Jack hangover.

    Don’t get me wrong. If you said to me that I could lose a child or drink a bottle of Yukon Jack, I’d drink the Yukon Jack. I would accept the physical pain, the horrible thirst, the taste of vomit, the smell of vomit the dry heaves, the wet heaves, the profound, hopeless depression and desperate need to die, the sense of timeless and eternal suffering, the confusion, imbalance, blurred vision, and even the certain knowledge that I brought it all on myself. Serious hangovers are serious misery, but still, it’s better to live through a hangover than cope with loss. Because of course, a Yukon Jack hangover has this to say about it: unlike loss, a hangover goes away.

    Freak n Nerd: I’ve had good results with cognitive therapy.

  27. @Anonyme: Tee hee. I have, actually. Calling it ungoogleable is probably a misnomer. It’s not that it can’t be done, it’s rather that it’s more fun not to google.

    But really, all the Ungoogleable Questions for the last few years have been, sadly, googleable. (Including last years: Is a cherry a berry?)

  28. A lot of these posts define misery as something perceived (depression) rather than something created. What about frustration, or the aftermath of shamelessness, or using our aptitudes to create something others use to a horrible end? …like the makers of the a-bomb.

  29. @writerdd: Your example combines the pain of loss with the pain of guilt. I think you can actually kick it up (down?) a notch if you as the parent know for a fact that your actions led to your child’s death.

    I think of the episode of House where a women caused her baby’s death when she was having a psychotic break. She was a person completely and utterly destroyed beyond repair.

  30. @sethmanapio: “misery without the sense of an end” As an ex-drunk myself I think you make an excellent point here. Imagine knowing what you are and what you are doing to yourself and not being able to do anything about it, looking at yourself and knowing that you will be like this for the rest of your life. Feeling that you cannot bring yourself up from the depths that you sent your self to. That is the lowest depth of misery

  31. The migraine that has no end.

    My grandfather loved circus peanuts. It was his favorite candy. Must be fresh though. I like them as well.

  32. I don’t think I “like” Circus Peanuts in the sense of, I enjoy eating them for their own sake. But I do like them for their functional purpose: as an aid to staying awake through all-night hacking sessions.

  33. Truly believing God wants to heal someone and that you aren’t praying or living right as you watch them die.

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