Keats and Referred Pain

The life of John Keats the man: his family, his friends, and his contemporaries.

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Keats and Referred Pain

Postby Malia » Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:47 pm

OK, crazy topic, I know ;), but I wasn't quite sure how to put this issue. I have found--from talking to people and from my own personal experience--that reading Keats's letters and biography (and to a certain extent, his poems) can be a painful experience especially when reading about the tragedy of his illness and last days. One of my professors back at Whitman said he felt such anguish when reading about Keats's last days that he couldn't approach the material without shedding tears. In class, when we were to read one of Keats's anguished love letters to Fanny Brawne written the summer of 1820, he asked if one of the students would read it because he knew he wouldn't be able to complete it without breaking down. (Of course you can probably guess the student who volunteered for the task! ;) )

I have found that whenever I read about Keats's last days, I get a strange tingligng pain in the fleshy area between my right thumb and forefinger. The tingling pain grows and spreads up my arm as I read--to the point where my arm weakens and I can hardly keep a "grip"--literally! I don't cry or feel like "breaking down" when I read about his tragic end, but the pain seems to be referred to my writing hand. (Strange kind of sympathetic "writer's" response, I guess!)

Does anyone else out there feel a sense of pain when they of read Keats's last days? Or do you get a referred pain like I do? Or am I just a completely hopeless Keats nerd? :lol:
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Postby korenbloem » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:05 pm

I had a professor who could not read Plato's description of Socrates last hours without breakingdown.
Saw it with my own eyes twice.
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Postby dks » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:35 pm

Are you kidding?

I can't even recite the first few lines of Nightingale without starting to cry...I can't look at him for too long without starting to cry, I certainly can't read the 1819-1820 letters to Fanny without breaking down...

I'm mental... :shock: :oops:
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Postby Saturn » Mon Oct 23, 2006 10:32 pm

dks wrote:Are you kidding?

I can't even recite the first few lines of Nightingale without starting to cry...I can't look at him for too long without starting to cry, I certainly can't read the 1819-1820 letters to Fanny without breaking down...

I'm mental... :shock: :oops:


Most of Keats' worka nd especially his letters move me to tears every time.

The again I AM mentally unstable...

There are many things I can no longer read, films I can no longer watch which are in fact dangerous to my mental health to read or watch. Some music is just too unbearable to listen to - Schubert and Beethoven's late works destroy me every time I can no longe listen to them.

This is the emotional rollercoaster which is manic depression my friends... :?
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Postby dks » Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:56 am

You're a tuning fork of sorts where art is concerned, Stephen. You've a built in receptor for it, sounds like... :shock:
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Postby Saturn » Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:15 am

If I had had a 'normal' life I don't think I would ever have read or written a line of poetry at all.

Whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen.

People don't understand mental illness very well at all.

I'm sure many people reading this immediately think of axe-weilding psychopaths in Hollywood movies or characters in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest.

No-one can tell the great and sometimes overwhelming empathy and compassion people with mental illnesses have for others and for the world in general. We often have more love for others than ourselves.

It's like that beautiful line in the film American Beauty when he says
'Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in."


Sometimes I wish I were less susceptible to bursting into tears at the drop of a hat :?

Sorry for the rather off-topic ramble but that's how my crazy mind works.
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Postby greymouse » Wed Oct 25, 2006 3:40 pm

Malia wrote:I have found that whenever I read about Keats's last days, I get a strange tingligng pain in the fleshy area between my right thumb and forefinger. The tingling pain grows and spreads up my arm as I read--to the point where my arm weakens and I can hardly keep a "grip"--literally! I don't cry or feel like "breaking down" when I read about his tragic end, but the pain seems to be referred to my writing hand. (Strange kind of sympathetic "writer's" response, I guess!)


Wow, that's pretty interesting! It doesn't surprise me, since this seems like a topic close to your heart. Maybe it carries some kind of further meaning that hasn't yet fully revealed itself.

I think a lot of people experience abnormal hypersensitive reactions to certain works of art. It goes without saying that Keats fans are likely to be sensitive folks since he taps into this. There's a Philip Glass piano piece that makes me see an unpopulated city with buildings close together and blinding light. Who knows what the heck that is all about!

It's just odd to read Keats' This Living Hand and to think about what your describing though. :shock:
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Postby dks » Wed Oct 25, 2006 6:27 pm

I don't think it odd in the least.

I consider those who do not experience these reactions to be the more un-normal.

I refrained from using the correct prefix there purposefully.
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Postby Richard » Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:11 pm

Too much Steven
Yes, its comes down to the discipline of continually questioning reality, and by that fractional compass, (always seeking) degrees of tides turn, and to be really hackneyed new worlds navigated. :o
Mad or what :wink:

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my avatar still won't go :cry:
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Postby AhDistinctly » Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:09 pm

Great topic, Malia!

The ability to appreciate other people's agony is achieved by the same parts of the brain that we use to experience pain for ourselves.

Just today a friend was telling me about her dad's knee surgery. When she described it, my own knees literally buckled. And I'm not squeamish in the least!

I googled the topic and came up with a couple interesting articles, including this one from New Science:

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4700
...perched and sat and nothing more...
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Postby Malia » Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:11 pm

AhDistinctly wrote:Great topic, Malia!

The ability to appreciate other people's agony is achieved by the same parts of the brain that we use to experience pain for ourselves.

Just today a friend was telling me about her dad's knee surgery. When she described it, my own knees literally buckled. And I'm not squeamish in the least!

I googled the topic and came up with a couple interesting articles, including this one from New Science:

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4700


Interesting! So, is that the reason when anyone talks about head lice, I always feel like itching? Not that I have head lice conversations with people very often. . . :lol:
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Postby AhDistinctly » Fri Oct 27, 2006 2:37 am

Malia wrote:Interesting! So, is that the reason when anyone talks about head lice, I always feel like itching? Not that I have head lice conversations with people very often. . . :lol:


Hmmm. {scratches head}


:lol:
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