Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Night

Have I told you about a class on existentialism that I took in high school?

I remember more about it than you think, considering that was a VERY long time ago - we read Man's Search for Meaning; we read the book The Little Prince, and also watched the movie (I was definitely of the disposition in those days to prefer the book, which I considered very profound, and to scorn those who preferred the movie); someone asked me for the first time why I wasn't afraid that I might go to hell (actually, hell had never even occurred to me, let alone frightened me); and I failed the paper on What Is God To Me, which I had not taken at all seriously and which got returned with just a red "no" written across the top.

But what has really stuck with me from the class was The Theory of Sunday Night Ennui. Did anyone else learn this as an actual theory? I cant remember the philosopher who proposes it, but basically the theory goes that Sunday night is the lowest point of the week for modern man. (Language purposely left in the uninclusive style in which I learned this theory). He looks back over the week that has passed and realizes how little he has accomplished. He looks ahead at the week to come and the meaninglessness of the tasks that lie before him. He falls into a state of mingled anxiety and despair. In those days, how I relished a macabre, fatalistic theory like this! And how I LOVED the word ennui, which I said over and over - aaahhhhnnnnnwwweeee. If I'd been a smoker, I would have taken a big drag on a clove cigarrette while I said it.

Now, twenty years later, it's possible we could fall into Sunday Night Ennui, but we are saved each week by standing dinner plans, which we have with our closest friends every Sunday night. We barely had time to get out of the habit of it after the big move from Seattle last summer, because a couple of months later our friends moved here too and we picked up right where we left off.

We try not to schedule other things on Sunday nights - sometimes someone proposes it for a meeting or special service or something and I say, as firmly as a person who has a hard time saying no can, "I really try to save Sunday night for my family." It's usually pretty chaotic, and the food is not fancy, but no matter what there is always a very sweet moment as we all hear or sing a blessing for the food and express gratitude for the Sabbath time.

Sometimes I'm out of sorts - lonely or gloomy or sad or angry- even on a Sunday. But ennui? On a Sunday Night? Never.

4 comments:

more cows than people said...

what a sweet tradition.

i'd never heard of sunday night ennui, though I did like the word ennui in high school. i can't believe they taught existentialism in your high school.

Sue said...

Interesting. I wouldn't call my typical Sunday night a time of "ennui" (good word). Typically, it's more of a sigh of relief and contentment followed by napping. I liken the feeling to that of an athlete who has finished a race. I might feel sore and spent, but it was a good race.

And yes, there's another race next week. (Usually. Not so much these days, but you know what I mean...)

otis said...

In Edward Gorey's macabre alphabet book he says "N is for Neville, who died of ennui."

Diane said...

I've heard of Sunday night ennui. although not by name. I like the tradition...:)