Is there a name for this? Do you feel this way sometimes?

It’s not easy but I’ll try to explain as far as I understand it myself. I have always had a fascination with the idea of something nice that turns into disarray. Its similar to the idea of human folly, I suppose, but it’s usually focused on something material.

Some examples:
Seeing a large, well-built house starting to fall apart. Algae growing on the exterior, shingles gone missing, yard full of sun-faded plastic kids toys.

A man spending all of his life working and saving in order to afford a precious sculpture that he has admired beyond anything else. When the man dies, his will passes on the sculpture to his son who has no idea what it is and tosses the item in the trash.

The thing is, these statements make me sad but somehow comforted. Is there an name for this feeling? I can’t ever put it into words. It’s a comfortable sadness with a dab of hopelessness

The earliest I can remember thinking about this goes all the way back to being 8 years old. I had a very large kite in the shape of Skeletor. I loved the kite and was terrified to fly it. (Yeah I have this weird thing where I’m not afraid of heights but I’m afraid of looking up high). Finally got up the courage to fly the kite and the wind overtook it, blew it out of my control, and tossed it into a tall tree.


I’m not entirely sure, but to me this sounds at least tangentially-related to Wabi-sabi.


That’s along the same lines but not quite it. However, reading that wiki brought me to this!

Mono-no aware: the ephemeral nature of beauty – the quietly elated, bittersweet feeling of having been witness to the dazzling circus of life – knowing that none of it can last. It’s basically about being both saddened and appreciative of transience – and also about the relationship between life and death

That might be it!!


That beauty which can be found in abandonment, the knowledge that while the accomplishments of humanity may stand of hundreds of years, all is eventually temporary and that is not a problem to be solved, it is something to be embraced on some level.

Which is why I hate the guts of guys like CGP Grey, who think that death is a problem to solve. Part of the distinction of life is it’s capacity to end. If we are to have empathy for the creations of humanity as if they are alive, the ability to let it die is part of that, you know?


And I think that explains why it’s always been focused on something physical. The idea that it will not last, just like our lives. And I understand now why I feel sad, hopeless, and comforted all at the same time. When I see something beautiful I have anxiety because I know it cannot last. I feel comforted once it starts to fall into disarray, because I now know that it’s coming to and end and I no longer have to worry about it.


I never though about this until I found there are actually communities for pictures of old, decrepit places and things. Sounds strange, but I actually find some pictures strangely beautiful. AbandonedPorn on reddit (safe for work despite the title) has a bunch. I like this old power station: no vintage keyboards, but lots of dials and levers!

For me it’s the thinking about the past lives and memories of the people that have moved on, a somewhat warm nostalgic feeling.


I do look at that subreddit every now and then. Lots of beautiful images. The one that I react to the most is the abandonded theme park and beach house. Common houses and office buildings don’t trigger the same emotions for me. Something about building a space solely for people to enjoy themselves only to have it go forgotten.


The Japanese sense of aesthetics has a major focus on the ephemeral, and on things being beautiful because they are temporary (think cherry blossoms). So that’s certainly similar to what you’re describing.

I’d file it under existentialism.

Enjoy what you can, when you can.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
This is my endgame.


I recently ran across this article that talks about similar feelings as they relate to architecture (abandoned buildings and ruined industrial sites), from an aesthetic philosophy perspective.

Some of the terms she uses from various historical authors are:

  • “the sublime” (Edmund Burke, 1756), large, endless, magnificent, or otherwise impressive things causing a feeling like terror or awe
  • “sharawadgi” (William Temple, 1692), supposedly a Chinese word for beauty without order
  • “the picturesque” (Uvedale Price, 1794), something once conventionally beautiful that has become rough and irregular with time

I don’t know if any of those completely sum up the feeling, but the article does go into a lot of detail about the reasons people feel that way about ruined architecture.


I’ll give it a read! Thanks.

You put it so eloquently!
This is a very random thread but I like the vibe.

I think sometimes this feeling even relates to the feeling in an inception sort of way as well. For example, I might have dreams about a board I want to put together and then do it and really like it. But then that joy fades away too but I can still look back on the feeling of joy I had for it and glean joy from that memory of joy itself. I dunno if that makes sense…

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For me, I think feeling this way also embodies the relief we feel when something is far past the point of fixing, and we are released from the burden of maintaining perfection. This also has an air of sadness as we morn what we could not collectively sustain.


Well said

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