Mood Rooms and Mary Cappello

December 19, 2016 § Leave a comment


Mary Cappello

Julija Šukys continues her interview series “CNF Conversations” this month talking with Mary Cappello about her new book, Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack. Šukys and Cappello discuss day breaks and breaking into song, breaking of a silence, slow reading, meandering, the almanack as literary form, readerly inclinations, the slow reveal, Ben Franklin and Djuna Barnes, non-knowledge, useless knowledge, contemporary affectlessness, hiding in full light, feelingful faces, ASMRs, minimalism and excess, mood disorders or attention shifts, moods as residues of familial feeling, mood and essaying, reading rooms, the universal mood room, anger rooms, hallucinogens, South Philly picture windows, and walnut dioramas.

Here’s an excerpt, followed by a link to the complete interview:

Early in the book, I ask that we “consider a relation between moods and rooms as reciprocal: we experience moods as containers of ourselves and we create rooms in their image at the same time that we create rooms to alter our sense of those invisible containers: our moods.” I believe that if we were asked to think about it, we’d each be able to identify the rooms—significant architectures—that helped to constitute us as feeling subjects in the world; each of us has our own repertoire of rooms that have shaped the sort of feeling beings we have become.

Mood rooms are there for the asking, and they are definitely something to seek out and to create, alone and together. Since writing the book, my partner and I or friends and I will find ourselves somewhere and suddenly remark, “That’s a mood room!” or we’ll understand a place retrospectively now as a mood room. Now, I feel like I’m always on the look out for them, and there are so many I didn’t even try to write about in the book, from an unusual cemetery in Berlin to a an opera house the size of a trailer in Munich.

Recently, post-election, this week, at least, I’ve found myself desiring a very dark, cove-like, cave-like room in a library where I can do nothing but read, read, and read. In solitude. And without a computer screen. Books, not brightly-shining digital files. But I’d also love to be with people and engage in real discussion about what’s going on—again, over and against FB chatting and web surfing.

Just today I read an article in the New York Times about the phenomenon of “anger rooms,” and I wondered if the Times thought reporting on such rooms was timely given the combination fear of and predictions of Americans’ anger, past, present, and still-to-come—the anger that was the supposed motivator of the outcome of the election; and the anger that the outcome is fueling; and the anger that will erupt when none of the president-elect’s more benign promises comes to pass. Anger rooms, by the way, are businesses that have sprung up that offer a consumer the chance to smash objects—often enough computer parts, but not only—with things like baseball bats for a nominal fee. I want to say that such places are the opposite of mood rooms and more like impulse management padded cells. The idea of them scares the shit out of me, but this could be because my father smashed things in our house constantly and it never put him in a better mood. Once objects fail to do the trick, people who find release by assaulting the physical world eventually move onto living things. Jerk-off rooms like this are not the sort of mood rooms I’m interested in cultivating.

You can read the full interview at

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