melancholy, the contemplation of the movement of misfortune, has nothing in common with the wish to die. It is a form of resistance. And this is emphatically so at the level of art, where it is anything but reactive or reactionary. When, with rigid gaze, [melancholy] goes over again just how things could have happened, it becomes clear that the dynamic of inconsolability and that of knowledge are identical in their execution. The description of misfortune includes within itself the possibility of its own overcoming.
Sebald, untranslated foreword to a volume of his own essays