Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Lament: A Few Preliminary Prods
Only man laments. Animals feel pain and express sorrow, but not as we do (although they often deserve our pity). They do not carry these sorrows in the souls, write poems with them in mind, cry out or turn against heaven in their wake. We do all this, as well as philosophize about our painful memories, questions, and accusations. We address God, world, man, and nature--our pain in full--in silent thoughts, by whispers mouthed alone, prayers prayed through tears, through shouts in the public square, as we write books, read books, hurl books across the room, rip books to shreds in fits of pointless passion.
Lamentation is an inescapable mode of the human being, yet humans seldom fathom its depths or mine its resources. No one pursues lament, engaging deliberately in lamentable activities. Yet lament pursues us, dogs us, gets under out skin and refuses to be sweat out, cleaned off, or cleared away. It is in our bones, sometimes as fire, sometimes as rot, sometimes as both at the same time.
It is not simple anger, nor is it simple sorrow; but is rather a strange mixture of both brought to the point of reflection, analysis, and heightened anguish.