Questioning the “universality” of Death

October 28th, 2007 § 1 comment

When I tell people, as an explanation for specific recent work, that my best friend died last year they have a variety of reactions, but I can count upon receiving self-assured commiseration. There seems to be a prevalent attitude from such sympathizers that, while they may not understand the particulars they can understand the devastation. This seems reasonable at first thought, but when considered seriously it shows how meaningless death can become when it is not in any way related to ourselves. Answering such questions as could this work be seen as therapy forced me to seriously reconsider given sympathies, and question the extent to which a person can allow themself to grasp an unpleasant situation when the shattering nature of it has not been directly felt. Whether it is a hard worked at selfishness or an innate limitation of the human capacity to “feel” (I sometimes wonder if it is necessary to function as I can hardly stand to watch a plant wilt) there seems to be a clear line of how much I can understand of such situations for others and therefore others of mine. Watching the French film Joyeux Noel I cringed the moment the differing forces entered the battlefield made neutral by the appearance of Christmas. Knowing nothing of warfare and disregarding notions about the films “accuracy” I guessed or felt this holiday from war was going to make it nearly impossible for them to kill each other the following morning. Could this zone of personal interaction be lacking in discussions around and reactions to work dealing with death and loss of an unusual and intimate kind? I wonder about these notions of imposed limitation while fully acknowledging the fault could lie in my execution and explanation of these ideas. If these limitations are a truthful part of human nature, however defined, why then is there such a predilection toward false emotion and deference? Is it simply the upholding of a cultural custom, similar to the question “how are you?” that is asked without the slightest fear of it being answered? A wince and exclamation of “so young” can be surprisingly more honest than dismissive questions or an unhealthy curiosity for details—“how large was the tumor?”

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“All the worlds a Stage”

September 17th, 2007 § 0 comments

For me today was irrevocably wretched since yesterday.

I am without words. There is something bubbling inside me, I can feel it, but it does not feel like something savory. It seems to be made up of everything I hate about life and the world, and everything I love about him. Disgusting, I can’t eat or drink it.

Jackie said…. “and sometimes it just hurts.” When I can’t believe away the truth I am left with pain. A horrible and bittersweet pain that does not seem to have an end, but that can not go on infinitely either. It begins when it does and disappears in the same manner. I can’t control it anymore than I can stop feeling it.

They don’t know, they have forgotten, they don’t remember. You can’t go around reminding people what day it is, and yet I want to. I need to. A year ago I shut my phone, disbelieving, and again I seem to need confirmation. The pain seems to come as much from the fact that I must get up, make art, go to school tomorrow and think of inconsequential things, as it does from knowing I will never hear his voice outside my head.

I saw this memorial in Philly this weekend and it reminded me of you. Is it a small comfort or no comfort at all that you are still somehow a part of my world?


I Forgot to Remember to Forget

July 9th, 2007 § 3 comments

I have come to find that there is a distinct difference between remembering and feeling haunted by that remembrance, although I am not quite sure what provokes these different reactions to grief. I think about him everyday I am sure at least once, but usually in a casual way; a thought pops into my head, I hear an old Dylan song, a joke comes floating back momentarily, I catch his face looking at me from the pictures on my bedroom mirror or glowering as I close the fridge after pulling out an item to eat. It is a fleeting moment usually, but enough, satisfying in the way an unrecognized moment, second even, of happiness is. Then there are the feelings that arrive through inevitably dwelling not on a memory or a thought, but on details; a sort of systematic dissection of collided lives, in which a real relationship that existed once becomes like a story in a book, without sentimental feeling but filled with judgment. The dissection turns into a torture of questions, in which decisions that have long since been made are changed for the sake of imagining a different outcome. This leads always and only to frustrated and angry depression. The latter set of feelings have become less and less frequent as time has passed, I rely more on the former experience of memory, but a renewed effort in the studio of last semesters theme has forced, by shear contact, the haunting I dislike. There is no defense or possible escape from it, the only consolation can come from people that I can’t approach, I loath the selfishness of even thinking about telling someone that I miss their brother or son.

In a recent dream I knew that if I could not find him before he came back, he was off somewhere for an extended period of time, someplace I got the impression he did not want to be (with doctors), he would not come back at all. I was looking frantically for him, for information that could tell me where he was, for someone to let me see him…I awoke to the realization that the thing I was trying to prevent, had, in reality, happened to me almost a year ago now. I wonder if this work has ceased to be productive, or rather, since I like the way it looks, if it is worth the feelings it dredges up.

The Trench

April 12th, 2007 § 0 comments

Why now, shouldn’t I be adjusting and getting used to the situation, why it is now a daily struggle to keep ones mind from dwelling? And perhaps that is just it, I am getting used to it, there is no longer that air of mystery, that intense feeling of disbelief, that overpowering sense of shock and dismay pushing away the truth.

“I miss him whether I remember him or not….”

When it first happened I was terrified that what I remembered was not enough, I was lost thinking about all the moments I could have forgotten, and was desperate to think hard about what I could not conjure up. Then someone said to me, “don’t try and remember you will remember and it will be….” and that is also true, I do remember and now it seems like far too much. When several months ago forgetting seem too painful an idea to handle, now remembering seems worse. If I can’t remember specifics perhaps I will just have a vague feeling of numbness about the whole affair, which may relieve the current sharpness of details; a laugh, a joke, a look.

Mom says they call the 1 year mark “the trench”, I am not sure exactly why, but it sounds foreboding and we are not even there yet.

The suspension of disbelief I had is gone, that surreal idea that he never would walk through the door again, never call again, the nevers go on and on and on, they seem possible now, even believable. And it is the most depressing thing.

July 25 1979-September 17 2006

October 11th, 2006 § 0 comments

Can one day be both wonderful and completely horrible? It must be possible because it was. Jackie and I stood outside looking at the backyard, all ready for the memorial later that night, and she told me about the night he died. We were grave, but it was such a nice day, it was not so sad. I looked out at the lawn and said it all looked nice, she agreed, and then said she wished it was a wedding instead. We laughed and agreed that would have been better. As Shem pointed out later when I told him, it’s a different kind of drunk you get at weddings.

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