“And death took root in that sleep.” : The Death Notebooks, 2.

The Fury of Rain Storms

The rain drums down like red ants,
each bouncing off my window.
These ants are in great pain
and they cry out as they hit,
as if their little legs were only
stitched on and their heads pasted.
And oh they bring to mind the grave,
so humble, so willing to be beat upon
with its awful lettering and
the body lying underneath
without an umbrella.
Depression is boring, I think,
and I would do better to make
some soup and light up the cave.

Depression is boring, and monotonous, but Anne Sexton can write a decade’s worth of poems about being depressed and all I do is consume them greedily!  Why?

I read so much literature by and and about sad women.  I’m in a phase where I refuse to read about sad men, since their sadness is so unimportant and without real sting (the stuff written by greasy 50-something philosophers who drink cognac and sleep with 20-year old college girls with amazing breasts — but they still fear death).

So: I cannot stand this patriarchal existentialism, and I will only consume the purest form of sadness.  But sadness is boring.  It’s the same thing over and over: “I am in pain.  You hurt me.  I hurt myself.”  And I won’t take just any sadness, only the most raw, real, bleeding sadness (it’s the difference between touching a scab and sticking your finger into a canker sore).  On a certain level there’s an element of relatability, an acknowledgment of humanity (you’re no longer the object of desire of the sad aging male poet, nor the woman he rejects for her/your ugliness and abjection — you’re real, central, have consciousness).  And in its rawness (and I guess the shock that comes with it), it’s this kind of writing that makes for better reading.

Part of me feels like to enjoy Anne Sexton is to fetishize women’s sadness, or perhaps to fetishize sadness in general.  She wrote great poems about being sad, and why should we enjoy that, beyond the thrill of recognition or encounter with the strange?  I’m not trying to say that Anne Sexton was nothing but her sadness — we all know she was skilled and covered numerous topics and was exceptionally complex — but my main thought is: how do we enjoy and consume sadness and what does it mean.


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