Is Sadness Enough?

Attending a talk I am asked if writing is enough. It’s a simple question and I stumble through the answer moving from ‘of course it’s enough’ to ‘maybe I can do more.’ I wonder what more is. Behind closed doors the feeling of inadequacy dripsInadequate from leaking taps.

It is impossible to feel safe.

Safety is an illusion that we create for ourselves. A caricature of security that we have imagined into reality. A friend talks about poverty and the structures that create it. The system was never broken, it does the work that it was made to do.

Even within the spaces we have created and dubbed safe – I stumble. Vulnerability is not a good colour on me (is it the charcoal on the oil paint – class is unaffordable). I think about safe spaces. I wonder about whose safety is spoken about. Safe from whom, and for whom? The work of empathy is that. Work. Of. Empathy. I am constantly reminded of my privilege. I am constantly reminded of my lack of privilege. In limbo.

How low can you go?

Lower than a black woman? In conversation a friend says “I will always be a black African woman – something many people can’t comprehend.” There are not one, but many silences. What is read as a bold statement can easily be used to create the erasure of other statement. On twitter a person asks why all the queer people are rich and famous.

“do not engage.”

“do not engage.”

No matter how many times it’s said I still find myself hitting reply more often than I should. I understand why people take breaks from the internet. I don’t think I’m capable of one.

It is impossible to feel safe.

A father cried. This is an impossible image. The idea of the hyper-masculine male doesn’t allow me to imagine a father crying. The idea of the hyper-masculine male doesn’t imagine it can allow me to imagine. The idea of a hyper-masculine male has no imagination.

Can you go lower than a poor black woman? The idea of a strong poor black woman does not allow me to imagine her crying. Sorrow, it seems, is a privilege.

4 thoughts on Is Sadness Enough?

  1. I imagine a strong man whose crying betrays his privilege, a strong woman whose crying makes her stronger – whose crying makes us all stronger. We are undone by sorrow and remade through tears. But, no, it is not enough.

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  2. Definitely not (quite the opposite, sometimes), but I do think it can be.

    Perhaps the questions become, what does crying do, for whom and and in what context? What else might crying do and how?

    I doubt we will discover a revolutionary politics in tears, but I suspect tears and sorrow will always be a part of revolutionary politics.

    (Keeping in mind, as Walter Benjamin warned, tears are a strategy of fascism as well.)

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