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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hussalonia Song # 20: If I Could Only Shed A Tear

"I'd learn to write sad stories / and make it a career / and I'd feel a whole lot better / if I could only shed a tear."

I've written already of finding it easy to relate to certain robots and statements from "The Hussalonia Robot Singers," and to that list I must add this verse, if not the entire song. That is, if I'm hearing it correctly. I generally have little to no trouble understanding the robots' voices, but I'm not entirely sure if the lyric actually is "and make it a career." The second Hussalonia Robot Singers album comes with a handy lyric book, but as the original has no such thing, I can only assume my understanding of the lyrics is correct. So, assuming that the lyric is here transcribed correctly, I say again: it is very relatable.

This blog has already included a number of mentions of my anxiety with my writing "career" as I seem to find references to a similar internal struggle over art vs. making a living/crowd-pleasing and corporate pandering (or "pop vs. popular" to borrow one of Hussalonia's memorable slogans) throughout the entire body of Hussalonia's work. This particular line doesn't relate to that specifically, but it certainly brings it to mind again.

Now, the refrain of this song, "If I Could Only Shed A Tear," that's something I relate to as well.

I recall crying on a number of occasions as a child. Most children do cry with at least some frequency, and this is quite normal; in fact it might very well be distressing for it to be otherwise in a particular case. I recall crying during a number of times that I was depressed, generally fueled by anxiety about death, and to some extent the future. As mentioned on a recent entry, this kind of anxiety has affected me less sharply as I've gotten older. I also remember crying when having to get shots at the doctor as a child; one of the last few times I got a shot at the doctor I remember laughing, because the radio was playing "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire and I associate that song with a bizarre in-joke. I also remember finding the nurse taking the blood sample physically attractive. Quite a difference between the two times in my life, indeed.

It seems that I don't cry very easily these days. Sometimes it bothers me when I find myself having little emotional reaction to things which I ought to, such as stories of tragedies. It also bothers me that even when it makes me sad to hear of the death of someone, my first instinct is, confusingly, to laugh. I recall this happening once in high school when I was thinking about a girl who died in a car wreck; I found myself compelled to laugh even though I was actually very sad about it and didn't see anything in it to laugh about. Perhaps this is some sort of subconscious, existential reaction to the absurdities of life and death. Perhaps it is a psychological defense mechanism to keep me from feeling sadness too intensely. It is troubling, either way.

I recall crying at my great-grandfather's funeral. I did not cry at my great-grandmother's funeral, however; not because of any negative feeling or lack of feeling for her, though. She died after many years of Alzheimer's disease, and so by the time of her actual death she, as I had known her, had faded from my life. In some way it softens the blow of losing someone. In another sense, it robs you of a proper goodbye. I can't say I regret having the impact lessened, but I can't say I don't regret that lack of a real goodbye, either.

So what, lately, has caused me to shed a tear? It seems that I'm more apt to get emotional about fiction than real-life events. I did shed a tear when I saw the Johnny Cash video for "Hurt" when it was first released. I believe I got choked up at the end of the anime series "Cowboy Bebop." Speaking of anime, which for too many years I foolishly dismissed as a useless genre of junk, I don't think any other single director has caused an emotional reaction in me quite like Satoshi Kon. "Tokyo Godfathers" is a film I consider one of the all-time best, and it gets to me every time I watch it. When I first saw "Millennium Actress," I didn't care for it that much and considered it inferior to "Tokyo Godfathers" and "Paprika." Yet a second viewing changed my mind. At the end of the third viewing, I felt that I finally, fully "got it" and was, admittedly, holding back some tears at the end, and now I consider it another one of the all-time greatest films. Certain episodes, mainly those near the end of the television series "Paranoia Agent" also became emotional viewing experiences for me. Kon was a master. He got one less cry out of me last August when he posted his farewell message to the world, revealing that he had been diagnosed with cancer in May and died on August 24th, 2010. His farewell message, which I discovered only a day or two after being informed of his death, is one of the most moving things I have ever read, and I highly encourage you to seek one of the many translations kindly provided at various blogs and websites. If I ever return to my other blog, I intend to write about Satoshi Kon and his work quite often and in detail.

Back to the general subject of the song, the inability to shed a tear and feeling bad about it, I'm reminded of another recent experience which I'd prefer not to go into too much detail about, but which I would like to mention anyway. I recently had the experience of reconnecting with someone I used to have strong feelings for many years ago, and found that, though the outward aspects of our relationship resumed as if nothing had changed, I no longer felt so strongly. This, I found, was very disappointing, even though the way things used to be didn't ultimately create any particular, positive result. I've felt a sort of hollowness since (though lately somewhat abated) and a sense of disenchantment; not that she was not who I thought she was, but that I've lost the ability to feel inspired by her in the same way as she is, perhaps unable to make of the relation what I liked, through the use of self-deceptive fictions, or at least so far it has been that way. It hasn't been terrible overall, but there is certainly emptiness in that regard that hangs over my head. Such is life, and I'd feel a whole lot better if I could only shed a tear.

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