Friday, March 6, 2015

Don't Let Me Be Lonely

Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine is a beautiful reflection on mortality and subjectivity in the late post-modern contemporary age. It is a prose poem divided into segments which are separated by images, usually a TV screen filled with static. The static seems to represent the noise of the larger commercial world that we are continually bombarded with and through which and in spite of which we strive to find perspective.

The writer's voice is filled with a warm sadness; it creates a gentle intimacy with the reader. The writer's subject is condition of being a body in the social world. Don't Let Me Be Lonely contains both longing and acceptance, mourning and loss, and finding "in this life in this place indicating the presence of."

An excerpt:

"It occurs to me that forty could be half my life or it could be all my life. On the television I am told I don't want to look like I am forty. Forty means I might have seen something hard, something unpleasant, or something dead. I might have seen it and lived beyond it in time. Or I might have squinted my eyes too many times in order to see it, I might have turned my face to the sun in order to look away. I might actually have been alive. With injections of Botox, short for botulism toxin, it seems I can see or be seen without being seen; I can age without aging. I have the option of worrying without looking like I worry. Each day of this life I could bite or shake doubt as if to injure or kill without looking as if anything mattered to me. I could paralyze facial muscles that cause wrinkles. All those worry and frown lines would disappear. I could purchase paralysis. I could choose that. Eventually paralysis would sink in, become a deepening personality that need not, like Enron's 'distorting factors,' distort my appearance. I could be all that seems, or rather I could be all that I am -- fictional. Ultimately I could face reality undisturbed by my own mortality."

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