“–these are feelings that do not pass so easily”

Another random crying jag in the car, courtesy of the ever-reliable VNV Nation. These spells puzzle me – the feeling is real and palpable, but I never know just who, or what, I am grieving for. I have no lack of reasons to cry (does anyone?), but I don’t have to be thinking of anything in particular to find myself suddenly bawling. Nor is it just the effect of a sad song – it comes from somewhere deeper than that.

We are taught to think of grief as something finite, that can be processed over time and done away with, like a flooded basement that can be pumped dry. But it seems to me that when the pain is acute enough, it is like a hole punched through the hull of a ship, through which the waters of unseen oceans rush in. It is as if we become forever after a receptor for seas of grief and loss that underly all of human life, shared by everyone; enormous, world-spanning and inexhaustible. We can bail diligently, but never stem the tide; it dwarfs our petty traumas and wracks us with pangs that are as old as life and love.

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  1. I’ve been listening to a mix CD featuring VNV Nation and Apotgyzma Bezerk. There is one Apop track that keeps making me cry.

    I forget the name, (I think it’s “Unicorn”) but the lyrics are as such…and lately every time I hear the song I begin to cry. Not sad tears of grief. Strange tears of comforted sorrow.

    you hold the candle
    i once led
    you shine your light
    when you forgive
    i cry
    you run your fingers through my hair
    and tell me it’s worthwhile
    it’s all worthwhile

    even when i hate myself
    even when i feel your pain when you cry
    even when my heart is cold
    you assure me it’s worthwhile
    it’s all worthwhile

    you see, see what can’t be seen
    you repair the damage done to me

    1. That’s a beautiful song. It’s moved me whenever I’ve heard it, and I need to get my hands on a copy. Particularly the duet version. I find it particularly moving because it expresses precisely the one thing I always wanted most in a partner: someone to reassure me that it’s all worthwhile.

      1. It does express that wonderfully, doesn’t it?

        Well, if you come over I’ll burn you a copy of the version I have. (I’ll have to look up the duo and see if I can track that one down). But bring a stack of CD blanks and your laptop cause I imagine you’ll want to clone a great many other CDs I have now that my collection is in town.


        I’ve got a dozen gourmet belgium beers and a bag full of small little cups for a beer tasting. But I want at least 6 of us to do it.

        Drink & Burn!!!!


  2. I don’t think grief goes easily (I have not even begun to able to let my Dad “go”… nor am I trying) However, just as a ship can be towed to shore and patched, I think that people can be repaired. Of course, just as the ocean may leave it’s mark, so do people and situations. I would never want my Dad’s “mark” to be gone. I do however hope that at some point, I will be able to make it for a day without feeling overwhelmed by his death. I would not want to be able to simply “be over” things that once grieved me. I would hope that some things change you forever. I would hope not to be sitting on the bottom of the ocean, filled with water and unable to live again.

    1. I would not want to be able to simply “be over” things that once grieved me

      It’s always a strange mix of emotions when I go on these crying jags – grief, of course; but also a powerful sense of gratefulness and relief at being able to cry. Stacey sometimes mentions that there are pills for this sort of thing, but I would hate to medicate away my brief weepy spells. They feel like one of the more important bits of my life; a rare surfacing of something that is truly me, underneath the layers of accumulated cruft. I, too, would never want to be completely “over it”. It is bittersweet, and as much a part of me as the scars on my arms.

  3. You bring to mind a woman I saw on the subway once

    She was sobbing. And the sobbing seemed beyond mere grief. If it were for a beloved, one might have expected the sobbing to dwindle or taper off a little. If it were a doctor visit with a terminal diagnosis, then numb acceptance should perhaps set in.
    No, her wails grew in intensity, and seemed to escape humanity, as if some medication she’d been taking to hold some soul-devouring blackness at bay was wearing off, and she sat being consumed slowly by something out of Lovecraft.

    Sorry about cluttering your journal with that, but your post triggered me, man.

    1. Re: You bring to mind a woman I saw on the subway once

      Powerful story. Sometimes I feel that we are all a step away from what she was doing; protected only by the inability to remotely grok the fullness of the pain and forsakeness in the world.

  4. …how can we forget, what we claimed as ours. That song doesn’t really make me sad oddly. It makes me feel more mellow. Like floating.

    1. As I said to < lj user="tricstmr"> below, “grief” is probably too simple a term for the emotions it evokes.

      What songs make you want to cry, if any?

      1. Whiskey lullaby, at least the first several times I heard it. Three wooden crosses givves me goosebumps, I knwo there are some other’s but thos are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head.

  5. You know…

    I distinctly remember having a related conversation about VNV and crying before…

    One thing I would note is that the song you have referenced, as best as I can tell, is actually the joyful sequel to the far more tragically dark “forsaken” … In Beloved, there is a sense of closure.. of acceptance and of belif in a future reuniting… whereas in foresaken.. there is only desperation and pain.. and guilt…

    In any case.. I admire the depth of your feelings here… mainly because I do not really have the capacity to feel the same…

    Grief and sorrow for me do not seem to be an ocean… and I don’t feel like a receptor for a sea of grief and loss…

    I have grieved at times… usually at the death of someone close to me… but it truly does act like a catharsis for me… it comes.. washes over me.. releases these feelings.. and then is gone again… and it happens with such rarity in my lucky case…

    anyway.. as I said before.. I admire your feelings.. even if I cannot truly grok them at some level…

    1. Re: You know…

      I say “grief” and “sadness”, but in reality the emotions VNV tends to evoke are more complex than that. I totally get the sense of closure and hope in “Beloved”, but that doesn’t make it any less emotional for me. I mist up listening to “Genesis” too, sometimes, particularly at the Apollo clip… and that’s not really a sad thing at all. As best as I can describe it, at those times I’m choking up over the thought of seeing the Earth from space, of being the sum of the dreams of generations of humanity, of giving the gift of that sense of hope and human ascendancy. Similarly, “Beloved” brings up both grief and joy mixed and indistinguishable

      It might be more accurate to say that some music just gets at the core of me, at that core of inexpressible, uncategorizable passion that rarely surfaces.

      1. In that case…

        I do know what you mean…

        It is as if the music touches the very core and essence of you…

        For me.. such moments often come in songs relating to loss/desperation… for example… even though I don’t have anyone to “put into the picture” that the song conjures… Stabbing Westward’s “Waking up beside you” brought me to exactly the state you are talking about in a car ride home just a couple of weeks ago…

  6. It’s the old question… is it me, or the music? Certainly if I had *not* popped that album in, I wouldn’t have found myself crying in the Home Depot parking lot; but on the other hand, if I had been in another frame of mind I would have listened to it without any great show of emotion.

    Ultimately, I’m glad of the release, so I don’t see it as a negative thing.

  7. I can’t listen to Dar Williams “When I Was a Boy” without fighting tears. Seriously, it turns on the waterworks every time. I can’t explain it either.

    1. Perhaps it is an occupational hazard of being a brain in a jar. The emotional pressure has to vent somehow…

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