> Sadness is like absence

Sadness is like absence

Par |2019-01-23T12:43:33+00:00 30 juin 2012|Catégories : Essais|

The moment when a per­son is stri­cken by the pre­sence of sad­ness. People can car­ry it around in them­selves all day long and they don’t know if they are afraid to define that sad­ness or is it just that exis­ten­tial anxious­ness. But from time to time eve­ry inner com­pass stops sho­wing north and where the unique coor­di­nates are that sur­round all its tiny, alrea­dy cros­sed paths as well as those other, most­ly fic­ti­tious paths. Actually it only reco­gnizes it eve­ry now and then because it is always present.

I can’t think of a more beau­ti­ful and more real des­crip­tion of sad­ness than that in the sto­ry cal­led Sadness by A. P. Chekhov. A suf­fe­ring coach­man has no one to talk to about his sad­ness and the sto­ry about the exter­nal cir­cum­stances that cau­sed this pas­sive fee­ling is of no impor­tance. The only thing that makes sense is the sto­ry about coin­ci­den­tal details and unk­nown people. In these two cate­go­ries the sad­ness may spill into an imper­so­nal sea and a final indif­fe­rence, but not into a sun­set. This son, the son of the man, Jon’s son died and there is the cold Russian win­ter, exact­ly like the win­ter we ima­gine in a roman­tic speech of a lite­ra­ture pro­fes­sor or in a sugar-coa­ted movie : The night is long too and there is no place for the sto­ry or the coachman’s lamen­ta­tion — except in the pre­sence of ani­mals, the always present com­fort for the lone­ly. Sadness is silent, so it doesn’t fit the people’s lan­guage, it does not occur, when you talk about it, but it occurs in a com­ple­te­ly unim­por­tant, banal moment like for example the noise of some unex­pec­ted guests, the time spend on the sub­way or the cat­ching laugh of someone. Or a group of mer­ry, per­haps a lit­tle bit drunk people, whose voices sound across an emp­ty street…

Sadness is still present, but it is dis­per­sed into per­iods of obli­vion. It’s not appro­priate to write about sad­ness, there’s nothing to say about it or just a few things per­haps, as if the emp­ti­ness changes into ano­ther emp­ti­ness. Sadness is like absence, like the absence of a per­son, whose name is only a sha­dow and a memo­ry. Nevertheless, sad­ness does not equal fear, because sad­ness appears as a Post Festum of all pos­sible expe­riences, or, again, the lack of it. Fear is the expe­rience in the world of sad­ness, which resembles an absent ghost. I only saw a sto­ry once that couldn’t be tit­led any­thing else but “Sadness”. There it resembles a wave that is nei­ther roa­ring nor does it disap­pear but is again and again fla­shing over an almost slee­ping land­scape we are loo­king at. It gives us com­fort, because it lets us for­get our own sad­ness. Jon’s son could be our son, the son of God, present and absent, dead, but very much alive in his father and in our memen­to mori, as wise phi­lo­so­phers of ancient times would say. Remembering death, live seems as dis­tant as the untou­ched constel­la­tions, from there we are pro­tec­ted from any kind of sad­ness.

 But sad­ness means silence, which is a para­dox in itself because silence is almost a sub­stance that accu­mu­lates either in the past or in the plan­ned future. It is true that sad­ness can also be the future, an uncu­red virus or a cell com­pound in which a whole micro­cosm of orga­nisms is drow­ning. And there is just one sad­ness, although it might look like it consists of many, at first sight dif­ferent rea­sons, in the end it is always just one, ins­tinc­ti­ve­ly implan­ted : it doesn’t exist without a body. But it is not phy­si­cal. To extin­guish a body means to extin­guish the conscious­ness of sad­ness, but the sad­ness remains, because the body exists that is once going to be extin­gui­shed. Is sad­ness our in advance extin­gui­shed body ? Or is sad­ness the conscious­ness of the body, inde­pendent from the mind ?

Jon doesn’t need to be real to become the flag bea­rer of sad­ness. When we step out on the street, we can see how many sad people wan­der around our cities. What can be said to these acci­den­tal­ly tou­ched people. Is eve­ry­thing ok with your sad­ness ? It exists, don’t wor­ry?! It is all around us ! The thought of that makes my hands cold and it feels like tiny pieces of ice are accu­mu­la­ting in my ears, cooling my ear­drums. And my eye cavi­ties fade away like a win­ter land­scape. Absence. And the absence of sound.

And this conscious­ly sad or uncons­cious­ly sad man meets an aban­do­ned dog, someone who is like him, a par­ti­ci­pant in the unde­fi­ned, but always present fee­ling. However, he chases the dog away, swea­ring and cur­sing it like he’s cha­sing an unplea­sant ghost. An ant runs by and the man unk­no­win­gly tramples it to death and the cat gets hit by a car… When it comes to others we are blind, but the numb sad­ness stays with us. It only gets spilled when our skin spreads like a snowy wing.

Jon’s son isn’t sad any­more. His heart is war­med with meta­phy­sics, but he doesn’t even know about it, when some new seed of life is alrea­dy war­ming his heart and at the same time a new sad­ness is rising.

Can sad­ness be beau­ti­ful ? Like the death bride of roman­tic poets.


Translation from Serbian : Kozlevčar