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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On Crying

posted by on October 17 at 14:14 PM

“Are gay men allowed to cry?” Eli Sanders asked me a month ago, and I promised to provide an answer within a month. That month has passed and this is the answer I have for him: no. Absolutely no. Why? Because—and women, though I don’t speak for you (yet), please pay close attention—crying is base, low, and primitive (in the unloaded sense of that word), which is why babies do it all of the time.

Now, what we need to do is make a clear distinction between two human states: one, emotional; two, feelings. Which is the higher state and which is the lower one? Emotions are certainly lower and feelings are by far higher. Feelings are developed over time, and, as the neurologist Antonio Damasio has pointed out, possible only in animals with the capacity to remember, to reflect on what is remembered, and to refine those rough memories into “precious memories,” as the great Sister Rosetta Tharpe once called them.

I’ll give you cry babies this: Emotions are the foundation, the ground, the soil for the development of feelings. But, and this is a crucial but, once you have outgrown emotions, which are useful to babies because they can’t talk, they must be abandoned (in the same way playing with toys is abandoned) and the adult must move on to the vast and dark sea of feelings. Emotions, which can be found even in worms, are incapable of making real art (and there is such a thing as real art), only feelings can produce something like the opening of Shostakovich’s “3. Largo” in his Symphony 5.

Leave crying to babies and become who you are—an adult! (Americans have the hardest time with this adult/children distinction, which is understandable. It is a consequence of socialization that the majority of Americans worship and stay stuck in childhood. When having to pick between ruling over children or adults, America’s dominant socializing machine, capitalism, will invariably pick the former, which is why 50 Cent is a millionaire and Cecil Taylor is unknown.)

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Posted by charles | October 17, 2006 2:34 PM

"Feelings are developed over time, and, as the neurologist Antonio Damasio has pointed out, possible only in animals with the capacity to remember, to reflect on what is remembered, and to refine those rough memories into “precious memories,” as the great Sister Rosetta Tharpe once called them."

So the pity I feel for you and your view of the world is valid?


Posted by Chris B | October 17, 2006 2:39 PM

What if one does not cry as a reflexive response to base emotion but rather as a consciously intitiated response to well cultivated feelings--let us say following a deep empathy toward an expression in a particular artistic work? In this way, can crying itself be artful?

Posted by Nick | October 17, 2006 2:40 PM

What about during Chevy Silverado commercials, with John Cougar Mellencamp extolling the greatness of America? Can we cry then?

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2006 2:42 PM

I cry when I eat really, really good barbecue. Is that OK?

I never expected to see Sister Rosetta Tharpe's name on the slog, and if I had, it CERTAINLY wouldn't have been in THIS context.

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2006 2:43 PM

I cry all the fucking time—99 percent of the time it's because of art, but sometimes it's because of onions.

Posted by David Schmader | October 17, 2006 2:51 PM

Sorry, Charles, I don't get it. Are you saying it's never OK to cry or that it's OK to cry only when based on feelings? I routinely cry to the Largo of Shostakovich’s 5th.

Posted by Polka Party | October 17, 2006 3:01 PM

You know, you're right - repression is a great thing. Look what it's done for generations before us.

Posted by Geni | October 17, 2006 3:09 PM

I never expected to see Daniel Damasio's name on the slog, and if I had, it CERTAINLY wouldn't have been in THIS context. Charles, please keep your philosobabble far far away from the realm of neuroscience, you can't handle that kind of heat.

Posted by LikesBrains | October 17, 2006 3:25 PM

Babies don't cry. They scream and wail. They usually scream and wail to let the world know that they're hungry, cold, or have just shit themselves.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 17, 2006 3:35 PM

Seriously, Chuck, did you expect the response this time to be any different from the last time you posted this drivel?

Posted by BC | October 17, 2006 3:37 PM

This is bullshit.

Crying is a natural mechanism for psychological release. Suppressing tears just makes someone a neurotic asshole.

Posted by Kevin Erickson | October 17, 2006 3:40 PM

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2006 3:47 PM
Posted by charles | October 17, 2006 4:05 PM

I didn't even cry when Foley's dick was in my ass -- and that was quite an emotional time.

I'm confused.

Posted by Page | October 17, 2006 4:40 PM

Ironically, I cried a little near the end of Mudede's favorite novel, Lolita, though I was alone in my studio when I did so.

Posted by Dobbs | October 17, 2006 4:47 PM

I cry from laughter most often. Charles, keep posting! The anthromorphization of Feelings and Emotions is ridiculous!

Posted by Dr. Draw | October 17, 2006 4:58 PM

Fucking is base, low, and primitive. You're probably against that too.

Posted by Paulus | October 17, 2006 7:10 PM

Oh, Charles.

Posted by let's get some shoes | October 17, 2006 10:17 PM

" the same way playing with toys is abandoned..."

So I have to trash my collection of vibrators now that I'm all growed up?

Posted by Gloria | October 18, 2006 4:55 AM

Why do we have to discuss all this again. People get pissed at you when you bring this subject up. You got blasted last time you posted your over intellectualized reasons why men should not cry.
Stop covering up your obvious embarrassment over something that the whole world does naturally.

Posted by Brian | October 18, 2006 10:20 AM

It's difficult for me to understand your position on this topic. It seems you are deliberately trying to push people's buttons for what is a natural, emotional response to certain stimuli that we, as humans, encounter in the world.

Perhaps if you had a better grasp of this concept (emotion), your recent film "Police Beat" would have been noted for more than its lush cinematography.

Posted by Thomas | October 18, 2006 11:00 AM

Repression of feelings and emotions is GOOD! It makes more fundamentalist Republicans, and look what that's done for the world! Repression is a GREAT THING.

Posted by Repression is Good! | October 18, 2006 12:04 PM

it's my party, dammit, and i'll cry if i want to!

Posted by BostonBear | October 18, 2006 12:16 PM

Charles, tell me you don't cry every time you look at your bank statements.

Posted by opalescent arcs | October 18, 2006 1:20 PM

I blame pussywhipping and emo music.

Posted by Gomez | October 18, 2006 2:31 PM

Ahhh! I get it, no one reads your other posts so you have to resurrect this topic again.

Posted by Brian | October 19, 2006 10:19 AM

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