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Intellectual House o' Pancakes Webdiary

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2009-07-01 - 1:40 p.m.

I've ruminated extensively in this here glob about whether listening to (and creating) sad music is such a good thing to do all the time, and today I'm a-wondering the same thing about movies...

I received Marley & Me from Netflix the other day, and figured it'd be a nice, fluffy movie that would provide some comfort at the end of a stressy work day.

For about 90 minutes, it functioned as a nice tonic for the brain--no surprises, no thinking required. My basal ganglia responded appropriately to themes like "love is nice" and "dogs make us better people" and "Jennifer Aniston really needs to get a new agent."

And then in the last 20 minutes something shifted.

The dog they cast as the older, sickly Marley looked remarkably like my beloved Brighton who recently, like the titular movie dog, contracted too many health problems and had to be put to sleep.

From the first scene where Marley starts to w-a-l-k s-l-o-w-l-y I knew the jig was up and that death was around the corner.

And in spite of myself and the very tenuous engagement I'd had with the movie's first two acts, the waterworks started. Sniffles turned to tears, tears turned to outright sobbing. For 15 minutes.

Now, much has been said and written about the power of a good cry, and the catharsis of experiencing art that recalls a sad moment in your own life.

But honestly, after the weeping stopped, I didn't actually feel "better." Not the same way I feel better after 15 minutes of deep laughing, or a good run, or a yoga class.

And it's not as if I had been saving up these tears for months and finally had the relief of feeling repressed sadness--I was totally present with those feelings when B's death happened, this was just a strange revisiting, a pressing of a button that will always have the same result.

It felt like I had just watched Sadness Porn--a simple, one-note exchange between film and viewer, with a clear intention and an unambiguous expectation.

Sobbing can be an escape that simplifies everything--waah! Life is confusing and requires vigilance and maneuvering and balance and understanding, but mourning is not confusing, it is Sad!

So I watch a sad movie, have a cry, and then go on with my evening. It seems like such a weird, avoidant thing to do, and such a steep, salty price to pay for feeling a tiny bit more alive.

But, you know, it's a cute movie.

thoughts? (3 comments so far)

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