The Risks of Desire

It is so much safer not to want. I think it is a fascinating theme when it’s not about romantic or sexual desires.

When it’s not tragedy in the Greek sense.

When it’s not the trope of the supporting role who we discover late had so much promise and gave it all up for some quasi-noble reason. Pathos. Bathos. The soft, nurturing plot device-of-a-person to serve as the scary what-if-you-end-up-like-her motivation.

Not the weird dude in Hamsun’s Hunger. Or any twisty, petulant teenager full of the angst they think proves their talent and conveniently serves as an excuse for staring at the ceiling. For being cruel.

Nothing noble? We’ll go for a tortured genius. Is this desire? Or is it a private performance? When the dog’s dewclaw isn’t looked after it turns in on itself, growing like a proverbial thorn in a self-contained little monologue of pain.

Funny, I wanted to write woe. A monologue of woe. I’ve been reading Shakespeare and my head is full of full words like sorrow and distress. The howling and the hissing of the language is seductive. And since I’m not longer a twisty teenager, it’s an almost embarrassing pleasure.

Hyperbole is wasted on the youth.

Hysteria is a word with a misogynist trail: the unoccupied womb wondering the body and causing madness. What about unoccupied desire?

I want to be careful not to slide into the pocket of pop psychology and the “find your why” zeitgeist. I’m asking questions, not looking for answers.

It is interesting that when I google poems of “risk and resilience” I get hits titled “Poems of hope and resilience”.

But that’s not what I want to look at. Not hope. Hope in the face of defeat seems too binary for our time, now that it seems our cultures have exploded in chaos. Again. A rebellion of language that becomes a rebellion of thinking.

I don’t want to explore the kind of desire that drives crashing through like a wrecking ball to bruise the world, to bruise the world. That’s not desire as a fundamental emotion; it’s desire as the vehicle to direct the fundamental emotion. Anger, I would guess. Try to google “basic human emotions” and you get 3, 5, 9, 12… how we love to put things in boxes.

I am writing a play, not staging it. But I see the play beginning with a huge explosion of cardboard boxes and confetti. They have two hours to clean it up.

Could be the driving image for so many stories. Who’s blowing up their life this time? Who is risking what and what emotion shapes the desire that has them getting up off their knees again and again?


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