Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I enjoyed reading Sapphire's Push because it offered a unique perspective on a very specific type of pain. Pain had a lifelong presence in Precious' life, and overcoming obstacles and taking difficult but necessary actions to overcome that was a turning point for her. Sapphire goes into great detail and makes her readers uncomfortable in general when descibing the pain, but that is what made the book so powerful. The way the book was written, with the language and crudeness that a person in Precious' position uses, makes the pain seem real and relates to the audience just how a person like this, who most of society would turn their noses at, deals with emotions and deals with people who make her feel threatened. It also relates how having support and love can lessen the burden of painful experiences and even turn a person's life around. I particularly loved how, at the end of the book, we the readers learn about the pain in the lives of those around Precious. Throughout, we see those characters merely as support for Precious and as understanding and helpful human beings. When we learn what each of them has gone through to get to where they are in their lives, it becomes even more obvious that overcoming pain and sharing those stories is crucial to being able to relate to and help those around you. The novel illustrates many examples of the Wounded Storyteller, both throughout Precious' experiences and in the short essays describing the hardships of the other students. Rain, though we don't learn her entire story, is the only sympathetic character that we don't fully understand. Her actions indicate that she has the capacity not only to feel and understand pain, but also to reach out to others in pain, which is a remarkable characteristic. In the end what I really took away from the story is that having love, both in the instances of Precious' friends and her own love for her son, is the way to recover from pain, no matter how embedded it may be in your life.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Painful Music

Music is and always been a great outlet for pain. Not only can it make you feel certain ways, with or without lyrics, but for musicians it is the way to describe and deal with the pain that they feel. Curt Cobaine obviously hurt alot and his music is still popular and listened to by angsty teens everywhere. I think this is because it helps to listen to other people who share the same views and can describe the same pain that you feel. Other songs deal with helping those that they love when they experience pain, and still more, like the Eamon and Frankee songs, deal with anger and pain and the sentiments towards those that hurt you. Music is such a universal and diverse tool for pain both on the creating and listening ends, that nearly every song deals with some version of pain. Pain from relationships, especially, is prominent in music and even when music is happy, there is often some conflict that needs to be resolved in order to create happiness, which is ultimately what every person, or at least most people, want. Music made from pain is also much more passionate. For example, Alanis Morisette's You Oughta Know, is one of the most passionate songs to have hit the charts in the last 20 years because you can tell by her voice that she is singing about something very personal and painful. Songs like Apologize are direct messages to those who have hurt the artist and are often powerful to listen to for the reason that many people feel the music says what they'd like to be saying. Other artists, like Bright Eyes try to capture both the pain and the downfalls of how they deal with them, such as drugs. Music is so broad and creative that it becomes a very important tool for anyone who feels pain, whether they make music or enjoy listening.

Sex, Drugs and...well that's it.

Nic Sheff's book was a much better indication of how drugs really work than the glamorized image a lot of people have about rock and roll and the crazy fun lifestyles that rich people on drugs present to the public. The way that he feels things in the book is described in a way that only someone who has experienced drug addiction can explain it. He knows some sense of guilt and remorse, but is so numb that he doesn't actually feel the way that normal people do. He essentially escapes from any emotional pain that may affect him. I know a guy from middle school who grew up and fell in love with oxycontin. He was basically an alright guy, pretty popular, but once he got addicted, he was completely different. If he came over to a friends house they would check if he stole anything after he was gone. One week his aunt went on vacation with her family. While she was gone he broke in her house and stole item after item to sell for money to buy more oxies. At the end of the week he looked around the house and knew that he had taken too many things to get away with it. So he burned down the house. It's not that addicts don't know what they're doing, they just don't feel or understand their own or the pain of others. It's sad, but I think that Nic Sheff's book accurately captured that and I'm really impressed that he managed to get his life back. I have friends who have done the same and to finally see the person you used to know is one of the best feelings you can have in regards to drug addicts.

Seeing Saw

Every year I go see the new Saw movie in theaters and I have no idea why. Not only are they terrible movies with subpar plots and abismal acting, I don't even particularly like the type of violence they show (in a movie-goer sense, not actual violence). I spent the majority of screentime under my jacket, asking for play-by-plays and "Is it over?" The only feasible explanation for why the Saw movies do so well financially has to be the new and creative forms of torture each one gives its audience. As horrific is that is, horror films have gotten old and predictable. The torture porn category of film opens new doors to the industry where any sadist can write a suitable screen-play and have it make a lot of money. Personally, I watch the movies to test how much I can take, and I'm not even feeling any of the pain. How much pain a person can watch is one of those questions everyone likes to answer about themselves. It allows them to get to know themselves better because, as we see from a number of horror and torture porn movies, pain brings people, even strangers, together.