The books we have to read for this autobiography course aren’t exactly what I was expecting. I'm not really sure what it was I thought we would cover, and in a sense, I suppose all of the books we’ve read are either autobiographies, memoirs, or diaries of some sort, so that part falls perfectly in line, but the nature of the readings, the tone and subject of them, have all been poisoned with some sort of dread. They are books heavy with sadness, filled with gloom and despair and usually, at the end, wrestling with its own profound agony.
It doesn’t help that the books I must read in my other class only compliment them in their despondency. It also doesn’t help that I am prone to my own perpetual sense of melancholy, and so hurl myself in these bleak lives with such desperate appreciate that when I am done the book, I feel as if I've read not just read someone else’s words, but a series of pages ripped from my own unwritten story, even when the writer, story, and subject are as far from my own as can possibly be.
Of course, this leaves me shredded, and I can hardly function after, burdened with my own sorrow already and now with another’s, its enough to make a not want to go on.
My mind is trapped in a history of miseries.
Flash to a young black girl at the turn of the century eating beans from a plate in a shack in Mississippi. Search her bruises from the beating her father gave her, blue and purple on her smooth, dark skin. She is smart and curious and when she ask her mother, pregnant with another child, slaving over another pot of beans that will feed them for a week, why the white people eat so much better than them, she is told to shut up and to stop asking questions.
Jump to a young Jewish boy watching as the ash from a thousand other Jewish boys curls up from the chimneys of a Nazi crematorium. He swallows his spit and his stomach turns in fear. In the smoke of the dead he sees god rising up and vanishing away.
Absorb the shame of a young German that must now face the horror of his nation. That must now ask himself how to live without forgiveness. Listen to his whispered pleas, begging to understand how he became a monster. Suffocated by the deadly silence of his brothers. Wondering if there is any innocence left in him, in his race, in the bombed out houses of his neighbors.
And then a black man screams, in the muted tones of colorless film stock, that he will die for his rights. And then there is a march, another march, this one across an entire state, and the marchers are singing. Slave rituals and protest songs. When they come to a bridge they are met with a wall of white policemen. When they try to cross they are beaten with clubs and stung with teargas and some of them are trampled by horses. They do not fight back.
And then a survivor of a holocaust, a woman, a mother of one, commits suicide and doesn’t leave a note. And a Japanese man sits in a bed in a US interment camp, all his worldly belongings in a small satchel next to him, wondering where his wife and son were sent to and if he’ll ever see them again. And that same black girl still covered with bruises sees three men, hanging from a tree but this time she doesn’t ask why because now she knows.
I have to read all this and I've often wondered if it is in any way helping me, or if I am learning anything. I've been consumed this grief, the painful truths from the past. This is why I haven’t updated recently. Well, it is just another reason I haven’t updated recently. I'm not sure when I’ll have the time to deliver the remaining parts of my Vegas story, or any other random musings for that matter, not while I'm studying the insufferable anguish of our dumb history. Oh well. Eat it.