Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Somewhere to send your sadness

"Because of its association with the grandparent who died or the lover who left or the puppy that never came home, we have been too quick to dismiss this thing we call “Sadness.” But to limit Sadness to the above would be like limiting the definition of America to baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. Sadness is Nostalgia, Sadness is Reflection, Sadness is what Yeat’s called Tragic Joy. Sadness is what makes Joy so enjoyable, and Wonder so wonderful."
From "Sadness" at Buckbee, A Writer, Museum of Sadness

One of the more memorable things I encountered at AWP in Chicago last week was the Sadness Museum. Amidst a sea of tables laden with books, journals and promotional items ranging from cool to kitschy to cool kitschy (my favorite was Alison Stine's mini handcuff keychain promoting her book of poetry titled Ohio Violence) rose a small tent housing the little museum from which I snapped the photo above. It's a traveling exhibit of items that have sparked sadness, such as the action figure found on the floor of a Motel Six after some little boy's departure. This type of loss--the inadvertent leaving behind of the treasured thing-- has always deeply saddened my husband and he for one would certainly appreciate the impulse to rescue and herald the abandoned toy. Whether putting the sadness provoking thing on exhibit and sharing its woeful tale mitigates or compounds sadness is a question one might ask before daring entry into a world of others' sorrows.

The museum is taking submissions but so far I haven't figured out how to package and ship that which makes me, um, sad: an old, bent figure shuffling alone down a street, even if she's smiling and happier than I am; a "For sale" sign in front of a home, any home, even if the move is to greener pastures; a phone booth without a phone; florescent lights; the remnants of a chimney or a foundation; a sagging barn; a single earring. Ok, I guess I could send an earring.


Anonymous said...

your dolly scares me!

Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

The most evocative item in your list is florescent lights. They do not make me sad. I hate them with a passion only compounded by my stay in China. They buzz, they whine, they flicker, they give me a headache, they make me angry.