I wonder if it's true. I really don't know.... that in an age when information seems to well up exponentially on the Internet there are more tears and less sorrow.
In the late 1940's and early 1950's when my mother was doing much of the writing at which she was pretty good, there were times when she would hit what was then referred to as "writer's block" -- a stony place all writers are familiar with. Suddenly, in the midst of some project, there is a great blank -- an inability to see the next step, much less take it. An invisible internal sign reads, "I've got nothing." And the feeling is a maelstrom of confusion and sorrow and despair ... I've got nothing.
When I asked my mother about how she coped with writer's block, she gave a simple answer: "When I run into it, I kill off another character. That seems to kick-start the machine."
In a fictionalized universe, well, just kill someone. Reader and writer were as one in the fictionalized universe. They shared the air and they shared a humanity. Part of the humanity they shared was that death was poignant and powerful. Perhaps because my mother's times were close enough to World War II so that death was far from being hypothetical -- when every family had lost someone or knew someone who had lost someone. Death was to scream and fall limp ... and it was shared. Gawd! The sorrow was all over you like a malicious fog. The sorrow was encompassing. Tears came when things got a bit easier; for now, sorrow claimed the scene.
But with the Internet, death is not so near. Nothing human is quite so near. The social media that claim to connect people is so jam-packed that it is difficult to find the sorrow and easier to weep. Dead men and women return to Dover, Delaware, and, besides the soldiers' being hidden from the media's curiosity, are too many. The messages on Facebook say, "I love you," and drive the wedge deeper and deeper between love and "love," between sorrow and tears.
Is there any longer a shared sense of what may be horrific to one and all or wondrous to one and all?
Further along in this blog is a picture of a French track athlete who broke his leg. The image, the BBC web site said, was too graphic to display. And so, of course, the first thing I did was to look it up and find out if it were really too graphic, too painful, too sorrowful. Sorrowfully, it was not. On today's horror meter, it rated, perhaps, a "tsk! tsk!" It was sad ... and I am getting old, so perhaps others agreed with the BBC.
Gautama, the Buddha most frequently alluded to in Buddhism, was quoted some years after his death as having said, "All fear dying./ All fear death." Is it so? I suppose so, but there seems to be a writer's block about what "all" might mean.
Just advancing age, I suppose.