Monday, December 18, 2006


From the Introduction to Grief Lessons: Four Plays by Euripedes (2006), translated by Anne Carson
Why does tragedy exist? Because you are full of rage. Why are you full of rage? Because you are full of grief. Ask a headhunter why he cuts off human heads. He'll say that rage impels him and rage is born of grief. The act of severing and tossing away the victim's head enables him to throw away the anger of all his bereavements. Perhaps you think this does not apply to you. Yet you recall the day your wife, driving you to your mother's funeral, turned left instead of right at the intersection and you had to scream at her so loud other drivers turned to look. When you tore off her head and threw it out the window they nodded, changed gears, drover away.

From Edward St. Aubyn's Bad News (1994), collected in Some Hope
Patrick looked down the avenue. It was like the opening shot of a documentary on overpopulation. He walked down the street, imagining the severed heads of passers-by rolling into the gutter in his wake.

If I find myself lopping off anyone's head (going all Judith on someone? all Highlander?) in the next few days, there's my alibi: look at what I was reading! It's nearly as bad as those video games Congress is always warning me about.

1 comment:

  1. There's a whole CHAPTER on decapitation in Mary Roach's "Stiff" - my best read of Dec. 2006.