Male Confessions: Intimate Revelations and the Religious Imagination

By Björn Krondorfer | Go to book overview

INTERLUDE On Tears

I closed [my mother's] eyes and an overwhelming grief welled
into my heart and was about to flow forth in foods of tears. But
at the same time under a powerful mental control my eyes held
back the food and dried up. The inward struggle put me into
great agony. Then when she breathed her last, the boy Adeodatus
cried out in sorrow and was pressed by all of us to be silent.
AUGUSTINE, Confessions

[Augustine] says he has to do so in writing, precisely, after
the death of his mother, over whom he does not deplore the
fact of not having wept, not that I dare link what he says
about confession with the deaths of our respective mothers
… for my mother was not a saint.
JACQUES DERRIDA, “Circumfession”

Men, it seems, first write their autobiographies by giving
testimony to the death of an Other, a woman.
VIRGINIA BURRUS, The Sex Lives of Saints

I cannot conceive of love save in torment and tears … [and]
nothing moves or attracts me so much as woman weeping.
MICHEL LEIRIS, Manhood

Overwhelming grief and sorrow disintegrate a person; the act of writing, in response, is an attempt to restore the ruptured universe. Between the moment of psychophysical devastation and the mental restoration through the logos, the agon/agony of tears.

Tears resist language. At the boundaries of the body, they express that which language fails to articulate. Weeping, the male confessant gives in to

-132-

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