Sons of Tears
Displacing the Intimate (Female) Other
Male confessiographies tell of tears caused by the grief over intimate others or the wounding associated with them. Do male tears reveal the confessant's deep attachment to loved ones? Do their tears veil a clear perception of intimate others? Or do tears of grief displace the intimate other? As we shall see, male vulnerabilities, to which confessional writings testify, do not necessarily translate into a deepening of relationships with intimate others. Men's confessional language frequently fails the reality of the intimate other, who is silenced, replaced, or rendered invisible. It is this intimate other to which I turn in this chapter.
Distinguishing the “external” other of confessional texts (the implied, anticipated, sympathetic reader) from the “internal” other in confessional texts (such as wives, children, mothers, and lovers) can be helpful. It clarifies the confessant's differing relations to the people he wishes to address and to the people about whom he speaks. It is the difference between to whom he speaks (external) and about whom he speaks (internal). In both cases, the confessant engages in an act of imagination and fictionalization of the other—imagining, for example, the external other as a fictionalized ideal reader, or fictionalizing the internal other (for example, a lover) through imagined dialogue. Of course, the lines of separation between internal and external other can be blurry. For example, the imagined listener, to whom a confessant addresses