as i settle into this quiet, drizzly monday evening, the first day of fall semester coming to a close....i take down a book from the shelf. "a chorus of stones: the private life of war" by susan griffin.
"the soul is often imagined to be feminine. all those qualities thought of as soulful, a dreaminess or artistic sensibility, are supposed to come more naturally to women. ephemeral, half seen, half present, nearly ghostly, with only the vaguest relation to the practical world of physical law, the soul appears to us as lost. the hero, with his more masculine virtues, must go in search of her. but there is another, older story of the soul. in this story she is firmly planted on the earth. she is incarnate and visible everywhere. neither is she faint of heart, nor fading in her resolve. it is she, in fact, who goes bravely in search of desire."
in my opinion, susan griffin is one of the most brilliant and exquisite writers of our time.
through her stunning use of poetic prose, she explores the nature of war and gender, examining the interplay between private suffering and public tragedy.
"i am beginning to believe that we know everything, that all history, including the history of each family, is part of us, such that, when we hear any secret revealed, a secret about a grandfather, or an uncle, or a secret about the battle of dresden in 1945, our lives are made suddenly clearer to us, as the natural heaviness of unspoken truth is dispersed. for perhaps we are like stones, our own history and the history of the world embedded in us, we hold a sorrow deep within and cannot weep until that history is sung."
susan griffin illuminates the long, long legacy of both personal and collective denial that many of us surely know so well...each family, each nation with its own measure of secrecy and hidden truths.
"how old is the habit of denial? we keep secrets from ourselves that all along we know. the public was told that old dresden was bombed to destroy strategic railway lines. there were no railway lines in that part of the city. but it would be years before that story came to the surface.
i do not see my life as separate from history. in my mind my family secrets mingle with the secrets of statesmen and bombers. nor is my life divided from the lives of others. i, who am a woman, have my father's face. and he, i suspect, had his mother's face."