1. One of Dunn s themes is the vulnerability of the human being alive in this world. In The Vanishing he writes that hurt hurts is one of life s truths. How, in the face of that hurt, does the human being find a reason for living?
Finding a reason for living in the face of hurting is a conflict most human beings have had to endure. One of the hardest things in life to do is live. Finding the things that make life worth living is even harder, because those things that make life beautiful are also the things that make it hard to live without. Stephen Dunn, I feel knows this and expresses it more than once in his writings. For example in The Vanishing, how you felt when you were overwhelmed by her or when you heard the news of his death seem to conflict with one other, one a feeling of passion and utter happiness, the other a feeling of shock and utter sadness, yet one emotion cannot exist without the other. The overwhelming, happy emotions are the ones humans live to live for.
The memory of hurting lingers in each of us like the smell of death. We never want to feel that hurt again, whether it be a broken heart, a death of a loved one, or being rejected from a job. In order not feel that hurt again, we look for things to live and be happy for like, children, friendship, and family. Others look for personal things to make them happy such as travel, music, learning and laughter. Yet still there are those people who find happiness in misery, and hatred. In this case I don t know what they live for, except they live to hurt.
Stephen Dunn s poems all seem to have the theme of memories, pain, and pleasures of all sorts. What would life be without them? You understand and therefore hate because you hate the passivity of understanding that your worst rage and finest private gesture will flatten and collapse into history, become invisible like a defeats inside houses. (The Vanishing) Although you may hate the fact that your life may be forgotten, or even meaningless, it is an essential emotion to survive. You find other things to make your life worth living. A son without a father, but with this one briefcase carrying a replica comfortably into the future (Briefcase). You find yourself living so that your father somehow will live forever, a legacy. Then there are some days where so much that is human is alien to me (Having Lost All Capacity), and all you want to do is run mad killing and hurting all the stupid people in the world, ruining the life you want to live.
This paper has made me think of all the things that have hurt me, and all the things I live for. The things that hurt me, are the ones that stay, maybe not hurting as much as when the initial hurting, hurt me, but it s always there in the back of my mind, knowing I don t ever want to feel that alone and that desperate ever again. I couldn t think of any specific reason why I live, I just wake up everyday, go to classes, breath, laugh, and enjoy my life, but, there s nothing quite like the feeling of something new, and this is the only time I really feel alive (NIN). To put it to you rationally, I just live. I live for me and me alone. I do things that make me a better person, and things that will help me in the long run. That s how I live in the face of hurting.