More than a century ago, the writer, historian, sociologist and civil rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois wrote about the unasked question that followed him everywhere: how does it feel to be a problem?
When a human life comes into being, a unique form comes together, like a drop of water when it is separated from the wholeness of the river as it hits a rock or falls down a waterfall.
'This parting from the living brings constant pain,' wrote eighth-century Chinese poet Du Fu in an ode to friendship about his separation from Li Bai, who was in exile in the south of the country.
'Division is also an aspect of unification,' writer Rachel Cusk at the beginning of her memoir, Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation. Here she is talking about the Dark Ages and the nature of their fragmentation in contrast to the two civilizations that bookended them. It's a question, she says, of unity versus compartmentalization, of diversity and flourishing in… Continue reading The Draw of the Dark Ages – Rachel Cusk
If birth is a shock that whisks us out of another existence, a life that is whole and not lacking, then we can spend our whole lives in a state of longing for something we can't quite remember, that we can't quite articulate. In his poem about this kind of division and separation, 'Cleave', David… Continue reading David Whyte on Love and Separation