The darkness in every one of us

Oh my. Last night I read this article by Helen Garner, based on her address at the Sydney Writer’s Festival titled ‘How Can We Write About Darkness?‘ on the 21 May this year.

After years of editing Federal Court judgments (the reports written up, usually by judge’s associates, after a court case) and now digging through historic church files, it all resonates with me, particularly that it is for the most part very ordinary humans who commit crimes and do foolish things, not a separate race of “monsters” (though of course there exist people with very significant problems who do very evil things).

I’m just parking this here for future reference mostly, but here are a few portions (and there are interesting things in it on when ordinary men might become dangerous – ‘men whose hearts are broken by rejection and by the loss of their children, and who can’t even begin to articulate their pain and rage’ – on why politicians might say seemingly clumsy things warning women against doing things alone):

I’m interested in apparently ordinary people who, under life’s unbearable pressure, burst through the very fine membrane that separates our daylight selves from the secret darkness that lives in every one of us.

Why are we ever surprised by the scorched earth around a broken family? Our laws and strictures and conventions have no purchase on the dark regions of the soul into which we venture when we love.


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