Sex and Death?
When I was a hormone-driven 17-year-old, I was in a bookstore and saw a poetry collection by the Canadian poet Alfred Wellington Purdy called "Sex and Death". Given my age, and the amount of Black Sabbath I had been listening to, how could I NOT buy this book? It spoke to everything I believed in!
So, I brought the book home and the poems were pretty good. But what fascinated me most was Al Purdy's introduction to the book. He got right down to the title of the book and asserted that all great literature is about Sex and Death, and, consequently, about their close cousins, Love and Life.
This was a radical idea for me: Sex and Death were fundamental concepts in great literature? I got right down to business to test this theory.
I started with the Old Testament of the Bible. Man! Have you read this thing?!?! Sex & Death, Sex & Death throughout! Someone is always laying with someone they shouldn't be laying with, then God starts smiting and on it goes. Wholesale massacres occur in the form of plagues, pestilence and war. People get turned to pillars of salt because of their sexual preferences. Or the entire population of the world is killed in a great flood (unless of course you are in the top 1% rich enough to own an ark). If you want a real chuckle, read Deuteronomy.
Next, I moved on to Greek mythology; Hoo boy!! Zeus was always visiting some poor unsuspecting nymph and "coming upon her in the form of a golden rain". Said nymph then produces a demigod, Hera gets angry, and well, you know, Sex and Death. Hades snatches Persephone into the Underworld, her mom turns the world black for 6 months a year; all because of those pesky little pomegranate seeds.
How about the Russian authors? “Anna Karenina”? Don’t bother reading it; I’ll summarize it for you in 7 words: Illicit affair. Run over by a train.
I sought respite in Shakespeare; he was English...it MUST be genteel. No luck. Then I noticed something: "The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Iuliet", "Romeo and Juliet", "West Side Story", "& Juliet" – these people have been telling us the SAME story about Sex and Death over and over again! And we just eat it up, generation after generation.
Or how about this one: man has affair, wife cuts off his,....oh wait,....that's real life.
All of this has led me to be very interested in archetypes, myths, metaphors and symbols.
To make things worse, I chose a career in Family Medicine. Guess what I worked with all day? (Hint: it starts with S and D.) I never had a dull day. I absolutely loved my patients and they trusted me enough to tell me their fascinating, heart-wrenching stories. Literature is NOTHING compared to real life.
As a retired family doctor, I am now struggling to understand the last 35 years of my life and how my patients and their stories of love and life have affected me. Music can express the inexpressible. So, I thought I'd give that a try. I'll start with 4 songs, releasing one on the first day of every month from September to December 2022. You may spot some Sex and Death (cleverly disguised in myth and metaphor), but hopefully you will also glimpse the beauty of Love and Life.