The Thing About Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell

Chris Cornellthere’s a lot i want to say
about Chris Cornell
having gone away

truth told,
it?hit me kinda hard
late last week and
over the weekend

i kinda want
to go on at length
about how
his singing voice
was the one for me –
at least, one of the ones –
and how i’d try
(and fail)
to belt along
with his intensity
while driving

i kinda want to tell you
about my favorite
songs of his;
maybe link to videos –
so much fire to choose from

but then, of course,
i’d naturally note
how?the horrible irony
of hindsight has
already started
to mar and morph
song meanings,
like nooses?once pretty

then, quickly, maybe
i’d try to bring it back and
about how i
was once even told i
look a little like him
(one could,?doubtless,
do much worse 🙂 )

but kinda eventually
i’d?inevitably again
attempt unpacking
the actual event itself:
S word

i’d?understandably want
to plumb my?personal stake
in this particular one

is?it cuz i’m “gen-x?”
is it a Cobain flashback,
Seattle grunge thing?
just nostalgia for that
specific time
when i too was
first in a band?

maybe is it cuz i was literally
*just* listening to that dude?
literally *just* saw him on
Jimmy Fallon?

i would wonder why
the pretense of
social media mourning
bothered me so this time –
the performativity,
the constructedness of it…
the rush to suddenly
and publicly be in the
Chris Cornell club,
even as i now
tempt hypocrisy
and do the same…
doing so, perhaps,
unavoidable now,
given the internet and all,
which can make
the truth seem fake
and vice-versa,
to the point that
one seriously considers silence

then i would want to
slow down,
to think more about,
maybe even
attempt the dreaded?task of
saying something about,
his family,
even though i have no right

then i would?note, rightly,
that it’s not right to
really just
think and talk
about oneself
under?the guise of
thinking and talking
about?this thing,
except that?this thing, now,
is about him *and*
the rest of us,
including even me;
and except that
it’s not possible to not
think and talk about oneself,
regardless of who or what
else?one thinks and talks about

i would want to invoke God, for
death and God go together,
like God goes with everything,
like oneself does too

but a wise person
once (recently) said?to
say one thing at a time
and that seems like solid advice,
so –
passing wordlessly
past the fact that
i’ve already in truth said plenty
(tis a common trope) – here’s
the thing about Chris Cornell:

humans make meaning
via story,
and i think?his passing has
particular sting
because, as a story,
it seems to
undermine meaning

i have personally,
over the past?week,
variously felt the
story of his passing as
very sad?to be sure,
but also as
terrifically *absurd* –
an *offense* even,
insofar as it is a
story that does not go
as we would expect,
or want,
or as we think it should,
or as it could,
were this world different…

were this world better

it reminds me,
in various respects,
of how i felt about
the death of
my own father,
who also went away
too young, and
to the awful strains
of what seemed to be
missed opportunity
and *tragedy*
and *meaninglessness*
and *waste*

and, to be clear,
this is not some statement
about people’s personal choices
or my inability to understand them

this is not an indictment of persons,
but of situations
and of a world
that?contains such
waste –
a world where
stories sometimes just suck as
meaning makers

and it is, since
death and God go together,
like God goes with everything,
including this world,
i must admit,
an indictment of Him

and yet…

when Matthew Arnold
wrote “Dover Beach,”
he leaned on his?”love”
as the “Sea of Faith” retreated;
even so, Chris Cornell,
in his own version of
that same story –
“Preaching the End of the World” –
looks for “someone out there,
who can understand,
and who’s feeling,
the same way as me”

i submit that this is why
his passing
isn’t *actually* absurd –
why no one’s passing
is actually absurd –
and why any indictment
of God isn’t the last word:

in the face of the absurd,
we still can’t help but
want things to mean things,
and inevitably,
we still find that meaning,
ultimately, in
stories of another

death itself only makes one
think of resurrection

because though
death and God go together,
the latter continues
past the former

though “Jesus wept” for Lazarus –
as we may weep for
Chris Cornell, for his family,
for what might have been,
for the loss of a
story we’d suspect,
a story we’d hope for –
those tears aren’t the end…
and they’re certainly not,
though they may seem to be so,
signposts to nowhere;
and certainly not,
though they may seem to be so,
symbols?of divine absence

but happily,
quite the converse

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