What’s with guilt?

[Plagiat199 “Proces”]

I like this song because it reminds me of The Trial (‘proces’ is Polish for ‘trial’), and especially of the scene where K. goes into a church and finds there a pulpit prepared for a sermon, and then a priest comes to give this sermon to him alone.

“He had nearly left the area covered by pews and was close to the empty space between himself and the exit when, for the first time, he heard the voice of the priest. A powerful and experienced voice. It pierced through the reaches of the cathedral ready waiting for it! But the priest was not calling out to the congregation, his cry was quite unambiguous and there was no escape from it, he called ‘Josef K.!’”
Franz Kafka The Trial, trans. David Wyllie

To me, that scene is the second most unforgettable one in the whole book (after the final scene). But in Plagiat’s song there’s no priest nor a sermon given; instead we hear the (strikingly strong) voice of a woman who admits to failure. And that’s probably another reason why I like this song, and why I’ve been listening to it so often for the past few weeks: because I fail to cope just like her, and because I like to hear someone admit to the kind of failure that I’m also experiencing, and admit to it in such a strong voice. There seems to be some strength in defeat, too.

But there’s something about this song that disturbs me: she says she’s guilty and asks for punishment, and with that I can’t identify. Guilty of a failure to cope? Guilty of depression? Deserving punishment for not being able to get up in the morning? No, I won’t take that: not being able to cope doesn’t make you guilty, not to mention worthy of punishment.

What’s that with guilt, anyway? I think I understand what it is pretty well: the feeling of guilt, after all, gives you an explanation as to why everything seems so wrong. As in, you know, it’s your fault that it’s all wrong. And an explanation is always welcome when you have (as you do have) a rational mind to use.

But hey, it’s not rational to feel guilty about being depressed and unable to cope with it. Just think of it. It’s not.

So there’s the nuance to my reception of this song… It’s complicated. It makes me want to hug the singer. It’s strange.


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I'm an unprofessional writer, reader and translator. I'm also a walking, breathing and listening addict. And I love being all that.

2 thoughts on “What’s with guilt?”

  1. But you know… there are different reasons behind feeling/being depressed. Sometimes people are doing some bad things to themselves and sometimes it – at least partly – is their fault. Especially when they do it half-consciously. But I agree that guilt shouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that you can’t cope. Especially when you admit to it and try to do something about it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I write, that’s one of the ways I try to do something about it: to “have it out”.
    And you’re right, sometimes it is a person’s own fault, to some extent at least, when they know what they’re doing to themselves, and the impact it has on them. Though I guess it’s difficult to determine where unconscious stops and subconscious begins, at least it’s difficult for me.
    Anyway, thanks for the comment: it gives me entirely new and possibly nourishing food for thought. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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