The following quote from Richard Siken comes from an interview with James Hall:

Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, “I am falling to the floor crying,” but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.

Other than the literal meaning, is there a deeper meaning to this? I mean, can I infer that the floor and the wall do not actually meet because I didn't paint it very well? And is it directly connected to my losing something I love?

1 Answer 1


Since the quote is taken from an interview, I wouldn't treat it as a literary text. When Siken says, 'much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, “I am falling to the floor crying,”' he is giving an example of the self-awareness he had mentioned earlier in the interview. According to the poet, self-awareness can undercut emotions.

Charles Stangor's Principles of Social Psychology – 1st International Edition defines self-awarenes as "the extent to which we are currently fixing our attention on our own self-concept" and private self-consciousness as "the tendency to introspect about our inner thoughts and feelings". Neither concept fits perfectly what Siken describes but it is probably clear that becoming aware that you are falling to the floor crying (to continue using Siken's example) creates some distance between yourself as experiencing emotions and yourself as an observer, which can create a mild form of dissociation that helps you cope with the emotions.

What Siken then adds is that the observation of something entirely banal, like noticing that part of a wall was badly painted, can draw your attention even further away from your emotions, thus "undercutting" them even more.

However, I don't consider these explanations as a "deeper meaning" but just a wordier version of the surface meaning.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.