This Brilliant Darkness
How often do we encounter a book that is tough, difficult, and makes us uncomfortable?
Jeff Sharlet’s The Brilliant Darkness is this kind of book. He tells stories of strangers: people with guns, people with knives, homeless and house-less people, people living in the motels, the far-rights, the neo-fascists, the addicts, the anti-homosexuals, but they are also fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. They are people who associate with the “dark side” of our society, and who always frighten us.
Their stories are real and hard like rocks that hit you while reading. But these stories are also soft and sometimes touching because they are stories about human’s suffering and surviving, about mother calling her son back home, about father caring about his son, about the elder surviving alone by herself, and about people fighting for their and their lover’s future.
Jeff’s language is not sentimental but succinct, glum, and empathetic. He writes without direct criticism or judgement towards neither individual nor social system, but maintains his personal value. The snapshots taken by Jeff are granitic and harsh, but beautiful, which both alienate our everyday life and normalize the life of people in the “dark.”
Overall, The Brilliant Darkness is a powerful book with deep empathy. It illuminates the darkness part of our society: a darkness that is always exposed to but ignored by us; a darkness that seems far away but no different from our own life.
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