In "The Human Stain," grief is conveyed through the body. After a man loses his wife, he begins a romance with a woman haunted by tragedy. Together, they escape into the erotic, a force so powerful that it can both destroy and restore. In scene after scene the two lovers hold one another. They have nothing else to hold, the people they loved are gone. So their bodies become substitutes for the missing, they fill a space once occupied by an unknown other.
In my own moments of grief, which are always solitary, I wonder what it would feel like to have physical intimacy with another person in the midst of such devastation. What would being touched at that moment do to me? Would it save me, repulse me, consume me? Would I devour it and long for it again? What if he put his fingers in my hair, rubbed my back, held me, listened to me, made love to me--would the grief change, would it disappear or intensify? What does it mean to both confront and escape grief through the body? How can the erotic be channeled to cope with grief?