Throughout his remarkably comprehensive study of crying, Tom Lutz manages to combine very different media and disciplines film, anthropology, psychology while maintaining focus on the sheer humanity of tears. Weeping is a human universal, he writes. Throughout history, and in every culture, emotional tears are shed everyone, everywhere, cries at some time. The simultaneous disparity and unity of crying makes Lutz's book compelling, since the variety of both cultures and experiences treated range widely, but also provoke comparison. Lutz draws from the tearful rituals of cultures all over the globe in his anthropological sections, noting that only women cry at Hopi funerals, and the Bara people of Madagascar use different grieving huts for men and women. The Colombian Kogi people, he notes, allow their babies to cry for long stretches of time. As he writes, Emotion work is always more complicated than it appears because its rules and boundaries are forever shifting as the culture changes. Mourning practices differ largely from culture to culture, and the relation of crying to grief shifts accordingly. Lutz writes of the people of the Solomon Islands, who were able to weep at the side of a coffin, then go back to laughing and joking. Lutz writes that the point is not just to show how artificial, even trivial, the expressions of grief are in other cultures, but that weeping is purely conventional, and that our own pieties about crying are suspect as well. Crying examines Western conventions alongside those of other peoples, and emphasizes the constructed nature of crying as well as its innateness. Fictional tears, too, play a part in our understanding of crying. From the labile Tita in Laura Esquival's Like Water For Chocolate to Hemingway's stoic men, crying or its absence characterize literary figures. At the movies, Lutz writes, images as widely divergent as those of Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Titanic and Gregory Peck in Spellbound influence our understanding of what tears mean. Different audiences respond differently. As Lutz notes, Clearly who we are and what we believe determines when we cry as well. Ultimately, Crying delivers more a satisfying tour of the world of tears than any didactic answers. The language of weeping is spoken worldwide, even if it is understood in myriad ways. As Lutz writes, Every serious life change results in a reevaluation of one's emotional options. ÔWho will write the history of tears?' Roland Barthes asked. We all will. Eliza McGraw teaches English at Vanderbilt University.

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