Jacob Wren, Families Are Formed Through Copulation

Some books are meant to be taken seriously, some are meant to make you take yourself seriously, and some to make you question the validity of seriousness all together. Jacob Wren’s Families Are Formed Through Copulation is all of these things. Wren’s perspective shifts with the moodiness of someone terminally affected, wounded by the unreasonable demands that our world places on us: to be a functioning member of society who gives back what one has taken, to be responsible for one’s actions, to never become angry or lash out from the weight of life’s unfairness and lies, to have ”regular,” practical goals such as having a nice-sized home, a lush fenced-in backyard overgrown with organic fruits and vegetables, an upstanding occupation, and more importantly, to have children. Many strong and capable children, perhaps much like yourself, who will follow through with your personal intentions well after you are gone, who will see the world much like you see the world (if not exactly the same), who will do good things (even if you never managed to), who will follow through with your subliminal instructions to divide and conquer and succeed—or to, well, just ”be good” and not cause a lot of obnoxious trouble. Wren begins his work with a few powerful words that help you realize where this pensive book might lead you:


On a shaky spectrum careening back and forth between cynical, heartbreaking negativity (”People, stop having children. You are not doing yourselves or the world any good. Take the energies you would have spent on childrearing and use them instead to fight American imperialism. The world is not as it used to be”) to somewhat disturbing, cheeky epiphanies (”And then I got older and I had children myself and I loved my children and my parents died and my children got older and they had children and I loved my grandchildren and then I died and on and on it went until the end of time, which was nice”), Jacob Wren doesn’t want you to necessarily see the world as he does, but he does mention the sheer importance of having to get these heavy feelings and observations off of his chest before he no longer can. He sees importance in his voice joining the others who have witnessed, who have seen, who are still witnessing and seeing injustice. There is a kind of urgency that comes forth over and over again in Wren’s Families are Formed Through Copulation. It is of dire importance that you at least hear what Wren says—even if most of us are not well-equipped to do much about it. For instance, Wren writes:

I hope, when they write the history of our time, they will not simply assume that no one noticed, that there were no witnesses, that we were all too stupid or complacent or comfortable. People did notice. Perhaps, like me, they only felt helpless and depressed. Perhaps they tried to fight and were killed for their efforts. Perhaps they fought and won. That part is still in the future. But people did notice.

Yes, people did notice. And maybe some of us will throw away our Depakote, Xanax, Prozac, Valium, Ritalin, Adderall—or maybe, like Wren, decide to write a book or organize our thoughts instead into a cohesive structure so that our children (God forbid we have any!) don’t do and think and make the world as utterly sad and inexplicable as we have universally managed to do. Despite some or our middle-class higher-than-thou attempts to send a check in the mail to some charitable donation X or some good cause Y, it’s still not enough for our children to not think twice about thinking the worst of us, or even yet: think nothing at all. As Wren writes, ”We all must stop and think. What are we actually doing?” Is some thinking better than none? Is negative thinking better than nothing? It’s a little tricky—this far-removed concept of progressive change, isn’t it?To see the review in context, click here.

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