Sunday, June 13, 2010

On Solitude

Two poems I've found of late and have come to like a lot:

How happy he, who free from care
The rage of courts, and noise of towns;
Contented breathes his native air,
In his own grounds.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest! who can unconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years slide swift away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mix'd; sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please,
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unheard, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

- Alexander Pope's 'Ode on Solitude'.


I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

- Emily Dickinson's 'I'm nobody! Who are you?'

For solitude to not feel lonely, art, I guess, must be on your side.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

On Absorption and Reflection

I am gladly unoccupied today. It’s been a long time I last wrote a post, so long that I wonder if most of you have concluded that the blog is up and away: it isn’t. It was, I should add, deleted by me once in the interim in a sort of whim that looks very appropriate as long as it’s a whim, and looks like a whim soon after it ceases to be. I have said, in some now-deleted posts, that I miss blogging and writing so many times, that by now I feel something eerie and repulsively banal about the statement. No, I would spare you, gentle reader, the trauma of the same old sad story this time. Thanks for the relieved look on your face. What won’t I do for it!

I wouldn’t pretend that I have just now read my own blog and like a possessed scientist taken observations, but I do carry a light, dragging impression that all I ever do when I am writing posts here is recounting old experiences, trying to relive memories – although they are mostly not extraordinary but just dear, however matter-of-course and familiar. Why do we do that? It’s a truly fascinating question for me, almost closing in on how fascinating the memories themselves are. After much thinking and prodding, it always opens up this interesting paradox: Time. When we’re living in a particular period of timeยบ we are continuously lusting for a whiff of those other periods of time, those ways of life we’ve left behind. In a pleasurably wistful manner we are aching for a loss we ourselves facilitated, and sometimes even decided antecedently. Why is it that on these occasions of memory-living our fondness for the past keeps coming back to us, almost making it seem that there's nothing we want more than that period returned, while we are well aware that in some time¹ this, which is granted to us – the present moment, too shall be characterized as Past, this too shall come back to us, haunt and tantalize us and enamour us, and we shall crave for it, much in the same way as we crave for that which we are looking back at today. Unusually enough, how rarely do we, while soaking in the memories of our past, delve for a while into that time of the past which we spent back then remembering even older times, the times that were already a Past back then. Rarely. When we do that though, it is a memory of a memory, or a memory within a memory, a second order memory, if you will. The juice to be extracted out of such higher order reminiscences is singularly special. All such memories of having reveled in other, farther memories make you pine for both: that which you once had, as well as that which you then pined to have. It’s a complicated business, the human memory, so complicated it has a semblance of the complex swapping of gifts, no gaffe tolerable, on every year’s Diwali eve.

I haven’t written anything in a very long time. The last two times I did something remotely close were both in response to some interesting questions². Today, a friend’s interesting wondering on the simultaneous existence of roots and wings led me to say this:

“Roots are essential to the existence of flying, I would think. Without them, flying would be as meaningless as that of a meteoroid lost in the universe, which, the only time it is not meaningless, is when it is destructive. Besides, flying - the whole charm, the attractiveness of it - is because there are roots, I think. Do they call it the antithesis effect or anything? I don't know. Anyway, it's sort of like³ considering a prisoner prisoned at birth, so that his clogged life so clogged, almost choked, and his imprisonment so complete, that he doesn't even think or know or behave as if or believe that he's imprisoned. So completely devoid of wings that he wouldn't know that he's devoid of them. One might try, in the same way, to not be similarly, or oppositely, so devoid of roots when flying. Besides, isn't flying more perception that reality, there's a little bit of physics in there, no? If I fly* would I know that I have flown away, or should others think that they've flown away from my frame of reference.”

I feel thankful today that this was brought up, for it was only because I was impelled to muse upon it and reply to it that I was impelled, further, to write more, to write all this: blog post and all that.

I did write some poems in the meanwhile, whether they qualify as being poems, or whether they are just rhymes or scribbles, I don’t know, and shall leave that for the reader to take a call on, but for the lack a better term let’s call them poems for the time being:

The shades of the sky do not delight;
rainbows as such to me seem trite.
The gusts of air are an irritation:
the wind is heavy, my hair is light.
The rain’s a noise of falling tears,
I wonder why, but, no one hears.
You will want me to like all these,
but I can’t until our conflict clears.


* * *

In fifteen minutes, I'll leave for the workplace.
In five, I'll have shut the computer.
In ten, I'll have put my shoes on.
In twelve, I'll have combed my hair.
In twenty, I'll have broken a traffic rule.
In sixty, I'll have had a hopeless thought.
In fact, I've had it already.
In six hours, I'll have received more advice.
In ten, I'll have harmed myself a little more.
In eleven, I'll have cursed myself.
In twelve, I'll have broken another traffic rule.
In fourteen, I'll have gone to bed with unmet goals.
In twenty four, I'll repeat the process.


* * *

The depth of his sleep
is that of an ocean,

Maybe he’s got it
after eons of crying.

His swollen eyes -
big bulging waves.
Wonder what storms were they
that shaped them.

Each eyebag a beach
with countless, untold
footprints of time.

Don’t wake him up
for he may not sleep again.

Don’t wake him up,
why rob him of

his life.


* * *

It is no meditation:
Staring on into the eyes
of that little device,
Visualizing certain letters beaming on it,
Imagining the sounds, the particularly knit
voice loved by boys, the second take,
that crack in the voice you can’t mistake,
cracking from the other end,
saying what you want be said.

It is no meditation:
The mad optimism with unknown numbers;

Oh, what afterall might they entail,
that, in vain, every time, you go in your head:
“I knew it'd be from a new number!!”

Oh, really? B.S. What else did you know?

“That it is no meditation,
... On the contrary.”


* * *

I know, I know: not very lively things there. It’s quite alright, though. Serious isn’t necessarily depressing, I coddle myself. Or maybe depressing isn’t necessarily disgusting. I should change to this argument for coddling myself now, there’s no getting around from the depressing quotient I guess. By the way, these poems do have titles, they’re not unnamed. Naming things (and not only things) is always a whole lot of fun.

There’s also a painting I made recently that I am tempted to put up here. I will I suppose in some time. Anyone who says anything good about it, I am told, gets their clothes ironed by Prince Charles.

Footnotes:

0. ‘Period’ always gives the impression of a finite, well-defined interval, somewhat like the younger brother of the more lofty ‘era’, but I don’t mean it that way. In fact, it can be as short as a millionth of a moment, it can be a set of discrete, unevenly spaced moments, it can be anything, but importantly it should characterize a particular type of life in your life which is different from your present life and the other lives in your life.

1. ‘Some’ time, mind you, although can be a matter of years can also be as short as a matter of seconds sometimes.

2. Although I must admit it is very, very difficult to tell a question from rhetoric, in something written by someone else.

3. But sort of also the reverse of; but then so often whatever is a reverse of a thing is also strikingly similar in a curious, but important, way to the same thing.

*. This is how I would think by the way if I lived in the belief, that secretly many of us harbor, that they are the centre of the world with the world to the left, right, front of and behind them.