Things are Falling Apart

Original artwork superimposed over a random hourglass image from Google.

I was born in 2000, the year that marked a new beginning.

2000 was also the year at the wide end of the gyre; when things were supposed to fall apart.

Maybe they did.

I don’t particularly like my life. I have a roof over my head, good food, and people who (I think) care about me. But I hate my life. It’s going nowhere. I’m paralysed. This place is to me what Dublin was to Joyce. The difference is that I can’t leave. The fact that I’m the person standing in the way of me leaving doesn’t make it any better.

A few posts ago, I wrote about how it feels like there’s a storm trying to suck me into the narrow middle of an hourglass and how in that horrible place I can choose whether or not to stop the sand from falling(https://thefourthdimensionoflife.wordpress.com/2021/08/04/why-i-even-try/ ). I was talking about not wanting to live. I don’t think anybody got that. Well, nobody really understands anything I say most of the time. To stop the sand is to stop time. At a deeper level, it is to destroy unity.

The hourglass has a form that has great significance in history. Two triangles meeting at their vertices. It is a symbol that appears in so many cultures. Here’s a link to a page that lists a few: https://hillerdrygoods.com/blogs/news/the-leone-blanket-story

Wherever it appears and in whatever form, this symbol always has something to do with unity, balance, and the like. Being stuck in the middle of an hourglass is about the disruption of balance and unity for me; when things get so dark that you are able to see how time could potentially stop. It was about things falling apart.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

-The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats

If you go through Yeats’s notes, you’ll find all kinds of diagrams with gyres intersecting at all kinds of angles. One such illustration that is often referenced in the analysis of ‘The Second Coming’ is an illustration of two intersecting gyres. Read more about it here: https://yeatsvision.com/geometry.html

In the context of the poem, the gyre could be seen as representing a period of 2000 years. Yeats believed that at the end of every 2000 years, at the wide end of a gyre, there would be a drastic change. One system would fall and another would rise (the origin of the new being the narrow end of the gyre). In the poem mentioned above, Yeats anticipates things falling apart. Right after the First World War, with the end of the millennium fast approaching, Yeats asks the question of what lays ahead for man. He is not naively optimistic about the future. He asks the question and he does not expect the answer to be pleasant.

When I look at the hourglass, I’m reminded of the intersecting gyres. I was born in 2000. Whether or not what Yeats says/believes in/concocted has any validity, I don’t particularly like the new beast. Confusion and panic reign and I’m a part of it. In a way, it is through me that it has become part of reality. I hate that.

I feel grounded in time only when I’m the author; when I create. That’s the other thing about the hourglass symbol. Two triangles meeting at their vertices looks like two mountains meeting at their tips.

My last post was about how mountains signify clarity and authorship for me.

The mountaintop is where you experience the satisfaction of feeling like the author- the person who knows what’s on the next page. The author is the one who knows what the book is really about. In the experience of that entity is where God meets man. The Sermon on the Mount, The Fire Sermon, Mount Sinai, Mount Carmel, Pisgah, Mount Moria, Mount of Olives, Mount of Transfiguration, Golgotha…the list of mountains that have great religious and mystical significance is endless. Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, is where the 12 gods live according to myth. In fact, in The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway, which I talked about in one of my earlier posts ( https://thefourthdimensionoflife.wordpress.com/2021/07/10/obsessed-with-loss-of-potential-jpg/ ), the Kilimanjaro , which like the Olympus is the highest mountain in Africa has a western summit which in Masai is called “the House of God”. In the post I explain how the mountaintop has a lot to do with perspective, potential, and perfection of the artist. The Snows of Kilimanjaro is about a writer. That really makes it worth mentioning in this post. To look at the hourglass symbol and see two mountains joined at their tips is not that crazy. It makes sense to me.

What is interesting is that I am not denied authorship in the narrow middle of the hourglass. In fact, I think this is where it is the most potent. However, this is also where I can truly hurt myself. End things. As I mentioned in many previous posts, it is the void in which I burn. ‘Void’ because that is what experiencing uncharted territory feels like most of the time- reduction. Searching for meaning in the void is scary. Once in a while, you find/experience something that makes sense but the joy is fleeting. It changes you, moulds you, and motivates you but the journey breaks you. You’re flailing around in something incredibly vast and tangibly transparent. Yes, darkness is transparent. I say that because most people would associate darkness with opacity, not being able to move etc. The void is different. That’s what makes it scary.

And I am afraid; terribly so.

On Sublimity

For our soul is raised out of nature through the truly sublime, sways with high spirits, and is filled with proud joy, as if itself had created what it hears.

Longinus

Feel/processing the idea of who I am and what the ‘other’ is is something I try to do with a great deal of honesty. It makes for sublime moments of satisfaction and shameful moments of self-hate.

I don’t think I’m guilty of locking away parts of myself because I am too afraid see myself for who I am. I might not let everyone else see all parts of me but I see them all. I see myself and allow myself to hate who I am. It is painful but the alternative is not an option. The only solution is to learn to love myself. And I am learning…

In allowing myself to be vulnerable in the way I see myself and perceive art, I have had what I will claim to be sublime moments. What are sublime moments? Let’s just say it’s like glimpsing infinity for a moment and being utterly in awe by how much of it your mind was able to handle.

To feel the intensity of an epiphany or any form of sublimity is to be stretched and bent to the point where the irregularities which lay hidden in the shrunken folds of your everyday life become visible and obvious. In your attempt to behold everything in all its detail, you experience sublimity. When I’m listening/watching/or reading something that facilitates a sublime experience, I am made aware of an ability to feel/ attempt to feel that seems incongruous with how small and fragile my physical body is. If you take a rubber band and make a dot on it with a marker and then stretch it, the dot becomes an irregular line. That’s what is required of you to experience sublimity. As you stretch, test the limits of your ability to behold, you experience a vastness that surprises you and a resolution that matures you. You don’t need to understand what you see. The joy is in how much you stretch, how much you strain to enter uncharted territory

“Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless, so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt”

Immanuel Kant

Last year, I spent quite a lot of time watching Grey’s Anatomy. I was fascinated by all the medical terms and techniques. Around that time, and even now, whenever I’m listening to a song that moves me or a particularly powerful scene in a movie, for an instant I see a vision of my chest being ripped open and a hand reaching in and pumping my heart. When it happened for the first time, I was confused. It’s such a bizarre image. But I knew it meant something and in contemplation I found the reason to be obvious. In GA, there were many times when a patient’s heart would stop mid-surgery (or something else happens. I’m not sure because I’m not a doctor) and the surgeon would manually massage/pump the heart. It’s a very powerful image. The hand reaches into the chest and cradles the heart. It’s scary. Maybe that’s why I found it be akin to the experience of intensity that comes from being able surrender to the moment, a freedom to enjoy the epiphany brought about only by the exercise of vulnerability in thought. By some cosmic grace, I was able to behold with a brutal honesty the stretching of a self shrunken by the vanity of life. It is grace because it is given to me. Many things, be it the surroundings, the music I’m listening to or a work of art by somebody, they all come together to demand an attempt to try and touch what is beyond, an attempt that would test my limits and thus provide me with a sublime experience. The patient lies on the table, powerless. The hand has to reach into the chest and make life possible.

But like I mentioned before, a hand pumping a heart is a scary image. There’s blood everywhere and you are constantly reminded that anything could go wrong. Sometimes when I let myself go and feel/think, it ends up with me in a very dark place, a place where I hate myself and fear the future. It feels like imploding. Not too long ago, I had what I think was a panic attack. It felt like I was falling into myself forever and there was no way to escape, to make it all stop. Sometimes that’s where I end up when I allow my mind to be vulnerable

But even in all the darkness, there is an awe of newfound depth of experience. Monsters may not be beautiful but they can be sublime. To feel myself being stretched to the limit, bent to the point of breaking as I try to understand what the darkness is excites me even when it brings me pain. As the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.

I do not quite understand what it all means yet. But I feel like I’m onto something big.

If you look at the painting I made for this post (at the beginning of the post), you’ll see how the person is on his knees with his back bent backwards. That’s a posture I identify with the experience of epiphany. It’s a picture of surrender that is not inspired by fear or reverence but by a lack of it. To bend down with your face to the ground can also lead to an intense experience. There is definitely an experience of freedom and sublimity in reverence and submission. But that’s a topic for another day.

If you’ve read my post ‘Obsessed with loss of potential.jpg’ (https://thefourthdimensionoflife.wordpress.com/2021/07/10/obsessed-with-loss-of-potential-jpg/), you’ve prolly seen this painting.

In the above slideshow, you can see the entire painting and also the part of it I want to mention here. In the 1st slide, you’ll see how the character has the same posture as the person in the painting at the top of this post. Back bent backwards. This painting however, is less dark/depressing than the one at the top. The latter is what the imploding I mentioned earlier feels like. It’s painful, dark, and scary. But the fact that this dark tornado of depressing thoughts came from me is something that intrigues me. In this, such experiences are sometimes sublime. On a completely different note, how funny is it that I find yellow be a very depressing colour??

I don’t know if you’re still reading. To be honest, this is more for me than it is for you. I write because I need to make sense of all the thoughts that plague me. I’m sorry if I haven’t made things simpler. These posts are written in one sitting and usually when I’m sleep-deprived and tired. I rarely edit. I just want to get my thoughts out there. To do anything more is something I don’t have strength for at the moment.

I care about all of you as a blogger, in a way that is made possible by the sheer humanity that is on display on this platform.

Cheers!

Why I Even Try

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house

Matthew 5:15

The void is comforting; it takes away all points of reference. Imperfections are powerless in the edgeless, cornerless space that I call loneliness. Here, in the darkest period of my life, I remain a candle that rejects the gravitas of the candlestick for the blissful ignorance in the dusty nothingness under the bed where monsters sleep.

I burn here

I burn in red and yellow, like a fire.

Yellow is the tears; yellow is the sunrise; yellow is the reach and the contrast; yellow is the depression.

Red, my love, is Raskolnikov; Red is blood rushing into the brain with a vengeance; Red is the confidence that shrouds confusion; Red is the panic and the pain, the push that never pulls back.

I…I burn in these.

I try because I know this. I try because I seek the corners; reproach without the embrace. I have crushed the mustard seed and I have seen the faith. I try because in the void nothing can protect me from myself. By skinning myself and showing you that I bleed, I find a branch to hold on to as the storm tries to suck me back into that narrow middle of the hourglass where everything stops but hate prevails. I know I can stop them, I can stop the sand. But I don’t want to.

Your art makes the clock run faster and longer. Time goes faster in the museum; time goes faster on Instagram. It goes too fast for me. Yes, your art makes me feel happy, excited even. But it never grounds me. Your art has never worn my colours and I doubt it ever will. I am alone in this.

The only way to ground myself is to dig in, into myself.

This is why I try. This is why I make art.

Because I am alone in the genius.

Perspective

I made this animated gif today cause I felt like it was a great illustration of how I try really hard to have the right perspective on things and it just doesn’t stay the way I want it to. Growing up Christian, I was always asked to not focus on things below (worldly things) and on things above (God, eternity, etc.). Now, as I go through a crisis of faith, I find that really hard to do. I really don’t have any idea what I’m supposed to look at. Well, I’ve got a vague idea of what’s beautiful and true. However, aligning your perspective to something sounds like a big deal and I don’t know if what I know right now is of substance or worth committing to.

Question: What do you align your perspective to?

The Tunnel at the End of the Light

My entire life has been an exercise in running towards the tunnel at the end of the light, an obsession with running away from anything that has the potential to create true human connection. Darkness embodies an emptiness for me that does not need to be filled. The void doesn’t threaten or judge; it allows me to be myself. In the acceptance of loneliness, I have the opportunity to be a part of this world at the low price of being an actor. It is in service of this necessary role that I have perfected the art of walking into a room and becoming whoever I need to be to protect myself. I have concluded that at the heart of this horrid practice is the belief that no one can ever truly understand me.

– from an entry in March 2021


I wrote this a few months ago when I was in a very dark place. Although the epiphanies that I had during this time were capable of leaving a mark on my mind, I recall them as having risen out of a mental state that was prone to self-hate. I look back on this period in my life as one of transformation. This is very odd as it happened only a few months ago. Usually, it takes a person years to look back on a period in his/her life and say that it had a transformative effect on them. Maybe, the pandemic and the small room I spent the last 12 months in probably has something to do with this unusual maturation of thought.

Before we start, I must say that I was hesitant to share the above passage, which has been taken from a longer piece I wrote; not because it is a personal piece but because I cringe at how my mind was reduced to a sponge that absorbed everything and anything to the point where I was falling down a bottomless pit of hopelessness and anxiety. I cringe not because I am ashamed but because I had no understanding of how fragile my mind really was.

When Keats said, “the only means of strengthening one’s intellect is to make up one’s mind about nothing, to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts”, I should have given him a piece of my mind. LOL. Just kidding. Of course, we are not talking about Negative Capability here although I do believe that I have developed a similar capacity over the past year and it possibly had something to do with what I will be talking about in this post.

The past twelve months of lockdown has been like pushing a giant rock up a mountain, as in the Sisyphus myth. A few months ago, I finally reached the top. When the blissful distraction of hard work and focus had left me and the pain of self-hate threatened to consume me, my eyes searched for a glimpse of the promised land but I was disappointed. What I saw instead was the infinite regress of my own insecurity. I feared death, loneliness, the loss of potential and the uncertain future. The rock had by then rolled down leaving me with the crippling knowledge that pushing it up again was probably not going to change what I had just seen. In a moment like no other in my blip of a past, I felt panic. In that moment, I wondered what Moses felt atop Pisgah as his eyes saw the Promised land and he heard the certainty of death in the valley.

The challenges of being a college student in the middle of a pandemic, my isolation from the religious community, and my frequent and reckless introspection had all led me to a place where I found myself drifting away from God, my family, and the rest of the world. I didn’t know what to believe. The pain of having everything you believed in shaken and taken out from under you is extremely confusing and painful. I felt more vulnerable than I ever did in my entire life.

But with time, music, the love of my family and a few friends (I’ve learnt I don’t have many), and the indescribable power of the God I truly want to believe in, I found myself slowly making it out of the darkness. I had finally realized that while darkness covers my imperfections, it cannot protect me from myself. I need people, I need God. I don’t know what that means yet but I have the courage to search. This, I know.

I thought twice about posting this because I did not want to add to the darkness in the world. The passage and the artwork are both very disturbing. However, I am sharing it because I have resurfaced, found land, and started on a journey that I believe will be a fruitful and adventurous one. If you’re still reading this, I thank you for caring. I would really appreciate your company in the comments section. Be well.

Obsessed with loss of potential.jpg

Drew this today. There’s a lot of stuff going on here but I’ll try my best to explain everything.

On the left side of this art piece(not sure what this is but let’s say this is a painting) are references to one of my favourite short stories- The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway. Before he goes into the story, Hemingway tells the reader about a leopard found frozen at the top of Kilimanjaro:

Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest
mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai “Ngaje Ngai,” the House of God.
Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has
explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway

As we read the story, we come across a writer who goes through his life waiting for the right moment to write about the things he cares about. He goes on a trip, wounds his leg and gangrene sets in. As he finds himself closer to death than he ever was, he looks back at the many times when he chose not to write because the time wasn’t right. He was obsessed with death and the loss of his potential as a writer, a loss that would result from anything short of perfect creation.

At first, I thought I was reading about a failed writer. I thought Hemingway was telling a precautionary tale about what happens to artists when they choose to find satisfaction in a fantastical image of themselves they create in their heads based on how much unrealized potential they think they have. It felt like a warning to those who reject the responsibility of adulthood for the childish pleasure of being satisfied with believing you ‘can’ and ‘will’ as opposed to realising potential by ‘doing’.

However, when I came to the end of the short story, I was surprised. Naturally, an artist who wasted his talent and fell prey to such a criminal fear should be made to stare death in the face and breathe his last in regret. To face the reality of who one is and not hide behind the possibility of what one can be is a crucial step in artistic expression. Without the courage to do this, our world will never be able to elevate the experience of life to art. But Hemingway does not allow the artist to die like this. In fact, it is unsure whether the writer even feels regret. He seems relieved that he will never know if he had it in him. He realizes that he never failed because he never tried. In the story, the artist dies in his sleep, dreaming of being rescued by a plane and setting off in the direction of Kilimanjaro.

It seems to me that the leopard frozen atop Kilimanjaro stands for all those who struggle with the fear of losing potential or creating something that does not do justice to the unique view of life they have. As artists, we feel responsible for our perspective on life. We often believe that without us the world will not come to know of the miscellaneous ways in which life can become sublime. We are important and that is why we create with the intend to share. We matter. It is our struggle to make our perspective perfectly tangible for others that leads us to the top of Kilimanjaro, to the House of God where perfection can be realised. But we get there as mortals and we often end up taking our best ideas to the grave because of our dedication to perfection. However, I believe that Hemingway found peace in that our potential is frozen in time like the leopard. It is tragic that the world will never know the best of what we see but there is some consolation in that our quest to find perfection ends in the eternal preservation of something that is not tainted by failures in an imperfect world. Potential is not utilized but nevertheless preserved as far as the artist is considered. The pain of an artist who is forced to question his ability can be brutal. In the tragic story of unrealized potential, there is some beauty in the ignoble escape of reality. Sad? Yes. But I can’t help but find peace in it.

I’ve always believed that I see life in a way no one else can. At the heart of this belief is probably a pernicious self-obsession and mild case of narcissism. That said, this belief makes me feel responsible for doing my best to create art that perfectly encapsulates my perspective on life. Every time I feel like I’ve failed to meet the impossible standards I’ve set for myself, I find myself breaking down, my image of myself as an artist with valuable perspective shatters into a million pieces when the thought that I might not have any potential after all hits me like a ton of bricks. The pain is often unbearable. It has led me to have diaries full of ideas that I have done nothing about because I’m waiting for the right moment. I am responsible for my art and I am ready to give it my all. But if I give it my all and that which I can’t control makes all my efforts futile, then I will die. The portrait of the artist in my head will die. I won’t blame the world. I’ll blame myself. I will blame myself because it is easier to do than to believe the world is messed up. Because then there is no way for me to redeem myself.

To embrace life is to recognize pain. And to recognize is to feel as one has to feel first to recognize. I might be afraid to feel

So yes, the leopard, the ice cubes at the bottom, the dialogue bubble with “if only” in it are all references to The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Notice how the leopard’s face kinda looks like that of a human, especially the nose.

The main focus in the painting is a big grey object with a hand sticking out of it. I value my hands very much. I’m a musician and my hands are something I use to enter a world where I understand things better. When I was in high school and even while I was in college, I had this haunting fear that something would happen to my hands and I won’t be able to realise my dream of being a first-class musician. When I got strain injuries in my fingers a few years ago and when I recently developed a ganglion cyst in the middle finger of my left hand, it scared me to bits. A hand sticking out of a huge metallic brace of sorts reminds me of this fear. Plus, it also hints at how our limbs, while still containing some divine magic instilled in them by our creator are now being replaced by larger-than-life robotic and technological developments. Today, someone can create a guitar solo, albeit tasteless(in my opinion), on a computer. That freaks me out. So yeah, that’s why there’s a huge grey arm in the painting.

The Hand

At the bottom, somewhere in the middle, are two people with arrows pointing in opposite directions. On one end of the painting is a brick red spade and on the other is the leopard from Hemingway’s short story. The two people are two versions of me. On some days, I find the leopard attractive. I just want to not try and feel worth it. The fact that the arrow pointing to the leopard is held by a guy who’s lying down and in a posture that is reminiscent of a baby drives the point home. As mentioned before, it’s easy to be a child and paint yourself as somebody who ‘can’ and not as somebody who ‘does’. But on other days, I want to be brick-red; efficient and productive. Brick-red encapsulates such ideas for me. But getting there is harder because there’s a wall in the way, a brick-red wall. Being aware of what productivity is is in itself a hinderance to productivity. That’s because I’m so insecure. Haha, yes. I know I am. It is very easy for my pursuit to become all about productivity and not about the thing I should be productive in. Funny.

Then there’s the word ‘crash’ in big font on the upper right corner of the painting. This is because I often feel like I’m crashing into myself when I start to panic about these things. The yellow in the background and the yellow of the sad leopard also stands for depression. I find dim or dark yellows with a bit of red in them accurately represents what depression feels like to me.

Alright then, I think I’ve explained everything. If you’re still reading, I appreciate you very much. Please do say hi in the comments. Having random conversations on my blog is always a highlight for me. I love you all very much.

Have a blast existing in this funny world!!

Of Faith and Fear

There are blotches of colour on the isle; that colour from the Book of Numbers: the Byzantine blue that clothes Mother Mary. Just like I imagine cameramen and makeup artists in a horror movie, I imagine them bringing the idol in, the blue of the sky closed out by frescoes of naked men. Wet blue drips off her and colours the blood-red carpet. Fear dissipates and the cement cracks as it breaks down the walls. Focus here, credence to the colour blue, portkeys in the colour of the sky.

P.S. You can find the story behind this piece and what it means at Of Faith and Fear: Why the Mumbo is Jumbo (wordpress.com)

Of Silence

Silence.
It goes out carrying a knife.
Not a samurai sword.
But a knife.
Less conspicuous. Conveniently deviant.

I hated its lack of discipline. I couldn’t predict it. As a kid I remember clapping in the shower, tapping my foot on the wet floor as the soap slid down my body. I hated the silence. So much that it had to be me, and only me, that killed it. Not nature, not some famous dude on the radio, but me.

There was an old piano in the living room of our first house. An old soul. On most evenings, I would hear it waking up, complaining like an old man as my dad settled down to play. But even that sounded beautiful. I would crawl down under it whenever my father played and lie there with my eyes open, basking in the silhouette of the parting sun as I felt my restless body slowly sinking up into the ancient wood.

I crawled under a lot of things. But the rusty old piano in the living room was my favourite. The creaky old bed in my grandpa’s room came at a close second. I especially liked to crawl under it when he was just about to fall asleep. He would toss and turn, trying to find a soft spot and I would listen to the creaks and the woody whines. It’s a child’s dream to have such a haven, a place where you hear everything you can’t see.

When I was about six years old, we moved to a new house. Our piano came with us and we gave it a very special place in our new shell. I couldn’t wait to lie under the piano once again, caught in the tension between the familiar above me and the novel below me. But I was to find out that something was terribly wrong.

“The C note”, my father cried. Unfortunately, the movers had not been careful enough with the old musical contraption and the old man had lost a tooth. One key somewhere to the right on the mundane assortment of ebony and ivory had stopped making the ‘C’ sound it was supposed to make. A tragic silence had replaced it. I couldn’t care less about what letter had gone missing. For all I cared, the key looked like one of those those giant statues on Easter island.

Dad never got it fixed. He just avoided it most of the time since it was on the extreme right and he used it mostly for high pitched embellishments. But there were moments when he would get carried away, stimulated by the rising music, and stumble upon the silent key. Under the piano, I would feel his muscles tense up in silent disapproval and self-reproach. Then, he would move on.

When I was around 8, I found myself before the piano everyday. No longer under it but at a useful creative distance. I too stumbled onto the silent key a couple of times. But then I got used to it. In fact, whenever there was a pause in a piece of music I was playing, instead of making my arms briefly hover in the air, I would press down on the silent key. It became my “thing”. I started treating silence like sound, like another note. And in time, I fell in love with it. And just like that, the kid who hated silence was tricked into falling in love with it by some divine force acting through a couple of careless movers. It became forever clothed in the delicate colours of sound. It’s nudity covered, it became a safe haven for my childhood. A place where I could hear everything I couldn’t see. And I didn’t even have to crawl in to find it.

Reasonable Art

White softness, submissive and complying, sits before me with its back against the easel and asks me, “Do you see me?”

“Huh?”, I ask, my eyes returning to focus on the perfect edges of the paper.

“Do you see me?”, it asks again, quieter this time. Much quieter.

“No”, I say and run my index finger over my eyebrow.

How could I? I’m an artist after all. I’m supposed to see things on the paper. The paper alone means nothing to me. It hides behind colour in near perfect submission. It lays no demands for the focus of a trained eye or the sweet caress of a surrendering hand. It wears whatever I give it and flaunts it in absolute stillness. Why would I ever see it?

But today, I’m forced to. Today, I must surrender my title and see nothing. I must do so because the only way to open a closed door is to forget there is a key. At least that’s how it works at the cul-de-sac inside my brain I call ‘creative space’.

And today the door is closed.

It’s blocked.

And I know it because I can hear it. Yes, I hear it when graphite touches paper. I hear it and I know that the door’s closed.

You see, there’s music in the air and on paper when the door’s open. A swish here and a swish there. They’re all expressions of the past, a reproduction of decisions made seconds ago. An experienced hand will handle the temporal separation with fidelity and resolute organisation. What you hear then is music. It rises and falls, bubbles up and explodes, and stomps with grace at a full stop.

But today, I don’t hear it. What I hear today is graphite choking on paper like a cat choking up a furball. My hand is moving over the paper like a drunk man at 5 a.m. on the subway. There is no fidelity, no organisation. My mind has nothing to say to my hands and I’ve lost all control. I turn the room upside down looking for the key. I must get out. If I don’t, I will kill me.

It is in this quiet desperation on a Monday evening that I find myself in the company of a perfect sheet of paper. It is offering me a way out. A way to convince myself that there is no key. A cheat code that will connect me to reality and unlock potential. So I cave in.

I frame the blank sheet of paper and I hang it on the wall.

I tell others I did it because art should never make us blind, even to paper.

Author’s note:

This piece is part of a series called ‘Mumbo is Jumbo’, where I talk about weird concepts and ideas that I have. In this short piece, I intend to highlight how art lies in the reason why you do something and not just in what you do. I also believe that we sometimes experience creative blocks because we forget this. The fact that I can get away with calling a sheet of paper art has to be good enough evidence. I didn’t even make it. I just came up with a reason to call it art and identified the reason as art in itself. You can too.

P.S. The 4D family is growing fast 🙂 If you like what you read, do share it and consider following the blog. We’re all friends here. Remember to always have a blast just existing. God bless!

From A Postbox Near You

Rays of darkness enter a postbox three blocks from your two-storey house. The quiet frustration of cars screeching to a stop at a red light that I can’t even see wakes me up and I blink. It’s another evening in the postbox. Here, I live among the many letters you send to your friends, exes and colleagues. I toss and turn, making space among your formal faithfullys and sincerelys, words penned with no regard to the meaningless flattery all regards have carried for the past hundred or so years.

This mundane evening, I proceed as I do every day, to reseal the letters that I fell asleep reading, making sure I leave no traces of spilt secrets. Once I’m done, I feast. I put my nose inches away from the efficient and neglected opening of the postbox and breathe in the crushed aroma of tea and coffee mixed with the mischief of leaves and seeds from the Asias. I smell yesterday’s rain on the coats of young ambitious souls on their way back from work and the leather of shoes not yet broken into. It reeks of monotony; all of it.

As the evening breaks into the pitch black of the night, I am confronted with what I must do to pass time. There’s not much to do at night. I certainly can’t read any letters. In fact, I can do nothing but listen to the stillness, an activity that’s such a bore I pity anyone who finds it beautiful. I like to process. I need smells and sounds to acknowledge the existence of my senses. I really don’t know why I spend so much time awake in the night. I could just sleep and be at my best during the day. I feel like an old fool. But that is just how it is. I like to tell myself my obsession with the laziness of the night lies in how the expectation of something new is glorified by nocturnal silence, a heightened experience of anticipation from a pause that lasts but around ten hours.

After this stretch of failed expectations and excusable disappointments, I finally find joy in the ever certain glorious break of dawn. The rays of darkness change colour like milk poured into a cup of hot tea. I hear the sound of birds echo inside my small cylindrical chamber of existence and condition my eyes to the yellow of the sun reflecting off the glass of an old pawn shop and falling on the red of the inlet of the post box. I hear the sniffs of dogs accompanied by the accomodating length of a whistle or a hum. I do not always smell flowers but I smell love and the expectation of love that flourishes in the sincerity of yet another day.

What I like to do in the wee hours of the morning on such a routine day, is scratch ever so patiently at the red of the inlet. Giving my living space a touch of individuality is cause for a lasting sense of warmth and security. After going about this for five seconds or so, I proceed to rummage through the letters in search of chocolate or liquorice that some kind old woman sent to her grandchild along with a note the child can’t read. Once I’ve helped myself to the spoil, I go on to read.

To know what day it is is not too much trouble for me. I just check the date on the first letter that comes in. As I read, I share in the frustration of my neighbours. I listen patiently to them rant about how their cooking appliances keep breaking down and how the country’s foreign policy is evil. I try to imagine their faces as they wrote the words down. It helps if I remember the edges of your fingers when you dropped the letter in or the sound of your coat brushing past the metal of my postbox. The sound of your shoes, the ruckus your loose change makes in your purse, all helps me to put a face to the words you write. That’s how I know about you.

Yes, you.

You live a few blocks from me. You write quite frequently. In fact, you no longer slow down when you reach the postbox. You, like a few others who frequently visit me, have mastered the art of skilfully targeting the rectangular inlet with one hand, very much like you would throw a frisbee. I don’t even hear the spring in your step after you’ve successfully posted a mail in this fashion. I find this to be a quality among many who post as often as you with similar ease in technique. You send a letter to your grandma every week and I find you to be a very sincere and likeable person. I’m sure your grandma loves reading what you write. I wish I could know what she writes back to you. I do know she does not correct your spelling mistakes because you continue to post your mail without proofreading it. It made my day when you wrote ‘Police Chef’ instead of ‘Police Chief’ in your last letter. I enjoy your letters for this very reason. It seems like you write to your grandmother just like you must have talked to her when you were a child.

Today, I hear you in the distance, your feet steady, the letter in your hand. I shield my face to brace the impact of your letter but nothing happens. I’m sure you passed by me because I can smell the undertones of lemon in the perfume you use. Did you forget to post your letter? I can still faintly hear your firm steps fading away. I almost panic. Is your grandmother all right? If something’s not right, do you need someone to talk to?

I sit back against the rusty metal and run my fingers through my hair. You’re a loner. I hope everything’s fine. Another letter comes in. Amateur. I could hear him slow down, stop and I could even hear his shirt strain against his belt as he bent down ever so slightly to put the letter in.

Uninteresting.

Author’s note:

This is the third post of the series ‘Mumbo is Jumbo’ where I talk about weird ideas and seemingly irrelevant stuff that I believe have aesthetic value.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post. The 4D family is growing. If you like reading about weird stuff that has a touch of poetry and aesthetic perspectives, consider becoming a part of this family. We’re all good friends here.