The Glass Ceiling

You guys have seen those creepy mirrors in interrogation rooms, right? The ones in movies where on side of the glass there are people sitting in the dark looking at people on the other side who can’t see them? Well, yeah, did you know that one side of the mirror being dark and the other being well-lit is a requirement for the mirror to work in this way?

Kinda makes sense, doesn’t it? You’ll be able to see yourself in your windows at night when the light is on in your room, but you won’t be able to during the day when the sun is shining through.

Why do I bring up this interesting-yet-too-specific-and-takes-a-long-time-to-explain-so-it-really-doesn’t-belong-in-a-blog-post piece of information?

Good question.

Well, the other day I had this vision of me standing in a room without roofing. The sun was beating down on me and it was around mid-day. The sky was beautiful, with colours swirling and dissolving into each other like clouds. I wanted to reach out and touch them. So I did.

Well, I tried.

There was a ceiling made of glass in my way.

Since the sun was really bright, it didn’t look like there was a glass ceiling. I pushed first, tapped second, and then I just stood there. I looked out at all the beautiful stuff above me and felt like there was nothing I could do to truly experience them.

Then, as time passed, the sun slowly slipped out of view. It was evening. There was a light in my room, one brighter than the light outside. And now, when I looked up, I could see the glass. I could see myself in the glass. But I could also see the sky and the colours above because the sun hadn’t gone down yet. My reflection and the evening sky were two faint images superimposed on each other, still on the glass. I stared at it without blinking.

And then night came and I was alone. With myself. The glass was now a pure reflection of me and my room.

I know what the vision was about. It was about many things things that have present significance.

You see, I’m about to spend a year at home because I didn’t get into the postgraduate programmes I wanted to get into, which is partly something I didn’t want anyway but anxiety doesn’t care about what I want. I want so many things. During the day, when the rest of the world is alive, I’m constantly reminded of what I cannot have, be it because of my interests, where I come from, who I know etc. It’s just like the sun beating down on me through the glass. And I jump all day, hoping to catch one of those colourful clouds but I bang my head against the glass. This is all I can do during the day.

Then evening comes and I realise that there is a thick sheet of glass between me and the world, that the curse the 21st century casts on youth is the ability to see all that they cannot be or have. In the twilight hours, as I see myself and the world in the glass of fate and destiny, I am inspired by how it grounds me in reality by placing the good and the bad into context. This prepares me for the hours to come, when loneliness will take hold of me.

In the deep hours of the night, I am all I see. I look at my reflection on the glass and I write, speak, and draw. I reinvent, nay find myself in the void. This act does have the power to heal and restore but it does so only if I stare at the glass in the evening. To see myself and the world at the same time, to stop fighting and observe my existence in all its beauty, glory, and tragedy is the only thing that can bring healing in the night.

Well, now you know why I create everything in the night when everyone else is sound asleep.

About the artworks:

The first artwork contains a lot of ideas that I’ve already explored in previous posts with mountains, gyres, allusions to authorship, etc. The ice from the Hemingway post makes a reappearance as this post has a lot to do with fear of losing potential (https://thefourthdimensionoflife.wordpress.com/2021/07/10/obsessed-with-loss-of-potential-jpg/). Lions, as you know, mean a lot to me. They keep appearing in my dreams. I’ve been a lion in some and I’ve also been protected and attacked by them in some. There are other reasons but I won’t go into them now. If you have a good eye, you probably noticed how the speech bubble kinda looks like a human being, with the lion and its mane making up the mouth. Not exactly planned but I believe these things happen for a reason. Makes sense in context anyway.

The second artwork is more minimalistic. You can see the colours yellow and red making an appearance. And you probably know what they mean if you’ve been keeping up with the posts. If not check this post (https://thefourthdimensionoflife.wordpress.com/2021/08/04/why-i-even-try/)

All Is a Mirror For The Chameleon

Original Artwork

Today, around noon, I found myself spending a few moments alone with my imagination. Listening to Santana’s Samba Pa Ti, my mind filled with all kinds of colours and images. I was alone on a beach, my hand buried in the sand. A green beverage of some kind was pouring over me, covering me in translucent green. The green pouring over me almost felt like a hand, like I was caressing myself. It was passionate. For a moment, I tried to take control of the scene and bring a woman into the picture. It seemed fitting that a feminine presence be the reason for such passion. But when I did so, the picture almost burst into a million pieces. So I decided to let it go. I was to be alone in this.

While I’m not sure what this means, I thought it would be helpful to mention a few interesting thoughts that have occupied my mind for the past few days. I had a passing thought a few days ago of a chameleon in front of a mirror. It struck me that if the chameleon only identified itself by its colour and not its form, then the world would become its mirror. Imagine that- the conflation of perception of the outside world with that of self. For a moment, I wondered if that was what happened inside the void that I keep mentioning, that nothingness where I flail around and retrieve pieces of the broken mirror; the place where I create art out of necessity and learn more and more about myself. Was this exercise of existence a conflation of the kind mentioned above?

I believe I will be able to answer that better in time. For now, a record of thoughts will suffice.

About the artwork:

It is possible that the green in the painting and in my vision had to do with me reaching into the ground, into myself, and thus into nature itself. I had mentioned in a few other posts how I create art to “ground myself” and that no art except mine has the ability to make that happen. I have drawn from an earlier painting of mine that represents me burning in the void (from post ‘Why I Even Try’ which is linked below). This time, I chose to make the head red because recently I have found my thoughts taking a much darker turn, favoring the confusing and the self-destructive during introspection. However, my limbs continue to help me create art impulsively from the fascination I have for my pain and depression. So they remain yellow. The reason why the head is facing the sky and not the ground, which would have been more natural, can be found in my post ‘On Sublimity’ which I will link below.

Reading the following posts and looking at the artwork in them might be helpful if you are interested in dissecting this post further:

In a lonely barren land

original artwork

The other day, I found myself talking to another writer who follows me here. We were talking about how I bring together my artwork and writing. Our conversation touched on how skill and craftsmanship can affect the ability to communicate in such a way. I shared some thoughts in the conversation that I thought was worth revisiting for my own nourishment as much as that of all the lovely people who follow me here on WordPress.

I ended an earlier post with a few lines that I believe will help me add a lot more depth to what I am about to do because the post is about something relevant to the discussion.

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.

I wrote this about two months back (link to the post: https://thefourthdimensionoflife.wordpress.com/2021/08/04/why-i-even-try/ ). At the time, I felt that this was a sentiment that was mine alone. However, yesterday night I was reading Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet (which was recommended to me by one of my professors) and I found myself sharing in the above sentiment with another writer, a brilliant one. Rilke talks about how personal and lonely the journey of an artist is. He writes:

You are looking outwards, and of all things that is what you must now not do. Nobody can advise and help you, nobody. There is only one single means. Go inside yourself.

In the final paragraphs of the earlier post of mine that I mentioned above, this is exactly what I was trying to say. Art, for me, is born out of necessity, and as such the function that it serves is essential and perhaps existential. I look inside for answers. It has not been long since I have found a space to create such art. At the moment, it is a barren land, the loneliest of places, where trees do not hide birds and water moves no rock. But I know that I belong here, whatever season awaits me.

Now that I have touched upon my understanding of the space in which artistic creation takes place, let us return to the main intention of this post which I mentioned in the beginning. In the conversation I had with this person on skill and craftsmanship, I shared my thoughts on why proficiency in a skill should not stand in the way of artistic creation.

One thing is obvious: a painting does not captivate the eye by virtue of its resemblance to what the world actually looks like. Some of the greatest painters of all time have earned their place by distorting reality. I believe it is the obvious consistency, decorum, and evidence of conscious decision that comes across that people think warrants admiration. What is interesting here is that a painting only has to come across as the result of these things, it doesn’t really have to be.

I have noticed that if I sit down and watch a toddler scribbling on a wall with a crayon for more than 15 minutes, I can find a certain consistency in the way they draw. This probably has nothing to do with calculated decisions informed by thousands of years of art history but probably more to do with their muscle memory and the way they hold a crayon. Whatever the reason be, consistency can be discovered by those who are willing/gifted to look for it in all kinds of places. To a certain degree, that’s why I think the artist finds art everywhere. It is also why when I enter that lonely space that I mentioned earlier, I plug my ears. No matter what people say, and a lot of it may even be worth listening to, the recognition of art is a mediocre by-product resulting from a system of measurement that is highly dependent on a person’s ability to see. The artist truly doesn’t matter in the exercise if you ask me. Of course, that’s just one way to look at things. I choose to look at this way because art that I create in the void is a reflection of parts of me that all the light in the world cannot bring forth.

I am not very proficient at putting words together or making colors speak. If there is some classical way of measuring how steady my brushstrokes are, I’m pretty sure I’ll be very below par when compared to a lot of people I know. However, it does not discourage me from making art because I do not make art by taking into consideration how others see the world but by being aware of how I see it. Because, for me, art is a way for me to paint myself. I believe that the true joy of artistic creation lies not in other people seeing you but in you seeing yourself, especially the parts of you that have always remained hidden.

To do this, I must let go. When I make art, I allow myself to be a toddler scribbling on a wall. And the more I do it, I am made all the more aware of the consistencies, patterns, and rules that I follow without intending to. And as I stare at them, I am made aware of my muscle memory, which is a metaphor for so many things. I am made aware of how I hold my crayon and why I hold it so. I believe deeply that this is what Rilke was talking about. To dig into oneself is truly the only exercise that will make art necessary for the artist. And art that is not born out of necessity, I think, will destroy the artist.

Sometimes, by virtue of us being humans and living in the same world together, another person’s art can make sense to us. Over time, it is even possible that the brilliance of an artist who is able to beautifully traverse those fine lines between the important extremes will bring people together. If that happens, it is the most beautiful of by-products. But that is all it is- a by-product.

Dig deep into yourself, find ways to be deeply aware of why artistic creation is at its heart a journey into the void. Be excited about reaching out into nothing and retrieving something. Be okay with flailing around aimlessly in the dark. In such exercise is the birth of all the rules and consistency this world seems to be hooked on. No matter how bad or good you are at drawing or painting, you will find that these things exist regardless when you look inside yourself. But even more importantly, it is in such habit that you truly see yourself.

About the artwork:

I continue to draw on mountains and gyres, my fancy for which you’ve witnessed in the previous posts. What the colours mean can also be found in my previous posts. It is an illustration of where I am at the moment, discovering the depressing yellow underneath as I truly see how I wear my skin. I’m leaving a lot of skin behind on this journey. I am also running away from a lot of things, which I’ve made clear with the outstretched hands, and running towards something at the same time. I’ve represented the last part by bringing the legs together as a person would if they were to firmly place themselves somewhere.

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?

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)