Sunday, July 11, 2010

I finished reading Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse at exactly 1 o clock yesterday. Did the end measure up ? Yes and no. While in the case of Mrs Dalloway, the ending, although abrupt, felt perfect, because I had suspected all along that the closure would never really be that, what with all of the elements sinking down in the midst of a very palpable agitation still hovering around, in To The Lighthouse, the ending felt like an ending, like someone had finally managed to bring every anxiety to rest with a supreme effort of will. I was left with that same feeling of wonder at having read something rather brilliant and even more importantly, new (for me at least), but I can't say I wasn't even a little disappointed either. For one, the section called Time Passes seemed rather drawn out, and while the effect may have been intentional, it dulled some of the pleasure that is to be had from one revelatory anecdote appearing after another without fail, much like in the dinner sequence. In between, a few silent moments of pondering and reflection help balance things, but this section went on for too long, and at times I suspected Woolf of repeating the same metaphors in slightly different ways. The last section was surprisingly delightful in its constant shifting of viewpoint from Lily to Mr. Ramsay and the children, but even here, apart from the starkly visual recollections of Mrs. Ramsay by Lily, replete and illustrated by things, colors and objects labelling these memories, making them easier to remember, I felt nothing new was said. The story, if I am allowed to call any Woolf novel that, backtracked, traced events all the way to the beginning, and came to conclusions not terribly different from what had already been achieved. That said, it could also have been an attempt at stating how even a death as sudden as Mrs. Ramsay's, after all, cannot linger on too long without allowing a greater understanding of things to replace it. Perhaps that was Mrs. Ramsay's final gift to Lily and the others.

I feel I have written almost nothing about the brilliance of the majority of the novel, but I shall leave that for another day, when, hopefully, even these minor setbacks reveal themselves to be only essential aspects that needed me to think them over a much longer period of time, before judging.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Literature can move you, but literature can also get away with lies, exaggerations, over-indulgent romanticizing of practical day to day events, feelings, and thoughts and make them seem bigger, or lesser than they really are. Literature can make you peer inside your head and come out with treasures you didn't even know existed, but it can also make you scoff at yourself for being, thinking, and sounding too plain, before you quickly remedy that by seeing how plain is just a word some people thought up to cover up their fears of individuality.
Waiting for our turn, with a book in hand, I sat, one leg on the other, reading. Or trying to, amidst the aching, groaning impatient people surrounding us. My father was one of them, but his discontent stemmed more from how long it was taking the last person to come out of the doctor's chamber. I had Heart of Darkness in my hand, and as I read the opening lines, I wondered why I never had started on it all this time; it was a pretty slim book. The wall in front of me had the face of a happy kid advertising some product. Make that a baby. And it struck me how much I hate babies. Skimming over the first page, (parts of it were almost memorised through repeated attempts at starting the book to finish it once and for all), and turning over to the next, I remembered a friend had educated me in second grade how its hard to score with girls if you don't at least pretend to like babies. But look at his face!, I exclaimed inwards. Looks like someone outside the photograph was asking it to smile, and the smile was so forced and as much as I hate babies, I hate forced smiles more, babies or grown ups. Conrad's writing seemed forced after Salinger's. But it was hard to concentrate with a new patient entering every 5 minutes. Shall I bring you a newspaper or something?, I asked father. No, he replied, emotionless, waving his hand. I noticed, not for the first time, how crooked his fingers seemed. Its funny how these details get magnified in a hospital.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I've always wanted to see what happens when you write, or draw without thinking about what it is you're about to write and draw and just do so as it comes. I have John Coltrane's A Love Supreme running in the background, and I will now write whatever comes into my head under the music's influence.

Running, the poodle smelt of heaven dropped by noisy cymbalines transformed into rattlesnakes. The increasing dimness of the speech cocked the dog's head sideways, and a yellow halo formed across the sky with leaves talking about a probable rustle and the verdant fields accepting that the raucous moles would probably dig everything up and ruin it anyway. The smelly author in his undergarments didn't look so ugly, and neither did the tramp lolling about the streets for sustenance. Suddenly, the ugly were more meaningful in their disgusting filth, and the glamorous looked bland. "Come, we'll dance ourselves into a form, and that form shall quote poetry from our grubby uneducated hearts rife with mismanagement and anxiety. But to be human is to be flawed" and saying so, the brains popped into the skies like clouds forming instantaneously, raining down thoughts and good cheer on the filth because for a change the faces mean the change and the red dawn shall slowly spring forth into rainbows that might vanish with the advent of a black and silent chant prescribing sanctuary. Sanctuary, cried the African wrapped in purity, and the sounds and the screams, weird in their incoherency, felt true and had a place in this world. The beautiful fell away, and what was natural reined while the dance of passion around the blue fire continued forever and time ceased to be time and became a collage of images that juxtaposed memories with desires and things rarely felt like possessions and alive, talked about years of mute tolerance.

Holy crap.

Friday, June 18, 2010

We had plans as school kids, or when we were just on the verge of college, that once we found our footing in this world, we would share an apartment, the three of us. Because, then, we were certain, absolutely sure that all three of us would do something together: work on a movie, or come up with a comic book, or write books. Or work on things really similar. Or, at the very least, stay in the same city. The three of us were inseparable, or I liked to think that. Yes, I liked to think that very much. Back then, stereotypes didn't seem as bad or cheesy as they do now. I would be the glue that held the team together. One of us would be the moody, soft-spoken sort, another the moral gorilla, quick to get angry and even quicker to admit when he's wrong, and the third, namely me, the wisecracking hotshot who was a lot more, but was also so in love with who he was, and who his friends were, and how amazing his friends were...well, I'd be the one ready to take the blame, or take the leap, if it meant the survival of our friendship.

Then college happened. Stuff happened. The usual stuff that happens to every college guy who thinks that come end of school, life will, life must, surely take a turn for the better. Provided, and we agreed on this very strongly, unanimously and were full of idealistic verve when we did, that we slog our asses off. Because we would do what we loved to do, to think about. We wouldn't be part of the rat race, no sir. But we would also never let it get to our heads: once you've got what you want, you got no excuse any more. You manage to lose it, its all your fault. No grumbling, no whatever.

Things did change, but not for the better. Not for all three of us. I got into art school. The soft spoken guy I told you about took computers and stuff. The angry wildcat with a heart of gold had to go with his family business. He had to study for it. No choice. Okay, to be fair, he did have a choice but sometimes having a choice is not enough. You need some sort of support, not the kind we gave. I'll admit I was thoroughly in love with my life then, and had become something of a nuisance. How I would advice, but to what effect? It was the kind of thing good little kids say to one another because they can afford to. Because they're kids. And because they're too young to know they aren't really good or bad unless they're out there alone. I wasn't a kid. I acted like an adult, or what I thought an adult was supposed to act like, but then one day I found out there's no such thing as being an adult. Nothing so clear cut. One day at my uncle's place, and what a little curiously insignificant little thing at that. See, my uncle, I used to worship the guy. Think the world of him. He got me into books, he read the greats, had this real humanistic side to him I thought only my father had. I used to idolize my father since I stopped being scared of him, but it takes me a long time to feel the same way about others. But my uncle, he was such a man. Then one day I hear he beats his wife. Okay, alright, it was his life, who was I to judge? How often are these rumors true anyway? It struck me funny. A man like him, engrossed in his Dostoevskys and Faulkner's, someone who appreciated good art. And then I go out to buy ice cream for my grandma one day, he tags along because he has stuff to buy too, and pays for all the stuff and tells me "I'll take the money for the ice cream now." Any other guy would have probably missed it, but I didn't. I suddenly found myself visualizing me in his place, and a little kid in mine (I still saw myself as a kid) and I couldn't bring myself to even think of ever asking the little guy for money. You don't do that. Its kinda cheap. Its miserly and cheap and it suddenly shattered his protective force field. Now I would be critical of every little thing. The man didn't feel so great anymore. Lookie there, I told myself. None of them don't feel so great when you go beneath the surface. The surface is what I had a massive fascination with. The surface would have ruined me later on hadn't it been for little incidents such as these, I was certain.

(to be contd.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Death is never very meaningful. You always feel you come away from it a little wiser but in truth its just the opposite. Its one of those things extremely simple to look at, but its consequences and this simplicity are so drastically different, and so very at odds with each other - no connection whatsoever, at least at first or even second glance - it leaves you a little empty because without even meaning to, you've spent a lot behind making some sense out of it. And its the same no matter what the death - whether its that of a baby crow or an animal you have brought in, thinking you could save it, or a human being. Although I'm glad the latter I've had very little first hand experience in seeing. The former is still as jarring every single time as ever, but rarely feels as pathetic. There's always a certain amount of dignity in every animal that dies, the dignity that comes out of, ironically, not having any human characteristics to begin with. But then again, that might just be the misanthrope in me speaking.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Its fun writing in short bursts. The ideas feel much more formed, ironically, when you want to express them in exactly the same format it originally occurred to you: a sudden, short, compact, and curiously self-explanatory period of epiphany, whose impact an introduction, a middle and a conclusion might considerably dilute.