The artist writes out of an incapacity to live.
To live, to love, to be. It is all the same. The ordinary mortal realizes that he is imprisoned in the walls created by the society he lives in. Every day, we see it in a thousand little things around us. How incompetent even the most well-aware among us really are, at spotting the signs that sing, oh you are entrapped by the time you live in, dear! You cannot run away because there is nothing to run away to! If not this, then what? If not now, then when? Perhaps this really is the best time to live but you can never be sure.
Time means different things to different people. For a person unencumbered by the urge to spot the cracks in her life, every settling autumn leaf is just another layer on the golden carpet beneath her feet. For me, it is one of a million signs of death and decay. Fortunately, I am living in the age of self-expression, self-love, self-devotion. Anything else would have been unbearable to me. Or at least, that is what I think. It is quite possible for someone like me to have existed a hundred years or so ago, with the docility of a housewife who was told in much stronger terms, that she is to stick to the kitchen and to children. And perhaps to aesthetic pleasures like clothes and jewellery and house-decorating. I would have been content with my lot, giving to art what art gives to me. Or perhaps, my inherent sprinkling of doomsday prophesying would have found other means of expression. That might not have been too hard during the great wars.
Anyhow, my point right now is that the passivity with which I traverse the streets of the world (and did not even recognize until very recently) could easily be a product of the strong pull literature and art and everything shrouded in enigma has on me. Or it could quite as easily be vice versa.
I am here, in a warp- in a room, in an anomaly. Living a dozen lives every day. Asking myself, how on earth will i distinguish myself from the mass of individuals once I step outside? I cannot define ‘me’ or seek self-interests without the most painful of efforts. This ability to fuse into the life that exists around me is a curse and a boon. I can feel those who try to be my bitterest enemies with the simplicity of a child. And I can let myself be destroyed by the pleasures sought by such an individual because I would not know what ‘I’ stands for and how I’m supposed to protect it.
From these dull realizations, I must turn to the thought that led me to this letter. Perhaps I do not have the capacity to live. How strange would that be, after twenty-three years of existence, to find my biggest fear right inside me! I have the capacity to write and to counter my fear and justify the space I take up on this planet through the written word. And yet, ominously I feel as though my hands are tied. The stories that gushed out of me during my teenage years were crushed.
I fear to create a setting because I cannot fully grasp the truths that intrigue me. And other stories fall flat before they can even lift off, made flaccid by the question: am I putting too much of myself out there? Is it worth it?
To call myself an admirer of art, a harbinger of unworldly emotions, is not too far a stretch of the imagination. If I am not a brooding figure, frozen into ice and thawed back again every single day, I do not know what I am. And it isn’t hard to see this, it takes just a little bending and twisting. Or maybe not even that. I perceive the universe from the center that is me and I am unapologetic about it in the dark. In front of other people, the whole farce falls to the ground.
And with these complications, I somehow watch the sun rise and fall everyday, wondering, how much more to go and why?
Every time I behold something I admire that was created by someone else, I burn with envy. Why is it that this person who cannot really be that much different than I am, created something that makes me sob, love, worship it? And why am I not capable of putting the same energy into my own creations? Why does everything I make feel like a cheap imitation of an original that is locked up in some corner of my head or open to the world through the head of someone far more talented than I can ever hope to be?
Genius fades, if not supplemented by hard work. My genius is this flickering desire to write and that is it. I would question the origin of this genius if I did not know that I inherited it from my ancestors. Otherwise, I would tell myself it was a result of thousands of story books I was read as a child. Or years of convent education pounding Wren and Martin into me. Or the Enid Blytons and J.K. Rowlings of the world. Or the way I stepped into the world of good fiction and began to find my way through it, guided by a store of good literature. I know it isn’t just that. I know there is, inside of me, something more.
Something more. But I will not acknowledge it because I am such a coward, running from everything I should embrace. The most I understand about myself now, is that my happiness is directed by a brain trying too hard to keep suppressed memories locked away. And any attempts to open these locks will result in a splash of darkness I cannot partake. There is enough that comes from outside, seeping through the unguarded parts of my brain and gripping me until, like a good sentinel, my brain pries it away and I am back where I started.
Back where I started and entirely clueless about what is going on inside me. How can I hope to explore the depths of my artistic side if I cannot even face the demons of my own heart? There is no light in the world of art, only a pulsating glow to warm you, lest you should freeze completely, trying to embrace the ambiguity of life.
A series of letters these are, for I realized I haven’t written to you like this in ages. What is this, then? A revival of the past or just a temporary comforter? I am hoping this would be a monologue explaining, at least to me, what it is that is blocking my path from that connection between reality and illusion that I found so much easier to cross in and out of before.
Something snapped inside me a few days ago. For the first time, I was clouded by the realization that hit all humans at some point in their life: what if I am unable to reach even one of the things I want to before I die? And these tall ambitions mean to include a lifetime of writing, some of it revealing in magnitude, a bucketful of experiences and some other passionate achievements.
I have heard how ideal youth is. How idle too, indeed! Given to building castles in the air and then living within them. Given to bursts of emotions before it realizes how the whole world has been fooling it, beginning with its own loved ones! Youth is nothing but a beautiful illusion. I creep in and out of its blanket. Sometimes I find myself armed with the maturity of a fifty-year old woman and then, within seconds, I am a young girl again, hoping to be everything and nothing at the same time.
But what I do need, above everything else, is independence. I cannot let the fifty-year old woman inside me win just yet. I know, someday she will take over me. And in sober grey sweaters and dulling olive suits, she will declare the world a laden wasteland and herself a beaten slave to it, seeking nothing but the happiness her children (or SOME children) deserve, just for being young. But she cannot win yet! There is too much to see and do before I declare myself beaten. There is too much to save. There is too much to know.
I am more afraid of mistakes, I know, than most people. Perhaps it is the fifty-year old talking. Perhaps it is the bruises I have already nursed or the many people who’ve tried to keep me imprisoned. And that brings me back full circle to the fact that perhaps- I am only capable of living through words. And incapable of anything more concrete than that. I might just learn to live with this fact. Perhaps my stubbornness and childish inability to see the world as anything but a facilitator (causing grief at every step), is meant to fuel this isolation. And so it doesn’t matter. Or it wouldn’t matter, if only people would just let me be!
Could it never be enough-
The knowledge that I once was,
That like every other being I
Hurled headfirst through the night
And found sweet fruit dangling
And I was tempted into vice
Could it never be enough-
The knowledge that I once was
I built stories out of stars
I stuffed salt into my scars
I left a hole when I persisted
And was opposed when I resisted
Could it never be enough-
The knowledge that I once was
And ties of blood bound me
And my soul sought ecstacy
And when I perished and lay still
Men cried tears of blood above me.