Month: August 2012

The Reasons Why

I don’t believe in visions. I don’t believe in divine intervention. I don’t believe in what cannot happen. The only feasibility is in possibility, and the impossible is named so for a reason. I don’t believe in wishful thinking, or the trickery of hope. Hope mocks us. Hope ridicules us, reduces us to donkeys drawn along by the promise of a carrot, so juicy and tempting that we cannot help but watch as our mouths water and our desire compounds and intensifies, nearly breaking our necks with its fervour and searing our skin with its raging heat. But it’s not just that, no, hope must drive the knife in further, deeper, to make certain it is irretrievably buried inside us. Hope always has a final trick, the grand finale to make the whole greater, the brilliant finishing act that has the audience cheering until their throats grow sore and their arms grow tired with clapping. The carrot, our sweet promise, isn’t even there. It’s a trick. An image created out of the feeble fabric of our own faulty, unrealistic wishes for a better life, better circumstances, better … whatever. Wishes range and hope supplies all, indiscriminately, a peddler with no conscience or remorse, always willing to serve.

I felt like a pebble.

Suicide is both laughably easy and insurmountably difficult, in measures differing with time, oscillating on a fixed, predictable cycle – like sadness and happiness, back when my life included moments of happiness. The cycle, once noticed, remains within sight: you understand, I will be unhappy now and perhaps happy tomorrow, or the day after, and then after the happiness, sweet as it is, I will be unhappy again, but I will sustain myself on the promise that more happiness awaits, only a few bitter rounds of unhappiness later. The realization of cycle’s existence is of little use, and offers no relief: misery retains its awful grey taste, and doesn’t melt away faster with the knowledge of its imminent passing. Knowledge doesn’t fix emotion, and emotion impacts knowledge none.

I had been given something, a life, that I had not asked for. It made sense that I would renounce the unwanted gift if I so wished. But perhaps that was a pernicious assumption: regarding life as a gift bestowed, and thinking it appropriate to treat it in the manner gifts are treated, by exercising the prerogative of the receiver: giving back the gift: giving back the gift. But who am I giving it back to? Was I given anything at all? Is my life something to be given? I can’t answer these questions, these violent inquisitions into the nature of being are too abstract for my capacity, and perhaps the capacity of everyone else such that the best and most fastidious of us can only form thorough opinions but no definite infallibilities, no answers to everything. Perhaps the notion of their being an answer is in itself an abomination, a fallacy branching from or perhaps created by those things spiritual and religious, those beliefs so permeating and prevalent. Or perhaps it is simply a disingenuous impetus, a cerebral tickle-generator, to prevent life growing too uninteresting, another nonexistent carrot to sustain us through existence: a byproduct of our species’ fervid drive to survive. I don’t know.

A pebble small. A beach large.

I had often cited the absence of reasons as ample reason: I had seen no reason for me to live, and so that which is without reason, and that which troubled me, was best done away with. An old Arabic proverb says: The door from which wind blows, close it, and bring yourself peace. A fitting adage, I thought. For so long I had wallowed in that belief of a life bereft of reason to continue that suicide became the only appropriate step to be taken, and I had decided that it will be taken. I would forsake what pained me. My death would scarcely go noticed, not by anyone who knew me or by the universe that housed. I am small, small enough to be part of the whole that, if lost, would exert no impact on the mighty, stable whole. My insignificance strengthened my conviction to die. It brought me motivation and confirmation, and I fed on it to my fill.

Then the sky painted itself.

It was an hour before I would do it. I was walking the streets, paying final visit to a world grown too zealous with self-love by its immensity, too see it a final time before leaving it at last, but perhaps unlike my entrance, my exit out of life would a willing one, driven entirely by my own impulses, not those of something else, whether something I cannot understand or otherwise, or by meaningless chance. I was stealing back ultimate control. My vice would finally contain something, something important, the most momentous holding it will ever grasp: control over my life.

It called to me, beckoning my attention. Why else would I have looked up to the sky? The reason, again, is irrelevant. I looked up, so high that the back of my head seemed almost to touch my back. The sky was grey, the colour of my mind’s eye, the shade layered onto everything I saw around me and all the feelings I felt. Grey is weakness and desperation when they rot, when they lose their initial potency and become perpetuity. Grey is the expression of defeat. But then the grey changed. It became thinner, pulling itself into frailer, paler sheets. Soon spots of white impaled it, clearing the muddied mess. The grey became lighter, and soon colour infected it, spears of cold blue and green, smears of brilliant red and yellow, and the colours mixed and mingled, washing over each other and separating only to mix again, creating shapes and pictures, painting images and drawing figures that were only for my eyes to see, there, on that crowded city street. I saw a mother, feeding her child, tickling the baby’s cheeks and cherishing its every giggle, pure and hearty and sincere as only it can be. Love truer than any other. I saw the same child grow, live a life with the happiness of the world accumulating in his chest like it does only in the chest of the young. I saw a young couple kissing, so deeply it hollowed their chests and so tenderly it thrilled their faces. And I saw passion in them, vehement and loud, such that can slice mountains if it were physical and if witnessed move hearts to astonishment. I saw a jungle, so vibrantly coloured it was impossible, bursting with juicy greens and screaming blues, trodden here and crawled and swam there by creatures many and wild, things but surviving. I saw a beach, the sky above it burned to ash-black with nighttime, with a thousand small pebbles shining in the moonlight, moonlight falling in an elegant dance, an ancient display, the moon’s own greatest feat, descending from sky to cloud to air to earth to grainy sand.

I don’t believe in visions.

But I was awed by it, caught in its folds, it so large and so encompassing, as old as time itself and older still, larger than everything and expanding bigger yet so that it’s impossible to contain it, or to adequately measure it. I felt small. Small and alone but it was different this time, there was a world around me again. There were reasons, reasons proffered as a proclamation of truth to right my misunderstandings. There are reasons why I should live, reasons I cannot help but want to witness. The sky darkened again, having showed me its display. I looked around and I had fallen to my knees, my face was wet with tears and I felt small, a miniscule gear inside a clock more beautiful than anything else because not only did it embody and exemplify beauty, it was beauty. I felt …

… like a pebble on a beach.

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July 23rd, 1848

Diary Dearest,

What is it about death that prompts such abject hatred and fear from us? Why does the sight of blood, a throat slit so only torn flesh is visible or a body motionless in the dirt of a battlefield,have so tormenting an effect on us? I suppose that apprehension differentiates us from the insane –although I must contend that I have my reservations about the arbitrary use of that label– but the question is no less warranted. Is not death just the cessation of biological activity, and as such is only just as process, and little more? It is so, yes, but it is undoubtedly more. To relegate death to a position of trivial inferiority is a pernicious act, and one thoroughly faulty, for while it takes into consideration death’s aspect of functionality, it negates the forces set around it, those of emotion – a driving force so intrinsic to our life as a species I can hardly conceive of life without it. I would even deem it impossible for the human race to survive without its emotion, not out of some grossly romanticised view of emotion, but out of established knowledge that humanity’s survival is inextricably linked to the feelings that drive us, and the convictions that result. I have not had many encounters with death; indeed in my years I have been fortunate enough to encounter it only a few times. But today I was in death’s presence once more.

I have found it to be true that as one grows older, one is driven to care less about what in youth seemed imponderably important. In my younger years, before the bones of my back started to feel as though molded out of water and before it became –oftentimes– an insurmountable chore to command my legs and push out of my bed, I had cared about my birthdays. I would feverishly await the days I would be referred to as one year older, and thus more mature and worldly, as if by a single day’s passage I would inherit some previously concealed knowledge that I would boast to friends and family as my age-given right. The day itself, naturally, would, in what little way I could manage to make it, be majestic and festive. My families, both old and new, could scarcely spare the coin for gifts, and so if I couldn’t make my own, I would reward myself with something – frequently, something beautiful. A young boy likes nothing more than a thing of beauty, and in that young boys and men are not much different. I cannot recall a day when I didn’t have the most sincere and awed appreciation for the beauty of nature, natural life, and, if it isn’t too outrageously romanticised a statement, life itself.

Out of the fishing village where my old family lived was, at one end, extended a muddy walkway that I was sure (though now I am less sure) was moistened by an underground waterway of some sort. At the very end of the walk of mud was a small shrine of mossy earth where the mud stopped and small flowers peppered the ground. “Small” here is no exaggeration: the flowers were scarcely bigger than the division of a finger, and were predominantly a bright scream of blue, although some rebellious reds and whites shared the space too. I spent a few of my birthdays there, drenched to the ears in my adoration of the scenery (insubstantial to the objective observer as it was) and the false greatness of my now slightly older self. Oftentimes, at the muddied patch where no one treaded, I sang: there was no one around to criticize my less-than-good singing voice, and there I could overcome my debilitating shyness. That was before my mother’s death. After that, I could hardly find it in me to sing to myself, or to sing at all. Her death stripped that blithe stupidity from me, and I found myself speaking less, and inspecting the elusive threads of my thoughts more scrupulously. But I might be wrong to think that. My newfound profundity of thought might have only been a result of natural progression: merely an effect of growing older, only this time it wasn’t an imagined effect. I cannot say I am grateful for her death, but I acknowledge that it might have had a favourable effect on me.

But I was only just a boy, and boys grow older and suddenly what enraptured the imagination and enamoured the mind isn’t so amazing any more. At the age of twenty-four, in the city where I took reside with my new family, I found another object of beauty. I believe I make no indiscretion or err of the overly emotional kind when I say that my wife’s beauty is like that one nothing other, and has not yet failed to wholly captivate my interest despite our long years together (if anything, the time has only made my love for her more animated, and my appreciation for her more profound). Beauty is a word that has had its meaning savagely defaced and now carries artificial and incomplete connotations of the physical: beauty is not just that of the skin and face and body – that is both outrageous and erroneous. I see beauty in every one of Sara’s little quirks, in every way she is the person she is, in the way that, however much she tries, she can never keep her hair from her brow and has to brush it away, in the way she sets her spoon on the very edge of her plate once she’s eaten and the game of concentration she makes of that, in the way , in the way she often laughs when I wear my shirts backwards (often because in my absentmindedness I so frequently do), in her childlike excitement that hasn’t waned with the years like I fear mine has, in the way her kisses now are as vibrant and full of life and love as the first one she gave me.

But I find I have digressed severely, and strayed from what I originally intended to write about. Today I paid witness to a hanging. Three men convicted of treason had been tried, condemned, and set to hang. I am of the habit of subjecting myself to the unpleasant, perhaps out of some masochistic inclination, but more likely motivated by the promise of inner growth from the trauma that ensues. On the self it surely isn’t the kindest of methods of self-improvement. It was that tendency that saw me stand a small spec made invisible by a jeering crowd after whom the wretched three were to be executed. The sound of the crowd’s collective derision filled the air as if a thick smoke stretching everywhere and in all directions. To my right a boy barked insults and exclamations of love for king and country with equal vehemence, in a voice as crass and insolent as he was. I watched as the men, shivering with fear and sweaty, were recited religious consolations of redemption, to which the boy laughed incredulously.

“Why are you laughing?” I asked him.

“There’s no redemption for them. Not for these men. They’re bad men.”

Soon after the men fell. They swung silently below the thick stretches of rope, and the crowd dispersed having watched the scene to completion. The boy scurried away harmlessly with the crowd.

Perhaps it is all about the beauty. Perhaps the power of death emanates from lost beauty. Perhaps by dying, the potential beauty of the person, the beauty that could have adorned them if only they had not died, is effaced from existence. Perhaps in lamenting death we lament the possibility of great beauty lost, that we are continually searching for things of beauty, and that one death is one less chance that we will succeed and will find our want, our need. Perhaps once that potential beauty is killed, death loses importance, and we can then call for the death of bad men.

“Hang them!” they cried. “Kill them!” they shouted.

“They are bad men.”

Write Me a Love Letter

Write me a love letter,
my love
my love

Write me a love letter and throw it in the sea
and the Blue’s waves will read it out to me
with a wave a tear and a growl long
and the voice of my love
that sweet sing-song; I hear it
always.

Write me a love letter draw only
smiles and tears from me
like only you can and stop only
until I shiver with your love
and the warm drumming of your heart
that I wish is like the hum-drum lub-dub of battalions at war
sounding from deeper than deep and hotter than hot and I know
after the boots strike floor and hearts fall sore
with fear; the soldiers die and the vanquished fall
and the great drum of war never stops

I hope it doesn’t.

Write me a love letter and burn it a fire
and remind me as I watch the embers die
and the last red flame fly
how coldsmallweaklightfrail fire really is
compared to that bitter passion I soothe
with the sweet of your lips but it lasts little
so I always need more

It’s ridiculous.

Write me a love letter and keep it to yourself
keep it hidden and I’ll read your words
your lines, your love, my love
unassisted
in your eyes.

Chicken Boy

chicken boy
is mad, master says
chicken boy is
dreaming, master says,
is no good, boy

master says

dreaming
food
in belly
none
it puts.

chicken boy
forgets his
own red cut
fingers blood flow
stink grow
away water wash no
chicken boy
fly far, watches star
light beam alien shapes
on water blue
has no clue where
he is but chicken boy
remembers all when
another delivery thunk and
lies before him
brown box big

50 kilo, box says

Skin chicken

master says

Is good

master says.

Letter to Myself

Hope is a curious thing.

Against every insurmountable odd, every violently vehement doubt, it has the audacity to have us wishing that the extremely unlikely will happen, or that we’ll have what want, or that we’ll surpass some unimaginably great hurdle, force the powers of unlikelihood into pitiful servile submission. Hope makes us simultaneously strong and weak: it strengthens conviction, but in case of failure translates into disappointment, with the aspirant fabric of hope turning to foul disappointment; it isn’t the most pleasant of things. Hope, interestingly, is why I’m writing to you. I don’t know you yet, but I imagine you will be a lot like me, yet as astonishingly discrepant that I cannot render an accurate image of you if it were to save my life or grant me the riches of the world (though I use that phrase with abject hesitation, because riches don’t interest me). You see, I can’t know what you will be like, but I certainly have hopes. Expectation is inherently faulty, and given the unfathomable complexity of life, happenstance, coincidence and occurrence, whatever approximation of your character and likeness I can construct will be inaccurate, erroneous to the point of complete wrongness. Whatever image of you I have in my head will be wrong, because the odds dictate that, and because I’m not prescient, and because of course they will be! I can’t predict the future any more than I can lift Mount Everest with a thumb.

Far that be form discouraging me, though. I’m writing you because, as subtly insidious it might be, I have hopes for you. I wish things upon you, because eventually these will be upon me. If I don’t join the ranks of those who die young, I’ll become you. In time.

Are you taller? You’re taller than most now, but adding a few inches to that wouldn’t hurt, would it? And if baldness really is genetic, I hope the gene skipped a generation like it did with your cousins. If not, fret little, you can always shave completely bald. The shiny head look isn’t so bad. I wonder if you’ll ever gain weight, too, but that’s a small concern, because you’ve always had the metabolism of a Russian weightlifter called Sven who barrels down a dozen eggs at breakfast in a single bite, and you’ve always eaten like it was your last day of life and you’ve never grown heavier than your spindly thin figure. Everyone’s quick to tell you to “eat!” and ask “do they ever feed you at home?” and you’re always quick to return that you do, and they do. It runs in the family, that excellent metabolism, but of course you know that.

The vain and frivolous aside, though, I wish much more for you. I hope you’ve perfected the art of listening, because in the experiences of others there’s much to be learned and drawn moral from. I hope you speak less now, you so often dominate conversation that later, once it’s over, you wonder what the sound of who you were speaking to would’ve sounded like. Listen to advice and heed whatever warnings they carry. There is at least some truth in most things, if not directly then indirectly, inconspicuously and in the vicinity, but probably there still.

I hope you’re less confused. You will have had plenty of time to efface out all the inconsistencies, and arrive at a coherent sense of self. I hope that phase of confusion becomes a thing of your past that you can perhaps look back on fondly, but nevertheless look back on as you do things long gone, long drained of all potency, things surmounted, defeated, learned from and swiftly made a relic of the bygone. Do you remember your confusion? If time has done its job (and it never fails to so it very likely has), I’ll remind you. It was a feeling, far from momentary, but completely distinct and immediately recognizable, like sadness and happiness and fear. The quintessential quality of happiness is that overpowering lightness it brings the mind, and that of fear is its shocking immediacy, and that of sadness that slumping of the mind, and confusion, like those aforementioned, is entirely its own, although it is slightly similar to sadness. It feels of screaming disorientation, a kind of fragmentation of the mind and its thought process. It’s potent in its own way, and with it comes a litany of questions, so many and so frequent and so unanswerable, at least now, and a sense of dissatisfaction at the continual failed inquiry. I couldn’t hope more that that has ended.

I hope you continue trying to figure everything in life, and failing unequivocally every time you try. It’s not out of masochism that I say this, but your inquisitive nature is something I’d hate for you lose; though you might not find the answers you seek (often because there isn’t one), the road of your failed attempts is rewarding, and flings toward areas interesting and worth the visit, however fleeting or hasty. I hope you continue to see the beauty of life, despite the all too obvious disparity of the ugliness that blemishes its face. I hope you continue to find the littlest of thing wonderful, and retain our appreciation for selflessness and kindness – don’t ever lose that! If you’ll remember, your younger self resolved to appreciate only whatever truly merits appreciation, and to him kindness ranked highly among the most valued.

Out of some sense of self-love that I don’t think is wholly outrageous, I hope life doesn’t disappoint you, even if it doesn’t take the course you imagined or hoped would be taken (which is likely). I hope that you are continually and mercilessly proved wrong by life; because that will help you, better your understanding of things: the foolish presumptions of your youth are better discarded. Those who spend their lives clinging to that edifice of the knowledge they acquired in their youth also cling to gross naivety and are crudely simpleminded. Always realize that you might be at fault, and never have your head harden to the point of dogmatic stupidity. I hope you grow to become deftly discerning and logical, insusceptible to fallacies of logic and mental conduct, and that you continue to value your mind as your asset of greatest value. Speaking of your mind, I hope you continue to feed it relentlessly.

And … wait …

About being wrong, maybe, reading this, you’ll realize that this set of hopes is plagued by the same naivety and youthful ignorance that I warned about earlier, and was just another blunder of an attempt at intellectualism and amateur philosophy that pretended it was something greater.

In which case, disregard everything I just said.