What is madness but nobility of soul /at odds with circumstance?

November 30, 2009

The day’s on fire!

Or so they say. Well, the past few (if we are to define “few” as “pertaining to a number >>50”) days have been quite fiery. Another term I might use – which would be the preferred one at times when my mood is not as dramatic as it is right now – is eventful, but I can’t help but wonder whether it might be a lie either way. Time in general is drifting by at an excruciating slow pace, winking at me as if to say “Even now you can’t catch me!”. Time is taunting me; this statement would be somewhat disconcerting, come to think about it, if I hadn’t had even weirder thoughts. (I ought to be used to it by now.) And yet it is a bold one – of course, we’d all agree that the malleable fabric of time, interwoven with space in a highly mysterious way, doesn’t have a mind and therefore wouldn’t bother messing mine. Cruel, purposeless it ticks away, like evolution, our new God, a name – or a concept? – that makes most people shudder. (Rightly so, I guess.) 

It was not a heart, beating.
That muted boom, that clangor
Far off, not blood in the ears
Drumming up and fever

Another realization I’ve arrived at – the metaphors I like to use for describing pain – the physical kind – don’t really click with most human beings I’ve met (not sure about non-human beings, there are more fundamental impediments to successful communication, so I’ve postponed the philosophical discussions with the Ficus tree withering my room). Peppermint, aluminum, cinnamon, shamrock, copper, do these make sense to anyone? How might I possibly relate my sensations to others, when they can’t see the texture of various types of pain? Perhaps one day, I will go into cardiac arrest because no-one recognized the debilitating agony of “sulphuric” pain.  It’s rather similar to synesthetes perceiving sound as colour, or labelling certain numbers as “friendly” or “hostile”. Every song I’ve ever heard in my life is tied to a situation, or a book I read at the time. Or both. Reading on a train. I remember the train, the compartment, the curtains, the landscape, but I am oblivious to its destination. My destination. A few letters from destiny. O, what a big word.

That place among the rocks–is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

Yet words are all that I have, all I cling to, when images – those of the mind and those we deem real – become slippery… but they are never enough to describe the nameless evil creeping into the day, not enough to satisfy my craving for an explanation that makes a at least a tiny shred of sense. We were scared – scared of evoking the demons that beckoned us, the likes we’d never seen before (their make-up was marvellous), so we invoked them hoping to contain them within the fragile cage of narcissism and doubts that we like to call our self. How wrong we were. (In retrospect, it wasn’t that unforeseeable, really.) And the demons laugh, a hollow, eery sound emanating from our own throats. Funny, how things sometimes play out.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me–filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

All of a sudden, the world becomes a blur. Of ideas (do not try this at home), ideals (relentlessly and banana smoothies. A haze of numbing activity ensues. What has the world come to if the desire to actually do something gets relabelled as “mania”? Sedendary souls revolve around themselves. They’ve become to heavy (too much cheesecake, no doubt) to ascend – well, where to? The sky’s the limit, let’s not challenge that notion.

I screamed, and–lo!–Infinity
Came down and settled over me;
Forced back my scream into my chest,
Bent back my arm upon my breast,
And, pressing of the Undefined
The definition on my mind,
Held up before my eyes a glass
Through which my shrinking sight did pass

I hate tautologies. Once established, there’s no escaping their grating truth.

Until it seemed I must behold
Immensity made manifold;
Whispered to me a word whose sound
Deafened the air for worlds around,
And brought unmuffled to my ears
The gossiping of friendly spheres,
The creaking of the tented sky,
The ticking of Eternity.


(Poetry: Edna St. Milay – Renascence, Edgar Allen Poe – The Raven, Roethke – In A Dark Time, Sylvia Plath – Nightshift)


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