December 30, 2016

Stop the music

I switched off the music. For it was jangling against my live wounds.
I switched off the music. For it was singing praise of the enemy.
This beautiful noise
Is a curse
The noise and snapshot of a beautiful dream
A dream that felt like you were swaying on a boat
A boat that quivered in the autumn air
And an ugly ship that kicked a tumultuous wave
I switched off the music for I wanted to get off the boat
It kept swaying in my head.
My head against the red pillow.
My head the echo-chamber of painful sobs.
Interjected by the beat of hip-hop
Strung together in lilting sarangi
What is this beautiful accompaniment?
A boat that will not stop swaying in the wind.
I want to get off.

Stop the music.

December 29, 2016

Never enough money, never enough love

We are trapped in the fantasmic economy of a promise of the ‘good life’ – all the while grappling with the time of not-enough, not-good-enough, decay, exhaustion, ruination. Never enough money, never enough love – says Lauren Berlant (2011). But there is the ever-receding promise of perfect love, perfect life, tiny house with a garden, cherubic children, mild autumns and the rising dough of bread. It is the promise, however fanciful, however hegemonic, that forms the drive-force of life. Berlant unpacks the feeling of insecurity of living at the margins as the acute feeling of wanting to get inside the economy of opportunity and fantasies that drive it – they want to be exploited, she says – just so they are in the game.

Moved by Berlant’s powerful words, I think of a drunken conversation many years ago on a cold night in New York that I compared the subway station to a gamestation. When you are in it, you have to play by the rules, it’s litte hits and misses make sense, its losses and gains cause mirth and dismay. In the end, you have to come out and it all seems like it was a passing reverie, it couldn’t really have been real or urgent.  The night ended in a predictable crack of dreams – as if it had not even occurred. But the reverie retained its marks on my consciousness. I learnt not to take dreamlike experiences seriously any more. It gave me a sense of balance between the here and the there.

It is this urgency of being in the inside of reverie and its many folds that I wish to address, and, of course, the attendant pain of being ejected out of reverie. Capital unfolds an acute register of optimism and forces us to participate in dreamworlds, I agree with Berlant here. But my provocation would be that capital’s is not the only (perhaps, it is the most forceful at this historical moment) dreamworld playing on our minds. The lives and words of many are not organized around hegemonic promises and the painful experience of ‘never enough money, never enough love’. And the painful experience of diminishing, exhausting, never-occurring perfections are the very ladder that we climb and un-climb to live between this material, immediate world and others. This is a pain that consciousness burdens us with.

 ‘….husn jaana ki taarif mumkin nahi…’ Rahat sings as I write this – it is impossible to praise/describe the beauty of my love. It is this impossibility that we must and do revel in. It is the na-mumkin that expands the canvases of our being, only given names and places by capital, but existing in myriad hues and textures and dimensions. We are not yet entirely enslaved by capital, I would say to Berlant.

December 16, 2016

Ode to the North Wind

At the Back of the North Wind by LumiLumiThe heat roars on. It is the defensive voice of a paternal authority. The cold perhaps is the temptress. That bitch. With a carefully crafted, lethal power. You know it will sting you. Still you want to touch it. Your fingers are tingling. Tagore whines in the background. And a ghoulish voice of the feminist artiste. If ever there was a bourgeois apocalypse, this is it. You drown in soft holiday spirits. Naturally, think of home and hearth. Lost loves. Perhaps new ones. Ones that look like the old ones. Corpses of cigarettes lay as testimony to the cruel power of the north wind. These cigarettes had tried to burn. And burn they did. But they fought a gallant battle like little foot soldiers. Their death brought you false tears. Crocodiles had actually cried, their tears had been soaked into their dry scales. You sip some more holiday music. From someplace warm. Where they wear bright colors. Where the war even looks pretty. On the internet. You like wars. They make you want to do things. Get out into the north winds lashes. The north wind mocks you. You look at the dead cigarettes. Their deaths were necessary to bring you prolonged survival. It was sad that they died. They must have had wives and children inside the paper boxes. And what of that? Everyone is mourned by someone. Who mourns the death of the north wind?