This is an absolutely brilliant poem. The imagery is unique and the originality just felt spectacular.
sometimes I wondered if I lived a life or a margin in some ideological footnote
a mundane little hum that could be erased by the dust that is at the corners
of some sanguine hourglass where the glass knew me as some distant microbe
not too tough to taste but gelatinous enough to stick and not stray — I never think
I had a “I” defined enough by extremes I am sometimes akin to a medium, an equatorial
belly slivering off like some snail on a razor-blade and even then the blade’s blunt vortex
knew my slime and saliva enough to not prick my already molluscsal body which became a
monolith of paranoia and weird-strange delusions and illusions; vapours in some steam-dye of
existence I never known or really pined for. The sexual for me, the breathing for me, the longing
at me — it’s pretty mundane. Human interactions fail me. I may be too eccentric and that does not
fascinate even in the Dickensian way and Dickinson, Emily would probably be better at subtleties and
reclusivity than me. I am a portal to nowhere, even black holes may avoid me. I do not think I could bend
light and gravity like that rather I make it feel like it was falling, as though one was in sleep, only to wake-up
concrete in lying down but not so vigilant enough to stand better after that encounter; a purgatory between living and
a something that has no name but really feels like levity got some bastards trying to pick me apart: I am sad not ungrateful.
I have my health I suppose, could be pounds less and fitter yet maybe I am just a boredom coin or some coin of old and new
playing in a faraway fertile jukebox that no one can hear except some cosy stars distant in length and breadth but too are dreaming.▬
from Eid to Eden — I nurtured a song that was both a vigil, an explosion of prayers like
stardusts and moon-crescent globes all appearing in a wave, in a cool yet warm succulent slice
— this is the first Ramadan where I fasted and feasted without my familial Father; always spearheading
the sojourn of the ordinary and splendid like a perfect kaleidoscope; dancing and twirling more lucid and sane
than celluloid crackers but knowing great Western films and histories of Bengal and its cinematic prose, like tongue-buds ready to
erupt in flavours. The crescent moon are the lashes of a sigh I know that the orb around is a miniature of my eye. I love you Abbu —
I will miss you till I know death maybe then you will be there helping me know the prose of my own last sigh.▬
I like a lot of articles from brainpickings.org and I like to reblog many to all of them if I could. I really liked this article as well. I hope it can be enjoyed with many of Maria Popova’s other works.
sometimes in the clearing away of it
I see other mists — retractable wrists
opening into a marrow-song; it’s how I write
how I swerve into cul-de-sacs and tenable meadows
or can move from this and that freely…
sometimes my hands fascinate me
with their imperial thrones of bones and knuckle-busts
prancing or swaying, or sashaying or ridgeting riveting
in their own little landscape of hills and chasms; the original manifolds
the n-dimensional or called the hand helping them know mutation and staticity
via practice and kingdoms of versatile muscle and cranial conducts
with a few string theory notes mapping out heart territories
freedom formed a calm radius
a protractor mowed the lawns
yet I saw the vectors and vertices subtly skimming
parched my mouth enough to thirst their tongues
something complex in the daily humdrum of rare and ordinaries
sometimes, or perchance all the time I am a hourglass shifting out and in, into myself
it’s like breathing but unlike creating I think it builds cells bonded with oxygen to also flatland universes where my geometrical thoughts reach higher quadrants but also can be trapped
in the murderous grasps of the one-power of a decagon module of space…
there is no ink, but there is fibrous ink, backlit LED buttons. That ask me to tap not hold and scribble — what is modern and what is ancient here? Is it the caveman sort of way that it feels like I am also using the new archetype of stones and sometimes going back to the chisel or is it both for the cursors or the vertical space on the screen that helps highlight and punctuate my act of writing…what about that? I sample the box and what is inside and outside of the box. Paper bleeds and screens permeate other screens making a meshwork of digital blots that we call net…after all blood and ink rival water with their oceanic enormities of principles and prokaryotes-eukaryotes of layers of raw materials and symbolistic jargons.
Is sometimes akin to aether-DNA transcribed and transmitted through my writing? Does imagination also has a codex, a bestiary, a collection of nomenclatures, another manifestation or reification of DNA? Perhaps it does…after all my I fingerprint my keyboard buttons everyday…modernity has called that the new lock-key…which may have also been another interpretation of bone and marrow or muscle and veins…
a cryptographer of symmetries coming from both perceived aysses and assymetrical spaces…mosaic builds on the geometric… you are always a contextual tabula rasa or something like that…
And Racism in Australia easily defined
This poem is something that needs to be felt. It is an honest confession and honest emotion of what that feels.
I have never understood the efficacy or need for RSS. “Rich Site Summary” — I didn’t know until recently that RSS means this. My ignorance of such a basic net phenomenon shocked me. My incredibly, incredulous ignoramus attitude made me feel, well stupid. I had not the need for RSS despite it being the most common net application. It is pretty much the grandparent of net apps and extensions. It was the neophyte and the wayfarer of many things we use today. But until recently I never understood it. My dumbie head and all its messed up-ness. Well, now I know.
Important queries and questions asked. I would also further necessitate the questions whose rights and whose terrains. Because we delineate the word “rights/right” so homogeneously and so with discrimination that it becomes pretty ineffable even on its own trajectories. Also we do not understand equal distributions because by “right” we feel we need to make a victor and a loser — we must abscond the rights of another to be victorious in establishing the rights of someone or some group. There is always Either/Or and a Them/Us mentality at work. Should we always perceive things this way?
“The world,” writes Milan Kundera, “has become man’s right and everything in it has become a right.” Indeed! We do not say we want to love, but that we have a right to love. We do not say we want to be friends but that we have the right to friendship. We do not say we want to be happy with each other, but that we have an inalienable right to be happy. OK, good, is anyone going to be happy alone via their individual rights? Every verb, every call-to-action that requires a collectivity has been turned in to a static abstract noun that is caged in the discourse of individual rights.
But before rights, these claims and demands are about our needs and desires. Can we talk ever again about our vulnerabilities and necessities as matters of needs and desires—necessities that are not merely the demand of individuals but…
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Sometimes things come to you in unexpected ways. To me it did. I mean you are not really consciously thinking about them and perchance through some creative exercise you get to meet them. The concept of post-apocalyptic fictions have always been explored but to me the current trends of urbane apocalypse like Walking Dead or even The Last of Us all have this macho or rather this closed form of maleness really talking about. It is like Eliot’s Prufrock not knowing how to answer or propose an engagement or marriage or propose questions. The poem is in a dialogue but I think mostly with the reader as on a Watsonian platform Prufrock cannot communicate with pretty much anyone so there is half fourth wall breaking, half-Doylist way of communication. And it is pretty much this way the lone-man of a urban/urbane post-apocalypse talks to us. Most survivor-protagonists are not women. Except maybe novels like Z for Zachariah (which I think the film’s adaptation and retelling is pretty much butchering the complexities of the novel). Though I did a thesis on postmodernism and post-apocalyptic novels I couldn’t make it large enough to put in this so I decided to put it in now. Women experience the urbane apocalypse a bit differently than guys or rather more accurate female writers experience it a bit differently. A sort of reading on this idea or epiphany of mine comes from Anne Sexton’s poem “Mr Mine” from Love Poems:
Notice how he has numbered the blue veins
in my breast. Moreover there are ten freckles.
Now he goes left. Now he goes right.
He is building a city, a city of flesh.
He’s an industrialist. He has starved in cellars
and, ladies and gentlemen, he’s been broken by iron,
by the blood, by the metal, by the triumphant
iron of his mother’s death. But he begins again.
Now he constructs me. He is consumed by the city.
From the glory of boards he has built me up.
From the wonder of concrete he has molded me.
He has given me six hundred street signs.
The time I was dancing he built a museum.
He built ten blocks when I moved on the bed.
He constructed an overpass when I left.
I gave him flowers and he built an airport.
For traffic lights he handed out red and green
lollipops. Yet in my heart I am go children slow.
For Sexton the relationship is always posited, from what I inferred, in extremes. There is no middle ground and there are too much excess and that is why she decided to show the relevance of the “yellow light” in the traffic signal (which even I as a kid I questioned the existence of). People cannot always be in extremes. The urban apocalypse as a narrative plot device follows mostly an extreme, an outbreak of something and no countermeasure. Eddy Van Vliet’s view of the cityscapes is so different even when juxtaposed with the same view of relationships and love:
The city is covered with places you
took from me. Full of joint
footsteps, full of joint laughs.
They were sheltered by dreams and if need be
love grabbed the gun to protect them.
Tell my legs how to evade
what belonged to them.
Tell them. They refuse to believe
that the theaters have burnt, restaurants
were hit by plagues, terraces vanished
into thin air, hotels closed
the courtyards was demolished.
I bow my head and think
the rain will not hit me. Thus
I shall forget what was taken from me.
It is the degradation of the city not its construction of excess that modulates to Vliet a destruction or destructive force of a relationship. This is a very dichotomized way of reading how a man may view a city and how a woman may view a city. Of course, this varies and you see this in Prufrock who feels that his modernity/modernness may have, like the stars of the skies frigidly there, lost its mysticism, is like a patient etherized on a table ready for some cryptic sort of surgery. Many poets don’t like cities regardless of preferred or biological sex and understandable genders. But this is true that cities may speak to females as a place where there is at times a lurking of danger with the loneliness rather to men which may mostly translate as a lack of communication and then loneliness. That is because cities are many a times constructed by males with less female input. Spaces on many cities, both old and new, cater a lot to the social male disposition. This may be Western or Eastern. Thing about open cafes or cafes of Paris when Parisian writers were writing or also a Victorian sort of phenomenon old “coffee houses.” All these places are computed as macho (nowadays cafes are a shared space) like essentially once even the South Asian tong was. Writing in the open air, or surveying a vast landscape, with both urbane and rustic elements, was the ultimate macho gaze. Elliot’s The Wasteland may be taken very differently by a woman and it was to an extent. When Virginia Woolf wrote Three Guineas she did facilitate this question. This is not a different inherent in the marrow: it is holstered and shaped by cultural transmissions and biases.
Octavio Paz in “I speak of The City” pretty much does the opposite of otherness and develops a shared speech between the male and female concerning the city. The last lines of the poem are:
I speak of the city, shepherd of the centuries, mother that gives
birth to us and devours us, that creates us and forgets.
This is a very androgynous way of looking at the city. Not to mention, the shepherd is always a calm but an emotive individual, he is not the sterile logical man because he deals with living creatures perchance even sentient beings and so acts accordingly. The shepherd is not machismo-man rather if you look at him in classical terms he is a very gentle and kind man. Then Paz puts almost a patriarch or matriarch’s ferocity in the mother, inversing the archetype completely, into something beastial and raging. Not to disrespect mothers essentially but to show the way cities are designed may promote a contradictory language. And in many cases you do see the city-mother in old books rather sterner than the rustic-mother. This may not be her fault at all. Rather she is moved to a place that may not intrinsically provide her safety thus she is on edge. But this lack of safety can be androgynous, hermaphrodactyl and faced by both sexes and all genders. And Paz feeling it. Ending his poem like that certainly can show that.
This brings us back to the urban apocalypse and post apocalypse. Because being a modern man is so seemingly essentially tied with the city a zombie apocalypse or the fall of civilisation as we know it is pretty fearful for men. After civilisation falls they attempt to resurrect the civilisation as they used to know it. There are some novels like John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids that do not work like that. Rather it is anti-civilisation or even suspect of what might happen next in a modernness that makes that novel pretty unique. Not to mention that Brave New World by Aldous Huxley also puts on that civilisation needs revisions sort of template. Also the YA novels like Maze Runner and The Hunger Games also, to a certain extent, makes you question the sort of civilisation. Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy pretty much does the same thing. Jimmy, the protagonist in the first book of that series, Oryx and Crake, shows a very different take on masculinity. Jimmy is already sequestered from the benefits of his civilisation from collapse because he is considered a “luddite” unlike Glen or Crake who is mathematically brilliant. But then in subsequent novels we do see Crake has a bivalent view as well. Crake also questions the merits and tactility of his intelligence. And he envies Jimmy’s qualities which actually alienate him from the machinery of their civilisation. This is a rare account as we see in urban apocalypses man is more centered on his survival in a way that may always be conducive to be best for him. There is no criticism to why a city might have fallen or failed. There is no alternatives to the current city; no search for alterities and this is where the urban apocalypse somewhat fails to even encompass what a man may really want and need.
Mad Max is celebrated possibly because Max is a person who can probably integrate and communicate with different sorts of people. But Max also does not really think he can posit things or that he can discuss things on what people may want or what else they can do to gain what they need after the current civilisation has a crackdown. No one really does much to critique why things might have gotten this bad or why such a failure affected the populations so badly. There is no communes or alternative living systems in most urban apocalyptic dramas. People are limited to survive without what they once had; we are made to believe that is the best possible thing that could have been had has been had. And now there is no other thing to be had. Rather put up the old ways or something or the other. There isn’t any mention of tribal people or anthropological alternatives. People give up way more quickly in those fictions than people in actuality would. In the 100 there is a dichotomy between the people who lived in the space stations and the Grounders and so on and so forth. Yet even so there is coalescence between the modern and the new — all is either primitive or civilised nothing is swept into a critical eye on what can be done. Except in the lesser known urban apocalyptic City of Ember series there is no new concepts of civilisation. City of Ember series is tragically underrated as many works are at times are.
Nature is feared but women do not inherently fear nature. Neither do men. Rather fear is nature is also a colonised site in our recent history. It is as Keats wrote in Lamia that cold hard logic can be at times our undoing. If logic was replaced with some acknowledgment of nature than the Lamia of Keats could have loved her youth as she was and not in guise or relegation of her powers. Cities turning to dust is a machismo fear penetrative only because we have made cities the hub of everyday activity. We have ostracised meadows, fields and many simple pleasures. Many countries are worn-torn for our need to build something urbane so anything akin to peace mitigates.
In Begum Rokeya’s Sultana’s Dream there is an alterity. A city designed differently though due to the constraints and time it was written in, it does put men down for Rokeya herself seen women treated as sub-human due to cultural and patriarchal restrictions. Most female writers write apocalyptic issues alternatively. To them survival is not only the main issue nor is the finding out how to reinstate civilisation as it once was for to them civilisation is not always civilised. They take to nature pretty happily; enjoying freedom of moving about, the feeling of both a ripeness of the sensual and visceral without critique or commercialism. Consumerism cannot really substitute the need for actual physicality. The madwoman in the attic burns down her “civilised” home to feel like she is once more back near the wide sargasso sea.
“ Pine flower’s blooming,” says
a friend on the phone
a hundred miles away.
“Just think of the scent!”
thinking of it,” I say
to myself, facing
a thousand years away.
“Can you imagine
The poem just called “Untitled” by So Chong-Ju is a reflection on posterity but it is not in concrete and steel. Pine scents are a common thing. You have pine scented air fresheners. There is something sturdy about pine that also we wish to be reiterated in memory but the longevity of trees surely many a times surpass the longevity of cities. Masculine and feminine do have their uses but city spaces may or may not feel the need of androgyne understandings and spaces. The unsexed friend and the unsexed future version of the poem’s narrator can feel in a way that is both manly and womanly. Cities may or may not suppress the certain need of community and communication in us. More modern cities are designed to be hubs of commerce and calculations. Suburbia has become residence though even there it is like a colony of afternoon shadows where no one always knows everyone or anyone in particular. It is almost like humans cannot fully live in cities nor in nature and is stuck in transit somewhere.
If cities are gone what other modes of living can be scavenged or even newly founded? Survivor’s anxiety in an urban apocalypse is usually male and White. Usually also Western. We do not see anyone of mixed races or minority races engage with civilisation meltdowns as easily as the Robinson Crusoe of the expedition. Yes, we have Will Smith’s I am Legend yet the original protagonist was not White, not in the novel. If the urban apocalypse was traced in Africa or Asia the majority man would probably reflect the majority anxiety. But not the woman and certainly not indigenous people. To them cityscapes and dams and all urbane artifacts may or may not invade on their homestead. I can imagine a newly immigrated Indian woman from village to a city who is in an urban apocalypse. To her panic would be initial reaction. Then she might thread, find resources, find a roof, fly kites, walk on railway lines and take life as an okay. She would be happy that in the maze and noise of the city with its talked about dangers she would not face any now. Naturally, she would pine for conversation and company and will surely look for others. But community is more important to her than restructuring the old cityscape. And they might make a city of old red-brick chimneys and bare-boned walls and be happy there. A European woman may do the same with wood or glass.
Sometimes the urban apocalypse feels like a cowboy Western or a mob movie of another sort. Lone rangers moving about and attempting to secure something for himself because he is displaced and the city gave him a position. That may be a minimalist reading. Cities can only be owned, at least many modern cities, with an act of homogenization and to do so would mean leaving behind some things; males and females, men and women are at times more complex than that. They want other things.
It would be somewhat cool to see someone like Mad Max just hitching up tent with some old tribe that survived in deserts or jungles and just feel how life could progress like this or life could be changed and shaped with new cityscapes. Or rather it would fun to see Mad Maxine do do.