Thoughts

The lure of dark literature

Why are we attracted to dark literature?

The art of living, as the wise gurus tell us is to be thankful, to enjoy every moment of it, every breath we take. To the practical mind this translates to finding happiness in every moment and the mind concedes the futility of this search. However, it sees the logic in the search for a less ephemeral and less insignificant happiness, one that transcends concepts like moments and breathing. This practical and average mind, average because of the number of beings it rides on is far more than the other types therefore makes people live in the search of happiness.

With the platitude elegantly established, we will attempt to address the question in the first line which must feel misplaced in the paragraph that it finds itself in. We might even modify the question, now that it feels happy to be back in focus and therefore amenable to changes, and ask what is the happiness that people derive from reading dark literature. For, if reading the material is not making them feel good, then they wont belong to the club of averages. And if that was true, there would only be a few lovers of the dark writings, the irrational being the minority. On the contrary, tragedies over the ages have held a greater veneration than any comedy or writing of the type that justifies why we should be thankful for the gods, for mankind, for our existence and such things as world peace. Contemporary literature is also mostly dystopian, it reeks of suffering of the individual, a pain that one must live with, in every moment and every breath. A darkness pervades every word that comes out of the melancholic souls of these writers. It is overdone to such an extent that to a discerning reader, discerning being a euphemism for the cynic, this blatant display of darkness starts to seem pretentious.

Discerning or not, we all enjoy the books we read, and that takes us back to where we started this ramble. The question remains unanswered. Instead of jumping into the arena and proffering an answer let us remain on the sidelines for a little while longer and examine the nature of the contradicting states of happiness and sorrow.

Happiness compels us to seek company. It makes us look outwards, mostly because everything looks good when we are feeling so. It induces the urge to spread it around. Happiness demands dissipation of the inadvertent answers it conjures up.

Suffering and pain on the other hand makes us look within. It makes us introspect as we are flooded with questions. Everything we believed in, we loved, we thought of ourself, lies shattered to pieces rendering us incapable of expressing the gruesome reality that lies within to others. Suffering is inherently implosive, it leaves us stranded on the island with a heavy backpack of these debilitating questions.

Given these definitions, and being forced to accept the definitions as they are offered, we might re-establish the platitude that no sane person would like to indulge in anything that leads to the island. At this juncture, one might feel like giving up on the answer out of frustration with the author or one might persevere and delve further as one does while reading dark literature. The reader and connoisseur, or even the sceptic of the dark must understand that though the author has been striving to apply the question in the purview of grand schemes and ubiquitous definitions, the question is not pertinent to darkness in life, it is about dark literature.

Reading is an exclusively private activity. Even though some might cite book clubs and public reading, those same members of the clubs and the audience would understand the frustration of expounding the inexplicable more than the outsiders and the non participants. Reading, as we all know and which we in our personal spaces are doing right now with this post, is a private affair, but so is suffering. The subject matter resonates with the verb when we take up writings of the darker shades. It also seems promising because it relates and joins us in the search for the answers to our suffering. As a result, we tend to immerse ourselves in the work instead of the detached, flippant attitude we wear while reading something comical or something uplifting.

The reason we love dark literature is also because of the fact that we all suffer, unless we are the smiling gurus making others aware of their suffering and then providing ecstatic vacuous solutions. Dark literature provides us with perspective that might equip us not only in answering the questions that fester, but also prepare us in coping with life as it would unfold, both on the introspective and the emphatic grounds. The art of living is not about finding or acquiring the state of happiness in every moment, but in accepting the nature of the contradicting constructs that life is made of and reading till you drop dead.

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Poetry

You and I, me!

You bemoan our thoughts,

never resonating.

I delight in the footsteps

always rhyming.

You read to lose yourself

in your books –

their similes, metaphors

and the images.

I seek to find myself

in everything I peruse –

subtexts, layers,

and pauses between pages.

Looking for magic

in a reality mundane,

you let out a sigh.

Perceiving reality

in everything magical

gives me a high.

That romantic song

you listen to

tapping your foot,

enchanted,

reminds me of a dirge

of exhumed memories

unwanted.

You embrace

the brilliant sun,

when I serenade

the lilting moon.

A sensitive son

who will inevitably

fall through.

You are the detached reason,

I the reckless action.

A virile daughter

consumed by her

insatiable passion.

Always in dissonance,

you plot a sweet revenge.

Introspecting afterthoughts

though desire you to change.

I am no different in that

intimate scheming aspect,

disgust I may show,

but for you

I have unfounded respect.

And we were destined to meet

between the gray horizons,

in the vast meadows of oblivion,

where the sagacious stars shone.

Wavering between

a grueling duel

and a riveting duet,

when the flaws

glowed lucid

in our cogent arguments

making us fret,

making us look beyond,

the facade

and everything

we thought we knew.

 

And then I saw the mirror,

I saw you, as I see you,

and sadly you did too,

as you do too.

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Poetry

Denouement of escapism

the fences created to
keep out the others
boundaries invented for
a safety even further
limits exerted when
imagination flew unchartered skies
comforting are these ploys
but that which keep ourselves in ties

the secrets concealed for
sustenance of conscience
excuses invented to
avoid the inevitable finds
furtive glances when
passion soared in immoral skies
deluding are these schemes
of a bruised ego that forever lies

the space offered to
bloom out of a romantic gloom
tranquil voids invented for
absorbing the incessant clamor
distances extended when
reason reigned the moonlit skies
these are the circumventing expanses
in which a suffering love dies

it’s not darkness
because you closed your eyes
it’s not silence
because you stopped listening
it’s not the fences,
secrets or distances that stand
when your soul judges
and you have nothing to defend

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Abstract

Reflections in the dark

There is a sense of foreboding rife in the night air. Tonight there is no moon or stars, not even the distant lights that shine in his dark eyes when he searches for her. The absence of the celestial lights is not due to clouds either. The clouds from south are yet to arrive, there must be another explanation. He might be going blind. This inability to rationalize is always disconcerting, it makes him ask questions. Indulging the unknown by asking questions makes it tolerable. What is it then that holds the night together in the absence of the moon and the stars? It is not the dark sky that seems too big to care, no the sky never cared. Maybe what keeps the night alive is its arrogant defiance of light. It is only in the blatant disregard to doubts that the absolute is ever achieved.

He must learn more from the night. He must learn to swallow the light even though it burns within, leaving the taste of charred regrets. He knows he must go on till he devours the last of the wavering wisps of pride. The enemy, she had told him, lies within. He had then spent ages trying to fight it, fight them, looking for her approval. Each victory felt a load off, expunged, they became shadows. Even in the dark of this night, he can see their silhouettes. Memories don’t have a shape, structure or silver linings, they just have these haunting silhouettes. Her eyes move rapidly as if excited in his forays, but he can see from within. Beyond the eyelids, beyond the eyes, the vision she finds difficult to fathom, a vision that betrays the disappointment in him.

She was never afraid of the shadows, it’s the reflections that disturbed her. She defied them, but not with conviction. Since a young age she would stare deep into the mirror, trying to look for a movement, and often trying to gauge the depths of her soul. Is the reflection exactly as she appeared to others, or do they see more? We don’t always need mirrors to see ourselves, he had said, sometimes the reflections in our mind show us graver truths because in this case the mirror is made of our conscience. All we need is a calm mind, and a calm mind is like a black mirror. It absorbs all the light, all your essence, rendering you void. The only proof of your existence is in the reflection, but to see the reflection emanating from the black mirror requires an assimilation into the void. She must go further to look for him, before he wakes up and she becomes one of his reflections.

He feels his mouth dried up, the tongue feeling the back of his parched throat. She must be probing again, he could feel himself drained out of life. The dryness progressing further, reaching his now withered heart. He is convinced it would spread further leaving him with a shriveled soul. The prospect is comforting. But he must exist, not because he loves her. He must exist so that she has a purpose as she sleeps keeping his night alive. He takes a last longing look at her and retreats back into the depths of the night, before she can find him and destroy them both.

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Thoughts

The irresistible charm of music

There is just one thing that philosophers from various schools of thought and inclinations agree upon. It is the questions that they collectively ask, questions that arise from philosophical ruminations. The topic of these questions range from life, universe, God, existence, behavior, dreams and cover just about everything a human mind is capable of inquiring about. The nature of such questions are universal in nature, in the sense that they don’t discriminate between instances. Questions about existence, for example, applies to all individuals equally. The same goes for enquiry into the metaphysical aspects of an emotion, say love between two individuals, the same question applies to both the parties involved, or the whole population.

This plethora of questions has kept on piling up, forcing mankind, starving for answers to take refuge in science, faith, religion and such systems of well structured beliefs. The reason why we have failed to address these questions in a satisfactory way lies in the conflicting premises of these questions and their probable answers. The questions may be universal, but the answers as it is more or less established are existential in nature. Philosophers who have attempted to create an universal model have usually failed. This unique combination, however; brings to the arena the human endeavor of art. Art fits so well in this situation that the lines between art and philosophy have been flimsy since the earliest known civilizations.

Art, in its various forms attempts to answer the philosophical questions but it does that by taking a path that is not straightforward. The artist tenders the answers for mass consumption but stops short from getting down to the details, the intention and thesis is neither defined nor defended. This indirect approach makes art susceptible to attack from the philistines and fundamentalists, alike. On the other hand, this circuitous nature of the presentation allows the individual to investigate further without external aid, it acts as a guidance on the path to discovery of the answers to the posed questions, paradoxes and dilemma. The individualistic aspect of art might explain our fascination for it, a fascination that has pervaded time and space. To further elaborate on the idea, let’s take a painting and its import on the individual. It might evoke a feeling of longing, act as an exposition of love for one, while another person may derive a sense of peace, or an answer to the question on the apparent futility of existence.

Comprehension is essentially a sensory phenomenon, or at least it is stimulated by the senses. The wise men and seers may advocate detachment from senses and urge us to inculcate a method of understanding that comes from insulated meditation. What they also say, which is usually found in subtext is you need to envisage the world with enough lucidity as presented to you through the senses to appreciate the inadequacy of the sensory perception.

Art in its attempt to come up with answers to the eternal questions appeals to the senses, at least at the first glance. The purpose is half fulfilled in this appeal, as it triggers the latent sensibilities and inchoate profundity present in every human. What follows then is the path taken by the individual beyond the realms of physiological limitations of the senses and psychological limitations of a cognitive mind. This realm is visceral, a personal space that obliterates the existence of everything else, one that transcends the conditioning received over ages, it is that world within that defines the essence of the individual or soul as the romantics and poets would prefer to call.

Most forms of art are about visualization, they are meant for the eyes and even if it is not the case, they would require one to keep the eyes open. The intended transport to the surreal world happens with intermittent closing of the external eyes and opening of inner ones. But it is still intermittent, one can’t get away without the visuals and in this process one is inadvertently aware of the external world thereby impeding one in the unobstructed flight, the dive into the soul.

Music may be the only art that doesn’t rely on eyes for perception, it actually demands the listener to close the eyes and feel the art. As soon as we do that, we are cutting off the rest of the world, people around us, emotions we struggle with and the questions that confound us. The quest is expedited by the prerequisite. It’s easy to critique or discuss a painting, a book, a poem, dance, sculpture and almost about every possible form of art, because the critic visualizes the piece in juxtaposition to the external or peripheral reality. Thus the criticism is understood by masses since they also perceive it in similar circumstances, similarly a discussion on a piece of art remains pertinent. When it comes to music, and here we might leave out the lyrics which might require a rephrase. So, when it comes to pure music it’s almost impossible to critique, discuss, analyze or do anything that might require others to be in the same plane as you, or having the same perception as yours. At the best, one may only give the verdict, that the piece of music is good or it is not. Equally impossible it is to find a person who doesn’t enjoy music.

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Poetry

Mirth of the insane

When love, that doesn’t remember the dawn,
forever smolders but refuses to burn,
when blemishes in time and space
reek of a festering eternity,
the enervated horizon manages to
shine with the grey shade of insanity.

Rambling on in the fjords of a bruised ego,
and the confounding shores of dusky scruples,
battling the waves of a rising conscience,
a shattered mast, a tattered sail, an unanchored life,
yet the despondent crew hang on to faith, undeterred,
intoxicated, by the dark bottles of insanity.

A quiver of nascent ideas waits for a story,
the mesmerizing past, the non-committal present,
a fairy land that longs for a scorching desert,
these crumpled notes in my recycle bin, on the floor,
once that craved for a closure, are exasperated,
as they seek solace in an edifying touch of insanity.

When the kiss of the lover’s lips seems cloying,
making love no longer douses the raging desires,
when the parched throats seek no wine,
and sips of the pinot evoke the same sweet faces,
when the gods start to seem too distant to fail,
and your prayers seem impersonal, and almost cruel,
guilt laden bliss is easier to endure, you feel,
in the soothing ignominy of insanity.

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Poetry

The story of life

My poem got published on Sudden Denouement Collective. It is a great collective of writers and artists, each with a unique style and aesthetic, including me 🙂

The story begins
not in the present,
not with any intent,
but in the mind of the writer,
lost, perusing his tomes,
as he creates a new history
with words filtered through
experiences and such
prismatic domes.

Continue to read here.

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