Monday, October 25, 2010

The question of the muse

Okay, that was long.
Did the over-long hiatus end up giving you the impression that the previous post had a more clandestine connotation, in other words, that it was meant to be a simple sign-off from all further writing endeavours here? I hope not. Ah, a voice from the back, "Sorry to disappoint you man, but no one here has been waiting for your words with bated breath." Ouch, should I say? Okay, there you go. With an exclamation? Okay, ouch! Forgive me, my gracious heckler, for that's the perennial, and some would even say despicable, peril of a writer's art, that regardless of the cretinous vapidity of your artistic output, you believe, almost to the point of irrefutable certainty, that somewhere in one of the countless spaces of this world, there's at least someone who is smart (/naive) enough to be engaging (/wasting) their precious (/purposeless) moments reading what you're writing. (The parentheses are for the staunch optimists, the rest of you can kindly ignore them.)

It was a very early morning for me today, and when I woke up it was with the cacophony of absurd traffic in the usually peaceful introspective alley of my mind. (Yeah, I know, the unpardonable crime of beginning a sunday with an "introspection", it's almost vulgar, for lack of a better word. But then I asked myself if there's any productive way of beginning a sunday other than not beginning it at all. And since I had so grandiosely failed to accomplish that by already waking up, I had no other choice but to deal with the vulgarity.) So I decided to don the cloak of the responsible citizen and clean the mess up, what with all that flagrant honking and revving up that was going on. (Ever noticed those citizen traffic regulators on our dusty and rainy streets these days, frantically trying to make our driving lives more tolerable? It's quite admirable, and also seems to have become fashionable, I should say.)

Goethe had his rotten apple, Balzac had his caffeine, Poe had his siamese cat, Coleridge had his opium, Hugo had his nakedness, Nabokov had his placards, Eliot had his cold, what do you have, oh what do you have, young man? 

(Insightful as my question was, it was quite uncomfortable, really, hardpressed as I was to stop my over-active imagination from taking over. Overwhelming as the thought of all that humongous literary talent crammed into a single chamber was, I didn't think I'd be able to stomach the image of them collectively plying their trade in all their glorious oddities. Imagine Nabokov fretting over his misplaced placards amid Eliot's sniffs and sneezes, Goethe holding his rotten apple with a delirious contortion of his face, Balzac screaming for his evening jug of black coffee and Poe's cat purring menacingly as Hugo cavorted around the room naked, parchment and quill in hand... You know, sometimes those things can scar you for life.)

And so I recovered, composed myself and decided to seriously answer the question, reminiscing on my muses. Turns out my last great muse was a dusty, unswiveling orange chair in a dimly lit wooden corner and more importantly, a blue-white kenzo and a blinking box that made kind little noises from time to time. But the corner isn't wooden anymore and the blinking box seems a little mad at me now, though I do still retain the kenzo and the dimness (I don't like the light too much, it makes seeing too easy). And now, in addition, there's the speck-free milky white ceiling to be stared at, a white window that looks exactly like a letterpad with ruled paper, the elegant madame Rimsky-Korsakov to engage in conversation, the new black matte lamy fountain for the itching parchment and why, of course, the venerable Messrs. Bolano and Gombrich waiting idly by the nightstand. 

I've been asked this question before - So what do you do when your lovely muse spirits away all your free-flowing streams of verses and leaves you hanging on a block of frosted words? Set off into the hinterlands in search of her gliding shadow and steal back your palimpsest? I'm not the really adventurous kind so I usually check into my lounge mode with some magazines and just wait. For that sunday morning I'm jerked out of sleep by that block-shattering moment of sweaty, self-confessed inspiration, for that bursting sentence to write itself, for that most glorious of all pittances the literary muses offer us mortals, that moment when I shall be exceedingly pleased to announce to my dear ladies and gentlemen that my shadow-stretching, falsetto-singing, infinity-loving, memory-making, sleep-usurping, abstract-sketching, swift-walking, childhood-worshipping, metaphor-slinging, H2O-guzzling, randomness-doting, head-banging, time-hopping, stupidity-wooing, verse-sputtering blue-eyed muse is back.


Basanth said...

Paris certainly is working its wonders on you.

And how I wish, if only to mar your peace, that your ceiling was anything but white. Why couldn't it have been black?

Caladrius said...

I awe you, primarily, as a master craftsperson of awe-inducing sentences. And because I awe you, I take confidence from your long sentences: just the thing I find essential for non-linear, multi-dimensional (which is how feelings and thoughts work, don't they?) expression but what language lecturers seem to be ruthlessly and needlesssly after. If they (the modern language police) be listened to, it seems my almost-heroes Henry James, Cormac McCarthy, and David Wallace all messed up the English language.

I'd been keen to see, too, how Paris would make you write. It's an inexplicable curiosity, I know, as if the air and earth and buildings and landscapes around the person have any authoritative dictates on the landscapes inside his head or whichever part of him his writing comes from. Whichever part it comes from, and whether there are any dictates or not, and if there are whatever they are, the end effect is exciting. I liked the post very much.

Dheeraj said...

@ Basanth

A wise old man once gave me a lesson in being polite,
"My boy, stand fast in the face of words meant to incite
because it don't matter if your ceiling's black or white,
this kind world will always sneak up on you with its gentle spite."

:P :D

Dheeraj said...

@ Sushant

Thanks for the generous comment. Always a pleasure to see that, especially in an age that's so unreasonably, and if I may say, even lazily, obsessed with saving up on its word count. Which also, almost absent-mindedly, answers your point about "long sentences".

In a society that prides itself on its purposefulness and optimisation, in the process snottily frowning upon digression and randomness, I don't think we can expect anything less. Evolution taught us, they'd proudly tell you, with all their esoteric references and miracle-inducing charts, that no man ever stupid enough to be so profligate or purposeless managed to be productive. And so, that's what it all comes down to, as all things inevitably seem to do in the end, a question of stupidity. And mercifully for me, it just so happens that I am incontrovertibly convinced of my own stupidity.

Dwiti R said...

as usual, a pleasure to read your blog... don't have your kind of artistry for words, so would just leave it at .. Brilliant !!!

aminura ytrobarkahc said...

Important as it is to be appreciated sir, i dont think you should fret about if in the vast world,teeming with billion, there is one person who looks forward to reading your posts; there are innumerable am sure who would read them to get inspired or to attain the realisation that there are pinnacles of literary brilliance that they did not even knew, could exist...
In the infinite space of the world wide web, there is a corner that you occupy and let it expand.