On chimeras and a constant need for validation in our postmodern age

This is a picture of a man silhouetted against a matrix. It represents our digital, postmodern age which revolves around technology.

You sometimes encounter people in life who want you to love them intimately. They’re literally obsessed with you and try forcing their perceptions of intimacy on you. They’re not exactly stalkers but aren’t a far cry from that breed. Now, I understand unrequited love and the need for someone to reciprocate your feelings, but if you truly love someone, you’ll let them go. You’ll never force your delusions on them because no two people think alike.

Yes, there may be a collective consciousness, but I don’t believe in the concept of soul mates or two people sharing one soul. A collective consciousness is something more genetic and has to do with traits acquired and personality, but ultimately you are your being.

People fail to recognize this aspect of liberating individuality and seem to constantly seek the approval of the ‘other’. They have ideas of the other which are often so different from who the other really is. They have dreams and misconceptions that often lead to such acts of foolishness. We live in a cyber, postmodern reality where a few messages sent, or a few Tinder dates make ‘together forever.’

Love requires commitment. Love isn’t judgment. Love isn’t falling for fancies. Love has a deep emotional aspect to it but that’s something that one acquires after years of actual togetherness and it’s not the puppy emotional, fake, cyber simulacrum.

I have found strange people entering and exiting my life. They come in like hurricanes of trust and promises and exit like whirlwinds of bitterness all because they expected something that I didn’t want to give them. I can offer friendship, loyalty, and trust if people give me the same, but I cannot offer love that satiates your chimeras. People don’t understand that I’m not hardwired to love them like their mind tells them. Your mind tells you many things and you feel myriad things but most of what you’re going through is self-indulgence. Pure selfish, hedonistic anti-altruism and when I don’t give you what you seek, your bitterness erupts like a pustule and those warm eyes turn into icy glares meant to pierce or wound.

People go to insane heights when their delusion meets the hard ground. You’ll find them unfriending people on Social Media, engaging in gossip and projecting their anger and insecurities onto the person they perceive insulted them. They dig into their pasts and scrape old wounds until they’re bleeding again and play the blame game. The person of adoration becomes an object that needs destruction.

Sometimes the madness descends to utter incoherence. ‘How could you have done that?’ You’ll find them screaming when you did nothing wrong. I don’t love you and neither did you love me. You worshiped me, and I’m not flattered. I need you to move on. So, please get over it. That’s the only response you can give people like that and if you don’t want a direct confrontation, just cut ties. Trust me, any vicious cycle, even if a person has faced similar circumstances in their life but deludes themselves into thinking that creates a special unity, needs a severing.

What is with this age and the need for constant reinforcement? I guess social media has played a destructive role in fueling our narcissistic egos. It’s all about the likes, comments, and shares and it doesn’t matter if you’re happy or depressed. If you’re happy, you’ll resort to posting picture perfect selfies and gloat as the likes and comments flow. And then there’s the sorrowed narcissist. The person who uses depression, prior abuse, and the ostracism or bullying they’ve faced to get the same likes. This person doesn’t usually use Facebook but uses blogging platforms to achieve the same goal – an ephemeral reinforcement.

I think we’ve forgotten how to have a good time. We don’t even read paperbacks anymore. We prefer shortening our attention spans by spending time reading blog after blog, hoping someone will find our blogs and like or comment. And a comment; something said by a stranger we know nothing about makes our day. And if it isn’t repeated the next day, we feel insecure and lost.

My friends, this is shallow living. But getting out of this needs suffering. You need to suffer pangs of loneliness to know solitude. You need to suffer failure to know that victory isn’t everything and this is a gradual change or an unraveling of sorts.

Having said this, I’m guilty of so many things I’ve pointed out and criticized, but I’m slowly realizing that this cyber existence isn’t worth it. Now I’m not advocating a Luddite puritanism but a balance or a middle road like the Buddha put it – neither giving in to too much or too little.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Turn the other cheek

This is a picture of a heart shaped red tree with red leaves surrounding it. My piece is a darkly humorous piece about the nature of love and hence the image.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: So do something about it! There are two groups vehemently arguing.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Listen, we can stop this before things get messy. But I need your help. I’ll do the talking, and since you’re strong men, you can come between them if it comes to push and shove.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Stop saying that. You sound like the sheep in Orwell’s Animal Farm or poor line repetition in a bad villanelle.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: See extreme pacifism doesn’t solve anything. I keep a gun in my pocket for self-defense. I get that you want love, but love is a verb. We have to do something.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Okay, I’ll stop being eloquent. Here’s a simple analogy: Say you have a flat tire; won’t you fix it? Look they’re shoving each other already. Please, I beg you. I’m only 5’4, and those guys look like thugs.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Okay, say I shot into the air, it’ll draw attention, but I’ll need your help. Will you help?

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Look! They’re increasing in number. I think it’s some religious argument or something. We have to intervene!

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Look! They’re punching each other now, and the number has increased. We have to stop this now!

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Murder! Murder! It’s too late! It’s too damn late!

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Stop saying that! Look what we’ve caused. I don’t think I can live with myself.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Say that once more, and I swear I’ll shoot you in the head.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Oh, so you want love, huh, you avant-garde moralists. I’ll show you what hate is if you do not stop! Say it, go on.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

*Gunshots heard*

Judge: What you did was heinous and disgusting. You killed two innocent, educated men holding peace signs. They were only doing their best to protest against that horrible religious conflict that took place in front of you. Eight violent morons killed themselves. But two saints were martyred. You are as bad as Nero who burned people like these men. You will be shown those bloodstained peace signs in prison every day. And fortunately, in this state, we still use the electric chair. I will take pleasure in watching you burn, and hope there is a literal hell where you’ll burn some more. Death penalty! Death penalty! Death penalty!

Orange prison-robed woman: Please no! Please, I beg you! I only want love.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Lucidity

This is a picture of water. I've used it to depict clarity because my piece is about my muse freeing me from all unnerving thoughts.

Have I told you that you’re my lucidity, the clearest thought that settles somewhere in the back of a shadowed mind, and slowly, gently, inch by inch lights it up, until I’m smiling again though my eyes are bloodshot and I’m staring like someone catatonic, looking through the phases of my life and time? You may not notice the smile, but it’s there, and the clarity your love gives me, even if it’s for a few moments is like a beautiful minimalistic piano piece by Einuadi or Allevi. It’s serene and absorbs me with a faint glow that slowly rises like a crescendo, building up very steadily and subconsciously, and it’s more than a jaded heart can hope for. I’ve walked the dark alleyways of littered purgatory, hoping for a cleansing from madness that possesses, but I only lose my way, and I’m trapped in a vicious circle, walking the same places over and again, the downpour chastising me, but then with soaked clothes, I remember that’s there more than a frightening, agonizing status quo. I remember you, and your grace and steel-blue strength: a tranquil yet sturdy resolve, your brown eyes possessing an allure that’s both subtly sensual and fiery, your way of handling the most complex situations with the simplest intuition, your beauty that draws me away from every other woman I’ve known, and I make my way home – earthy, with clothes clinging to me, feverish from the cold, and you pull me to you, despite it all, and kiss me ever so gently, and then this house we live in transforms – the muted bulbs become chandeliers, the worn couches become luxurious, the hard bed becomes soft, and the dust and echoes of trauma dissipate, and when we make love, it’s the apex of a together actualization, it’s the epitome of a together transcendence, because it’s deeper than lust. It’s a bond we’ve forged over years of an almost us, to finally taking the step and constructing our architecture that’s standing despite each storm of tribulation, despite each fire of unresolved hurt and bitterness, and I know we’ll heal, not because of the time we spend together, but because of what we share.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

An old friend

This is a picture of an aristocrat. I've used it to lampoon elitism. My post is about pseudo-intellectuals and poets who use verbose writing to convey simple points. The image complements it.

An old friend or one who says he’s one,
tells me he despises ‘high’ metaphor –
as if metaphor were the Tower of Babel,
which one climbs and climbs, until
everything disintegrates into talking in
tongues – but he writes with such verbosity,
that I need a Thesaurus to only figure out that
what’s going on is going on.

And that’s not the point of poetry is it?
Ask me to talk of loneliness, and I’ll
give you a demonic room with crumbling wallpaper,
torn chintz grey curtains, and threadbare couches
with rusty nails sticking out, the dust asphyxiating
you while the television’s grainy screened, but people
around you are paradoxically dancing and reveling in
the same grimy place, smoking their joints, carousing,
cuddling and kissing, perhaps even fucking, oblivious
to glances from dilated pupils.

Ask him to talk of loneliness and he’ll say,
“It’s a cacophonous Tophet where rumination
deliquesces and the recherché panache becomes
quotidian utilitarianism,” which basically means
that it’s a shit hole that deprives you of thought.

Well, he secretly admires me, and I, the size of
his lexicon, and we don’t need to talk about Autumn
or the Riemann hypothesis to figure that out.

I’ll smoke my cigarettes and drink my coffee
and he can sip his sherry while he’s eating caviar.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

The five stages of Grief with Binky the Clown

This is an image of a sad clown. I've used it because my post is about a heartbroken clown forced into self-deprecating work because of fate.

 

My job’s to make you laugh, to give you joy and to coat your hearts with effervescence, and that I’ll do as long as I’m standing on this stage. I lost my second wife a month ago, and since then I’ve spiraled into alcoholism. But I guess it’s better than shooting crap into my arm. I’ve lost my day job selling popcorn at the fair, and I’m struggling to foot the bills, to get by. But enough self-loathing. I’m here to make you laugh, to help take your minds off the stress of actuality.

You come here – every Friday night – after paying the cheap five-dollar entrance because you long for entertainment. You crave for more than sleazy motel room sex with hookers. You want me to make you laugh and then satiate your vulgar appetites. But all I have…okay enough of that!

You’re here now, and it’s time to make you laugh. I’ve worn the green nose and the green lipstick because that’s what Mayor Green favors. He won the lottery this week, and I was mad when the owner said, “It’s green today Binky.” I mean, green! Fuck man! You’re one egotistical prick, aren’t you? Even after all these years of snorting J&J’s Big C, some shred of malicious ego makes you want to humiliate me. Do I have to yell, “Green!” too while you proceed with whatever the fuck you plan on doing with me tonight. Then again, you’re entitled to your fetishes, and I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for this. So, I’m sorry sir. Please take no offense. And please don’t report me. This is all I have left!

I wish my wife, Molly the mime could pull me out of this rut I’m in. But she’s in heaven now, finally speaking, saying, “You’ll get through this Binky! Hang in there!” If only I could have prevented the accident, but we’re a circus, and we take risks. But still, I wish I was powerful and in command. I would have saved her then.

My job is to make you laugh, but I don’t have it in me. I’m exhausted and riddled with the most painful grief. So, take your turns, sirs. Let’s skip this showy sick display and get on with it. Snort your coke off my nose until your mustaches turn white and proceed with all the nasty shit you want to do. I’m all yours. Haha. Haha. Molly! Oh, Molly!

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Binky the Clown 

Nathaniel and June (Part 1)

This is an image of the blue sky and the clouds. The picture is more complex than my depiction of it and I've chosen it because it depicts depth and intricacy to me. My piece is an intricate portrayal of a relationship.

Nathaniel was a man of quirks and eccentricities. He was a self-absorbed artist who spent his time brooding. He was once an idealist, but years of looking at Fate’s rugged, unwashed face threw him in a pit of nihilism. Nathaniel loved June but found it hard to express himself and make her feel loved and respected. He’d brush off her attempts at conversation with a nonchalant ‘hmm,’ or a ‘uh huh.’ He’d spend hours losing himself to his art though he’d given up on his dreams of getting published. He’d realized some time ago that the road he walked on was potholed, broken and covered with layers of dust and ash like a waltzing grey swirl caressing each contour of the landscape. But that didn’t keep him from writing and writing, chasing the will-o’-the-wisp, and revolving on that carousel of delusion.

His was a peculiar case. A case in which he had complete insight into his distance from reality, but made no effort to bridge the gap. A paperweight of unhealthy defense mechanisms had him trapped, and the swirling mass within the paperweight was slowly psychically and emotionally asphyxiating him, but he made no effort to pry himself free and find his own.

Now, there’s nothing in this world more fascinating than an intelligent fool, and by that definition, Nathaniel was the most captivating man in the world. He’d make the same mistakes and then find himself ensconced in a cocoon of guilt where he’d writhe in agony before purging himself of the unhealthy emotion and undergoing a painful metamorphosis of sorts. But unlike the Butterfly that dazzles us while it’s with us with its jubilance and effervescence, Nathaniel would regress again once he stumbled upon the same obstacles. But the truly fascinating aspect of all this was that Nathaniel knew his way around these obstacles, but was helpless in translating his ideas into action.

Nathaniel’s love for June bordered on worship. He believed that they were twin souls and that the loss of one will lead to the death of the other. But there were times when he despised her. He hated her when she didn’t conform to his vision of perfection and loathed himself more for hating her. If colors depicted emotion, then Nathaniel’s affection for June took the form of every hue. He sometimes burned red with passion, felt the green stab of jealousy, retreated to a blue ocean of calm when she was warm, nestled himself in pastures bold and green when he dreamed of brighter futures of togetherness, and thought in black while tears coated his cheeks when he dreamed of the harrowing reality they’d eventually face.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Fade

This is an image of the sunset coating a landscape. I chose it because it's very melancholic and represents grief, which is the central theme my poem revolves around..

When I met you, looked deep into those black-velvety eyes,
I knew I found my muse, a Blue jay: ashen, muted grief,
steel-blue quietude, and a mosaic brilliance concealed
except when you glided with your poetry, the Cherry
Blossom tunnel I walked through all those years, stooped, no
longer seemed dreary, and as I read between the lines
you wrote, knowing you and finding me in those spaces,
I stopped and looked up at the steeple of the old Methodist
Chapel at twilight in that quiet cul-de-sac not far from
where we lived, and looked at creation waltzing
with stern architecture with her golden auburn feet,
like you’d put it, I stood there and waited for nightfall
and for once looked at the stars in that simple
yet transcendent way you saw them and I felt
the beauty only you could capture,
but life has this uncanny knack of separating us from the people
we hold most dear: often they move away slowly like
glaciers and that hurt ebbs with time, but sometimes they’re
taken from us in ways we never fathomed and that grief
flows through our veins like lava, burning with reminiscence:
an indomitable regret, I should have done more, maybe
just a gentle hold of that cascading brown hair, or a soft
kiss at dawn, reminding you that I loved you enough,
I should have read deeper and found that though your
verse reflected love, there were these undercurrents of
hopelessness threatening to drown you, I should have
fought harder, but these words are silent sighs now,
just wistful hope like the Minister of the church gave me
when he said, “God took her in that dark way,” but he
wasn’t there when I came home and saw that diagonal
slash, the red puddle that still stains sleepless nights,
he didn’t hear my shaking plea for grace, and he didn’t
see the last love poem I ever wrote fighting both volatile anger
and calamitous sorrow: those last scribbles on a sheet
in which I enclosed the ring I gave you, placing a
pearl back in an oyster shell, and laid it on the brown
coffin, trying futilely to let everything fade.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)