I’m in the mountains where the air is cold and crisp and the fog enshrouds this little town like an enigmatic esoteric doctrine obscures a portion of scripture. The layered tea plantations look like layers of a green pyramidal cake; rich in taste and a delight to the senses. I amble down hairpin bends and breathe for a change, and I’m mystified by the power of nature. It has this innate ability to calm and refresh me. I’m no longer surrounded by brutal machinery and vapid super malls. I have no need for cheap wine and even that insatiable urge to write something that reeks of self-loathing is gone. Smoking is no longer something that temporarily releases me from angst but is a pleasure I savor while I fix my gaze on the blue peaks that encircle me like fortress walls. I say fortress but I’m not trapped here. It’s a far cry from some devilish force holding me against my will in a sequestered apartment complex where rage erupts from some wound within causing a catastrophic explosion that leads to an implosion of reason and perception and an animalistic thirst to wreak havoc taking over. Here, freedom beckons with the scent of the Eucalyptus; vivacity beckons with the freshness of the animated sparrows; serenity beckons with the aura that each blade of grass possesses – engulfing me and lifting spells of depression. I like this cottage I’m living in. It’s quaint and archaic and my internet’s limited and I need a fireplace at night; the door is made of teak and doesn’t open easily, but I’m not complaining. The more I look at creation in the eye, the more I want to leave my neon hued, gaudy city behind. I’ve never been one for boisterous laughter and parties and making an utter fool out of myself. Sure, I’ve lived that life but each day felt like giving a piece of me away. Some deep inner piece that cheap hedonistic thrills will never replace. Now, in this place I’m taking those pieces back from the earth, the petrichor, the breeze and the mist and putting them together in those vacant spaces in my heart. There’s something within every person that no amount of materialism will suppress – a deep despair that’s rooted in a need for a higher, more transcendental connection. No amount of wine or people or cigarettes or even art takes that away. Most people don’t project this despair and try their best to deviate other people from getting a glimpse of their inner self with their ostentatious Facebook feeds and Instagram pictures. The few who do are sadly shunned by a society that stereotypes. Then there are a popular few who know how to create drama out of it and thrive on the attention that they get on social media. These cunning few suddenly write about their ‘problems’ and then move back to the mainstream pretentious nonsense. They know how to manipulate the sheep on social media with their sorrowed narcissism. But this post isn’t about them. It’s about confronting the despair within. It’s that very despair that leads to addiction, to incessant posting on social media, to hate, to rage and to a crippled existence. It eats at a person and that person finds temporary respite in temporal things and idolizes them. We forget that things fade away and people can never be our everything, just like we can’t be our everything because we’re finite with limited minds and limited lifespans and limited abilities that wither slowly and just like books collect dust or iron rusts, we deteriorate with age or illness. So, there isn’t any point in finding solace in what’s innately fractured; severed both existentially and eventually literally. So, it ultimately comes down to finding an infinite God. That’s the essence of Christianity. But what happens when we can’t find God or when God is silent or if you’re an apostate who feels cut away from him? There has to be something more than banal materialism or reckless hedonism. I think that’s where the beauty of solitude comes in. I feel lonely in the city, but alone and at peace with myself in the mountains. The neo-cosmopolitan city I live in is a modernist’s lament. It’s a harsh reminder of the things I don’t have. Having said that, there’s also a constant discomfort that nags. It tears my contentment asunder and I’m always looking for answers using technology when technology is the very thing that’s killing me. Now, I’m not saying technology is bad, but I do have a little Luddite in me that screams when there’s too much of it, which is why, I race to the hills when I get a chance. Where will I finally end up? I don’t know. I have an idyllic dream of settling down in the hills and taking long walks and perhaps teaching; shunning my old life and avoiding self-loathing and angst, and mooching off them to write completely; basically killing the narcissist in me using nature. But life with all its practicalities and pragmatism always stands in the way like a huge unclimbable gate with spikes on top. But I’m feeling vaguely optimistic today and hence these lines.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

I doubt I’ll be able to write an, ‘Oh that’s beautiful!’ Love poem again because grandiose delusions and ideas shaped and molded all my relationships and the idealistic vulnerability of my youth now sees Autumn. I’ve grown cynical and skeptical though I maintain a veneer of a man-child. If you really knew me, you’ll know that despite my obnoxious mannerisms and acutely harrowing impishness, I’m a bleak, nihilistic, distraught bastard and if given a chance to regain my innocence I’d never take it because I’d throw it away and plumb the depths of depravity in minutes. When in a somber mood I trace the path that brought me here, the regression from a maladaptive daydreamer to a hopeless romantic to a sour-faced pessimist to an utterly tortured nihilist. I can’t even look at nature without adding an ingredient of sardonicism to the broth of appreciation in my head. I guess you’ve wondered about that cry for freedom that tears through the poetry I write. Well, honestly, it’s a sham. I’ve grown comfortably uncomfortable knowing that freedom in my case is an illusion, and so, you can discard all those raw, boiling hot metaphors I use and just look me in the eye using my lines and call me a peddler of dishonesty. Go on. I know you want to throw that tomato and boo me off the stage. I’ll go quietly. I promise. I’ll just walk away with the red stains all over my shirt and hair, and the overwhelming stench possessing me. I’m so far from hope that I won’t even puke in the dustbin backstage.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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My father, mother and I live in a multifaceted three-bedroom apartment. It doesn’t just have many literal aspects but figurative ingredients too which spice things up or sour things down. I didn’t grow up in this prison maze, but like a rat, I scuttle here and there now, hoping on a morsel of hope. Sometimes after the rains, when the open windows caress me with petrichor, and I’m invigorated, I lie down and listen to Hammock or some other post-rock band with a surreal tang to it, and I’m just present. The shadow of a once abusive father doesn’t trail with a scythe like a reaper, and I close my eyes and envision crotchets and minims floating by and carrying me along; carrying me to nuanced places and distant snow flaked horizons where the sound of a political engine doesn’t churn out the grating discordance of Fascism and I can lie looking at Creation’s wonders. But sometimes there’s an anti-aura of malice that separates the family, giving us each anti-halos or devil’s horns and even our shadows become nightmarish apparitions fighting each other. I guess each of us is a snail ensconced, struggling to break out of a shell. There’s a spirit of anarchism that possesses all of us, and we don’t want to gyrate to the tune of another’s voice as sweet or bittersweet as it sounds. We want to rush freely on our own paths, divided, and embracing a nightmarish Sartrean freedom, but something unlike and like a Lutheran bondage of the will ties us together. And when it does, mother hurts son, father threatens son and son lashes out at father using kicks and punches. ‘You deserve this! You old bastard for all those years of fucking with my life!’ I say, shrieking and projecting my insecurities over whether I’ll finally be free. Freedom. The word itself implies a concept with infinite plausibilities, but then the cycle of life and death, of youth and age reminds you of its antithesis – finitude. You’re only as free as you’re allowed to be is a daunting truth that makes you question if you’re ever free at all. The arguments in this household often transcend the dynamics of an individual in a multifaceted household and drift towards our condition in a multifaceted country. Will we escape the bondage that awaits us when the jarring buzz of Fascism is a roar? Will we be ultimately free in a fashion we’d like however idealistic that sounds?

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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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. You worshipped 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 (2018)

I find the road ahead stained with crimson, tattered parkas, blurry and Kafkaesque. Maybe it’s the blood of martyrs – brothers and sisters who lived for art alone; smashing the mirror though the shards stung and the ooze throbbed – who wandered like vagabonds and died having taken up the pen, or maybe it’s the false inner opulence of alcohol or antihistamines – a carpeted antechamber with a plastic chandelier and a stony candelabrum with ugly, blotched masses of wax and polaroids instead of Gogh and Rembrandt; basically a burlesque scene where a thrift store stands in for Gucci, and gives you raw, ribald low-brow that is only lacquered – making me glorify the obscure and venerate the underground. It’s like making love to a woman you don’t love anymore, without passion, the rough arpeggio relieving stress. In the end a few questions stem from the heart of all frustration, giving the reader(s) withered parchments of poetry – unlike the parrot green published work – and prose that doesn’t bloom because it’s not nurtured by engagement: Do I still do this though I rely on someone else’s monetary support? Do I still love this? Do I need to create? And despite the mass production of tomes, teaching you how to ‘write,’ asking Kafka to move over to a surreal corner with hazy light – where an apple lies crushed – in the corner of the bookstore, despite the post-novel filled with multimedia and embracing fanatical postmodernism, like Night Film by Marisha Pessl (which I’m not saying isn’t good, so don’t get me wrong), give me my books, a dictionary, a thesaurus and a pen and paper, and I will create, or at least I think so.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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I think any contemplative reader will wonder if stream of consciousness writing is pure and unadulterated, or if there are gaps and minuscule writer’s blocks during the process, or if it really exists? My answer from personal experience is that it only partially exists. At the end of the day, you’re human and though I’ve reiterated this point so many times, I’ll say it again: You can strive for perfection, but you’re bound to fall short, and even if you end up becoming a visionary or revolutionary, you’ve still only come close to perfection. When Barcelona thrashed Madrid 5-0, a few years ago, José Mourinho called them, ‘the finished article,’ but he was wrong. Yes, back then, they played football which was an absolute treat for the viewer, and it was like a spiritual experience of sorts, but they still weren’t perfect. To call anything man-made or shaped by clay – if you prefer the use of the figurative – perfect is foolish. We’re in a state of continual cognitive and collective evolution as individuals and as a species, and even millennia from now, if we still exist, and have made conditions better, the world will still be an almost utopia. So, coming back, what then is stream of consciousness writing? The answer is simple: It’s tapping into the subconscious and writing without inhibition to the best possible extent. Sometimes the writer can tap and mask what he finds with imagery, which takes effort and causes strain in a few cases, but the very fact that the writer taps makes them distinct and gives their word a unique pitch and tone. Now my theory is Lacanian only in the sense that the subconscious is structured like a language, because the writer is engaging in a simultaneous thought-write and not thinking first and then writing. So, how to you gain access to the subconscious mind? Now, this is a valid question because you’ll find writers who deploy this technique very different from the folk you meet every day. I’m talking from personal observation and introspection. As a matter of fact, you’ll find many gifted writers, possessing idiosyncrasies and oddities and being distinct from the pack. So, not everyone taps into the subconscious and whether we like to admit it or not, innate talent exists. And hence the question. Well, there are five ways, I can see this happening from observation and personal experience. The first is insanity. Insanity comes with a blessing and a curse, and people who are mentally ill exist in a different realm from people who are just like everyone else, or want to become everyone else, or someone else. The second, is prescription medication to treat insanity. It alters a person’s personality completely and gives them access to an otherwise restricted inner Area 51. How they use it depends on their insight. The third is mind altering substances – most of which governments ban, and hence, unless you’re willing to take the risk with the possibility of it going wrong, like Huxley did, your door of perception will sadly remain closed. You could try marijuana though, and it’s legal in many places. The fourth is an intense religious experience which usually culminates in a vision or a set of visions. These experiences are extremely emotional and involve terror, peace, joy, sorrow, repentance, awe or love in intense forms, and eventually the person may get a vision, but regardless of if they do or not, they’ll have a better perception, and a deeper insight into the world and metaphysical questions. The last is a dangerous road. It’s occultism, and here’s the biggest problem it poses – now you want access to your subconscious for liberation and loss of inhibition when you write but seeking the dark will only give you a façade of it, because you’re basically a puppet in the hands of some supernatural horror, and all your writing will have that strain running through it. You won’t be able to achieve self-transcendence or be able to write about a hundred different things. You’ll have some esoteric knowledge, but you’ll never be eclectic. And so, I’ll end with this – What about me? Well, I am Bipolar, I am on prescription for it, I have tried mind altering substances and I have had intense religious experiences with every emotion I’ve mentioned, culminating in a terrifying vision, and yes, they all shaped my writing. The occult part I don’t want. I’d rather pop a downer! And I don’t know why they even call it that. I guess it depends on the music you’re listening to once you’re ‘in the zone’. If it’s Alice in Chains, well, it’s Hell inside and Heaven outside alright, but if it’s jazz, you’ll have a maelström of ideas flooding your mind, and you’ll find yourself in this hypnotic, hypomanic, pro-improvisation state, and it’s fucking amazing!

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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In this postmodern digital, post-millennial age filled with 16-year-olds going through drastic, dramatic identity crises and writhing in angst like a person who’s smoked too much bad weed that hits the lungs hard, you have these adolescents blogging about catastrophic relationship failures – the size of a 8.0 scale earthquake – and making the entire universe revolve around them. It’s such a despicable quest for identity and validation from strangers across the globe. The smiley (with its numerous devious forms) has replaced the hug, the like has replaced the warmth of a handshake – flesh meeting flesh, and browsing through blog after blog, hunting down followers is now a walk in Eden. Even the paperback or hardcover finds annihilation, because of the e-reader or iPad, which only makes you skip lines and not even visualize properly. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not just the young, it’s also time-traveling oldies which this post-apocalyptic wasteland called the ‘internet for acceptance’ has ensnared. And I’ve been there myself, trapped, crying for solace, watching the like button on Facebook or WordPress light up with the attention of a guard at the gate on duty during war, and fuck, I wasted time – years honestly, because if you put the hours together, you’ll get a clusterfuck of ages, which will stab you right in the stomach because you’re fucking responsible. But suffering shapes you, and it made me stop caring about likes or followers. I often unfollow and re-follow blogs, because of content reasons. Often their content appeals, and sometimes I’m disturbed. But hell, I can’t keep doing that too. I don’t want that to become my next cyber-heroin. I think too much time on the internet leads to a disassociation and a completely fragmented identity that can’t root itself on solid ground anymore, and soon you’ll find yourself talking in lols in the real world. You’ll become bat shit crazy and not in a good way. These days writing is about marketing too. Your content doesn’t have to be great, or hell, even good, if you know how to promote yourself. I find blogs about how to blog better, and I wonder if these people are writers or marketing professionals – zero imagery, zero analogy usage, zero storytelling, and just points like moles on parched skin: Do this, do this and do this. And then there are posts on blogging etiquette. Oh, for fucks sake! We aren’t at dinner at a Three Michelin Star restaurant. Now, here’s my perspective on guys flirting with women on blogs. Firstly, if you’re writing about sex, you aren’t going to get guys saying, “Lovely. Cheerio.” Well you’ll get some ‘gentlemen’ bloggers saying that, but here’s the irony: We’re not jacking off to your post with our light teasing. They are, because when you go to their blogs, you’ll find them in suits with impeccable manners, but re-blogging stuff only by women writers they literally venerate. And a lot of men can write better than those women about the same topic, but you won’t find a single re-blog of a post by a man, and these bastards who’re secret Batemans call us degenerates. Now sure, if a guy sends you something vulgar and downright disgusting, then he’s a creep. But if it’s an inside joke, or he’s just mildly teasing, you can ignore or delete, if you don’t like it, and he’ll get the point, but don’t rally up the women militia and scream ‘sexism’ because he’s probably laughing and sent you something while he chugged his beer down. And tomorrow you’re not in his head anymore. You are not the center of the universe and definitely not the center of the universe of every man who visits your blog, which isn’t even that good to begin with. Going back to content. Just write man. Write your heart out or let ideas float like bright images once the doors of perception are opened. I hope you get the allusion. And I’m talking about ideas that go against the grain of the overdone blog marketing: Fluent prose, sonnets, villanelles, satire, or nonfiction with imagery. Something different and out there, and why do you care so much about a like or a re-blog? Just let your consciousness soak your page, the syllables touching it lightly like a soft snare tap, or louder like a guitar smash. And then there’s this whole notion of staying true to yourself when you write – see, here’s the deal, your identity isn’t fixed; it’s subject to change by will or circumstances and as you evolve cognitively and emotionally, you’ll find yourself drawn away from cliché and tending to embrace the abstract or a richer, spicier storytelling, and you’ll want to experiment, to separate the artist from the artistry, or write about something alien, anticipating the trend or going against it, instead of embracing it. So, sort yourself out. Find peace in solitude if you’re lonely. Read books. Or socialize and make new friends and also write. Don’t become a social media junkie. Trust me you’re fucking with your neurotransmitters and I think getting stoned is a better, healthier way to do that!

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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