Filed under: Subjectivities
The last post lead to an exchange of comments between myself and a friend and I felt they deserved airing here. Some salient (but unfinished) points concerning escape, running away and crucially the process of self-realisation necessary for freeing oneself.
C: “Non-action is decisive even if it is not active, and can be the better option when the avenues to express one’s desires are unsatisfactory, limiting and repetitive.” This is why those maroon communities and a life of docile leisure has began to look as the only way out… for me anyway….theres no more to understand or learn, delinking is the next and only logical option…must revive our long-winded tradition..
Me: hmm delinking is possible only when we are at first linked – linked, tied to what and whom? We are always tied it is a matter of choosing to what we are tied – ‘maroon’ communities and ‘docile’ leisure, appear marooned or docile only to us but we will never un-know that which wish to detach from, in other words we can never live as those we desire… way out of what? the ladder to where etc…?
C: Lol @ the ladder….delinking and becoming marooned from the society that does not accept us, a society which has tried but failed to meet our ideals….since the sum-total of our socialization which through no fault of our own (well through our addition of the wrong stuff (books instead of “reality tv”)) has failed to ready us for full participation- we either remain and come to terms with weirdness and solitude or risk our mental health by trying to change things from within…and history has shown us that this rarely happens….yes we have to choose our jailers and we have to be very proactively serious about that..for we all know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road—they get run over…seen
Me: Perhaps life is too short to battle from within, perhaps. Yet so long as such things as pregnant gang rape porn exist I cannot quite abandon this society to which I have been socialized. It is mine, as much as people would like to push me into solitude and ‘weirdness’. History has shown that meanings and definitions change, sometimes very arbitrarily. Escape is an intoxicating vision but me fleeing from the situation will only reinforce the situation better to work towards expanding the vision of what is possible, to fight against the reduction in the tolerance of the different ways people actually live their lives.
C: no one is pushing you into solitude weirdness…you are already in it. whats is left is the concrete realization of who you are/what you have become due to your wide reading etc…the fact that you are still thinking about the significance of that genre of entertainment goes to show that you are not “normal” normal people just forget and move on… kill your consciousness or it will be killed for you. my reading of history has led me to believe rightly or wrongfully, that one is simply not let in ‘the event’ wearing their conscious on their shoulder…they either quickly jettison it or it is duly extracted by the mere fuctionalism of ‘the event’. how many have come in thinking they are going to change it and have ended up being changed themselves ? those who have done any good have been squeezed out or have run out of steam and have become satisfied with churning out long-winded academic crap that is accessed by 3 people of average… doing battle is also an intoxicating vision, perhaps even more so- romantic cavalry-ism…maybe at a small scale one can inform those in their vicinity, unless one is in a teaching capacity then writing would be a way…but other than that SAVE YOURSELF. As for the society being “mine” i really dont understand this…just because we have been thrown here it doesn’t mean that this is the only way of being… fighting and running is part and parcel of life…I think its Bob Marley who sung that “he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day”
Me: I don’t have any sugar-coated visions of changing the world especially not through academia, as you know I have little faith in the cardigan-wearing tea and biscuits culture it has become. Everyone is too scared to speak out. I have no plans to battle anyone nor save them so maybe you misunderstood my intent. I just don’t believe fleeing the scene or ‘escaping’ is a valid option. Just as I don’t presume to bring utopia to this society I don’t presume utopia exists elsewhere, in these marooned communities, inequalities and problems exist there too only in different guises. Perhaps it is naive or childish of me to hope in contributing to small changes in peoples’ day to day lives. Yet I rather that than to live just for myself. That is why I write a blog, one person reads it and thinks about then great my job done. I don’t foresee being changed by the process, I’ve wised up in my old age. Realisation of who I am? what does this mean?? I have accepted my position in the world but I don’t accept the structures/discourse/ideology that put me there and I won’t. The task is not to realise who I am (this is an impossible exercise) but to realise who/what is making up my identity and with what claims. Seeing through the binds that restrict feels freeing, I can keep running as long as I don’t believe that the life I am living is any more truthful than what I have left behind.
C: its impossible to “undermine your current purpose of existence” you’ve outlived dying young ps.-we are all in this together…true there is no utopia– its only in our heads. thats why some people believe in going to a better place in the afterlife (thats another story though). sometimes nothing is a valid option, maybe we shouldn’t be looking for solutions in the first place. in a way doing so might be setting ourselves up for failure. the benefit of scaling down is that contradictions become clearer thus making it easier to think up and find viable “solutions” or even at least ways of living in harmony together. herein the maroon communities/delinking can shade clear examples of how we can do things a bit differently- jared diamonds new book makes a strong case here. living with and for an exclusive small number of people is more rewarding than living trying to help these headless sheep. today i read a report in the croydon guardian of a 2 year old kid who had to be rushed to hospital after going two months without heating, this is when croydon keeps the lights on in the shopping center on all year round. things like these make it difficult to accept or claim this society. it does not accept me nor do i accept it- this is the concrete realization of being the odd one out- coming to terms with this is the real awakening for me…so the thing to do is to maroon to another place- the earth is wide….this is not running in its totality- that would require a rope or gun to the head…this is just to find better livable conditions. i have always said seeing the world for what it is, in all its horribleness is therapeutic- hence why im not depressed yet have a very bleak outlook…
Filed under: Subjectivities, Yoga | Tags: death, happiness, self, shadows, subjectivity, yoga
“It’s better to burn out than to fade away,” said Neil Young, quoted by Kurt Cobain. However, even fading away is exorbitantly costly. There comes a time when the debt has to be paid, even if one has only wandered through dull and soporific terrains where an imperceptible corruption eats away at even the most shriveled destinies. That is why life is so endlessly short, so long it seems it will never end but always too short with respect to what is possible.
– Pascal Bruckner, ‘Perpetual Euphoria: On the duty to be happy.’
Some things you learn the hard way. Here’s one: don’t ever live in someone else’s shadow. You’ll wake up one day, maybe on the cusp of 28 years of age and realize you were living a life of pretence when you thought you were living a life. And even when you discover the nature of those shadows, sometimes people won’t let you happily untangle the binds. They might keep projecting this false self onto you, encasing you in that same sticky binding, only for you to painfully re-shed it over and over again.
To live in the shadows is to feel robbed of something. You took my choices, my opportunities, you shaped what was possible. I am reduced only to the self other people make of me. Where lies my essence? Can we be so naive to think in such ways, to cling like Chomsky to the belief in the essential good of human beings, or else perceive the self as a Foucauldian chasm of disparity, each molecule determined by discourses out of reach.
The self emerges only in resistance to the state of things. Wandering dull terrains is still a choice not just the aimlessness it appears. Non-action is decisive even if it is not active, and can be the better option when the avenues to express one’s desires are unsatisfactory, limiting and repetitive. To recognize who controls the ties that bind you, who manipulates the shadows in your cave, is one thing. But to formulate this into a new foundation on which to tread, is one other separate activity.
And the ground keeps shifting. We are compelled to accept one reality as the norm of existence. This makes no sense to the chameleon soul that belongs to all and nothing at the same time. In Mysore people would remark “Oh but this is not real life.” Where is life then if not right in the present moment of experience? Life was back ‘home’. Life was a regular job, money worries, and saturday night TV. What happens when multiple realities exist on your horizon at one and the same time? Who are you? Each performance you give is never quite convincing enough, because you are always coming from elsewhere. The strangely composite personality.
Home then lies in the acceptance of the chameleon nature of the self. Through the acknowledgement of the unstable nature of the self comes its own form of stability. The unresolved, incomplete feeling that haunts becomes a comfort in itself. The non-normative personality finds a normative rhythm in her irrationality.
Narrative also weaves its own nest of security in the perfection of form. Here dreams are made tangible, love is made bearable and the unresolved is given order. The present moment always feels too bloated with false starts, and missed opportunities, non-action and the saying of wrong things. In writing, the chaos is glossed, captured and solidified to language; life is resold in endlessly new and shiny fashionings. A life is endured only to be written, and it is only then that it has been lived.
Yoga is used as a means to build a space in the day-to-day busyness; fostering emptiness (a space of non-thought) within a day we consciously fill with activities that divert us from this same emptiness. Non-thought is programmed into the day consciously through prior thought. (Yoga retreats are the epitome of this scheduled relaxation. Similarly spas with their continual ‘just relax’ mantra have always created an unbearable degree of angst and anxiety in me. I could only ever enjoy a massage after the event, the obligatory call to ‘chill out’ feels oppressive and restrictive; I am performing a relaxed body rather than feeling as one). There appears a sad paradox here, as that which we turn for escape becomes its own form of mundanity. We are living for the days off, the holiday that suspends reality; we are always waiting for the right moment.
In this form of existence we lose the opportunity to be alive to chance. Heading into the unknown is to make things happen; to recreate the grounds on which things can happen. And yet the constant desire for stimulating events is met with the equal fear of the materialization of these events. This central antagonism can stupefy us into non-action. Dreaming without action is a privileged position. So too here we find the yogis that continue to promote bad feeling, who segment their time of non-thought as a ritual that becomes a banal performative gesture. These gestures of action are vacant of intention but heavy with a frustrated will that emerges from the nexus of abundant resources and a limited vision of what is possible.
To emerge out of the shadows might entail a constant process of un-binding. It will involve a daily vigilance, like brushing one’s teeth. New narratives of self will be born and die in the same day. So too a yoga practice done correctly brings a kaleidoscope of emotion in 90 minutes. Relaxation is not the aim, nor is happiness our object, else all that prevails is a obligatory culture of niceness, and nothing, not even niceness (or especially not) should be our talisman. Instead perhaps we can invest a little more in those emotions that surface in us that we sometimes call instinct. Emotions that we neglect to gloss with a rationality; that serve to interrupt our plans. These unruly emotions (anger, love, envy et.al) are seen as something that gets in the way. But how about if we treat them as openings, that show new paths to navigate. Living a life in the shadows can mean such emotions are incubated for fear of disruption. But irruptions are a delicious opportunity to claim what has been lost, gain the new, to stop waiting. It means being a troublemaker, causing discomfort, brushing people the wrong way, ruffling feathers, consistently producing failed performances. Only then under the weight of felt resistance can we begin to sketch out that transitory self and find novel avenues to express the un-ending and incomplete desires.