A poem: Unfiltered

Clinical,
surreal emptiness.
Chocolate-scented wood.
Smell of new and
non-alcoholic intoxication.
Life as art for art’s sake.

Neon light flickers as you blink
infected by dizziness.

No longer tone-deaf to the harmonies
of your own soul,
you don’t shrink for someone else to grow.

An invisible corpse in the plastic bag
winks at you from the corner-
madness, it grows
in sanity.

Lifeless but intense:
you don’t pray for another,
you prey for yourself.

 

A poem: Vis-à-vis

Quiet and frozen:
A reflection approaches
within the glass
I seek meaning
in a meaningless palace
of empty eyes and half-hearted smiles.
Statues of philosophers vis-à-vis-
From expresionless to sad,
their face changes mood:
they empathise.

Neither pain
nor pleasure felt-
My mindless mind projects
conflicting eyes
filling a void of thought and

I succumb.

Dantesque

She was standing by the window, her face seemingly puzzled by the familiar noise of trains rushing incessantly and birds making harpy-like sounds. It was really taking her back. Back to the days when she made connections between the number of the floor she was living on and the corresponding circle from Inferno, in hopes of attributing some grandiose meaning to her existence. Those were bleak times. It had to be the seventh floor. You were destined to dwell among the violent, submerged in boiling blood. Or the violent against self, being fed to Harpies. Harpies! Eyes shut for a few seconds. Opened again by the distant desperate sound of a cat in heat. I am here now. Rooted in the present, very rarely floating towards the realms of the past and the future.

A fairytale sentiment

I have experienced it while watching Valerie and Her week of Wonders at Hyde Park cinema, listening to Alcest, or simply waking up in the morning feeling rays of light caressing my face through Venetian blinds and fences. At times it is something outside me that triggers this inner feeling, other times it comes wholly from within. It is similar to what Proust describes in his Madeleine cake epiphany. I have tried to explain it to myself and to others many times before, and yet I can never encompass its essence. It is so elusive, that is its charm. Whenever it happens, I try to keep hold of it, never let it go, I try to re-live those moments, feel their texture, their intoxicating effect on my mind, their infantile freshness. In such moments and the ones that follow, I feel spiritually aware. A temporary rebirth, eventually replaced by my less magical self. The magical one is carefree, lighthearted, pleasantly lightheaded, yet fully awake. The world traveled is beyond language.
Back to reality, everything is a game of words. Everything in this world. Even within oneself, everything is mediated through language, including one’s relationship with oneself.
That fairy tale sentiment happened at home recently: it was the sound of a metallic colourful glimmer, followed by its image projected in a haze in my head. And then by all the veils lifted up, exposing my heart. A moment of epiphany, but also mystery. What was revealed and what was concealed? Indeed, it was strangely familiar. Familiarly strange. Was that a dream, or is everything else?

The magic of Edinburgh : veils of serendipity

edinburgh-castle-landscape-photography

On the 13th of June 2015, I concluded, in a diary entry:

Edinburgh is so full of life…and death. I genuinely consider living there at some point, my experience of it was like a step back in time. Tours in the underground vaults, the Dungeons, and around the castle, eerie strolls in the cemetery where J.K. Rowling drew inspiration from for Harry Potter, and where John Gray, an obscure night watchman was buried, with a loyal dog sitting by his grave for many years inspiring George R. R. Martin in his depiction of Jon Snow with his more fierce Ghost, Jekyll and Hyde connections, ghost stories – all these seem to be the norm there. Every corner is imbued with (dark) history and I’d like to go back anyway because I feel I haven’t grasped all its magic yet.

Recently, Edinburgh has suddenly become relevant once again. Whilst I did develop my plans in this fresh year outside academia, there is still space for serendipity.

Let me retrace the path of last year’s explorations, purely from memory, since I cannot access the photographs anymore, at this time, due to my old laptop having deteriorated. Greyfriars Kirkyard: a girl dressed in black lace rests on a headstone. It is not your typical headstone: it is attached to the ground like a table, and it belongs to a famous doctor…or perhaps to a troubled mathematician. A man is giving a detailed tour of the cemetery to a group of fascinated people. Her tour had just finished at the gate of the cemetery, having encompassed secret corners of the magical old town. She gazes at the group, and from afar, she can hear a few fractured words which capture her attention. She sneaks across the surroundings of the guided group, eavesdropping, lying on the grass, taking photographs. The man points at a school building rising from behind the walls of the cemetery, and claims it might have been a source of inspiration for the mighty Hogwarts. A tomb relishes the attention of many pensive faces glancing at the carved name of Thomas Riddell, a 19th century man who wandered the Earth for 72 years. The guide then points at the café with a clear view of the cemetery, and here we are, a couple of decades back, visualising the blonde, wise, kind-looking woman writing page after page of magic.

This memory is not real, it is a photographic reconstruction. The photograph has disappeared, but I still see it in my mind.

On that note, Herman Hesse helps us combat existential crisis:

“In my brain were stored a thousand pictures:
Giotto’s flock of angels from the blue vaulting of a little church in Padua, and near them walked Hamlet and the garlanded Ophelia, fair similitudes of all sadness and misunderstanding in the world, and there stood Gianozzo, the aeronaut, in his burning balloon and blew a blast on his horn, Attila carrying his new headgear in his hand, and the Borobudur reared its soaring sculpture in the air. And though all these figures lived in a thousand other hearts as well, there were ten thousand more unknown pictures and tunes there which had no dwelling place but in me, no eyes to see, no ears to hear them but mine. The old hospital wall with its grey-green weathering, its cracks and stains in which a thousand frescoes could be fancied, who responded to it, who looked into its soul, who loved it, who found the charm of its colours ever delicately dying away? The old books of the monks, softly illumined with their miniatures, and the books of the German poets of two hundred and a hundred years ago whom their own folk have forgotten, all the thumbed and damp-stained volumes, and the prints and manuscripts of the old composers, the stout and yellowing music sheets with their arrested dreams of singing sound – who heard their spirited, their roguish and yearning voices, who carried through a world estranged from them a heart full of their spirit and spell? Who still remembered that slender cypress on a hill over Gubbio, that, though split and riven by a fall of stone, yet held fast to life and put forth with its last resources a new sparse tuft at top? Who read by night above the Rhine the cloud-script of the drifting mists? And who over the ruins of his life pursued its fleeting, fluttering significance, while he suffered its seeming meaninglessness and lived its seeming madness, and who hoped secretly at the last turn of the labyrinth of Chaos for revelation?” — Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

Pleasures in life

My happiness is sometimes derived from:

The scents of acacia flowers, honeysuckle and snowdrops; the taste of greengages.

Moments when I feel I love what I am doing: when I get excited while reading research or creative writing – and, consequently, when I feel like I can contribute to the research or I can create stories – either through words or photographs. When I am inspired – to create and to live fully.

Meeting people I truly connect with. Everything is genuine and pure, everything flows, the masks are left aside, and no one questions another’s words or feelings. You just know what is happening, share the same smile, and are able to live, truly live in each other’s company without performing. The feeling of belonging.

Peace of mind, in general, or moments of blissful lightheartedness. When every veil of worry, gloom or heaviness is lifted up and I feel unconditional love and self-love within. This is also when I can appreciate every simple aspect of being. It even feels like my body is lighter, like I float, just as my thoughts do.

Wandering in fantasy worlds reminiscent of my childhood.

Running. Setting goals and accomplishing them.

Finding a film I am profoundly touched by. If you know me, you know how intensely I can immerse into films. I become the character, I live the films when I watch them. The pleasure consists in the experience itself, in losing and finding yourself in a concept or a story. It can be revealing, too.

Adventures. waterfalls. explorations in nature; admiring its grandeur, but also the grandeur of an old temple or a rich urban or futuristic noir-looking area.

Those rare moments my writing always eventually comes back to; the ones I try to grasp through words, but fail. Those surreal moments.

Living in a place decorated by me, where I can have my own space, a secret garden where my pet would dwell, and arch-shaped windows. The decor would be elegantly dark in some rooms, fantasy-like in others, and there will be at least one room with everything in it white and light (see Valerie’s room from “Valerie and her Week of Wonders”). There would be Gothic art, paintings spanning different cultures, motifs, and ages – with a preference for Pre-Raphaelite depictions of mythological scenes, candlelit rooms at night, and classical and dark atmospheric music filling the hallway. Ideally, I’d have this variety of design styles to suit my whims.

To mention a one-off: Hearing Sharon den Adel’s angelic voice for the first time, and seeing her on stage at Artmania Festival.

What makes you happy?

l’appel du vide

Melissa. solipsist. architect. undertaker of her soul parts.
She was lying on the wooden bench covered by soft pillows and by the still cold, refreshing blanket. The view from the balcony was pure bliss – her secret refuge amid that demanding, unnecessarily and excessively cheerful world. She wanted to immortalise that private earthly heaven, as she knew those moments were as relieving as escaping from a cage after dreadful weeks of physical abuse and food deprivation. She could feel it in her bones. They felt light, surreal. Her body felt light, as if she was transcending from matter to spirit.
While taking a picture of the scenery, she noticed it looked like a framed painting. The mirror on the wooden wall to her left reflected that characteristic intense look on her face, the one that always made people order her to “cheer up” when she passed them by on the boulevard.
“If only I could paint.” she says, sighing. She could visualise a wonderful painting within a painting, inspired by this place. The flowers from the pot on the sill would look as if they are growing on the hill and as if they are trying to reach out to the viewer. Trying to step outside the picture frame… for what purpose? To defy the idea that art is lifeless or separated from life or perhaps, the idea that nature can be captured in a painting.
The painting was so gracefully and ethereally alive: The grass on the hill was dancing in the tender breeze. The vivid green leaves from the closest tree were touching in such a way that they seemed to be clapping at the miraculous spectacle of nature. Upon looking deeper into the picture, her eyes lingered on the graveyard at the top of the mountain. For a brief moment, a white butterfly drunkenly crushed into the wooden frame, but was not able to step outside the frame. It was as if it was stopped by an invisible barrier.
The solemn picture of the graves was not sad at all. It did not inspire death, but the cycle of life. The painting was breathing and radiantly emanating life and love. Birds were flying above and around the tombstones while the sun filled the funerary inscriptions with light. The clear white clouds resembled a beautiful, noble, yet unrecognisable creature that was flying above the happy, contentedly submissive trees – like a celestial king protecting his realm.
It all started with her eyes: Their glow disappeared completely, leaving her face blank and indistinct. She blinked once – nothing happened. She smiled for a few seconds, thinking that, perhaps, her sudden worry was silly and unnecessary. Then she frowned and blinked twice. Nothing: the landscape was still full of vitality and vividness. Still suspicious and somewhat confused, she closed her eyes for 5 seconds this time. When she opened them, she was looking down – her gaze fixed somewhere under the ‘painting’, where she saw seven red petals that had fallen from the potted flowers. She looked up in panic and noticed that the flowers which were stepping out of the frame and crawling down the white wooden wall were dying. They could not survive the impact with the real world for long.
Her heart was racing as she looked up higher, at the rest of the painting. Her face became pale, corpse-like, when her eyes reached the threatening shape of the clouds – which no longer formed a fairytale creature, but a dark, monstrous, deadly fiend from the realm of Hades. The trees were no longer dancing or worshiping the king of the world: rather, they were bending in disgust, wailing and playing their symphony of decay while the branches were brutally slapped by the wind. The leaves no longer clapping, but trembling in terror – at which point Melissa realised her body had been shaking continuously.
Staring at the distant graveyard, she knew that the inscriptions were no longer illuminated by the healing rays of light; they were instead covered by blood and cobwebs. Soon she felt the horrifying stench of decayed matter infecting the air. Her limbs felt heavy, her body was now weary. A broken spirit trapped between worlds, l’appel du vide invaded her fragmented being like a plague. With a tear in the corner of each eye, she climbs the sill and makes her first and last step into the frame.