Immersion. Expansion. Reverie.

Having decided to embrace the unknown, we take confident steps forward, aware of our part in the greater design. Scent of ritual, sight of stars, and a refreshing breeze that revives us. The atmosphere takes us out of our formerly stagnant, limiting state. Everything is aligned perfectly. We are here for a purpose. We are here to forget some things and remember others. We are here to let go. To accept. To integrate. To be. Piercing eyes are not invasive here. Each soulful gaze feels like home. I can see myself in them. I am a vital part of something special and I can feel its grandeur, yet my core is still untouched, unexploited, consistent. My focus is selective, the concept of pain is utterly nonsensical here- a faraway notion, neurosis removed, as each step gets me closer to a perception that I would have previously described as godlike. Pieces of narratives overlap, discourse becomes unnecessary. The power I could only vaguely fantasise about and partially conceive of before, becomes reality. In a total paradigm shift, the peaceful, blissful nature of an uncorrupted, spiritual power supersedes previous understandings of power, as it’s no longer conceived by a self that’s trapped in the temptation of existential nihilism or materialism or restricted by the limitations of an ego held captive by negative attachments.

There is a sense of complete, beautiful harmony between body and spirit, as well as a liberating, soothing awareness that we are more than embodied selves. Yet we choose to experience our surroundings by inhabiting a body, even in this realm. Still, we have the power to make that choice, so we are now no longer confined to experiencing reality in merely one plane of existence, as consciousness merges with wholeness, with our eternal higher selves. We no longer process the world merely through our brains, on a physical level. I had a glimpse of this state before on a conceptual level, but back then I wasn’t fully in control, or at least the part I identified with and had access to wasn’t, and I felt pulled towards that state, perceived in a fragmented way.

Back then, I recall it also felt like there was another presence inside me, a godlike presence I was having an inner dialogue with. I remember wondering– Is this God? The Devil? Someone from another world? Or am I a Goddess temporarily stuck in a human body with only a piece of my divine consciousness? (I used to identify as an agnostic with atheist tendencies) I couldn’t really tell if that presence was me, or something separate. It felt like something external, an ‘Other’, but at the same time like there was something of my self within this uncanny Other. We were communicating in a weird “language”. Through vibrations within. The presence was asking me or telling me something telepathically and if I resonated with what was said I would feel ecstasy. Was that an unconscious mind process echoing religious beliefs I had drifted away from? The episode happened during an otherwise dark chapter of my life; For a long time, I have repressed it and avoided revisiting it because of the darkness associated with that time and because I needed to move on as I just wanted peace of mind. In an instance of curious chronological symmetry, towards the end of the same challenging life chapter, I had another episode involving an agonising amount of inexplicable physical pain. Ecstasy and agony. Like something entered me and a few months later it was purged. For the record, I mean it symbolically.

The doom and the gloom were perhaps aspects of a fragmented psyche, the experience itself couldn’t be separated from these haunting states of mind, since I experienced all of that through the filter of my consciousness. I attributed the experience to a fleeting disturbance in my brain, a glitch in the matrix of my otherwise sane mind, rather than one in the fabric of the universe as I knew it, because of my agnostic beliefs and because I couldn’t pinpoint the nature of it; yet I couldn’t stop thinking about it, hoping (and partly fearing) it had a greater connotation. Once the darkness no longer had power over me and I could remove it from my psyche, I redefined the experience, attributing a different meaning to it. I removed the absurd beliefs that were just echoes of trauma and I kept the mystical side in the hope that it was a first step towards experiencing spiritual awakening, an insight not solely generated by a deluded mind, rather a deeper truth about what it means to be human and about my journey. Because let me tell you, an agnostic leaning towards atheism does not feel at peace, especially when they are ego-led. In integrating the experience, I became more open to the mystery of existence, and implicitly to the possibility that consciousness can persist independently of the brain- a view that was a cure to my ontological obsession and to the despair brought by thoughts about death. Of course, I still had doubts eating away at my newly found existential relief: Was my experience a sign of shifting towards a higher level of awareness or did it not carry any more truth than some pathological psychotic state? And, more importantly, was I simply replacing one religious framework supporting the idea of a make-believe world beyond our brief life on Earth (that I was skeptical about) with a different belief supporting the same idea, but a refined, more acceptable version, anchored in eastern spirituality? Was I still ego-led, refuting at all costs the idea that there is no grand scheme of things or that humans are insignificant in the grand scheme if there is one (for me, existential transience implied insignificance no matter how accomplished or meaningful one felt their existence on Earth was; in fact, the more relevant and interesting someone was in life, the stronger I felt the tragedy of the fleeting nature of human life) leading a transient life on a floating planet- a wonderful planet that is, however, just a small piece among myriads of pieces making up the cosmos? The cosmos and the exact nature of our consciousness may indeed have been a mystery, but potentially nothing more than a result of a series of lucky accidents of physics? After all, to take a moral stance, there was so much suffering in our world, in this small piece of the puzzling cosmos. Could all that suffering ever really be part of a bigger plan? Could those horrifying people who moved away from kindness, towards sinister acts of inflicting pain on others ever be an extension of something as beautiful and awe-inspiring as the Source or oneness?

Still, I had a sense of self-importance, which had always been unshakeable, even in my most nihilistic state. This had to transition into the realm of spirituality. Yet even when I became interested in spirituality, most of my beliefs were still anchored in science. I was still inclined to believe I was in control of most of the things happening in my life and the rest of the events were random rather than predestined or under divine control. Considering my glimpse into a higher self, I had to wonder: did that self have any power to influence what was happening in my current life, at any time? Could she act as a guardian angel? Or was it just that one ambiguous, interpretable intervention? I was on a quest, seeking a system of mystical esoteric beliefs that could meaningfully co-exist with science and make sense to me. At the same time, seeking to experience something extraordinary, “otherworldly” that didn’t “make sense” or only made sense from a spiritual perspective.

[…] To be continued

Motionless

It’s my first time. Half of my motionless body rests inside the white, clinical, cylindrical machine, in my head resembling an intergalactic coffin. I feel an itch, but I have to resist moving. I want to cough, to sneeze, to yawn, ugh, of course, at the most inopportune moments, and I have to keep it under control and be still. My legs are too tense, my lower body feels heavy. I am mentally calm. But my body wants permission to move. Since this is just a brain scan, I try to make a slight leg movement, but it feels like trying to lift an anchor. My mind keeps freezing. There is the buzz. It’s getting louder. And stranger. Then the clanking. The whirring. Suddenly thoughts of the few MRI safety incidents and fatalities I’ve read about vaguely infiltrate my mind in a weirdly serene way. I should have double-checked there is definitely no metal anywhere in or around this room. Oh come on, when something like this enters my mind, I think – what are the odds? and what is the point of obsessing over the odds?- and the thought melts away. I can remember basic aspects about my life, but there is something peculiar about this eerily cold, sterile room, this atmosphere; it’s holding back any specific memories, any feelings, any complex thoughts- I can’t really visualise anything about my past or about life outside this tube. I mean, the noise is quite obstructive, so whenever a thought or a mental image starts materialising, it quickly dissolves. I have a rare, evanescent, uncanny feeling that there is a higher presence or force watching over me. This reminds me of my pre-atheistic, childhood days when I had an agnostic belief in animism and in magical thinking- the belief that one’s thoughts could influence reality, which was problematic whenever I had dark, “forbidden”, ungodly thoughts resulting in fear of divine punishment and futile attempts at suppression. There is a surreal atemporality about this space, it’s like reality is suspended. If my whole body slid into this alienating horizontal cylinder, it would really feel like I’m inside an eccentric, futuristic coffin. That’s spine-chilling. And yet, despite my claustrophobic tendencies, I wish I had a full body scan so I could be encapsulated and see what it would be like if my consciousness or my spirit found a way to return to my corpse a hundred years from now. I don’t believe in it, but I like fantasising. My ego is temporarily numb and any vivid memories are gone, replaced by brief, fleeting perceptions, and it’s one of the few moments in which I’m not living in the past or in the future. I’m living in the now. I feel alive and calm, oddly calm. An oddly calm combination of cells, lying down in a tube, with an ego on snooze mode. Oh, it’s time to get back out there…

The adapted version of The Proust Questionnaire

As a fan of Marcel Proust who loves the way he perceives the world as depicted in À la recherche du temps perdu, I thought I should write down my answers to the most popular version of his iconic questionnaire in my first unequivocally personal blog post, even though my answers may very well change tomorrow:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Time travel. Interplanetary travel. As for a slightly more down-to-earth answer, visiting the most beautiful, inspiring- ethereal or eerie- places, absorbing every moment spent there and feeling connected to the place, living in the present, and having a cultivated soul.

What is your greatest fear?
Death. Non-existence. Annihilation. Oblivion. Aging. Bugs.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Literary figures: Virginia Woolf & Sylvia Plath.

Which living person do you most admire?
Tilda Swinton. Richard Dawkins. David Lynch. Plus anyone who positively influences the world, who is aware of the whole picture and manages to focus on the good rather than the bad in the world, overall.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I will mention a few, although I have conflicting feelings about these traits as I don’t always deplore them: cynicism, the low-key need to be in control, fickleness in some respects, ricocheting between emotional frostiness and impulsiveness, scepticism to the point where I start being sceptical of my own scepticism, and taking myself too seriously (but otherwise I probably wouldn’t be able or feel propelled to write!).

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Duplicity, hypocrisy. Prejudice. Lack of empathy and inability to listen. Arrogance. Wrong life values. Underestimating me.

What is your greatest extravagance?
My luxury perfume collection. Not sleeping at night.

What is your favourite journey?
towards self-awareness and self-development, through self-indulgence and creative fulfilment.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience. Sympathy (not empathy). Contentment. Humility and prudence in women’s case. 

On what occasion do you lie?
When the conversation doesn’t matter, or when I’m convinced that telling the truth wouldn’t be beneficial to anyone involved. 

Which living person do you most despise?
anyone who uses their power to negatively influence, harm, ruin, or eradicate the lives of innocent people, either on an individual level, or on an organised level.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
aesthetic. surreal. oh my god. yeah. no.

What is your greatest regret?
caring when I shouldn’t have. not caring when I should have.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
perfume, cinema, music, labyrinthine architecture

When and where were you happiest?
I don’t remember exactly but I’m gonna say it was probably a case of frisson- “aesthetic chills”- that I experienced whilst watching a hypnotic, revealing, or epiphany-inducing film or piece of art.

Which talent would you most like to have?
a mesmerising, emotion-inducing, magical singing voice.

What is your current state of mind?
introspective. conflicted.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d give myself an infinite dose of productivity and the capacity to love the world freely and unconditionally. Getting rid of grudges. Being less fickle/wishy-washy in some respects.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
rising from the flames like a Phoenix.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
a fairy or a nymph.

What is your most treasured possession?
my perfume collection, my films collection, my velvet dresses collection,

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
not living the life you want, letting obsessions or demons consume you, feeling trapped.

Where would you like to live?
in a beautiful place adorned with paintings and different styles of decorations on each floor or in each room (Gothic, minimalist, dreamy, airy fantasy style etc). Also in the distant future, maybe on a different, ultra-advanced planet. Either that or in one of the many film fantasy worlds I love.

What is your favourite occupation?
maladaptive daydreaming

What is your most marked characteristic?
being artistically-inclined. being headstrong, perceptive/astute, experiencing derealisation and zoning out (this sounds contradictory to the astuteness, but it’s actually not!); inquisitive, independent-minded, and a freethinker. looking sad or annoyed when I’m actually in a neutral or thoughtful mood.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Intelligence (including emotional intelligence), genuineness, confidence -not cockiness, self-awareness

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
strength, genuineness, intelligence, confidence, self-awareness

What do you most value in your friends?
kindness, authenticity, having my best interests at heart, trustworthiness, & respecting confidentiality

Who are your favourite writers?
Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, Vladimir Nabokov, Hermann Hesse

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Jessica Jones, Vanessa Ives, Jean des Esseintes, Violet Baudelaire, Rogue

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
I like my appearance overall, but there are two or three things I would/will probably change if I can.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Inspiring women who are unapologetically fierce and do whatever they feel like (unless they are psychopaths or something equally worrying).

What are your favourite names?
Morgana, Diana, Ariadna, Mordred, Crystal.

What is it that you most dislike?
pity, prejudice, labels.

How would you like to die?
Knowing that I will be revived as an immortal goddess, mostly because I want to live forever, but all the other perks would be fun too!

What is your favourite motto?
Do no harm, but take no shit. // C’est la vie. //
Incantation-“You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”
Quotes-“I stopped explaining myself when I realised other people only understand from their level of perception.”
“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”
“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance”


Write your own answers to all or some of these below, I’m interested to see!

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.

 

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.

Train of thought

You said to yourself that it was too cold and that was why you could barely function. It was either that, or the weeks-long stagnation of the spirit.

One day you will no longer think of your own passing, or that of those closest to you, no longer delving in scenarios of unhappiness out of masochistic urges, or in abyssal streams of consciousness.

The city, oh, the city. Sometimes you are the city, sometimes the city is in you, sometimes the city does not exist, or is something so detached from who you are, even as you pass right through its heart. The city in daylight and the city at night – such peculiar dualism to which your mindset adjusts, and which appeals to different beings within you, with different dreams and different nightmares.

You need success and fulfilment in order to open up. Is it right? It might be ingrained – inherited or caused by nurture. Unfolding at your most vulnerable seems impractical anyway, what a silly thing to do. Put up walls and let flowers climb them.

I ate everything I had in the house -red and purple fruits and chocolate, then I took the first train and stopped at the station where my train of thought decided to let me go. The station was all empty, I smiled to myself, and nature witnessed. There is a journey ahead.

Aquarium

On the other side, I see your face distorted among plants and fish; you smile and I’m happy because I know you know how I love rivers, lakes, and the sea from afar, and how I used to take swimming lessons when I was little, yet was never eventually able to swim for long distances as I always ran out of breath. You might also remember that I loved facing gigantic waves during storms, letting myself be lifted up and carried by the motion of the sea. Despite this, we probably talked about how I would not want to live by the sea, rather, I always wanted to find out what it would be like to live up in the mountains for a while, with the people I love, a dog, and a cat, surrounded by the warmth of a fireplace, drinking hot chocolate, watching the snowflakes tracing patterns on small windows. Would it be nicer than getting lost in the chaos of a big city?

Shiver

That tender memory
of snowdrops,
dreamy air,
and spring dew
made my world shiver this morning
once again.

status quo

The universal shift of focus
from being to seeming
permeates our age of confusion.

Identity & divided introspection

As a Postgraduate student in the arts (the extended definition of art, including film, photography, and literature), I often find that I have to reconcile two sides of myself when it comes to my blog and digital footprint, both of these sides being complex and assertive to the point that I can call them two selves:

One of them is my artistic identity, which has been shaped over the years by several factors, hopefully progressing in style, concept, aesthetic, and presentation. This self prefers to express an inner world indirectly, through symbols and conceptual images. Within this context, there are concerns about projection and representation: the conception of the self, the reconciliation between truth and appearance, the gaps in between, inner and outer perceptions, and questions regarding aesthetic. I explore my self through different forms of art, the result being a reflection of something within. This is why I tend to eliminate previous work, once I feel like I surpassed it in some way, like I have become someone else since then, and I no longer identify with the selves I presented prior to some particular life-turning knowledge. This self thinks creating art is the aim; this self is raw, unapologetic about its at times elusive symbolic nature in which there is depth and sincerity to be found, but which is often too preoccupied with finding the right way of expression. Through this perception, less is more when it comes to conveying what is within, in that explanations are unnecessary, as creative endeavours are self-sufficient. Creative language is essential and absolute to how I perceive myself. Thus I don’t like talking about myself directly, for it seems any description would not comprise all the depths.

However, objectively, you cannot always tell that much about someone’s personality through their artwork, of whatever nature, and I am saying this despite the fact that I feel like I pour myself entirely into it, sometimes. In fact, perhaps, being on the outside, looking in, you can only see a fraction, which is open to interpretation. When you take a photograph of a place you experienced with rapture, or a portrait, you remember those moments, and you associate the photograph with them, feeling that it conveys so much because it is charged with your feelings. But those emotions remain within you, and the photograph is an extension of you, thereby others will not perceive it as you do. They will perceive it based on how it resonates with their own being.

To return to the suggested dichotomy, the other self involves the social and analytical nature. The one allowing me to write this sincere post in a public space, going against the privacy and representation concerns of the first. Because of this other inclination, I started my blog, rather than simply going for a portfolio website. Because of this, I did not use a pen name for it. In this case, the social use of language is essential, while promoting or exploring the poetic and photographic language. Sincerity means exposure; exposure means sincerity. Reaching others through this sincerity and through more unequivocal forms of expression is important. This self mediates my relationship with the outside world. It also means I try to let go, allow myself to make progress in various areas of life without having to get rid of previous versions of myself forever. This self is raw and unapologetic about its direct stream-of-consciousness confessions.

In other words, there is a constant battle between revealing too much and not revealing enough when it comes to life, social media persona, just as when you take a photograph. Should there be a curation of thoughts? Yes. Should it be based on what makes sense at the time, or what seems to represent a more long-lasting belief? Most websites, and most artworks imply careful curation of content. Sometimes it feels that you can more easily convey something, your artistic awareness, and an awareness of what is within, an inner permanence and at the same time touch an audience through selected conceptual artwork rather than distract with random thoughts and perhaps temporary beliefs, whilst other times it feels like these perhaps not-so-random thoughts and temporary beliefs are a significant part of you, as they represent your thought process at a particular time, even if you later realise it was not perfect. Being able to balance these two comes with experience.

There are many branches in this tree, and this post extended on many, but hopefully they can all be grasped without leaves falling.