Saturday, February 18, 2012


Looking at a star studded sky in the middle of the night, reflecting on its pinpricked tessellations is to wonder at the ineffable mystery of mortality and the evanescence of human life in contrast to which the immutable horizon seems measureless and infinite. Painful prods of transience detonate the sublime ubiquity of space. Yet reflections, seemingly determinate yet randomly constituted as they are , overwhelm and disturb.

To, at 24, be afflicted with two serious illnesses, one terminal and the other possible of being terminated is a harsh reality, unalterable and inescapable. More troublesome is this constant advice being trotted out to be strong, to survive, to weather the storm, to live each day as though it were your last are inadequate palliatives indeed. Healthfulness and wholesomeness are prerequisites, even requirements of youth and incapacitation, of however arbitrary a nature, is highly unwelcome. Which is why aphorisms tend to irritate and a look of intractability crosses my face when these anodyne tidbits are dished out. An illness is a reality that needs to be faced and dealt with. At times, it may obliterate you but its presence, its shadow, hovering over banal life is unavoidable. Hence to see it as an enemy, to be vanquished , to be surmounted, seems to confer a sense of embattled resistance which confers grandeur and self importance and may bolster a precarious sense of self but, ineluctably, proves itself to be yet another aspect of the quotidian.

An illness, however serious, is a harsh truth that needs to be faced. We, as humans, tend to take pleasure in victory over odds, triumph over adversity and affirming life despite extenuating circumstances. When we refer to recovery, we do so in reverential, awed tones as though a fortitude and resilience are being demonstrated for our interlocutors benefit. Do animals, insects, flora behave similarly? Does a similar sense of courage determine their response?

Illnesses, to me, are part of what darwin refers to as unpleasant things which we need to get over to survive. The portentous shadow of the word 'survive' looms large. On the one hand it conjures up visions of overcoming and getting over difficulties and still continue to live. On the other hand it implies a certain primordial, utilitarian ability to subsist, however opportunistic it may be. Deregulated and chaotic as existence is, the need to affirm, to make the inchoate rational , to make explicable the seemingly unexplainable is a fundamental human tendency. But indeterminacy is a fact, which, however unprepossessing needs to be taken as valid on its own terms. You haven't battled an illness but just in a sense tide over a brief insalubrious period and returned to everyday life after stasis.

Perhaps, this is another name for willpower which our semantic need to make things fit into a pattern evinces. But, there it is.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The tumours are interesting.

Matthew Revert's fantastic novel The tumours made me interesting takes a very fascinating view of contemporary life and the state of the contemporary man. Using surrealism, adsurdism, expressionism as imagistic representations the novel chronicles the disillusion of its central character. And this disillusion is expressed in psychotic images, thoughts and images which convey both the existential angst and the teetering on the brink of madness. When the boundaries between what is'normal' and what is madness are reversed postmodern life emerges as a undifferentiated form of psychosis where modern man, inundated by contemporaneity, studded with surfaces tries hard to retain a wholesome vision of himself in an increasingly chaotic world. Many of the experiences recounted here are bawdy, scatological, funny, sardonic and a delicious sense of tragicomic wit permeates this novel. Delusions are not just underpinnings of individual disintegration but in terms of symbols they reflect fears, apprehensions and nightmares of the collective unconscious of mankind. Altogether a superior novel which uses grotesquerie to convey inchoate psychological states a representative breakdown. Word of mouth exposure has proliferated this book in certain circles. I want to chip in and recommend people to read this darkly funny novel and experience disquiet and re examine the fundamental realities of life and the deceptions and illusions they create to navigate it. Defense mechanisms help cope and make existence subjectively explicable. One holds on yet lets go. Breakdown is breakthrough.