Thursday, December 17, 2015

A LIBERAL TERRORIST

The only memories i have of Asim are of his narcissism. Before i deepen the complexity of his personality i find myself switching off the terrorist in me that leaps to judgement, takes implicit moral positions and wreaks emotional violence. The word terrorist may seem an exaggeration with regard to Asim because he is not going around with a gun or dropping bombs. His terrorism is essentially the tortuous catacomb of his distorted mind. And in his own way he has pushed quite a few to the edge. I was one of them and i count myself fortunate in having survived and fashioned a life for myself, though it is a far cry from the life i most intensely craved at one point of time.

Asim taught me at school . He taught english . Though a government school english syllabus in delhi in  2002-2004 was rudimentary and unimaginative he stood out. His dense vocabulary, air of aloofness marked him out. His arrogance , his implicit assumption of intellectual superiority was irksome yet not entirely apocryphal. He had a breath of erudition and an articulation that was dazzling. He never talked down to us at school, keeping up a dense linguistic register , insisting on the value of  learning with depth than meretricious opportunism. Because i was one of the few students who understood his classroom teaching he marked me out as special. His method of inveigling and ensnaring intelligent students was through shared complicity. Though indubitably lonely and choosing to maintain a prim distance from his colleagues he never admitted to his solitariness. He presented his predilection as a gift, a talisman, something he hoped his chosen acolytes would value and cherish , mindful of the privilege of his esoteric munificence.

I always had misgivings about Asim, could never assume a comfortable spontaneity with him. His aloofness, tinged with contempt, made his attentiveness seem patronizing. I did not desire the status of a neophyte though i found his manic gregariousness enlivening. In fact i undoubtedly enjoyed being in his charmed circle, despite my scepticism and my not infrequent self loathing at collusion was deflected , pushed aside. His approval mattered to me even though the beam of his regard would always be penumbral.

I kept in touch with him in my young adulthood. It was after he wrote an angry, rebarbative mail to me accusing me of  lubricious intent towards him that i allowed the ambivalence to become palpable. Hitherto my energies were consumed in concealing my occasional exasperation and being solicitous. In that abusive letter he imputed my effervescence to obsequiousness and it was true that i wrote fulsomely . However i believed i had divined the core of his existential loneliness. His distorted self perception was ignored by me in my empathy for him as a fellow solitary. But now the choices he had made in justifying and rationalizing his grandiose self conception seemed evil.

And this is where his terrorism became palpable. He evinced an expansiveness of mind, could discourse on anything with full knowledge of nuance. So well informed did he seem, as he invigorated his observations with theories and ideas , that he conveyed an impression of profound intelligence. He also believed in the absoluteness of his projections because he had the requisite psychological jargon to corroborate his views. I have seen him thoughtlessly, injudiciously discard people from his charmed circle once he became tired of them. His strategy was to diminish and undermine the other by demonstrating his sense of being betrayed. He was continually slapping pathological labels . And many of us who admired him, drawn to his ebullience and vitality because of our own inadequacies, took his unmerited accusations at face value. I spent years submerged in unendurable melancholia that seemed unremitting.

His belief in inclusiveness, tolerance, broad mindedness, liberalism was a mask for solipsism. The unbridgeable gulf between his putative liberalism and megalomania grew more irreconcilable. He constantly victimized himself through extrojecting his self hatred on his hapless interlocutors. His dissimulation and self deception was so adroit that he could both relish his unimpeachability and demolish other people, break them down. And that's how the dichotomy of mind and consciousness became discernible to me. For all his philosophizing and abstruse deliberations, for all his recondite unraveling of nuance he was singularly lacking self awareness. It seemed as though the force of liberal ideas , articulated with such impassioned fervour became, when his own acts of manipulation were challenged, tools to eviscerate other people. His mind was a reservoir of information from myriad sources that could cohere and transmute into whorls of ratiocination and casuistry but would equally become validations of  emotional depredations, chiefly his.

I did go grovelling back to me and he perfunctorily discarded me when he feared that i had penetrated his heart of darkness. Retrospectively i would like to irradiate my picture of his with polychromatic brushstrokes , intensifying the ineffable enigma that is a fundamental human reality. But all that surfaces are his brutal excoriations and ineffectual defense mechanisms. Ultimately it boils down to choice and he has chosen a convoluted psychological mind game that has led to an emotional deadlock. And his actions speak louder than words. His bouts of vituperation seem now to be overcompensations for an inexpungible inner disquiet. At this distance the carapace of his moral emptiness has become sharper , while his clever machinations seem insipid. There is something bereft there in him and i pity him , with the substratum of reverence for his fine mind, remnants of which persist despite all that has supervened. 

IN THE NAME OF TRUTH

I was to find no continuum between friendship and self preservation in Naveen and i felt angry and confused. On the one hand i believed i had intuited the better side of his being which he constantly undermined by withdrawing. Initially interpreting his withdrawal as reticence i merely strove to reinforce my authentic friendly feelings for him. But this only worsened his neurosis. I am not desirous any longer to make excuses for this conduct. I do not see myself as irreproachable and deplore my own self complacence. But i draw the line at attributing pathology to myself. After rigorous self analysis, having titled the kaleidoscope of my unconscious from myriad angles , i absolve myself of underhand motives. Doubtless this might seem self forgiveness or even self justification. There can be any number of theories expatiating on the strand of pathology underpinning my conclusion. I eschew the indulgence they proffer because either surrendering to the recondite , circumlocutory causality of psychology would subsume me in self hatred or else preoccupy me with its abstruse lineaments. There is something irresistible about the artistry of self analysis , the process itself hints at endless speculation . But i am done with that.

Naveen's conduct is unconscionable because he has misconstrued  his defensiveness as sagacious. I have no desire to plumb his mind and process the experience of past hurts which has transmuted in him as neurotic watchfulness. I am just too tired battling my feelings of inadequacy and  melancholy. Something about his quiet truculence, even if it emanates from his own anxieties , nonetheless disquiets me, inducing a depression very deep seated. I have a rational explanation which is both self serving and explanatory. As well as a retrospective understanding, undertaken with full self awareness , of my uncomplicated motives. While Naveen thinks it behoves me to make concessions for him he refuses to reciprocate with similar realignments. The tenor of his relationship to me is based on imposing a structure that suits his contradictory , schizoid self. My needs, expectations are superfluous or extraneous. I am expendable. When the petals of his solipsism and self loathing close in on themselves i feel an urge to tear away at those petals of self protection, rend  them into shreds . I want to smash his obduracy, inveigle a space for my being and its attendant emotional landscape. While he seeks solace in the monochrome of  withdrawal i seek the polychromatic density of variegation. And in his intransigence i have felt my own colours and flavors of emotional depth bleach, desiccate. It is my petals that are shriveling, withering, falling apart, strand by strand. In his smug neuroses Naveen has managed to keep a tenuous scaffolding while i have fallen apart completely.

I oscillate between telling him what i feel , unleashing my anger or detaching myself, hoping my absence will weigh on him by osmosis. Since he assumes my neurotic attention to himself , its coordinates of inveterate phone calls and messages unresponded to, as a given i desire a moving away. While silence seems expedient it also seems manipulative. And guile is something i both detest and see the necessity of with him. Habituated to candor, transparency, of laying bare the mosaic of my tangled emotions i spurn calculation, stratagems. It is increasingly clear ,however , that my sincerity has compounded the problem. This sincerity, whose probity in myself is a  form of narcissistic complaisance and moral superiority, has caused me to fragment. I cannot conceive of a defensive strategy to counteract Naveen's moving away . Within myself , the primal emotions are churning so precipitously that i fear acting, terrified of some knee jerk response that will destroy everything.

A makeshift restitution is all i can think of . And the moral certainty of my intention i alluded to does me no favor because it exists in a vacuum. In the integument of the honest friendship i offered Naveen there was a compendium of fears and insecurities he brought it that muddied the clear waters, soiled the precarious purity of what i felt. This sense of my good intentionality has to, ultimately, be my sole recompense. I hope Naveen will divine it some day though even that hope, given his continual self absorption , seems inconceivable. But time changes people and the belief that Naveen will come to his senses and penetrate the simplicity of my regard is what i predicate my hope on. Though having arrived at a facsimile of compensation in the face of the hinterland of human darkness, in the full knowledge of its provisionality,discomfits at lonely moments i intend to carry on.