Sunday, June 26, 2011

Even in the early stages of the vague, hazy sense of gloom that characterized a certain period of my college days (perhaps unsurprisingly, the one coinciding with my most prolific period of writing), I remember having a sense that the affliction was temporary. I could almost imagine looking back on that period five, ten years in the future, and writing it off as some form of insanity that one must go through. Of course, I couldn't project perfectly in the future, else I would have been able to use those insights to cure myself then and there, but there was at least a belief that things would look up. And it is true that that particular brand of nihilism has all but been dispatched with, and that pondering weighty matters on the meaning of everything leave me largely unharmed nowadays. But I sometimes think that whatever unhappiness that has accompanied a certain study decision is really not that different from what ailed me back then, being somewhat unspecific yet very pervasive. And given that it manages to affect me in all my glorious maturity, it's of a far deeper, more unsettling nature.

It probably sounds trite, but you can't discount the element that time plays in these mental battles. In earlier times, there was at least the sense that some full life was out there waiting to be met, no matter how miserable a prospect it seemed at the time. Having tasted some of this future and having studied my reaction to it understandably downs my hope quite a bit. Realize that I had once thought myself cured of all this drama, and had forged an idiosyncratic path to something resembling good standing. But the time since then has been unkind, and it is only a slight exaggeration to say that I have declined physically, intellectually, and worst of all morally. I look back with sadness at the person I used to be, and while I used to feel disgust at what I have become, it is now just a numbness and state of disbelief. "Started out Oliver / Ended up Fagin."

Why the sudden resurrection of my past troubles? Because of a bookshop, actually. One thing that struck me today is I can scarcely remember the times when I felt impossible joy due to some piece of perceived beauty, invariably an album or a book. As these were during formative years, et cetera, it is naive to wish for similarly passionate reactions today. But nowadays, the passion doesn't arrive not because things don't move me; it's because I seem to avoid the arts altogether. The very act of reading or listening to music used to be comforting, as it invited me into a familiar, known space that provided hope. While I wince at contemplating the possibility, it must be said: my inability to set aside time for these things nowadays seems to be partly borne out of a wish to spare those hopeful things the sullying contents of my psyche. There is something magical in them, no doubting, but I do very much doubt that they will escape unharmed by the malaise that I've got cookin' inside. Better that they sit quietly, waiting for the day that the clouds part and things seem more hopeful.

Or maybe that's just tripe, and I ought to actively seek to do away with such adolescent theories about the interaction between art and the mind. I did mention that the bookstore got me thinking about these unpleasant matters, but this was only after I got a taste of the forgotten pleasure of reading. I take this as a cause for some hope. Of course, it isn't as if this will make things all better - it didn't back in the day - but good God do I need more sources of positivity in my life. I don't think that can hurt when trying to find a way out of this dark.

Writing all this down has definite mental (if zero artistic) value. I am reminded of the fact that no matter how cringe-inducing my earlier writings were, they at least solidified my concerns at the time, and helped shoulder the burden a little. Perhaps silence is the worst weapon for this battle.

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