Friday, August 22, 2014

I look at people and notice their veins, the biscuit crumbs on their chins, the stressing of the‘t’s, their voices turning into long, rusty iron chains rattling against an abstract train track beneath my skull. Sometimes I don't even realize that I am clenching my jaws. I listen to the holes, little crevices in their narrations - a tiny space between a verb and a proper noun and hide there. Each such chinks are like hidden quarries, bowl shaped grey caverns to disappear into, a suspended animation. What normally might result in a frenzied outbreak seem to have the opposite effect on me – a bizarre meticulousness. I don’t understand those annoyingly cheerful people saying ‘wake up, live!’ when life in itself is an oxymoron. The outside of my body is alien to me; I puzzle over the transience of my nails, the swelling mosquito bites and the sudden bruise on my knee. It’s so easy for something to suddenly break, tear, bleed, sugar levels to go down, pressure to shoot up, and heart to stop beating. Right now, the ideal thing to do is numb my mind. Give it anesthesia, suffocate it with chloroform, fit a clockwork it its place, practice the smile, the nods, the cheap conversations, cooking tips, some local gossip, mindless bits of news, who killed who, who married who, skin problems, weight issues, balancing femininity, classiness, brainlessness, banality while inside me that howl grows louder and louder.

Art by Paula Bonet

Monday, August 11, 2014

Becoming Post Rock

"A band's journey through rock to post-rock usually involves a trajectory from narrative lyrics to stream-of-consciousness to voice-as-texture to purely instrumental music". - Simon Reynolds ("Post-Rock") 

Due to life's necessities, I don’t get to read as much as I liked to these days, instead I’ve been listening to music - a lot! It stabs, soothes and suffuses into the unblended silence of my aquamarine space – a space I am slowly building that includes a vibrant, make-believe, diaphanous sense of myself that extends from my dark immutable quiddity, circles the soft creaks of the window in the breeze and flows towards the languorously blossoming forest and beyond into the starry depths of the galaxy.

  I try defining this imagined space - it could be a cultivated or intrinsic awareness, or perhaps it is simply I, expanding beyond the prison of my body to become everything – a benevolent, sentient ecosystem smattered with grasshoppers’ choruses, avian refrains, ochre-tailed love-making crow pheasants and a wild, glorious flurry of pine, casuarina, eucalyptus, ferns, crowding climbers, tumbling shrubs, unbridled downpours, and flitting dragonflies. Perhaps it is the manifestation of my belief in art’s boundlessness.
I’ve never been a great connoisseur of music, but while skimming through genres (mostly classic rock) I came across Paper Birds by an Icelandic band called Parachutes. From the very first moment - when the first strain of that haunting, alluring music trickled into my soul, I was smitten. It was beautiful - elemental, raw and unutterably and compellingly beautiful. It was as if this piece of music was slumbering in my veins for so long and has suddenly been awakened. It fitted into me; it filled into my solitary green space and steeped it in the richest variants of iridescence, softest gradients of mauve, deepest oranges of dawn, and the darkest shades of night. It poured into my marrows, replaced collagen with the purest pellucid ecstasy, and turned my spine into a wildly shuddering cluster of moths. I hunted every single recording of this now-defunct post-rock band, and spend hours listening to them while my fingers mindlessly tapped and tapped churning out articles. Soon I plunged in wildly, sampling and drowning in the magic of different Post-Rock bands – inhaling the gentle mellowness of Hammock, the wind-rustle-feel of Library Tapes, gentle ripples of Tiny Leaves, Slow Dancing Society's euphoric high, The Echelon Effect, Message to Bears, Stafrænn Hákon, the swoon-effect of Balmorhea, Musk Ox, Sigur Rós’ child-like exquisiteness and oh, so many more – a world in itself.
Post-Rock music is strangely evocative - it changed the very vibration of my body and added something so mellifluous and wondrous to that precious universe that I am building around me. It was the music I heard in my dreams right from the embryonic stage; it was the music to which my poems secretly danced. It was the croons and gurgles of all the palpable creatures that resided in my space, it was the throb of each condensing dew drop in the forest that found a reverberation in my pumping blood. It defined me. There was no turning back. 

Just as I fell in love, irrevocably and fatally with Nabokov’s prose (to the point where I sometimes cannot read anything else but his words over and over again), I’ve fallen in love (much to my own amazement) with Post Rock – with the dreamy, subtle art of the albums covers, with the evocative haunting videos, with the elysian, subdued vocals (sometimes just soft humming or droning) the way they make use of ambient sounds, soft timbres, delicate tremors of guitar and piano, where human voice becomes an instrument. For instance, Sigur Rós, is known for singing in a strange fabricated language (glossolalia) created by its frontman Jón "Jónsi" Þór Birgisson. Critics call it "Hopelandic", which has been described by the band as "a form of gibberish vocals that fits to the music and acts as another instrument."
Enamored. Drowned. Enlightened. What should I call this?
Presumably we are looking at the prototype of how music will be in the future or perhaps this is the oldest form of music - the very hum of the universe, the resonance of existence. When the first ethereal coos flowed out of a primordial extraterrestrial/supernatural/empyrean/mechanical throat, a fragile and tragically beautiful earth shimmered into being.

I've given links below to some of the finest Post Rock that I've curated on Pinterest.  I hope you will listen and love:

 P.S: I wouldn't say all the music/recordings under the  'Post-Rock' label are good, some of them in fact are rather harsh and incomplete. But on the whole, I love the experimental, elemental and unrestrained nature of this genre. And yes, it moves me in a way that no other music could so far. 

Image Source: Google Images 

The First Strands

A tremendously mellow silver web
summer’s end signified
silver line rimming
night’s long lashes-
last of an owl’s wail.

And these tremulous strands
now suffusing my mane
the finest crystallofolia, interweaving
from temple to nape, tangling

first touch of autumn
emvermilioning the wilderness.

Reminder of life’s rebellious brevity
the ethereal drama unfolding.
a languor. a despair.

running out of time,
What if I disappear before comprehending
even a fraction of this marvellous universe?



I don’t believe in God. But if I did, he’d be a Russian lepidopterist who weaves ethereal wonderlands with words. In this world of circles, he is a crystalline sphere, an iridescent spiral, unspooling endlessly.

Nabokoving with a flask of tea. Basking in the arboreal soughs and sighs.

My Bit for You

Start the day with finding patterns on the morning light filtering through the curtain, the top of buildings catching the first rays. Greet a plant, a bird. Meditate 10 minutes with a dictionary. Drink your morning beverage from a beautiful glass, cup or mug. Savour each sip. 

Write something each day. Even a beautiful word will do – like ‘inflorescence’ or ‘diapause’. Don't just look - observe, internalize, infuse yourself in everything - stir of smells from your quick meals, bird cries, wind wails, proses, stars, crunch of apples, cracks on the sidewalk, rust on the bus window, graffiti, a happy sleeping dog, a fascinating nail paint. Eat interestingly. Touch something new each day, feel the raw textures, silkiness, coldness, crenellations and softness. Don't waste time talking, think instead.

Be intrinsically yourself; develop an informed sensitivity and tolerance. Be kinder than necessary, detached but aware. Disconnected but not indifferent – plunge into the heart of things that matter but stay away from the trite, the shallow and the inane. Don’t develop a hasty opinion or take sides without fully understanding the problem and exploring every aspect of it with an open mind. Learn history, study it like a subject – it is not a tiresome waste of time, it helps you have a better understanding of the world, and will stop you from making rash judgments. Acknowledge niceness – in a country so torn by corruption, violence and general nastiness – every tiny gesture of goodwill should be cherished. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Browse meaningfully; internet is the biggest archive of knowledge, make use of it. Learn something, research intensively, be obsessed, be curious, be in love.

Take leisure seriously, even the tiniest break should be planned, every element in perfect harmony - make enjoyment an intense experience. Minimize life, hack away at the inessential – distil your being to its quintessence, a trembling drop of dew – you are what you are becoming. Read more, collect and curate beauty. Be worried that life is short.

Be wary of people who say they are bored or don't know how use their precious time. They are the ones who will mock you and will trivialize your passions and interests. Never even for a moment feel that you need to do something to pass the time. There is nothing that is "just a time-pass". Time is not a useless hassle that you want to somehow get through. Enrich, nourish and cherish your surroundings - grow plants, recycle, find beauty in the uncommon, in both simplicity and complexity, imagine, love your body and strive to keep it healthy. Fall asleep reading or listening to music, or simply watching the stars while your body drenches in the moonlight. Dream.

Jeena Mary Chacko \ Mikimbizii

Image: Still from Into the Wild.

In the body of the word - The Hindu

In the body of the word - The Hindu

My garrulous gabble turned to lovely quotes :)

This Poem

This poem bears my anxieties on its spine-
social-anxiety disordered, cornered,
see the words sticking to the rims
a diffident stain, that sheepish grin-
refusing to speak up, nibbling on cuticles-
this poem prefers to observe the cervices on walls
avoiding eye contact,
It is annoyingly harmless
not meant to shout, reconstruct, revolt.

A wiggly string of words, loosely bandaged
straining to become that language that makes
breath condense, teeth crackle, toes curl.

I am not enough to contain this poem
germinating, crowding pushing-
I tear down its waxy honeycombs
smoking it out
free-verses clinging to the under-side of organs
rush out rhymeless, flapping, falling out-
scratching my face
their bellows knock against my jaws
I tame them, clip their nails, brush their hair.
They emit frothy allegories at times
they stab themselves
half-evolved, unadaptable
dying out before the wings had dried
or eyes learnt to see all colours.

This poem chortles and coughs often-
cries too weepily, messily
(It sets my teeth on end.
babbling things I don’t dare to think of)

This poem is
the glide in the crow pheasant
the slickness in a neon nail paint
the whir in the elevator
the triteness of a tea growing cold
in a forgotten table (orange table cloth)
in a forgettable room (pale, cold walls)
in an arbitrary apartment (#32, fifth floor)
in a random street, in an accidental place
this poem is the banality within this specificity.
the primordial craving to shriek out
a bloated blob of nothingness, daisy-fresh, vacuum sealed
a cavity in a chasm.

It has very little to go with-
I’ve plucked out all its feathers
it has survived countless ice ages
a meteor attack, an earthquake.
This poem has been in my pocket for too long
lint, gum and dust sticking to it-
it nicks feebly at my bones
at times does a half-hearted strip-tease
It develops allergies, boils
and a craving for future tenses
it begs to be given a proper noun.
hovering and squawking
trying to get in the shower with me-
rubbing against my feet.
It enters my tongue and sings itself to exhaustion,
converses with my tomorrows,
ingrains into the scheme of things

This poem has held its breath too long
The words suffer from tooth decays-
a pastel, gasping fabrication
too sugary, a low-fat concoction
forced into existence, into meaning something
sentences running off broken bridges and banisterless stairs.
a rain of shining, spluttering mirth
This poem comes
from the protozoa that made it all happen
from the evening news, changing weather
a release of endorphin,
or the simple compulsiveness
of an infant
with a chalk and a wall
the logic of primeval lust.
It is my wound’s way of remembering,
recording, remodelling

Image by Amy Judd

Stalking a Poet

(For Aimee Herman)

Stealthily I get inside her skull-
a tedious process, she leaves no maps
legends disintegrate upon touch
I track her scent-
In the raw free verses she sheds-
scrapping samples
bagging tagging - her verbs and iambs;
cells arranged assonance-wise-
I test, taste, navigate-
her dark alleys, dead-ends.

Through unclimbable fences, I peer,
piecing together jigsawed sights
thirsting for one glimpse of the whole
(not the tail, not the trunk
the whole darn elephant!)

Scars on her shoulder blades, flight dissolved-
breathes swollen with fireflies
she breaks open her body-
bi-polar ends of her axis
cloning herself over and over-
a composition of mountains
a haemorrhaging story.

I wept over her autopsied corpses,
labyrinths losing into each other.
studied her dissociations,
heavier than secrets and dying stars;
bedless lakes,
I swum in her until my eyes wrinkled
the language of her shut doors and open wounds,
the enjambment of her silence
each a thorn, a tear - untrammelled.

                                - Jeena Mary Chacko \ Mikimbizii

Sunday, August 10, 2014

While Visiting an Old Stream that Loved Me

A single pebble holds the memories of all the ancient rivers that flowed over it, ingraining their essence in its smooth roundness. It has witnessed so much! Seen seeds turning into forests, a clutch of eggs turning into pirouetting shoals, a million lunar-cycles, cloudy sunsets. It lay there warmed by dawns, cooled by stars for ages - an elemental, pristine being. ah! Why don’t you see! I picked up the pebble you left behind; something of you remained in it as your hand, like those primordial rivers, caressed its surface, transferring a bit of yours into it. The pebble was warm. 

Ode to Memory

There is no misery more agonizing than being in love with love, that malignant, hugely dysfunctional, carcinogenic, drug. That strange thing that gives birth to so many cancerous feelings, eating into one's body, permineralizing it, replacing each cell with something volatile, limpid and effervescent. It’s not about falling in love with an object or a person that you cannot possess, that’s easy; but oh, the misery of falling in love with love itself. The feeling of plummeting into a vortex; the exhilarating heights to which one soars! Love, tremblingly delicate as the thrill of an old violin, toe-curling, teeth-peeling, stomach-churning, tear-inducing; every pain and joy associated with it! One longs to feel it at every waking moment for an eternity and is in distress when s/he can’t feel it. I desperately seek it in the cloud soaked twilights, in moonlight’s embraces, in lachrymose dawns, in the gathering storms, in the words of dead authors, in the eyes of dreaming strangers in cafeterias, laughs, ripples, rainbows, verses and vaporous hills… in everything that comes under my spectrum of aesthetics. I want to subsume in its intricacy, evaporate into its undulating caresses, disintegrate molecule by molecule into its translucent mellifluousness.

I try to create it; delving deep into nostalgia, conjuring it from memories, moments that made me want to die and relive it over and over again, an old sun-lit classroom, a hall filled with the twangs of a guitar, a teacher, a blue tie, a rain, a book, a lost pebble, a postcard, a touch.

Photo: Google Images

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Speech is redundant here, instead-
we balance the quietude on our tongues.
while inside us 
a thousand golden hornets
stir up a tempest. 

Image - Thomas Dewing

Ayemanam (A Project)

At Ayemenam imagining the shady, green spots where little Estha and Rahel must have played. An unfolding in my head, mossy feet and green air. 

Every belch becomes a song
- an ode to the last foraged meal;
salted sardine specters tip-toe-
over the rooms’s breath. 
the wee cat's whiskers twitch .

My grumpy old telly on a broken stand. 

Four haunting, profoundly peculiar and picaresque movies re-watched back-to-back. It was a life-altering pilgrimage into the alluring, langorous side of feminity consisting of dreamy nonchalance, amused curiosity, blissful madness, delicate lassitude and glorious indifference. Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s feature debut - Innocence, Lars von Trier's Melancholia, Sofia Coppola's Virgin Suicides and Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rocks. All the principle characters are strange woman-like children and child-like women with an aura of nuanced unearthliness and gleeful remoteness about them. Phew!

Picture: Still from Picnic At Hanging Rock