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The Museum of Vestigial Desire

The Book of Curses

tags: cooker

If it can't happen, it can't happen. There are no compulsions on events. Nothing needs to happen. But something will happen anyway. When I don't like what happens, I curse. Cursing is way of expressing disagreement. But curses are not understood literally, their meaning is established socially and through convention. So at any given time only the curses of the current time are understood. Others get lost. We are thinking of a curse in two ways: a linguistic unit that establishes its own meaning and so is capable of both escaping the corrosive nature of time and it still exists as a stable unit of language that can operate for everyone who is familiar with the tongue. Familiarity with a language is still a given for a curse to work. We cannot escape that. We have to work on fragments language that hold no semantic meaning and so require no translation.

Unlike simple verbal aggression, the curse imagines a certain other. This other, is an operator who is believed to actually have a say in what happens. Nothing happens on its own. There are omens and symbolic hints which can be deciphered to know which way the wind is blowing. This knowledge is used in cursing.

Curses might seem to be full of personal angst and enmity but actually they are only predictions. These predictions rest on the fact that basically the world we live in is amoral, but an account is kept. Injustices cannot be addressed in narrative but are addressed appropriately by time. Time makes sure that everything gets evened out. At a sufficient scale, the texture of time is that of a evenly dense pancake. Curses are signposts. Curses reveal that there is sufficient disarray in the system and things are generally not rosy. Curses speak of how the sedated pace of events does not signify a lack of contrary energies and motivations. Nothing might be happening, but things are not at peace.

This is important to know because nothing ever happens. And that does not mean that nothing is brimming under the surface. And if we are making do with an uneventful landscape, we can at least be invested in the tension that is building up. Eventually, but we do not know when, the tension will break out and alter the landscape. This is the only way of talking about the future. This is the way in which the future and the present are in simultaneous operation.

Mirror tags: salvage

We cannot see who we are. The mirror shows us something when we stare into it. We do not know if what we see is what we are. This is a simple fact. Because our eyes are fixed inside our heads and we know what enclosures mean. We want our eyes to roam freely, but it is not possible. We live in the frame the holds us.

But mirrors allow light to bend. The bending occurs via reflection but the degree of incidence is not the same as the degree of reflection - these two are inverted in relation to each other. The distortions that creep in into the inverted image are not just of orientation but also of resolution and depth. The resolution refers to the materiality of the image. How we are seen comprises of tonalities that exist as layers of sheen floating on top of the cells of our retina. How we see ourselves, exists in the form of atoms and other particulate matter of the mirror. There is no overlap.

Mirrors cannot see.

If you understand what a shadow is, you can imagine the mirror to be a bright kind of shadow. It is not produced when the light reflected by the object is blocked by some other body. It is produced when the light reflected by the object is incident on the mirror.

The shadowy part within the mirror is active but unseen. We recognise shadows only when they are dark. We do not recognise bright shadows in the form of mirror-images. Shadows are produced because of the density of another body. It is not the source of any image information on its own. So mirror-images are bright shadows.

When the mirror-image is our only reference to frame ourselves, we mistakenly render ourselves as bright uni-dimensional shadows.

The problem with bright shadows is that they have a heart of darkness but an appearance that can be seen in plain-sight. This appearance is mis-leading. It is an illusion. Which is not to say that everything else is not, but the dual-order of illusions is difficult for us to deal with. We do not know what to just unpack and what to unpack twice. The problem with bright shadows is that they do not have any agency but they think they do. They have gone rogue, they do not behave. The truth is that we want to be aware of what we are and we cannot see ourselves. Mirrors are obstructing our ability to go beyond vision. Mirrors are a curse.

In order to be free from this curse, we have to find another way to form a mental picture of ourselves. When we refer to picturing ourselves, we more often than not are just referring to pictures of our body. A conception of the self independent of our body does not come easily. Every conception of the self is wrong because we will never be able to remember who we were after we have passed on.

Thick-skin tags: cancer

Skin is an envelope. It protects us from the elements that remind us of our vulnerablity. If it were not for our skin, we would either have been mobile in a very limited way or not mobile at all. Imagine the marks of all the thorns, all the dust, all the corrosive insect-bites on our naked flesh. We wear clothes to protect our skin, our skin in turn protects our flesh. If both of these were absent, our survival would have been threatened.

Our skin does not protect us from conflicts that affect us emotionally. For that we need to be able to develop opacity in our minds. Our minds are not simple to pry on. The electrical signals involved in thought have not even been understood enough for them to be hacked into. But the expressions of our thoughts are easily manipulated.

By stripping us naked, into naked desiring bodies, we are often exposed. The ceaseless heat of our desire flows outwards into the world. And no amount of religious or moral training can inhibit this flow. When regulated, desire bends inwards and becomes a part of a unwieldy knot that forms the map of perverted mind.

Thick-skin is a means of preventing our desiring body from being manipulated.

A capacity to trick the manipulator into becoming harmless and ineffective develops slowly from having a thick-skin.

But why are we worried about manipulation so much? Isn't communication a kind of manipulation itself? How does language manage to have the desired effect if not through manipulation?

We are not worried, we are only conspiring to break free of the loop that culture locks us in. Manipulation breeds angst, angst breeds manipulation. The cycles of culture thus entrap us.

What do we want to achieve once we are free?

Really, there is nothing to be done.

But slowly fading away is better than being tossed and bounced around like a ping pong ball. Both the faded and exhausted presence and the tossed and bounced ping pong ball are equally insignificant. We are not conspiring to accumulate power or relevance.

Our conspiracy only seeks to achieve one end. And that is to keep us tethered to the here and now. To not be aligned to any tangent, to not follow any chronology. If this conspiracy succeeds, we will be able to experience our moment of departure fully. With as much excitement and enthusiasm as any other adventure that might have come our way.

Surely, departures are not just episodes of diminishing. Modelling departures to be processes of transition, that have a destination as well as a transit time is possible. Our conspiracy is positing that if we commence a transition in a heightened state of awareness, then we might not be bogged down at that point by regret, memory and fantasy.

We conspire only to travel with the empty mind of the traveler who is busy performing the travel, the witnessing of varied landscape, the stillness of time.

Signature tags: clipping

What you do and how you live your life is you. Because these two things reflect that which can't be seen. The character and pattern of your thought. The way the pattern of your thought is revealed, also reveals what you consider worthy and what you don't consider.

Comprehension is aligned with learning.

Learning something yourself or thinking about how you are going to teach something are both the same things.

When we look at teaching and its potential, we question our inability to progress further civilisationally. Why haven't we managed to grow beyond our culture and politics driven life? Why haven't we managed to learn how to read presence? We are so bound within the constraints of language? We still are not able to understand the real basis of our individuality. What is the signature of our life? Can there be any hierarchy in the legacy we leave behind?

Can any particular legacy be more significant than the others? As disjoint and distant as we are from the organic universe, we do not really understand that everything we do, think or desire is part of a zero-sum game. Human culture, civilisation and history is just an insignificant feature of life on earth. The shadow each of us casts is the same. We continue to survive for no particular reason that we can take credit for. We are just alive before we eventually die. In the cosmos, we haven't been required to die yet. Our extermination will come easy. It will happen just to balance the emergence of something new. Or the deviation of some rock from its orbit. We have chosen to see this chance operation of our redemption. "If we still exist, surely the universe must have some use for us!" No.

Our signature is a dull, blurred impression. We can't even hope to just register.

What we leave behind is not even substantial material for a dull story that will get imprinted onto this planet in a way that will outlive our civilisation.

If there is nothing that's going to come, can we try to do with what we are left with? The here and now.

We are going to amount to nothing, we will all come to nought, are we still ok with living till we face the moment of our death?

Legacy is in constant conflict with mortality. Under no circumstances should our motivation to act be based on a hope for finding redemption in history. History is cultural. Culture is civilisational. When we go bust, this whole thing is going to go bust. Nothing is going to remain.

And we cannot avoid the bust. The mechanics of chance and the logic that governs patterns cannot be partial to us. Every rational mind should make peace with the hopelessness of our situation. Hope is only a trace emotion that betrays an early onset of craving. And craving of course betrays our inability to go on. It betrays the fact that we have not been able to absorb the ambience and figure it out. IT lets everyone know that we are lost and clueless.

Memory tags: twig

Memory is a curse only if the archives are toxic. Considering the kind of lives we have led, our archives surely are toxic. We do not remember much and that what we do remember is only a fragment of a waking nightmare. When we were overcome by emotion, when we could not see beyond the horizon, we were stuck and frustrated. We breathed the same air over and over again. The stale air and our static act triggered the nightmare. When the nightmare got triggered, we were standing in the kitchen asking a question again and again. In fact, we repeated the question so many times that it started ringing in our ears and after some time we wanted the question to be answered more than anything else. Why we wanted to know the answer to that question is something that even we didn't know. We persisted until we got tired of listening to the same question again and again and our ears itched to hear some new words. In the face of obsession stands boredom. From that time, we have been very careful about what we hear. We don't just require a certain richness in vocabulary, we require a set of ups and downs as well. We do not have patience for flat assertions, for absolute declarations now. Now we believe voice to be a part of song that breaks forth like a lyric from the mouths of the poets and the lost.

Memory and imagination are not very far apart. I can imagine my memory but I can also remember my imagination. But the other way round is true as well. So when I remember, I might be actually spinning a story. Spinning a story is seen as a selfish act. It is seen to be motivated only by a desire to project and colonise, to capture and colour the world with a personal perspective. The documentary if no interest anymore. We can imagine.

We can document our imagination. That document would still be of interest. But we cannot document our memories. Remembering is another memory. So every time we remember a memory, we create another one. And so it goes on, we get locked inside a list of links, an array.

If something good happened to you, then this a curse. It becomes a chase, a cat and mouse game. There is nothing to hold on to. Ever.

Masks tags: lime

Curses are masks. Masks hide something and reveal something else. This temporary management of appearances helps in balancing at least two urgent needs. One, is the need to nullify the opposition. Once the opposition is nullified, some progress can be made and the situation which seems like a crises can even be remedied. Two, is the need to proceed as planned. In spite of the discussions, a larger project has been underway. This project demands the timely dedication of resources and the equally timely delivery of material. When any particular pillar of the project becomes unstable, a dispute arises.

Masks help in executing complex discussions under the front of abstraction. It might seem to someone not familiar to the pragmatics of discussion in the room that the topic under discussion is coffee. But in reality a complex battle formation involving a massive cost and thousands of lives is the current engagement. Abstraction helps to de-sensitise discussions. It helps to divert the overbearing sentiment towards rational argumentation and away from sentimental brooding.

That leaves us in a difficult position. We do not know what to do with our emotion anymore. Emotion is a problem because we have not been trained to deal with it. We have been trained to understand emotion as a deterrent to rational thought. On the contrary it is a lens that aids the complex perception of ideas that otherwise will never be perceived at all.

The absence of emotion from our cognitive apparatus has led us to a difficult point in our evolution. We produce anger, irritation, fear, confusion and other artefacts of a troubled mind because we are basically starved of emotion. Nothing touches us because we are stuck on a dry piece of land and we do not know how to swim. We need swimming lessons.

After our swimming lessons, we will be able to float. But float while precariously holding on to the edge of the pool. Courage to let go and allow our body to swim will take time and in this time we can enjoy the feeling of not being able to navigate the terrain. After we learn how to swim, we will not be able to forget how to swim again. Water will become like land. Water will know its place and it will not overwhelm our nostrils.

Then we will need to learn to swim and still drown sometimes as well. That day we will learn how to wear a mask.