Logo of the Museum of Vestigial Desire
The Museum of Vestigial Desire


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By Nachiket Joshi

What happens when intimacy runs afoul of the desiring self? An astonishing question, almost paradoxical. Desire’s main motive is to reduce distance, to propagate the self towards the other, to bring the other within its grasp. A fluid projection, desire ripples out into the air in circles that collapse on touching the ground. But the shores on which it alights, aren’t always the ones it set out for. Sometimes, they have the cursory feel of a stopover in an exotic locale, like travellers stranded in the transparent womb of a visitor’s lounge. Desire- mutating, self-replicating deity, at whose altar autophagy remains the only sanctioned rite. And yet, closeness arrives, astride a gleaming mount to rescue the fanatic from her own cultic indulgences. It absorbs her within its manifest folds, provides cold succour to an exasperated soul. And desire, feels itself to have reached the soothing confines of an asylum or a home. Within the pale, shrinking walls of such a space, scaffolded by intimacy, the desiring self arrives, perplexed and incredulous of its own luck. How does one distinguish between the intemperate relief of fulfilment and a merely illusory set-up, when both remain ephemeral? Time pushes the self outside the first, the self struggles to escape the clutches of the second. An intimacy that feels, smells and tastes real, appears blurred the moment we go any closer. Beyond a threshold it doesn’t exist; and then the desiring self is left in the lurch, unable to go any further, and pulled back to its self-consuming ways.

It may be better then, to stay awhile, observe the scenery, examine the props, study the décor and breathe in the virtual atmosphere of this not-home. Look amongst the scattered costumes; and strain to hear the echoes of conversations past that might still ring between these walls, like spectators pacing the lobby for a show that was never planned. If desire was trumped by the fading verisimilitude of this strange space, its contours must reflect desire’s shapes. Disappointments are opportunities for self-knowledge, so stay awhile and learn. Reflect upon the veracity of your own tales, and let the sun rise upon those glades where the self is whole, and filled with profounder attachments to which it remains gladly beholden.

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