Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, May 03, 2012

Apotheosis Things Fall Apart

By The Gruesome Statistic and The Awful Fact

Part One: Rimbaud
The room is festooned in shredded paper. In the corners, where dust and vermin gather, piles of white strive to make mountains of themselves. On the table where I sit, dejected and slightly dazed, is yet another sheaf. I imagine that this batch will soon find union with its dead brothers on the ground before long.

What did Rimbaud say? “Truly I have wept too much. The Dawns are heartbreaking.” Yes. Through the window to my right, through that sliver of a gap between the dusty curtains, I can view a skewed sun rising from slumber. And I wonder if Atlas is being blinded. I wonder, in my cold, dank little room, if every morning Atlas wishes the sun would not rise.

Perhaps a new language might help. I pore over books on the enunciation of ancient Egyptian, I look through the variances in Norse runes. I try to intimate myself with the nuances of Dev Nagri, Sanskrit and scripts from the Indus Valley.

I spend hours forming the basis of the new alphabet. The symbols have to have impact. They need to be different - unique. It takes me most of a month to work out the syntax, the position of verbs, the instances when words fail and go silent. It takes me even longer to craft the words themselves. Giving meaning to the meaningless; to these random syllables that I have strung together. At the end of the day, I have roughly enough to give meaning to a whole civilisation, to a whole society. But my story is nowhere in sight. I have created a world, but like a lethargic God, I have not populated it.

And as I think of beings that could conceivably call my world home, I imagine what their lives would be like. Would they too fight wars? Would they look at their sun, which so closely mirrors mine and wonder if it could blind?

Part Two: Hemingway
The fundamental goal of a life is to struggle, and overcome adversity. That is the truth, ultimate and absolute. So I follow the man who studied struggles to his end. And where else can you find success and tragedy but on a battlefield? So I gave my empty world a war. I gave it the fear of destruction. I brought upon it a promise of doom. And from this end, from this chaos, I created the first of the creatures that would call it home.

The struggle would give their lives meaning, it would give them a reason to toil.

For there to be perfection, there has to be a process that creates it. Just like the near-molten rocks underneath the surface of the earth that get crushed over and over again to become marble, my creatures would suffer from this sword that I held over their heads. And through it, they would become beyond compare.

But my children dithered. Random chance preyed upon them and there was a lack of purpose. I had the world, and I gave them doom, but what now? I slowly realised I knew nothing of struggle and nothing of doom. Nothing, except my own weaknesses. And so my creatures changed from the noble to the feeble. I gave them my cowardice and my questions of morality. I gave them what little courage I had. And they become caricatures of my own being.

My world, so recently gifted with its inmates, became plagued with lives that were as pointless as mine. They struggled yes, but reluctantly. My goal still eluded me; my prose faltered. Why would they suffer through their trials if the aversion of doom had no sweet fruit at the end?

Part Three: Coleridge
My universe expanded. From the world that I had created, I ventured forth into the abyss, sprinkling them with stars and suns abound, with desolate planets waiting to be given purpose. And with these I wrote their heavens.

Light danced in the skies. Pinpricks of brightness in the dark. And that was salvation. It seemed to be the promise: out of the shadows, they shall shine radiant, if they manage to gain redemption. Like a cruel trickster, I showed them a shiny trinket and overstated its value. Redemption for creatures who know nothing to atone for, who were battling demons on my whims and who were to be rewarded with just a promise.

And from this idea of redemption, of heaven, I created their first deity in my image, as a proof of my promise. I defined success for them and then gave them glimpses of it. I gave them the Abyssinian Woman. She was the image they would toil for. She was the perfection they would all covet.

And through her, I gave them their first taste of desire. And despair. And love. I watched as my newly made minions built altars to her; watched as they raised temples and chiseled mountains to please her, this woman who did not exist. And it pleased me to see them sweat. It pleased me that they reached for something unattainable, just as I was reaching.

Part Four: Eliot
I am tired. The room seems to have shrunk. The piles of paper have turned into mountains and strive no longer, just like my creations. Fatigue has crept into my fingers and my creatures have evolved. Like my handwriting, they have also become crooked and look no longer to the heavens. They discuss morality with dead voices and walk their stone-flagged streets thinking petty thoughts. They are slowly tearing at the edges of my world.

I watch as they break out into fights, as they raise from among them leaders, who become kings, who become tyrants. I am left dumbfounded as my creatures starve while others hoard the wealth I have given them. They have found emotion, they have found hate. They have learned to question the stars I have shown them. Even the hell that I first created, their struggle, has become immaterial to them.

And among them are a few, who have retreated from their material world. I watch as they dream. I watch as they take the language that I have so lovingly moulded and use it to write their own epochs. They paint, they sculpt. They strive towards beauty. And fail just as miserably as I do.

They create stories. And their stories become new worlds yet that are beyond my ken. Beyond my reach. What hurts me more than their independence is that some of them have managed to touch the surface of true beauty. The worlds these artists paint are so much more than the one I built for them.

I am enraged, that they would be so presumptuous, that they would take upon themselves an activity that is solely mine. I am jealous and a little afraid. Yet the pen scratches on.
I will show them fear in a handful of dust.

Part Five: Camus
The disease has spread. I am no longer in control of all my faculties. It takes great effort to etch out a few lines. Yet I persist. But it is not the pain of putting words to paper that stumps me. I am lost as to my next task. What am I to do with this world?

As I find myself unable to leave the chair, a lightning strikes outside my window. A storm is here and with it comes the smell of wet earth, the instantly cool breeze of the rain. And I realise I am dying and it has all been vanity. Cancer has to be excised. My world is now filled with leprous growths. I can see how my creatures, my beautiful children, are now marred with their doubts and their wants. I need to relieve them of their suffering; agony that I had not predicted. Destruction is the only real truth. They cannot be raised to heaven and they cannot go to hell because those concepts have lost meaning for them. I need to end it. I need to wipe the slate clean.

Through the gap in my window, I can see the same new skewed sun rising above the clouds as I raise my hand to deliver the final swipe, as my heart, tired of its trials, stutters. I am Sisyphus, I am Atlas, being blinded by the sun as the weight of the world I hold becomes too much.
My last thought, as I view my broken world, is a lamentation. How beautiful it could have been if only----

Note: The write-up ended mid-sentence, with an extended drawl. We're publishing it as we found it. Deal with the disappointment as we have and maybe ponder the futility of it. Sometimes, we can't finish our stories. Also, the title is from both WB Yeats and Chinua Achebe.


   

 

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