Friday, July 03, 2009

How It Was

Old Times
...there was a time when the world – imagined reality – would implode me. I was quite used to being an observer; in fact, I felt so much at-home in that relaxing role that I was convinced I was like that at all times. I even had a firsthand knowledge of what that role entailed; but since then I have grown impervious to it, and now I do not recollect how I felt in those days. To be sure, I was free; I used to write fantastic things which at least some of my close friends might remember. I used to dream.

My role-playing – as a steadfast companion – was widely acknowledged, and taken for granted, among the select group in which I circulated. I was so engrossed and so sure about it all, not even registering that it was just a modality, a show of equanimity. It was not real, it wasn't me. But I chose my audience carefully, and there were no unfamiliar faces. I could always carry on from where I had left off. I fact, things were all at the same point, always, and I, likewise, remained: the same bewildering and often frustrating impassivity, a face that betrayed no emotions, zombielike. My eyes were particularly pallid in those days, with something of a fishy quality about them; all the more reason why my silence – which was merely necessitated by a physiological contingency – took on a formidable, even forbidding, aspect. It must have been during this rather unproductive vegetative period that I was formally acknowledged to be ‘different.’

But there is no running away from reality; it is always there with you, it lives with you, it breathes and sweats with you. It was just a matter of time before it caught up with your wickedness, before it impetuously rent to shreds your prepared responses. It was just a matter of time.

...It didn’t take long. Like a speck of coloured glass rotated in a kaleidoscope, trapped in novel configurations of contrived colour-spray, he fell from branch to branch and then upside down – again.

There was such a time; a time for falling.

Reading Lights

‘Light... is that which can itself not be seen, but that which helps us to see.’

Ambience plays an important part in interpretation. If you suppose that ambience plays no part at all in the sense you make out of a text (literary or otherwise) then you’re probably theorizing too much. Light is colour, and as such, ambience colours the interpretation.
There are quite a few possibilities, of which I indicate a few.
  • Daylight – natural light – sunlight
  • Incandescent light, which might be from a filament bulb or candlelight
  • Fluorescent light
  • ‘Passing light,’ which the term I use for streaks of light that come in packets, for a specified duration, and which have a temporal and spatial quality. Practically, this is the light you have when you read comfortably in a fast-moving train or a bus.
Daylight has no nostalgic value; at least it has none for me because I feel this is how I read naturally. The light itself can have many variations, and I usually denote even the fading light of dusk by this term. It is ‘light from the sun or derived from sunlight.’

Incandescent light is fraught – perhaps more so than the other types. Just like you recall a rainy day from your growing years, things you read in incandescent light are focussed as in a vignette. It is invariably nostalgic. This common perception is made use of in films (sepia tone) as well.

Fluorescent light (artificial lighting) is also remarkably neutral, and by a curious quirk of design most of us read most of what we read under artificial lighting. Reading and other close work are one of the most important criteria in designing acceptable artificial lighting. The main problem with artificial lighting is that, unless you are using a reading lamp, all sorts of clutter get illuminated. Artificial lighting thus inhibits ‘accidental reading.’

Passing light makes us constantly aware of speed. This light is determined by the mode of transport as much as just the light. You are also drawn, time and again, to the tempting television show outside. It is a show of the real, the actual, yet somehow you feel insulated in your cabin, in your coach, and you are reassured that you are insulated from a reality in which you have no part, an actuality where you don’t belong. But, as the scenario changes, it is still an unsatisfactory way of reading.

Midnight Snack
He had been voraciously tucking into stripped tapioca chips fried in oil. As he finished, he felt enormously thirsty. A bottle of water stood upright, entirely transparent, tempting. He gulped down in mouthfuls, and simultaneously brought up a burp. The pungent bubble strained against rising contentment, fizzing and burning before finally dissipating in angry smithereens that seared down his gullet. He swallowed painfully as he caught his breath and concentrated, to let it pass.

[838; 85']

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