Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Nos(T)Algia


[Given the ease with which we fall in love and take offence, life is one long series of indignities, which we endure with the fortitude of wounded beasts.]

Nos: We, Us, Ours…

-algia: Denoting pain in a specified part of the body, perhaps <here> the universal consciousness.

The public’s pain. Our shared sadness, mass melancholia…

Another realisation or a regression? An orbit, a cycle?






On Monday, yesterday, I spent a pretty depressing day painting in bed. It struck me how little I’ve progressed since my lonely teenage days, painting indoors, avoiding the people I know, longing for someone to share my life with…

Recently, during a teary, fragile few days, where I kept passing souls like a strange sinking ship in the night, I managed to fleetingly anchor off the slightly more substantial vessel of someone else’s. In a rare moment of support, I chatted with Mr. Recent about how hard it all is.

When I was a teenager I said, I longed for this like nothing! To be sat on a bed with someone who cares for you, someone you care about, someone you find attractive and regards you similarly, this to me would have been a miracle like no other! Yet, here we were, two adults, allowed to give ourselves to the other, but acutely unable to…



So, we called it a day, two very different people, one unable to look forward, one stuck looking back, one bursting unseemly with emotions, the other struggling to isolate any…

Finally, after a poignantly desperate week, last night I sought comfort in the easy wisdom of the short video animations on the School of Life’s youtube channel.

Considering I’d been having difficulty communicating with those close to me, people, new and old, who are close to me for whatever reason (thank you!), it was no surprise that a video decrying that loneliness is endemic to humanity, most acutely experienced in those most sensitive souls, really appealed to me.

I also watched one on polyamory, a really great video actually! Why Polyamory Won’t Work For You. Indeed!

I have nothing but admiration to those who manage to navigate this way of life, making it both fulfilling and mutually beneficial to all involved. For a lot of people though, certainly those I’ve spoken with, it either takes a spectacularly rare creature, that most secure human, stranger to any form of jealousy and fear (what??!?), or… It’s a symptom of the flakey, I want it all culture we’ve all found ourselves in. 

Some people have a vast amount of love and it isn’t bound by categories or social norms, and that is truly beautiful (I’m immensely loving at times when I’m aware and able to focus it, and very troubled by a lot of the restrictions of monogamy).

Others are merely finding their present monogamous entanglements difficult, and are longing for the ease of early days, the thrill and comfort of the ‘getting to know someone’ phase. I’ve been one of those people, all too recently! See above and below…

For most of the summer and autumn I was ‘seeing’ a lovely human. Things were exciting at first (certainly sexually, hello squirt, where’ve you been all this time?!), but as we became acquainted with the peculiar ways in which we’re both damaged, and how these affect our interactions and relationships (me too intense and considerate, he cool, occasionally indifferent or outright numb), the mind inevitably started to wander… Would it all be easier with another?




A stranger? Imagine what that beautiful contemplative woman from the bus is like, would she continually forget things I’d told her, or remember them for the rich mental picture she’s building of me? Or what about him in the cafĂ©, reading his magazine, would he be able to lie next to me, naked, while I’m burning for him, and remain unaware, or is he as sex-crazed as I am…?

Of course this kind of speculation is useless, it only serves to highlight how limited our memories are and how quick we are to run from difficulty or discomfort in favour of novelty, distraction and quasi-ease…

It helps to bear in mind the fallacy of “the grass is always greener”. Well of course it isn’t, no matter where I stand my shadow will inevitably fall on even the lushest patch! Being mindful of that lets you know that communication is the only way to approach that sometimes heart-wrenching gap between two seemingly separate souls.

This too can be a set-up for failure though. When I read How To Think More About Sex back in spring 2014 I thought I’d hit upon the solution to all my troubles and shame, talking about stuff with someone you love, who ideally also loves and wants to understand and not judge you! Thinking that you’ve found the holy grail, only for it to leak bloody wine everywhere is a bit of a downer!

Still, then as now, I run to solutions and away from the reality that nothing will ever be so smooth. There will always be weird little misunderstandings and feelings of vague awkwardness, and that’s ok!





This reminds me of some of those CBT affirmations, you are not your thoughts, repeating pain in your mind doesn’t mean it’s reality, you might feel anxious but that doesn’t mean you have to be anxious, etc.,. 
These things are not too helpful in the throes of an argument or panic attack when everything feels so damn big, but it’s useful to hold on to in the run-up, those times where you feel something faintly unpleasant building… 

The next time you’re having difficulty and think distracting yourself with fantasy will cure you, remember that nowhere is untainted by humanity, there are no utopias where you are, we have to work on our little dystopic imperfect paths, whether now or after 4 hours playing super Mario, meditating or wanking over strangers, but perhaps such windows of respite will make things easier…? Certainly the more reflective down-times..? Hopefully…

Today, Facebook went to the trouble of sending me a notification about the things I’ve been up to, on this day, going back to 2011! Boy have I not changed! I have grown though, I’m like a sneaky plant, to inattentive onlookers I appear similar, but I’m bigger! I’m reaching further and stealing up more nutrients from my chaotic little experiences…






22nd November 2011, What I learned during a class in which I was note-taking for a blind student, titled; "Ethnicity and the Welsh Nation': "The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension." - thanks Ezra Pound

22nd November 2012, I shared this blog post, written in the Polish winter, with the accompanying; “The dark finds ways of being engraved in the light...

Underneath Sophie wrote: Bruth I love how you can put into words the way I feel. More so I love you, you beautiful shining wedge of darkness xWx


Some of the segments and wedges from that blog are still so so relevant to me today:

"To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others. [...] this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest of adventures. When life shrank down for a moment, the range of experience seemed limitless. [...] the things you know us by, are simply childish. Beneath it is all dark, it is all spreading, it is unfathomably deep; but now and again we rise to the surface and that is what you see us by." To the Lighthouse, (Vintage classics edition) p. 58.


I wonder how many times I’ll make this journey? How often am I doomed to fly away from the light, languish in darkness, before coming around again to the realisation that I need the light, too, in spite of how painful brightness can sometimes be..?


I’d hit upon a little pearl of wisdom here, then:

I just need to let it out from time to time, fears, worries, stupid half segments from my mental celluloid. Like old projection equipment I'm sure that if I can't share the pictures of my mind at a healthy pace and progression with someone similarly tuned and sympathetic, and in turn share some of their selves, we'll each come to a dead stop and eventually our pictures will burn into unrecognisable oblivion. Having a marked negative effect on our respective lives.





But I’ve spent the better part of this year unwisely, hiding, withdrawing, afraid of extant connections but desperately in thrall to the search for new, lunacy!

I think maybe, sometimes when things feel… possible? When I have a little burst of manic energy, plan a trip, read a few books on the bounce, I’m feeling a kind of energy that longs to be expended in the pursuit of learning, new new new, people and places and things.

When I’m no longer able to sustain that, I get down, I need a recovery period, but sometimes they’re so dark and seemingly never ending that I panic. I worry “this is it now”, and I either look to an (irrevocable) escape, or, something to blunt the darkness, make the edges softer, a little mood lighting… I’m not saying turning to anti-depressants is the unwise choice, I’m obviously glad I went there instead of suicide! It’s more that I keep doing this, I keep stopping and starting.


This is the 5th drug I’ve come off (touted as the most difficult), I’m not saying it held me back, nor did it keep me afloat really, it merely played it’s part and now the show’s over for it. I didn’t write here for the entire time, I made only a handful of collages, and I found it incredibly hard to wake up, focus on anything for too long, and most of the other things that are supposed to signal normalcy…





It’s going ok, I feel I’m over the crest and hopefully just surfing down an interesting wave to my old, turbulent depths. 

Already I have the energy for <this>

Plus these odd bits I’ve been compelled for some reason to put together for my family.

Maybe because of tough times for them of late? Dad’s impending surgery, brother’s job dissatisfaction (he’s turning 30 tomorrow!!!), Mother’s… Rhythms… Maybe I’m trying to stick us all together on paper as the one beautiful mess we occasionally are…!


So circuitous are my own rhythms that on the 22nd November 2013 I even wrote a little of withdrawal, both the social and narcotic varieties:

I lie in bed on a Friday afternoon, that white winter light coming through the curtains just after two. I’m agitated, I’m lethargic. Always these days, restless and fatigued. “I don’t want them” rings around my mind as I stare fearfully at my telephone, my upturned laptop (I don’t know if lying face down is bad for the machine, but it gets so warm I like to show the back some air when I can – small misguided kindness to a faithful tormentor).  I don’t want them, the things, the words, the people. It has been much remarked that ours is a generation of networkers, permanently connected, company and comfort always a click-away. What were the things that I did, where went my time before them? I used to paint, I used to look, I would read, listen, sing, watch, avidly, voraciously, tenaciously, anything I could lay my malnourished imagination on. Now, theoretically, I have all the world’s words at my fingertips, the great works of art, the new, music, of any imaginable genre, and people, from almost everywhere, are there for me to ask, to tell, to share – and the tools of interlocution. It’s here, and most of it free.
But it’s too big for me. I’m drowned in it.


Are you too big for me, world? Shall I just re-draw my borders…? Sink my roots down further and keep leaching out any nourishing molecules of enlightenment along the way?



On this very date, last year, 22nd November 2015:

Again I lamented the gulf between how I’d like to be, a better communicator, and how I often am when the situation most calls for it, scared, confused, bitter…

To Virginia and the lighthouse again I turned for insight and enlightenment:
(VW)p 169
The urgency of the moment always missed its mark. Words fluttered sideways and struck the object inches too low. Then one gave it up; then the idea sunk back again [...] For how could one express in words these emotions of the body? Express that emptiness there? (She was looking at the drawing-room steps; they looked extraordinarily empty). It was one's body feeling, not one's mind. The physical sensations that went with the bare look of the steps had become suddenly extremely unpleasant. To want and not to have, sent all up her body a hardness, a hollowness, a strain.


Then I ran to Armenia, a Sketchbook given to me before the trip, from a decent human I missed the mark with:

(VG) p 126
A man looks at this clear silent world, a world of crystal peace and purity, and decides that he does not need the valley of everyday life, that its vain  bustle is destroying his soul. Tempted by the great purity of the snowy summits, he imagines feats of asceticism. he sees a little shack in the woods.
Involuntarily I began to think such thoughts. Life in the valley is indeed bitter and turbid. And I had inflicted a great deal of grief on people, probably more than they on me. It would be better for me to live on my own.

p 128
Is the life of a hermit really a manifestation of courage? Can there really be courage in withdrawing from life? What about suicide? This too is a withdrawal from life. A retreat into being a hermit forever.

p 132
"yes, this is where I must come to heal my soul. Here I can find peace, tranquillity and silence. Here I can enjoy the charm of the evening, mountains, the silent forest...".
None of this, however, is true.

The anguish of the human soul is terrible and unquenchable. It is impossible to calm it or escape from it.
No outward tranquillity can save you from grinding anguish; no mountain air can cool you when flaming pitch burns your insides; no bloody and gaping wound can be healed by life in the wonderful town...






It’s brilliant to be reminded of this, because just last night I had the strongest desire to flee the pain of miscommunication, the panic brought about from failed relationships (it seems to only get worse, the more I know and grow and learn, it just drains me of hope!)!

I thought, if only there were no people, no objects, nothing to rely on, nothing to tether my wellbeing to… Then what? I will have missed out on the most colourful bittersweet, exciting, vulnerable, lovely and human scenes of my life thus far!


Mr. recently, Mr. Anderson, for example, in spite of the difficulties and frustrations on both sides, shared so much with me about his ways of navigating the trials of the human condition, his self-enquiry into non-duality (Monistic idealism holds that consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all being. It is monist because it holds that there is only one type of thing in the universe and idealist because it holds that one thing to be consciousness). Again, this hasn’t brought him magical contentment, quite rightly, anything that offers such a swift and easy balm can’t really be relied upon. It doesn’t take away the things that make life upsetting, but it puts things into a kind of perspective, lets us know that we’re connected and that all we can truly know, is knowing, which, is… All.

Last night I listened to some witty amusing and life-affirming Alan Watts lectures on youtube, after my animations, closed my eyes and relished this topsy-turvy existence.

One of the things that struck me was the ways in which I’ve connected with humans in the last week without realising immediately:


Francesco (on the morning of my trip to London to see Caravan Palace, Francesco popped into my mind, maybe because he’s an artist and I was looking forward to a date with some art that afternoon… Shortly afterwards he’d liked some photos of the collage/drawing I’m working on, on Facebook, so I sent him a message about the coincidence. “Strange passages of human minds” was the opener to his poetic reply!)


Anderson (we slept alongside each other and both dreamt of theft and flight! He was soaring at enviable heights after fleeing the crash sight of a stolen race car, I was floating above head height after stealing some doughnuts from Sainsbury’s for Sophie and I. Both of us were flying with our arms by swimming through the air though! I hadn’t had a flying/swimming dream for ages and ages)


Miriana (shared a TED video about Nostalgia this morning at around the same time I woke up with the title ‘idea’ for this post)


Fox (Yesterday evening I shared a little disclaimer on Facebook concerning my withdrawal and irritability. This morning I dreamt about Fox even though we’ve not met in ‘real’ life yet, we were bonding over drawing materials and stationery, it was cosy and fun and dear Jennifer was there too (auburn-haired fox-drawer extraordinaire!)! This morning I awoke to find a very sweet Fox comment underneath the disclaimer. “So much empathy. All the soft things, comforting things and strength and hope and distraction to you. May you encounter no troubles to make things more difficult. Here if you want a chat.” The cunningest Fox!)






Also, my glorified ipod/camera of a phone has been digging deep into me of late.

When a recent dalliance came to an end, with all the usual pain and then some, during one of the usual “what the fuck is wrong with me?!” windows, (Tame Impala’s) New Person, Same Old Mistakes burst in to me, so that I at least didn’t feel alone in my perennial failing… 

Just yesterday evening, when wistfully text-chatting to a faraway someone, the beautifully comforting “Baby Where You Are” came on, and almost instantly I read the text “I wish you were here, I’d love to snuggle and feel you right now”.

If I could be, baby, where you are. If I could see, baby, what you see, then I would know, baby what you know…
Just to be, baby, where you are…

And just now, as I type these searching, yearning sentiments, pleading in empathy, “Everybody Hurts” came on. Silly machine!





Guys, you should definitely seek out Mr.Ted Lucas, Devendra Banhart recommended his genius to a small crowd of us at End of The Road Festival in September.

Seeing as Devendra has never disappointed me with music, and he’s a super human drawer and painter and feeler, I couldn’t turn away from such advice.


He was right. “It’s So Easy” is just too perfect!

It's so easy when you know what you're doing
It's so easy when you know how
It's so easy when you know what you're doing
It's so easy when you're doing it now


I know that your love was my undoing
But it's your money that got in the way
Whenever things, it got a little trouble
You pack it up and take a holiday


It's so easy when you know what you're doing
It's so easy when you know how
It's so easy when you know what you're doing
It's so easy when you're doing it now


We've got to trust each other blindly
Only then will we have eyes to see
What we make of life, it never comes easy
Our hearts are tempered by adversity


Just as the baby cries out for its mother
So we all have to cry out for each other
And like a willow bending with the breeze
So we're bending with each other's needs


It's so easy when you know what you're doing
It's so easy when you know how
It's so easy when you know what you're doing
It's so easy when you're doing it now