...and every of his written literary thought!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Rejoinder to the Phoenix from the Flames!



(Side note to the reader: This is a response to La Mancha’s pantomime I was commenting on when suddenly I realised my writing was writing me—its writer! And at the time of posting, La Mancha (and Billy), true to his word had left FB, Twitter, and humanity, without a forwarding address and is still hiding AWOL, MIA or KIA).  

Mmh, La Mancha! Stop strumming your Irish lyre before Billy Boy (and his English troops) hear your cathartic muse. Just come back to writing, already. No need for ol’ worn-out formulas. But if you were wishing for a comeback bash, here is a whole post-writer’s block party:

On inspiration, none in this life (Mandela, Mother(s) Teresa, Gandhi, King,) can be our moral marking schemes, (especially personally as you put) but in writing, I have had a few writers (changing from time to time) who have really inspired me, I and myself. (Tolstoy, Twain, Moliere and sometimes simpletons like you). Your earlier writing for example, inspired the ((aside) side of my writing) dark humour in me: The Instant Guides, Funeral and Black and White Disorientation particularly (a piece that has stalled for these 8 years and is reluctant to be published). It fired me back then, perhaps because I was working on Staging the Play Trials of Son of Man, and made my jokesmith pantomimes take a completely different turn. Of course, there’s the ‘sweating my guts out’ part. And I think perspiration (90%) must get the writing done while inspiration (10%) simply ignites a story, but you must work up that sweat in writing. Ultimately, as you put it, it’s your love for writing that will get that inspiration back to her feet (sweat it till you spark it).

I admired the writings of Twain and the plays of Moliere and thought they had told me everything written I needed to know. But how wrong; the Tolstoy I was to meet later towered supremely for all time (the last had been saved for the best. So punny, huh?) and I have never drunk enough wine from his W&P, Karenina, My Confession, What to Do, How Much Land..., Death of Ivan and climaxing in Scenes of the Siege of Sebastopol (a sure icing on Russian cake). I can’t talk about Tolstoy and the inspiration in his own matchless truth, without embroidery—an antitype to his simplicity (for how do Russian writers posses the secret of minimalism?). Zola subtly supports me in this vague description when he annotates Money, the essay by Tolstoy. My world view and life (not just in aesthetics, but also in ethics and morality) has never been quite the same again after I knew this simple, yet a real writer of genteel disposition (this is the part where Arsinoe in Moliere’s Tartuff is lost for words in describing Tartuff, and ends up mumbling in an intermediate monologue: ‘a man who...a man who..yes, a man!). 

As for morality, he rings true the talent parable that one is not blessed with talents to squander (bury the few farthings in the soil because the master seems mean), and the greatest responsibility lies with those with the greatest gift of dramatic fiction (the ten talents), that it belongs to the service of humanity, that you have no right to throw it away or to let it rust out in disuse (or misuse and abuse (with) it). He awoke in me the resolve to be a man; refined and not; dramatic and not, just as I am—a simpleton. He led me back to that absolute ideal, far from artificial formula of the gentleman, pushing me to test character and motive by a similar standard. I falter, and many times irresolute in this sublime ideal myself, yet this is the ideal I live by, which like a moral mirror, reminds me of how shameful I should blush at my muddled image.

To crown it all, I’ve learnt to live and to let live (to live and to forgive), to labour and to enjoy my labours (however humbling), to master myself (know thyself) but more, to serve others. In How Much Land does a Man Need, for example, he taught me not to rush for (the dazzling and fleetingly) personal happiness, instead insisted on spending more time furrowing in the field of whole human family, filling it with the warmth. He unlearned in me the selfish vices, reminding me of the virtues I was taught in my earlier upbringing, that is, before I encountered the evil wisdom of the world.

Finally as an artist, he still reveals to me a mysterious intensity in style I can never discern. With my cultivated stereotype I am too old to start forming myself again upon another writer, but even to my old self, the works of Tolstoy expresses a freshness such as I am certain I can never encounter again. I have never experienced a higher calling nor known an exceptional catharsis in any writer in all my various reading (and feeding my mind with many dreamy droppings)—not even in my primordial literary pursuits! What better phase of my life could these superlative purgations come, just when rare and reluctant, have new obsessions become.

On stalling...once in a while you won’t want to write anything when that odd block attacks. Just have to wait for the thunderous clasp or lightning bolt to strike you. I rarely get remorseful or feel guilty that I am not writing. I have developed a peculiar style—many might even think I no longer write for mine starts when Miss Muse visits (under the right temperature and environment). It’s been a long time too, since I last wrote—a half a decade, going by the dates in my blogs! Yes, 5 years passed, and she hasn’t stopped by but towards teh end of last year, she came knocking and I have hosted her for months now—and as a visitor, reluctant to leave!

In the past five years, she made impromptu visits, overnight—sometimes one night stands—but I had to send her off. I’m also distracted from my main long term projects by shorter ones because of multitasking—sometimes upto 5 book projects underway in a row—though completing them is another story—for each one has its own timeline. Usually, I turn into a fictioneer when my dramatis personae slumps, or go poetries if my jokesmith’s short stories hit a gridlock. My writing stall when I don’t get that quiet hour and the longest (and sometimes worst) literary slump has been the past five years—three relocations, pressure of work and going back to school. But this is when the other stealer of time, procrastination, doesn’t sneak in for he’s a muse murderer and a cousin distant to distraction.


I take serious measures to secure my quiet hour (clear my writing table, a hushed house, etc) but then I still find infinite ways to waste the hours away in the most im-perspiring habits. Recently, I did a Dickinson Dry (obediently sitting and staring at a blank page for three quiet hours every morning—come muse or not) to break up a parched bout of spell. But my roving eye ended up staring at the framed portrait on the wall which Johnny Bway had sketched when I was still a strapping young writer. A big picture in canvas where weighty furrows mar my brows, and my right hand tightly clasping the page I am working on while the left hand held a quill fountain pen, writing (Johnny is left-handed and supposed I was one—had said I looked it—more serious). My ferocious face fades into a dark backdrop, nostrils strained, cheekbones tense and soaring, my dimples supple, my mouth and muzzle zigzag amazingly into a crescent, as if pausing—like a seer in visions and my entire expression is a statue of indomitable eagerness—a sketch that portrays a young writer who doesn’t squander his time at the window, shopping for ideas or reading random entries in the dictionary! I stare hard at ‘my’ eyes until I feel myself offended that I can no longer flash out a muse in the heat of the moment. The scruple prods me back and it seems ‘me’ become my guide out of dallying into further drift, into the otherworld of muse, catharsis, and purgation.

And like you, I deserve a pat on my back! For those blocked (and constipated) occasions allowed me to actually step outside my writing bubble and while I’d have wished to turn to God for muse, or stare out of the window, (out of nowhere) there comes a bang! eureka! moments and a break through the spell—finding myself madly making notes for future projects, or reincarnating a present one. Instead of perusing the psychopaedia (a touch of madness), put the piece away and while for sometime doing some other projects (the eureka phenomenon, as another idler put it) or go peer review (i.e reviewing your peers). It’d jumpstart your stalled muse and with your engine running, you’d drive out of the blind alley and back to the writing road. The magic of the reading mode also undo’s the stalled writing knot and invites back the musettes.

On the new generation of writers...They prove to us that literature still has room to accommodate all spheres of universal experience. The exploding internet writivism has restored some flowers in our language landscape that in the yester years was a literary desert. This writing outburst and the new writers, ever clever to start a blog here and a book club there, confirm that literature is prospering more than ever. Occasionally it limps as a narrative ready to be neutralized, like elevator music to be assimilated into the ambient clamour, but onward, it soldiers on. This is why the Young Turk must operate as a resistance army, fictioneering against authority, jokesmithing against state machinery and the poet pokes holes at regimes. The writivist should speak up otherwise the commotion from the leftivist leaning bourgeois will trample our voice. Our world is a whorehouse, and people are getting fucked. Don’t just sit and listen to the blind piano player!

A thousand springs the new powerful poetries, fill to the brim the wells and the oases dotting the once vast but dry literary desert. This doesn’t mean fiction and drama is dead, nor even mortally wounded—to confound those saying that it’s the ghoul of literature. Far be it, we are yet to touch the tangible results because I feel the fictioneers still patrol the precincts, working covertly in the backdrop of the novel’s vastness and weight. Plenty of notable talent, budding and busting their literary seams, is enough proof that younger writers are stirring up history, searching footnotes, finding their foothold. They are revising fallacies and amending misconception in mainstream society that literature ended with the Shakespeares and the Frosts studied in high school. I believe beautiful poetry, or fiction, or drama is yet to be born into the world because she lives simply in the ordinary plains of existence and in the rough offline fringes, we’ll discover a world wealthy with new writers and the gifted griots of our generation. I believe this yet-to-be-uncovered group deserve more recognition—for collective good (or for art’s sake), seeing as it is in our online world, we already have much more than mutual acclamation and admiration.

The old crop of writers (analogued, quilled and typewritten) is still essential to the world, although it inspires me to witness their challenges when handling the reins of digitilization and blending in to keep credibility amidst the explosion of citizen journalism and the immediacy of Twitter. Digital or analogue, every writer cuts their own niche in doing what they can, deserve and need to. No requirement at being a public intellectual—unless you have a penchant or a writivist twist to it. It’s common sense that you don’t remain silent in the face of vice, wrong, or simple injustice because silence is complicity and this response applies to writers as well—but only as private citizens when off duty from the writing office. Digital or not, we are human first and must account for the difference we make when we do or don’t do whatever it is. There's nothing unusual in speaking for the voiceless or in being the unacknowledged legislator of the world. What is curious is the annoying enthusiasm to fill every available wavelength with the wafflings of pedestrian writing. Nobody forced us to be writers, we all volunteered, so why can’t we be modest in this creative venture in making our world weep with one eye and laugh with the other?

© Roundsquare

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