Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand
Vanished from my hand
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.
and I remember those days when I would go to the beach and stand on the shore, looking at the crimson sunset and the ocean surface upon which it melted into a golden denoument, and the flock of birds in pristine geometric patterns wading across the sky in inky silhouettes against a backdrop of clouds in all hues of orange. I would hear the distant sound of the crashing waves and interspersed within it the faint notes of people patiently looking, waiting for that one moment when sky and the water are separated by the final breath of the dying Sun. I remember being so completely taken by the grandeur of it all that I would feel overcome with an overwhelming weariness and an intense inertia against the idea of being at any other place except that. And I would look on long after the evening's empire had returned into sand having taken with it all of my energy and all my purposes.
I have often wondered what is it about Dylan's 'Tambourine Man' which I love so much and perhaps it has to do with the immediacy with which his lines capture some of my fondest emotions. That a beautiful sunset evokes in me a heavy, even sad feeling more than it evokes fascination is something I could never have been aware of, had I not read it in someone else's words. The final paragraph of the song is the most poignant ode to freedom I have ever read. Freedom not in its parochial sense but in its deepest, most intense form. So fundamental that it escapes both a coherent definition and also the root of its own rebellion but is gracefully manifest in the images which the lines provoke - like the credits of a movie, like a swan song, like the final page of a great book, an afterthought of a dot below an elaborate signature - an ending silent, aloof and contented:
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.
In those times when I'm reading Proust or listening to Gulzar do I sometimes feel that my own linguistic inadequacy prevents me from expressing my own thoughts with the transparency and delicacy that I hold so dear in the language of some of the masters. There is something about Proust's prose, for example, which not only tells you, the reader, a story but transports you into the shoes of the narrator himself. From that point onward his fears and happiness, his visual memory, his observations are all yours and you feel being torn apart by grief and by exhilaration, you feel someone else's memory affecting you with such intensity that it comes as a surprise that you are merely reading someone else's account. If only you are ready to be swept away not by the words on the page but by the images those words are evoking, it will become a ride like none other. Your own love stories, not having been put in such perfection of thoughts, would appear bland, your own life, not having access to such sensitivity, would appear worthless. And while you are perfectly aware that there is nothing particularly heroic about his recollections and that there is none of the glamour of adventure that we associate with interesting tales, you are aware that there is something far more poignant about what he has to say. He speaks about life. Imperfect, immoral, nervous and weak life and he speaks about it in the only way it's worth listening to. There is nothing of the blandness of mediocrity, supplicating for your attention and sympathy. His artistry demands attention and you cannot look away.
I believe that this is one of the foremost purpose of art. To make life presentable. To free it from its sorry drudgery, to liberate it from its already penned down certainty. Love stories are a dime a dozen but good love stories are few and far between. Human struggle is a mighty boring subject unless it's narrated by a good raconteur. There is no limit to which I would not go in order to avoid listening to the heartbreak of love but if it's the story of Swann, ah, that's a different thing. Reading literature for the story sounds unappealing to me. Reading it in order to gain some life perspective out of it is a positively disgusting idea. I love reading for the style of it and for the fact that through its misty vague glasses the jagged edges of life appear smooth, its torn troglodytic appearance seems presentable, even beautiful, and because life in its original unadorned form is too crude, too uncivilized, and too vulgar to be a satisfactory subject of cogitation.