15 June, 2015

On roads re-taken and (Sal) Paradise lost

Watching On the Road on Netflix reminded me of the book, when I first read it. A sweltering Calcutta summer of 2009. When the world was young and so were we and so was love, lust, innocence and nonsense and art and all other demons and their angelic brood and the sheer idiocy and naive bravery of dreaming dreams untainted by the grey arsenic of reality.

They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"
Now in a sleepy evening half the world away, after lifetimes have passed and boys become men and girls become women and lovers have loved and parted and shouted and suspected and screwed and bled and avenues broadened and schools reopened and bro-codes broken and funerals attended... I learned to finally outgrow my Sal Paradise and outlive the magic heroism of shambling after my Dean Moriartys.

At a certain age, one begins to judge the childhood heroes (pointless as it is, a necessary pointlessness, if one is to "grow up"), and question their methods for madness, their wisdom for cunning, their laughter for mockery, their deeds for debauchery. At that age and point in life when you can choose whom to smile at stars with, and whom not to, unfettered by whatever claims the past may have - the cavalier promises and musketeer posturing. And that is when you begin to realize: That some things define who we are and what we stood for, once, before the anvil of Life hammered out the wide-eyed idealism with heedless hedonism, cheered on by the spotlit crowds awed and adulating the hurtling spectacle of impulse and gratification that is now you.

It is a strange path today, taking these stumbling steps to be what one was in a life-age past. But it's worth it -- the steps lead back to a world that was cleaner, maybe a mind quieter, and rooms emptier (but again, cleaner) and with something dangerously approaching a conscience. It is always worth the effort, I am told. And then the calm eyes, balm on soul scorches. Whispers in the depths of darkness. There is always hope. Become who you once were when we met in a sweltering summer in 2008. Come back before home stops being home.


Weekends generally require a rendition of Auden, with special emphasis on "working week and Sunday's rest". Its a balmy evening in Brandywine, Amherst. Returned back from Boston the day before, still some stuff left unpacked. The Auden ritual has been observed. Why do I do this? This following of ritual, as a blind tribute to lost years, lost words. A man of habits mayhaps, just like the British with their morning tea and a newspaper, followed by elevenses and whatnot.

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