Subjective Silence

So, things have gotten a little silent here lately — at least over the past two weeks. By silent, I certainly don’t mean to say that I haven’t been writing on a regular basis (obviously I have), or to invalidate whatever I’ve written during the period in question. By silent, I refer to the ostensible absence of any subjective reflection. I can’t help but notice a gradual regression back into the impersonal, objective writing idiom that I’ve been recently trying to disown in favour of a more fluid, less self-constraining mode of creative production. Heh, I think I’ve been anything but creative with my last few entries — literarily, at least. They’re all essentially a slew of unnecessarily complicated readings of the various visual texts that I’ve encountered over the summer — two drama serials and one Hitchcock movie. And to be honest, the last one on psychoanalysis and The Birds is effectively a repost of a Tumblr entry made in the same week (with a few edits). My reflective impulse/voice has been pretty much silent these past few days, and so it’s a lot more expedient to commit my intellect (objective logos), rather than my sentiment (subjective pathos), to my writing. But this is only because the latter requires a lot more prudence and pruning to prevent a sliding into pointless romanticism — something I haven’t had the mental energy for. The result is a mechanical prose that speaks yet remains silent. But this time, the silence is anything but vacant — it is a restful, rehabilitative silence. It is a subjective silence.

Anyway, I don’t wish to let this little murmur of mine stretch out into another long drawn echo of a chugging word-train; it strains against this comfortable silence, of the here-and-now — the proverbial calm before the storm. I wish to let this quiescent uneventfulness pass undisturbed, to stay for as long as Time allows, before the semester’s onslaught of forced intellectualization begins to rain down on this placid, sacred stream. This present silence is a reflective silence stripped of even the automatization of the intellect. Make no mistake, it is not a silence facilitated by reflection, but a muteness of reflection — a cessation, a mental silence. No philosophy, no philosophizing, no philosophical insistence — just tell it as it is. Can you hear the featherlight fluttering of running water? That is what it means to simply say — it is no different from simply listening. 

Ironically, this summer has been anything but silent, but I’ll leave the reflections till later this week, when I write my usual liminal/boundary post that will officially or rather, psychologically inaugurate the new semester for me. I realise that there is so much to ponder upon, so much to process, that in a bid to find some kind of transient peace, I’ve altogether shut out any extensive or intensive contemplation. No doubt I do think and feel outside the writing space, but as far as putting my thoughts into words is concerned, I’d prefer to stay placid for the time being — to steep myself in the last lingering vestiges of nothingness and potential, and appreciate the exhilaration of unburdened time.

Between dance rehearsals for the upcoming concert next week, and my swimming regime, I’ve been pretty much occupied with playing WoW — more than I’d usually allow myself, actually. But heck, I’m enjoying it, even when I’m basically not doing anything substantial — even if it means merely catching up with in-game friends, or roleplaying like a basement geek whose life is a chessboard of organized pixels. Unfortunately, amidst all the mastery of time and the freedom to experience — amidst all the fullness and consciousness of metaphysical mobility — something feels missing, something that should be there, or that I want to be present, but which isn’t.

And the presence of that absence, I’ve learnt, is enough to eclipse the best of this fleeting and fading summer.


Great, so I’m staring blankly at this white, illuminated space—that somehow beams right back, equally bemused—and I’ve been doing so for the past fifteen minutes. By the way, that first sentence is its eighth or ninth iteration, after many attempts to reprise my old mode of writing in these places, whatever it might be; I’d call it (the sentence) a palimpsest, and go off on a tangent explaining what it is, or why it is so, if I weren’t so sick of academic parlance.

Anyway, the abrupt and unexplained writing hiatus was entirely unintentional. Apparently my previous (custom) domain expired about three weeks ago, and since then I haven’t had the time nor presence of mind to wade through the marshes of online administration to reclaim it. Between navigating essay deadlines and preparing for presentations, any vestige of mental energy has been given to gazing listlessly into space—a symptom of a mind grown weary of struggling to keep in step with the raging external world, or whose internal compass has (once again) gone out of whack. But I digress.

I realise that I’ve become strangely disaffected lately—verging on unemotional, even – and I think it’s because of the usual fixation on getting things I have to do, done. Over the years, I have discovered that once I’ve mentally cross-haired a goal, or destination, I turn extremely single-minded; this happened during ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels—academics utterly displaced any kind of voluntary gregarious instinct, and social relationships were left to languish. But I’m also aware that I cannot sustain this ravenous reaching after over a long period of time, and it wouldn’t take long before I feel—what’s the word?—desolate. It’s a sort of wintry void—very imaginable, a frostbitten savanna with mountainous afterthoughts framing the scene. In that desolation, returns the repressed pathos, in of course a more indignant and inflamed guise—as bouts of intense self-questioning, dejection, and pathetic philosophizing.

I haven’t written (as in blogged, but I prefer written) in three weeks, and upon returning to this virtual abode, I feel a strange disjunction between the time before I went on hiatus, and the time after—now. There is a disconcerting unfamiliarity pervading the confines of this empyreal castle. It’s like how after a week or two on an overseas trip, we return to find the home that housed us overhung with either a kind of novelty, or an unsettling alienness. But of course, once we warm ourselves by the crackling hearth, and have ourselves a familiar cup of soothing earl grey— once memory begins to cohere with presence—the romanticism of home falls as curtains, and all once again becomes the familiar private.

The writing I speak of here is reflection in writing. Most people write as a performance of catharsis—a purging of internal tension, and perhaps in its eliminative power, a sense of Selfhood and agency. But somehow the operation is inverted for me. Writing fills what would otherwise be an empty space; no, not space—a node, a single point. The unenunciated, the silence that the world quickly passes over. Let’s face it, not everyone can speak every time, and even then, not every one is available to listen—it is not cynicism, it is logical, practical, phenomenological truth. Writing expands this node—rife with potential for speech—and completes the human experience, externalizing the hidden internal. Conversely, when I do not pen my thoughts, I find them passing helplessly by during my waking hours like balloons a child loses to the meadow breeze. There is always a sense of loss.

So it has been with these three weeks—trying ones, no less. In this time I have thought about the recent concert, how far (or not) I’ve come as a dancer, why I dance knowing that extraverted sensing (Se) is supposedly my inferior function; about Jung, the repression of extraverted feeling (Fe), the shadow, whether one can swap dominant functions, whether personality is deterministic; about this ever waxing individualism that is schizophrenic, vengeful, (latent)—the offspring of the Aftermath; about how my perceptions of graduate studies have altered, and how idealism must give way to pragmatism, about intellectual capacity, mediocrity, about whether I’d be satisfied with an academic career instead of a humanistic one; about aspiration, about Jude the Obscure; about my Honours Thesis, psychoanalysis, Paradise Regained, and finding a way to integrate Jungian typology into my nascent repertoire of critical theory; about loss and love. But all these—once thoughts ripe for the picking—now to me are lost; or at least the moment of their articulation has passed, and any attempt to revive them out of their time and context would require deliberation and a certain degree of refurbishment, therefore only at best remotely resembling the force of their original. At this point, I briefly detect a new cynicism in my writing, like a drop of ink that disperses in clear water to yield, clear water. Notwithstanding, in virtue of merely having broken this inordinate silence,

I have gone and returned;
I have gone and written.