Monday, October 29, 2007

Romancing the Muse

It’s been four years since you last saw her.

You stare at the blank document of your word processor. You force yourself to write something. Anything.


But white.

Technology has found new ways of mocking you. It was different then, when you had to punch letters into the paper with a typewriter. Each letter was a solid blow, bruising the pale flawless skin of the bond paper with black bloody prose. Creation has never been so violent. Now, the silent flicker of the ultra hi-speed refresh rate of your monitor relaxes your mind too much. There is no creation without violence. And your screen dares you to violate it—to devirginize its virtual sanctity.

You are enraged by this mockery. You start punching letters. The letters become words. Words become sentences. Sentences transform into dialogue. You desperately muster the sliver of anger the mockery has produced in you and you transform it into whatever semblance of violence you can come up with.

You read the words. They make too much sense. You delete punctuation. You edit lines you picked up from a stray conversation. One word. Two words. Three. Violence starts to creep up your fingers as you furiously punch in the backspace key. And then...nothing. A blank page stares at you again. The screen is once again inviolate.


Mocking. White.

This is the time when you start to miss her.

You recall the circumstances of your last meeting. What she was wearing. How her hair was done. What perfume she had on. You were at both ends of the backseat of a cab on the way to the last show of your last play. Your fingers were barely touching. She was pleading for you to say something. Anything. You kept silent.

For some reason everything was so clear to you. You have forgotten her. It was not your fault. It was not you who left. She did.

Of course you were hurt. But four years is too long to nurse that ill-feeling. A lot has happened to you in the last four years. You’ve been busy.

You got yourself an 8 to 5 job. You started to follow a strict schedule of waking up, going to work, hanging out with your bosses then your friends, and spending weekends with family. The cubicle which you used to see as a cell became your command center. You finally gave up the bohemian lifestyle. You enjoyed the perks of your twice-a-month pay check. You could afford your own flat. You lived on your own, paid your own bills, bought yourself an expensive pair of your most coveted rubber shoes. You binged in fine-dining restaurants. Slowly, you developed a steady rhythm and routine of life—what most people might call the “quiet life.” But despite the stability of your new found existence there was that undercurrent uneasiness within you.

This peaceful routine is oppressingly unfamiliar to you. But since she left, you have been dismissing it as “withdrawal syndrome.” It is only natural—you’ve been with her ever since you learned how to write. People who quit smoking probably feel the same thing. There is really nothing wrong with you, you tell yourself.

You keep on telling yourself.

Keep telling yourself that.

This is writers’ block.

It took you four years to realize this fact. You never saw it coming. You always thought that writers’ block is something unpleasant—sleepless nights struggling with the noises in your head. You thought writers’ block is your inability to choose from the chimeras populating your constrained, boxed-up imagination. Sometimes you thought of it as an infinite void. You could see yourself walking in space, scanning for an iota of an idea, a story, a character, a theme, a line of dialogue.

You were too engrossed with your pseudo-bourgeoisie hedonistic lifestyle to see that there is art even on your sleepless bed. You were too comfortable drowning yourself with pop culture TV to find music amidst the noises in your head. You have forgotten that even ghosts tell stories and that there is beauty even in nothingness.

Writers’ block. It terrifies you now that you face it without her.

Now, you so fucking wish she were right here beside you.

Epiphanies are so cliché. But truly, it somehow opens your third, fourth, and fifth eyes that were blinded by stupidity and sloth. Suddenly you remember right.

You were at both ends of the backseat of a cab. Your fingers were barely touching. She was pleading for you to say something. Anything. You kept silent. You thought it would ruin the moment to say anything. At that moment you decided to live your plays rather than write them. The cab stopped. She left the car to watch your last masterpiece. You stayed to live it. It was not she who left. It was you.

Four years you lived. You grew tired of writing stories and so you decided to just live them. You didn’t have to please anyone. You didn’t have to think of an audience. You weren’t pressured for originality and structure. No expositions, rising actions and denouements. No conflicts. You were better off without her. You were free.

And then she calls.

After four years she gives you a call out of the blue. You are silent for the first part—hell, for the most part—of the conversation. You don’t know what to say. You are now too accustomed to a kind of silence that promises nothing but resolutions and happy endings without the climax. But the sound of her voice deemed it vulgar to be at peace with yourself.

She asks you how you are. You exchange pleasantries and small talk. You catch up with each other. You’d love to tell her what you’ve been doing the past four years. You’d love to tell her you’d been busy. But you don’t know what to say when she asks you, “So, what have you been writing lately?”

Before you put down the phone, she promises to visit you soon.

This has the makings of a romantic soap for TV. You couldn’t sleep. The excitement stirs up something violent inside you. You start to hear voices. Too many voices none and all of which is yours. You start seeing ghosts walking about your room, fighting for space over your bed which has turned into a stage. And then darkness starts to creep in. Your space is both constrained and infinite. This feeling is very much familiar. You used to dismiss this feeling as “brain fart” or “intellectual masturbation.” You used to accuse yourself of wasting time and letting your mind wander off whenever you are in this state. You used to call this writers’ block.

You have to write. You feel it. But there is a war inside you. How can you write with an unclear mind?

There is no creation without violence.

You open your word processor and you stare at the blank document. Peaceful. Mocking white.

Fuck you.

No. On second thought, you’d rather do it yourself.

Feverishly, your fingers well up with enough violence to commit sacrilege on that white, virgin space.

Black blood all over.

Then silence. That familiar silence that used to accompany you in your meditations on the paradoxes of creation.

You stare at the bloodied screen of your laptop. Those four years without her was necessary for conflict to arise. Creation is impossible without violence. Now you understand, your romance is complete.

You hear a familiar voice coming from behind you. The voice that had always stirred up that violence inside you and pushed you to create. You turned your head and saw her smiling at you.

And you realize that it was her romancing you all this time.

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