Postscript.

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Berlin, 3am, I’m stood waiting on a bitterly cold train platform. I had just read something that moved me and I didn’t know it yet, but I was lost. Sometimes even when we put something to bed we can’t help but start pulling at those fraying edges, if only to see how far we can unravel that thread again.

To stop writing felt necessary because whatever I wrote always became a note on love and I was exhausted. I remain unsure what I mean by love, I’m still slowly un-peeling all the layers of illusion and banality that our culture coats over it. But if anything it feels like a resistance to cynicism, a resistance to boundaries and boxes. So in many ways what I describe as love is very opposed to the modern conception of it. For me, it’s a destablising force not a moderate or conventional one; it gives space to think about what it might mean to be dispossessed, non-sovereign, to lose one’s composure.

Though sometimes (like LB) I feel disassociated from all my loves. It can feel safer than navigating that leap into uncertainty, not knowing if you can contain that space of difference that exists in between. That’s why love is never too far from hope, a little shortsightedness comes in handy, and besides love greedily gobbles all that rational long-term thinking. If you manage to feel love and stay grounded (without the use of some stabilizing practice) you might be doing it wrong. The newly in love couple are selfish and introverted, the world closes in but we think we’re expanding. Disassociation comes about because the stakes are raised too high. And even if I really don’t want you to be everything to me I can’t help but enjoy the reflection of the image you have of me.

I watched a dumb film about a girl who after turning 29 gets engaged to her long-term boyfriend before he freaks out and has a change of heart. She then faces the ‘monumental’ task of being single for the first time in her adult life, ‘worst of all’ in her late twenties. “Have you thought about freezing your eggs?”, her mother asks. In the end she decides to concentrate on her PhD studies, go to yoga class. The ex-fiance comes to her at the end, “I want to give it another a go” he says, apologizing. I was throwing my chocolates at the screen. “I need time to focus on me”, she replies.

What happens when we reject the objects we are supposed to desire? The dumb film felt like a mini-symposium on bad timing. How a relationship dies or flourishes depending on whether you find yourself aligned together within the right window of time. A woman freezing her eggs is a perfect example of how we stretch the possibilities – I’m just not ready right now to commit, so can we pause this and do it five years later? I can’t help but feel these are just the measures we take to suppress the sense that we know that we are always already dispossessed, made un-sovereign, by love and all the other wearing features of what it means to live the ‘good life’.

I keep having the same conversation in different contexts: Why is this modern (city) life so wearing? Why is the act of working for a living also the means of being worn out by it? Where does value lie, and how can we fill our lives with a purpose that feels meaningful? And the subtext: what room is there for difference? What does it mean to connect with others? What is happening in this space between us?

I’m reading a book that discusses how yogis used to be understood as people that could transfer their soul into another living being. What might happen if we applied that to our relations with others, where commitment becomes a process of losing the self, a means of dissolving. We might then start to see getting lost not as a bad choice but as an important rite of passage in discovering just how far inside us those lines of desire reach to.

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the non-sovereignty of loss, love, and yoga practice.

A yoga practice is a neat way of exploring all those sticky attachments we never even knew we had. Losing someone can do the same thing too when the instance of loss reveals the fallacy of our fostered belief in autonomous agency and control over who makes decisions in our lives. Loss, practice, and love all expose the delicate and contingent nature of our attachment to the world and to the others around us; they all present situations that force the acknowledgement of a sense of self that cannot be (and never was) sovereign.

“Trust yourself”: In the past week this statement has been uttered to me on more than one occasion. Normally this is the sort of remark that receives a bristly and unpleasant retort from myself, but this time the words emerged as a gentle guide that warmly sought to aid me over a threshold. This is the type of threshold that blurs into focus on your horizon and just won’t budge no matter how you try to skirt its glare or construct inventive past-times to while away your time. In a yoga practice we know these thresholds well, the formalized ones we designate in Ashtanga, and then those that furrow upwards into your upside down eye-line until you finally manage to utter the words that make it actual: “It’s the fear”.

It feels like fear for it is a situation which is actively encouraging you to dissolve your sense of self. And fear is such an immobilizing emotion. It keeps us static, lazy, and waiting. It’s not always wrong to tell oneself ‘Tomorrow’ (again) when the body is exhausted from the repetitive action of trying to stand up from an inverted position. (The body after all might be more rational than we give it credit for – what evolutionary purpose does ‘dropping back’ serve anyway?). We’re bending our bodies inside out for the sheer enlightenment of it, so let’s not denigrate our senses when they tell us to take some time out.

Perhaps though it is best not to dwell for too long of a time staring at your navel and contemplating explanations (am I repressing some childhood trauma of being held upside down against my will??). These are all glosses on an affective encounter: we could spend a lifetime codifying our incoherent and ambivalent desires, but we won’t get very far.

Feeling afraid (of a backbend, of the world, of men, of a vision of a life worth living) are all deferrals of a future that is not yet known. Often in yoga chat we might be encouraged to ‘surrender’ or ‘let go’ but it is not just that. To acknowledge the self as not already (and neither becoming) sovereign is not a temporary admission to becoming different; it is permanent shift in one’s identity. We lose something in this moment, that thing, whatever it was that kept us clinging onto a slow and wearing way of life sustained by fear, it goes missing. We don’t ‘let go’ then in order to return back to a sense of security and safety; we let go and we don’t come back.

“Trust yourself” then is the sort of thing said to reassure us that we still come back in some form. It is to point towards the fact that even if a yoga practice is an enduring cycle of dissolving bad attachments, we still have the capacity to produce many and other new attachments to the world. The daily yoga practice itself for one, that knowingly and unknowingly begins to chip away at our so-called ‘shameful’ habits and attachments that had kept us in a secure dwelling place for so long. To move across the threshold into the unfamiliar is to abdicate sovereignty elsewhere, to do away with it altogether. “Trust yourself” is the kind gesture that nudges us into tackling a relation that might feel dreadful and yet dredges us up and out of the stagnancy of waiting.

notes from the white city.

I.

We’re in the middle of nowhere and we’re lost. We’ve been looking for the lost souls. After turning the corner from the McCafe we sunk into silent roads and estranged surburbia. The locals peer at my snow covered faux fur and red-chilled cheeks. Inappropriate shoes wade through untread depths. The journey gets odder with each twist. The train to the end of the line, the tram to the end of the line. We’re at the boundaries, walking without signposts.  And then, a sign points through an assortment of factories. Individuals abandoned to obscurity, no glamour, no fanfare. Death collected in a little field. I sat in the snow, wearing black in my mourning.

II.

It’s approaching midnight and I’m tap-dancing outside Cafe Central. The courtyard is empty save for the few pairings that meander through the night. The snow is heaped at the side of the road and glistens under the street lights. The cobbles shiny, the buildings grand; a deconstructed kind of romantic. Love is a kind of madness they tell me. My gut is resisting. This form of happiness is wearing. At midnight, I’m alone and the words ring in my head: I love you, I love you, oh brother of mine.

III.

Rot wein, bier und whisky. Kaffee Alt Wein, Kleines, Ich liebe dich. The boy with the long greasy hair lights another cigarette and he is beautiful. In different wor(l)ds everything is enticing  Groups of youth sit around the big tables over tankards reveling in debate and laughter and good food. The walls are lined with posters. One picture catches my eye, a female figure. She is nude and distorted.

IV.

In the day we see galleries of naked men. ‘Cock and Jeans’ the title reads. In another photograph the cock rests in a pint glass full of beer. Children walk past me indifferent as I muffle my giggles.

Each night I dream of rape, uncomfortable sex, nudity. A furious desire to feel. It shivers my bones.

V.

It’s so quiet I can hear my soul creaking. The morning is raw but nothing stirs the slumber except the melange und apfelstrudl. I feel something dark and powerful inside. We’re constantly in translation. Without language, the landscape is terrifying and nothingness. To cling to my self I remember to note all the things I have lost.

Saying Something.

There is an order to words. They require a certain moment in which to be spoken. Sometimes though we say things out of turn. And it all comes tumbling out, messy, and the order is broken. The order can be temporarily repaired through denial and suppression. We pretend so we can retain the sense of reality we had known; the forms we had made. Saying something violently uproots our precious securities.

Saying something has always been a favourite poem of mine. Carol Ann Duffy’s beautiful words blew my 15 year old mind as I peeled back the sensational nature of her language to pick out the styles and metaphors in my GCSE English exam.

I see you turning on the lights.

I remember this line being a point of contention. What could it mean? Surely it means more than someone was clicking a light switch. No it is a double-layered symbol. Turning on the lights: light of my life, relight my fire, you’re my flame – love and light, the cliches are endless.

For me I was always curious about those last two words: saying something. “This does not necessarily just refer to a verbal expression” remarked my English teacher. And true, the things that are said rarely capture the intent. Love poems always border dangerously between the cliche and tacky.

It dawns on me I should really stop writing about love. Try my hand at something I actually do know: death, loss, darkness. Let me describe the absence for love is always an excess; grotesque and greedy.

Saying something. Words tend to caricature the emotion, the experience. And so we are left with the silent bodily sensations, the indecipherable, the formless, the transitory. And now I see it all just seeping away, a pitiful death, it never happened, I never knew you, it was only ever a lie. Exhausted the language, no codes to express. I’ve already said too much.

re: something about loss, love and friendship.

One knows love somehow only when all one’s ideas are destroyed, and this becoming unhinged from what one knows is the paradigmatic sign of love. – Judith Butler, Doubting Love.

I want to write you a letter. A letter in which I tell you everything. I want to share it all. For it is not mine to own anyway. Take it from me. Live it with me. What can I give you with my words anyway, or my mind, or my body for that matter. My secrets, they are not me, they are not who I am, just temporary fragments of a person. I can give you all this if you want, it will not diminish me. For sitting here in a new strange room the self suddenly feels empty and vacant though the mind floods with recent events and happenings that somehow feel as though they are occurring outside of this self I am inhabiting. A year of happenings which I cannot comprehend and so they filter through my consciousness in the form of anxiety attacks that seize me every morning in the grey drabness of public transport.

I’m still sat on those steps in the dark thinking what the hell is going on with my life. Though as I find myself spending an increasingly large amount of time sorting out the lives of friends I wonder if I have somehow arrived at that plateau of mundane capable adulthood.  But what is that sense of loss that lingers in my pores. I’ve forgotten something. Or maybe it is this life. This city. There is a joyless feeling. All less. I’m detailing what it is not but not what it is.

To describe experiences always simplfies them and yet still I forage for the words to express what happened. What is happening. How is it people enter our lives at certain points. It all feels so arbitrary. I am missing out on a whole circle of friends I could have had if I lived in a different area, if I took a different job, if I went to India three months earlier or later. How trivial a basis for the people that become our best friends, confidantes, lovers, husbands, wives.

As for me, I don’t really do relationships. My solitude clings to me – my comforting plague, so threatening to others. But here’s the thing: I care about people too much. In last year’s humid winter I made a vow. I even wrote about it, to myself: I had given up on the hope for love. And then a series of seemingly fated meetings and partings and a revolution in my beliefs. It was true: some moments were better shared. I have no clear sense of myself apart from you, and with you I merge and get confused. To whom do I belong? Who am I?  I’m nobody. Then what does that make you, to befriend me, I only reflect back your personality to yourself.

Keep moving, in transit I am at home. This is where the freedom lies. Only a suitcase to my name, objects I can give away, 5 pairs of shoes, no fixed address, no occupation, no partner. Only this blank page is mine, and even then this page doesn’t exist, just lost into the chasm of the internet, no physicality to hold, these words transitory, malleable, and endless…

Here’s where you can find me – falling in and out of the slippery lines, clumsy adjectives and amateur metaphors.

Just grab me and take me. I’ll follow you (down, down, down….).