Masaan- Exploring a Generational Gap | Phantom Films and Their Educational Project

 

This is a double feature. Maybe this would work better as two separate blog posts but in my head, they’re so tied together they have to be written together so here goes. 

Perhaps necessity and need leads everyone trapped within the temporal bounds of the same generation to believe in similar things and behave in similar ways. There are other things at play here, of course. The zeitgeist of a generation in India does not need to be similar to that of a generation in Australia or Japan. But, geography aside, the resistance of the young to the haranguing of  the old is not just a literary trope but also a life one. A mood, if you will. There is the older and grayer side who cannot see the world in any other way than the way their times fashioned them to and there is the young who are slowly and gingerly fashioning their own times. And there is a complicated resistance. That is what Masaan seeks to explore.

Masaan which means funeral pyre, is the feature debut of indie short film-darling and Anurag Kashyap’s frequent collaborator and assistant Neeraj Ghaywan. It follows an ex-Sanskrit teacher and now small-town vendor played to simmering perfection by Sanjay Mishra as he is forced to grapple with a cardinal sin his daughter Devi (Richa Chadda) commits, a policeman trying to exploit the situation and the safekeeping of honour, his and his daughter’s. There is his daughter who doesn’t quite want to live in a universe of her father’s construction. There is a family belonging to the Dom community who burn funerary pyres traditionally to make their living and there is the youngest of this family (Vicky Kaushal) who is trying to live and love on his own terms.

Ghaywan shoots and edits with a steady confidence his mentor Kashyap perhaps couldn’t ever afford, letting shots tantalizingly linger on his talented cast of performers and this plays very much to the strengths of Chadda, Kaushal and Mishra.  Kaushal and his upper-caste love interst played by the very talented Shweta Tripathi are so darn adorable I was smiling through most of the first half of this movie. The movie is careful and deliberate, stepping around it’s characters quietly enough to give them oodles of space to breathe and evolve enough to see a coming of age not just for the young but also for the old.

Like all good art, Masaan is about change. The arbitrariness of Devi’s ‘crime’, and the ‘illegality’ of it being a socially constructed fiction are things we all (should) know going into this. Ghaywan goes further than that to show a callous government and bureaucratic system exploiting emotionally hardwired concepts like honour and righteousness for nothing other than capital. This comes at is early and was enough of a sledgehammer of a plot device to make me think Mishra’s character would mostly remain the same. But the movie slowly meanders through his life, watching as he struggles to get money together to pay the bribe, try to understand why his daughter did what she did and, through a genius sub-plot featuring a terrifying gambling game and a young boy who drowns, learn how autonomous decisions taken by young people may be valid enough to solve real problems.

Kaushal’s inter-caste relationship is as deliberate and slow and serves as a counterpoint to the other narrative along with Chadda’s character’s story. They provide examples of the young being autonomous and perhaps more intelligent than the old. But the film does not leave you with a narrative as clean and precise as ‘the young are better than the old in ways the old will never understand’. It terminates at a place of understanding yes, but featuring the young looking back as much as the old look forward. Everyone learns something about honour, tradition, love and family. And everyone changes.

And the government hangs above them all, tinkering, exploiting and manipulating everyone’s weaknesses. And as such, it stands as a breathtakingly complete, emotional and empathetic portrait of India today.

Masaan hit it big in Cannes, bagging international distribution rights by Pathe. But the domestic production company is a familiar name.

Perhaps the thing people remember most about Phantom films is the logo animation where the Hindi alphabet फ is drawn across a chalkboard while the voice of a teacher calls out “pha se?” and a chorus of students reply “phantom”.

This is significant because it matches up with what Phantom Films have been doing since its establishment in 2011 by Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Vikas Bahl and Madhu Mantena.

Starting with Motwane’s Lootera and till the gritty superhero feature Bhavesh Joshi in theatres now, the Phantom project has been noticeably educational.

Cinema has been teaching us to think for a long time. Or perhaps, the cinema of the times reflects how people think. That is probably a ‘chicken or the egg’ scenario. But Phantom Films, ranging from the artistic to the commercial, with comedies, thrillers, crime-films and everything in between, have been subtly reshaping the contours of Indian cinema and the influence it plays on the masses who watch them, the occasional misfire like Hunterr notwithstanding (ugh).

Indian cinema, especially over the last twenty years or so, hasn’t been teaching us good things. You know the answer to questions like ‘what skin colour represents good and what represents evil?’ and ‘is stalking, abducting and/or coercing a woman romantic?’. You also probably know who taught you those things. Phantom has been working consistently, through bankrolling and controlling the productions of some of the most excellently crafted films of this global film-making generation, been trying to get you to ask why you think those things and whether you should think differently. Kashyap’s cinematic project seems to be one of constantly questioning whether the good and evil paradigm is valid, Bahl works at gender paradigms and preconceived notions with deftness and grace and Motwane looks at the seedy underbelly of the glamorous corporate urban life in modern India.  These movies are all very cleverly trying to teach you things.

It has also done something as significant. It has created an ecosystem of actors, directors and crew who work together and separately, spilling over to mainstream Bollywood as well as regional cinema who are taking this ethos forward. Longtime Phantom collaborator and cinematographer Rajeev Ravi directed two stellar movies questioning the problematic nature of romance as portrayed in the rampantly mysoginist world of Malayalam cinema (Annayum Rasoolum) and a stylish, slick exploration of caste history in Kochi (Kammatipaadam). Other film-makers like Zoya Akhtar, Dibanker Banerjee, and though I include his name here with several misgivings, Karan Johar have participated in short film anthologies produced by Phantom which shaped the trajectories of their careers in obvious ways. Pink wouldn’t exist in a world without Phantom.

What am I trying to get at here? Go find the Phantom filmography on Wikipedia, avoid Hunterr, and work you with through all the rest. Happy learning!

 

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son of a witch part four – best-case-scenario mat

Markus could move like a ghost when he felt like it. Sometimes, he wanted to turn himself into a non-person, an abstract entity that did not extend beyond its own sense of the universe. He would imagine himself exactly like that, then. A disconnected jumble of eyes, nose, ears and tongue floating through the air, plugged out from everything to do with people but linked to the air and the forest and real life.

He didn’t really have to imagine that last bit.

He moved like that, then, through the ramshackle single corridor of what they called a house but everyone inside it knew that he had come. Everyone consisted of one more person than was necessary: a bald, golden haired man, pink and splotchy. His chest flapped outward to either side, butterflied like chicken breast before you stuff it with herbs and a round, flaky rose behind it like a peach sun. He was nearly piebald with every shade of colour white could be. He was clearly going through something. Everything was rising and falling, undulating

Markus’ mother hovered over him, her eyes on Markus and her hands on this sea-creature in a man’s body. She was singing the song nearly everyone knew the words to as she pressed down on the man’s chest. Markus leaned against the doorframe, watching and bored.

Mother had beautiful eyes. He didn’t comment on the rest of her but he supposed she wasn’t all that bad. She had a very long forehead and there were this little craters in them, two or three and so small they looked like large freckles from the distance. In conciliatory, soft, wet evening in front of the fire with popcorn, Markus would run his fingers through these little craters and feel. She had beautiful eyes, large and wide with a lot of room for storytelling. She rolled them to the right, to the table where his now cold milk and fried banana was placed under a red, plastic lid.

Markus nodded, not moving just yet and watching. Behind the scene in front of him was the large, curtainless window through which the evening sunlight was spilling like orange-juice into the room. He felt the onset of a bad mood starting to creep on him. It was multiple things at once like this that got to him, in the end. The thing with Una and the boy. The fact that his mother had let a session prolong way past the time she herself had been so vehement about. “After school is me over you. You listen to me. That time is for me over you.”

She was over someone else now and there was healing and money involved. Or a big act and exoticism. Perhaps he was another researcher who didn’t really have cancer or liver-disease or whatever else he claimed to have. Perhaps he was going to run away as soon as this was over and take notes about everything that happened, the way her hands became hot and cold over his naked flesh, fine tuned abilities to control body temperature at will and so on. Or maybe he got off to this stuff. His mother knew these types existed. She never refused to entertain them.

The man was starting to get distracted by Markus’ presence and his mother slapped him gently on the reddening cheek, getting him to look into her eyes again. It was close to the end of the lilting, rather scratchily sung song and this was probably the last effort to exorcise the little organisms that were feeding on him. The man was sweating enough for Markus to think it was probably successful. He opened up his after-school snack and ate it quickly. About as soon as he was done with his milk, a big spurt of vomit exploded out of his mouth and on to the plastic mat placed next to his head which fell down, facing the other side. The best-case-scenario mat, his mother would call it.

She took a basin filled with water and mixed drops of essences and oils from old squash-bottles in it before sprinkling the mixture over the white man’s face. He woke up, tired and panicked and she gave him a clean towel, sitting him up and rubbing his scarred, freckled back up and down.

“Markus, clean this up…” she muttered.

Markus just sat, hands crossed.

“Markus, clean this shit up.” She looked to him long enough for the white man to also turn to look at him, heaving, and he looked back at both of them, biting his lips and holding till it got awkward. He got up with a theatrical huff, walked slowly to the bedroom (which was the size of his school toilet) and returned with a mop and a bucket of soap water. By then, the white man was sitting at the table, buttoning his white shirt up drowsily.

“So is it out?” His voice was gravelly and weak.

“Not sure. Cannot be.” Mother’s English was halting and clipped. He could almost predict what she’d say before she said it. Maybe she practiced these things. “Need to wait.”

“That’s…you know…it was just a chest massage. I paid a lot of money.”

“You paid for me trying. It will work. It will.”

He sat, looking ahead and quiet for a while. “I could hear voices. Up…inside my ears. I could hear things speaking up there.”

“Will work. Go quickly. Forest not safe at night.”

He turned and looked at Markus for a while, in his school uniform with the sleeves folded up and the bottom of his pants coated in mud. Markus looked right back. He was shaken up, this man. Didn’t even have the strength to argue. Out here, it was power and magic and in spite of how angry Markus felt about having to be subjected to this when the terms of the arrangement were so clearly laid down, he was glad he got to have this moment. It improved his mood, a little.

He turned to see Mother counting wrinkled notes and coins and making them into piles. She counted out a few five-hundred rand notes and some change and then pushed it towards him. The specificity of the sum made it clear to all parties involved that it was his school fees, to be paid as is.

Then, she counted out a few more hundreds and pushed that as well and again, it was clear to all parties involved that this was an apology, to be done with as he so chose. He tried to drum up revulsion and revolt from inside him. He wanted to be angry about not being able to be paid off like this.

But he was grateful. He was sixteen. Money was starting to become important. And he’d need a cheer-up after tomorrow’s affair.

He went to bed early, reading only a little bit under his battery-torch. She came later to the much larger bed in the same room, humming the old healing song. She stopped abruptly, realising what she was doing and tucked herself in.

He lay awake for a long time, his eyes white and ghastly against the dark.

 

Kanye… *sighs*

With the release of Ye, the second in a series of LPs (or really amped up EPs, depending on how you look at it) to be released in June by GOOD Music, all helmed by Kanye at the producer’s desk, it seems like every major music publication has got their resident weary Kanye fan to get back to it and write another review of what they know to be some sort of indisputable masterpiece, in spite of the egomaniac who created it.

I know this because Kanye fans, even closeted fans, have some very clear, almost inevitable tells. The most important of these is going to be the ‘liking Kanye is so hard‘ argument that usually comes towards the beginning of the four-star (three point five if he’s a very resilient Kanye fan) review. The Kanye fan is a miserable soul, burdened with having to reconcile their appreciation for his unfettered genius with their disdain for literally anything he does other than make music. And there’s always something.

Stage-invading during the heart(emoji)felt acceptance speech of that everlasting cutie Taylor Swift at the VMAs to say Beyonce should’ve won that award is reprehensible to the Kanye fan but after a few years and in the right circles, understandable and forgivable. I mean, ‘why you gotta be so mean, Kanye?’ but still, even though it isn’t said, it is rationalised into Kanye’s public persona. We all know who Beyonce is. We all know who JAY-Z is. We sure as hell know who Kanye is. We understand these people in relation to each other. We know that Queen Bey being spurned for anybody (let alone bubblegum teen cuteness sensation Tay Tay) tickles Kanye in those regressive cultural meme centres where he is most vulnerable. Family. Loyalty. Community. Standing up for all of the above. This is the way Kanye operates.

Everything he’s ever done since has been rationalised internally (on the outside, it’s just not talked about because this is a review of the music dammit, not the person!) along similar lines. It’s violent and offensive but hey, it’s at least consistent.

Till it stopped being consistent. Till it began to get really hazy who Kanye West was really standing up for. Did Kanye stop loving you like he loved Kanye and end up only just loving Kanye?

There has always been some confluence between the (revolutionary, excellent and groundbreaking) music Kanye has produced and the strange things he does when he’s not producing music. Now Kanye wants to tell you why he’s been doing what he’s doing the way he knows best: couched between meticulously sampled, artfully placed beats and punchlines like “I love your t******s ’cause they prove I can focus on two things at once.” (which in spite of everything, you have to admit, is uproariously funny). So, business as usual.

But is Kanye West really the revolutionary genius he claims he is?

I – idk probably 

We can try and argue our way around this for sure but beyond a level we’ll hit the rock solid dry-wall of the fact that nearly every trend that has shaken hip-hop up since the early 2000s was engineered by Kanye. He brought sampling back in a major way with his production on JAY-Z’s Blueprint and we haven’t  quite been able to go back to the drums and keyboard soundscape since. His bright, funny and often bitingly ironic chipmunk soul made it okay to write songs about things other than bling…you know, like Jesus and spaceships and an unromanticised approach to drug-dealing.

And then there was 808s which was him singing really really really sad songs about his life falling apart and synthpop was never the same thing again. And also, it was cool not to write songs about your own emotional vulnerability. Go back in time and kill Kanye and Drake would still be consuming copious amounts of maple syrup (isn’t that what one does in Canada?) and The Weeknd wouldn’t be a thing.

The maximalism of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy came and went, and suddenly strings-sections were literally everywhere.

We’re still ostensibly living in the post Yeezus epoch where precise, industrial beats and Daft Punk beep-boops form a nearly inalienable part of the modern hip-hop soundscape.

The Kanye West story is a fascinating one where a young man from Chicago wearing pink polo shirts selling his own beats-CDs from his backpack (think Ed Sheeran’s work ethic minus the faux-humility) came to redefine what can and cannot be considered good art in this genre.

The revolution with Life of Pablo is a little more complex and a little less influential. It is a mostly personal turnaround where a producer known for his perfectionism decides perfection doesn’t quite describe his own state of mind. It is a jagged and misshapen piece of work, highs jutted awkwardly with the lows. And the usual last minute changes reflected not the refinement to an impossible perfection they usually did but rushing out an imperfect album. Because Kanye’s mind is as volatile and fickle ref. his personal life. And his latest record Ye is very much an extension of that. So what’s the revolution there?

II – it’s still there but it may not be the music 

Kanye has a revolutionary new idea. A 7-track LP. Maybe a couple of tracks longer and more defined than an EP but three songs shy of the shortest possible average LP. And this push towards minimalism is definitely a trend. Since Yeezus, sparse, less-is-more tracks have always been a part of the Kanye sound. He now plans to do it by releasing five such LPs in the span of a month, one by him, one by him and Kid Cudi, one by Teyana Taylor (for which I am most hyped), one by Nas and the one that started it all, Daytona by Pusha T.

III – Daytona by Pusha T

I have to admit, going into this record, I knew very little about Pusha T. I had heard of his being given the reigns to the Kanye chariot, GOOD Music in 2015 but I had never taken the time to listen to any of his work and I don’t know if that matters. Probably not. The reviewers say his previous solo LPs (since his split from the duo Clipse with his brother) were full of staggering promise but the lows of those albums (purportedly a couple of detours into RnB fluff) dampened the potential of the highs. Daytona is like a continuous high.

If Kanye wanted to sell this 7 track concept to me, I don’t think he could’ve done it better than with this album. Pusha’s identity is based around this narcotics-peddling narrative which in this world of sci-fi mumblerap (New Freezer, anyone?) is charming in a very old world sort of way. He tells us he’s sold more dope than Easy E which is so cute because I don’t know if the rap audience that demands street-cred in such a streety sort of way even exists anymore. And this project is lovingly molded by the able hands of that delightful polo-shirt clad right-wing “genius” provocateur Kanye West who’s about as divorced from the street at this point as Brad is from Angelina.

Separate from its subject matter, Pusha’s flow is, though at first unobtrusive and rarely calling attention to itself, masterfully confident. He’s aware of the ‘sport’ of hip-hop being in the metaphors and he plays with a quiet, experiential grace. Not that you’ll listen to a lot of the specific words the first time around because this is without a doubt an Old-Kanye masterpiece. He doesn’t try to create a sound so much as perfect the sound that already exists around Pusha’s voice which reveals that he’s still got that appreciation for and skill with meddling in and around human vocals so few producers operating at his level have. There’s this nigh-indescribable smudge where crisp samples not only apt for their choice but for their precise placement coalesce with tight, sometimes mischievously rococo beats and a creamy wall of bass, all of which maneuvers carefully around Pusha’s voice, connecting one song to the next to make a 7 track LP that feels like a definitive, epochal hip-hop event.

The subject and grander thematic concern of it all is where this gets weird because that’s where this juxtaposition between him and Kanye gets really incomprehensible. ‘I’m real because I sell drugs’, as messages go, is in poor taste but perhaps less so than the ‘misogyny is my DNA’ his producer-boss has been toying around with for a good few years now. But Kanye’s the guy who wrote those very measured songs about how important it was to work your way up from there and all that. He seemed to start with ambitions to rise well above the street.

Pusha wants us to know how on-the-ground he still is. If you know him from the Drake feud, that’s a pretty significant part of the album. Which gets even weirder because the emotional sad-rap ostensibly disconnected from the black cultural and economic reality (or at least that’s probably how Pusha would have you see it) Drake got rich off of is on the firm foundation Kanye laid. Even when Kanye was last on the ground (which was probably eighteen years ago) his eyes were firmly heaven-bound.

This gets even weirder when you look at Kanye’s guest verse in the fascinating song, What Would Meek Do (which is a sort of meditation on his moral compass after he became a rap-star). Pusha’s own narrative of making a lot of money and buying diamonds and being the best would be simple, were it not for an opening line I may be reading a little too much into: “I’m top five and all of them Dylan.”

This is a reference to a Dave Chappelle sketch from the cancelled Chappelle Show where he plays an off-the-rails, egotistical Dylan who says the five greatest rappers of all time are all him.

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This is too clever to be a hollow chest puff. There’s something so delightfully tongue in cheek about prefacing your claim to GOAThood by saying you’re Chappelle-Dylan. I don’t think Pusha thinks he’s the GOAT. I don’t think he even particularly wants to be. But after he finishes his beautifully flowing claim to greatness, he defers to the captain of the ship, Kanye West who finally tells us what’s been going on with his life.

IV – what’s up, kanye? 

First of all, Kanye’s too smart for any of you peasants to even understand, apparently. Also, his MAGA hat is great ’cause he’s not stopped by the police for being black anymore so…yay. Also, what would Pac say? In case you didn’t know, Tupac is rap’s catch all  messiah symbol. Nobody knows what he’d say but invoking his name is like a finishing move. What is Kendrick Lamar unfollowing you on twitter and Chance’s obvious unsettled shame in light of Pac’s alleged posthumous support of whatever it is Kanye’s doing.

Also Kanye doesn’t want you to call him crazy as an excuse for what he’s doing because he’s basically going to do that to himself in his own 7 track LP.

V – ye 

That last sentence was offensive and unfair. Ye is not as hamfisted as I was then about dealing with its subject matter. It’s about Kanye being bi-polar and it’s awesome. Ye is seven tracks of decay, violence, ugliness, you-hate, self-hate and fear for his daughter’s life.

It’s very good. It’s nowhere near as finely tuned as Daytona but I don’t think Kanye wants it to be because it’s a spiritual sequel to Pablo in that it’s a glimpse into Kanye’s crumbling edifice of a mind (I guess). It certainly sounds like that sometimes. It’s convincingly poignant about the loops of hate and love he’s caught in. Written last week, apparently, it feels recent, responsive and spontaneous.

It’s also not really a very convincing excuse. Ye being an absolutely necessary portrayal of mental illness in an industry that’s still struggling to get over it’s anxieties about women is important but this whole project suffers from the baggage of having to address Kanye’s past couple of months and how all these things connect.

I was waiting for something musically revolutionary. Something that would reveal the past few months (especially hard on Kanye fans) to be a phenomenal, performance-art prelude to rap’s new genre-defining masterpiece. That didn’t happen. Like every reviewer says, it feels like a Kanye shrug.

And now everyone who’s been holding on will begin their own mental Wexit. It’s time to cancel Kanye.

VI – moving on 

Will this experiment change music forever? It might, to be honest. It can be very good when done right. I can think of a number of records that would’ve benefited from the 7-track chopping block. Maybe the Teyana Taylor album would reveal how this would work outside a strict rap setting.

His work on Pusha is important because he still understands the power of a unified, concise musical statement in the form of an album. He’s still one of the best there is at his job. Why Pusha is a question neither of them can seem to answer. Pusha’s even a little salty about how Kanye can hear him ‘only one way’. Kanye entered into this with his own agenda and in the process pushed Pusha up (hehe) into the upper echelons of the hall of fame, the sort of stuff that’ll be remembered. But he also wants to do his own thing with a number of voices including his own in a way he hasn’t done for years. It’s just shocking that this time, that confluence between his personal life and his music is just noncommittal and frankly more than a little sad.

Kanye West might have changed the course of the music industry again without needing to get any of us to like his own music.

A lot of things have changed though. Kanye is never quite going to be able to say an ‘I am the greatest’ speech again because that sort of thing is tainted by everyone’s knowledge that everyone’s going to take something like that again with several grains of salt. The emperor has been exposed for his lack of clothes.

And now there’s just me cradling pleasant memories of The College Dropout and Yeezus, feeling sad.

Recommended Reading 

The Pitchfork Review (it’s very sweet and I love it)

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Cancelling Kanye

Some stuff about Kanye’s influence

Some Cat Videos

camera | nocturnes

I

These nights are like all nights. They only feel different as each night feels different. The smell of it is often something varied and specific. The taste of it can be wet or dry. It could be be cold or it could be hot.

You’d only know through cutouts and disguises and falsehoods. The truest pictures of the night are those ones with the camera panned well up above the thronging colourmasses and up to the tops of the decaying buildings. Take a photo of a summer night, take a photo of a winter night. It all looks the same.

Spring nights are different.

II

They were contemplating a depraved flaneurism from on top of the roof as they tried to look at the truest view of the city without a camera. They weren’t sure if they should break their aesthetic loyalties and look down at the people and regard them coolly and from a (literally) elevated position.

They weren’t sure what that sort of urban metaphor would mean if they were rapidly losing elevation as they were doing it. They were fairly certain of a lot of things.

Only, they didn’t know if it was warmth first crunch later or if it was the other way around.

III

The moon hangs above as all, a petulant orb pregnant with all the meanings important people have attached to it. It is woman, demure and the counterpoint to the sun. It is madness. It is coldness. It is alien strangeness. It is the false god of the night.

Perhaps the moon isn’t any of these things. Perhaps the moon is angry and sad. Perhaps the moon feels this way because someone’s writing another poem about it and making it to be something it is not.

Perhaps the moon demands intellectual property legislation. Maybe something simpler. Maybe pre-art consent.

IV

Some part of the rationale behind their  actions might very well be because of the spring. Perhaps in their desire to turn their living, breathingness into art, their individuality into a product for the collective, they found the spring night to be a counterpoint to the sculpture they were beginning to mold.

Spring is the season of life.

They prepare to fashion death.

V

Art is difference. If you find a  world that’s one homogeneous block, one thing or perhaps a thing close to that, ask them if they know what a painting is or why it’s necessary and they won’t. Art is difference.

But is the difference in the universe before you came to make your mark on it enough for you to deem it art or is it merely randomness. All art is difference but all difference is not art, yes?

Spring is the season of life or death. Pan your camera up above them in their disguises and lies and you shall then see the city and the night in all its veracity.

________

That’s the last one. And perhaps the only real nocturnal one. Thanks for following along. All the header images are from http://mohtz.tumblr.com/ . 

 

 

placenta | nocturnes

I

All of a sudden, things become autumnal. Things are amniotic, before. Things are warm and cosseted and sounds echo gently and reach your forming ears wetly and you react with unknowing idiocy. Tethering is all you know. If you had any more sense, you’d take it for granted but you’re probably too stupid to do even that.

Autumn is not an end-state. It is a process. It is a narrative, a series of interconnected events.

Autumn is a story.

II

Americans call autumn fall because it is the time the leaves fall. And fallen leaves are the way you relate to this time of year, in your own tactile way. You’ve probably already thought about the sensation of crunching, dry organism under the heels of your shoes. But the fall is not the fallen. The fall begins with a prologue. A thin strip of tissue connecting you to a tree.

You are going gently into that cold night. But it isn’t a snap and a bang. It is peril and fear and terror but there is probably time in there for love and hope and family.

The fall is life.

III

We don’t romanticise the dead the way we romanticise autumn. Our paintings are paintings of creatures mid-fall, frozen in the air. The fall is too fast for us to consider any one moment particular eventful but perhaps temporarily like that is something we all decided to make up, together.

Maybe we’re more obsessed with the end-state than any of us let on.

Is falling worth it?

IV

Some placentae are green, others are not.

Meander or hover after that. Get crunched. Get saved in some little kid’s leaf-book. Maybe someone will take a picture of us.

Falling is worth it.

V

Falling hurts. Falling is dipping and weaving through the spaces between things and I make up horrible things to fill those spaces and I live my life an auteur. A creator-actor. I have to pretend the eldritch horrors I conjure up don’t exist.

Giving and taking and losing and eking and looking at the dead leaves in front of you and the little spot where you’ll land.

Is that a breeze?

 

lemonade | nocturnes

I

Are markets a summertime thing or is there something seasonal about them. There are big sprawling markets where the clothes go so high they reach places even vendors can’t get to. Do they just circulate up there? Do they come down, ever? They must, right? There’s just some amount of time that crop-top can be safe and secure till it’s within arm’s reach.

We are that crop-top.

Welcome to transit season.

II

Summer is houses and a hyperawareness of what goes on in them for houses are closed and the sound-carrying air is tight and packed. Everyone can hear everything and that sort of thing. If you don’t pay attention to a ticking clock it speeds up schizophrenically and then it slows down when there’s nothing else you can think about.

These are truly languorous times which make you regret not having planned ahead for things to do.

There’s a tremendous lack of planning, all along the board.

III

Have you heard that story from a friend of a friend about how this one girl cut off the legs of her old jeans to make new shorts. I wonder what she did with that reject fabric? Aren’t jeans frayed and stained enough to be artifacts worth preserving, utility be damned?

Summer must be a very insecure month for clothes like these. Maybe there’s some other month where they’re picked up and cared for and remembered but in the summer you’re cutting away and revealing more and more of yourself to a sun who’s more than happy to lavish you with the attention you seek.

And everyone else sees you, as a result or as a coincidence.

IV

The economics of a lemonade stand are founded on the principles of charity, pity and nostalgia and these are the things that (un)make summer up. There is work and there is play and there is a vague memory of an older, more primordial play where the boundaries weren’t drawn up as clear, I suppose. ‘Paid’ leave wasn’t a thing once.

She that stands behind the lemonade stand is a construction in your head of the apparently healthier seasons of your youth. Your nostalgification of her is a refusal to take her seriously. Child as metaphor. Child as symbol.

She got her lemonades for free from the supermarket because her mum bought them.

V

Then there are the people who wear black tshirts and full jeans in the summer and walk around alone in the sun, rejecting their advances.

What more is there to say about them?

Some people are made to be sad.

bloodloss | nocturnes

I

In wintertime, tumults gently coalesce into blankets and warmness. Cold feet are made cold not artificially. It is dusk and as they take their boots off they are reminded of the sweatlayer of hotter times. Nobody really makes the sorts of food people want to make in the cold anymore, except in the takeout/microwave varieties and there are probably also vanilla air-fresheners and toilet scentbags.

They say you are more ravenous in the winter. They say birds eat more and you see everything crowd around sunny spots basking and forgetting.

Winter is active amnesia.

II

Warmth is a new thing. It is a scampering for permanence. It is feeling blindly in the dark and it is tactile mistakes we try to maneuver around.  It is a vehement refusal against a wave of chapterisation and neat clean titles.

Strain for your commas and semicolons as the seasons change and you pull out your second blanket. You’re drinking hot milk everyday. You’re running away from full-stops.

Winter is the creamy synthesiser behind the rattles and ukuleles.

III

Have I heard stories about frostbite? I think I have, though I don’t think I understand it very well. If your hands are in the cold long enough they can eventually just break off like a ceramic teacup. Why is this story so painlessly bloodless?

I want something so unnatural. I want to see crimson flow like a liquid prop over crunchy snow and make pools for maggi-wrappers to be islands on.

Why can’t winter be a little less intensity-negating.

IV

In the afternoon he sweats and shivers as it evaporates under a ceiling fan. Clean rooms and warm orange lights are as nice as the blankets are, if a little grimy by now this late into the evening/season.

What if nobody knows if you’re bled out? What if it happens at night as you sleep if they make little pricks on the soft skin of your hands and feet and patch you up before the morning comes?

Mosquitoes go away somewhere in the winter.

V

If you’re looking for bloodloss, now isn’t the time friend, for it is winter, that eternal maker-numb of everything. This is the time when you’re socialised into liking that which is not real. Your sweaters and soft scarves and laughs are all the nice things that are hollow inside the shell because they are constructed from fictions like friction and trapped breath.

Your blanket is a lie. The only true heat is from the sun and in winter, the sun turns their face away from you and you surround yourself in illusions.

In winter, everyone crowds and forgets, stretching their hands and feet out to a disdainful sun.