Tuesday, May 27, 2008

La Condition Humaine

Today I endured one of the most tedious lessons in human history. Throughout its duration, none of my senses, apart from my eyes, was actually engaged. The appalling cloudiness outside did not help, and I found myself restrained in a classroom full of no-brainers with whom I’ve shared a class for nearly two years now, yet I’ve hardly gotten to know any of them. In fact, there were seven students in the room, including myself, and we were revising one of the most gigantically disappointing subjects I have ever come across- History of Art. Though I love art in itself, I absolutely abhor doing it as a subject because what it does to anyone of your senses is what liquid nitrogen does to any physical object in sight – it engulfs and freezes it in a relentless orgy of cold, biting inanity. The course material is gripping, however. Unfortunately, it does not grip you because it is fascinating, but because it is intrinsically dry and dismal; its grip is more like plague, as any mental and sensory strength you may have possessed before, is irrevocably lost under your nose, where the coarse smell of glossy paper furnishes your appetite for plain, raw nonsense. You become a slave to suddenness, impulsiveness and all other irrational sensations which you heart automatically surrenders to. As the soft, succinct tone of the teacher traverses the inner volutes of your ears, it mutates into an excruciatingly monotonous Gregorian chant and the lesson becomes a liturgy, where your prayers for a more rapid passage of time, remain unanswered. To add insult to injury, you are surrounded by a bunch of cardboard cutaways whose lethargic face expressions are reminiscent of sleeping chimpanzees.
A fucking water-meter is more fascinating to behold!

As your eyes move across the room, you find yourself face to face with these incorrigibly dull individuals, whose actual individuality is contained solely in their clothes – the only means of distinction for them. As a collective whole, they range from seemingly irreparable, reticent half-bright, half-vague characters to mawkish blondes, to plain, deaf and dumb, naturally stupid residues of what people tend to refer to as ‘humanity’. In any person’s preconceived notions about what a boring lesson constitutes, nothing can aptly illustrate what my dreary experience was today, since this abscess of spite which I felt is hard to gauge let alone can it be ascribed merely to words. I have already elaborated on the nature of my surroundings, and it is not difficult to surmise this bitter abhorrence that was instinctively encroaching onto my consciousness.

What was even worse, one of the idiots in my class was actually considerate enough to bring biscuits into the classroom from the sight of which, I swear my heart missed a beat due to this asphyxiating hate which I instantly felt. There is hardly anything I detest more than watching this non-entity, this vain semblance of man eating biscuits during the course of a lesson; the way that he looks at the teacher, with his blunt, desultory countenance probes the very depths of my emotional resilience. My stoicism however prevailed at the time, and I refrained from crushing his jawbone, tempting as it was. What was even more irritating, was the almost inaudible muffling of this girl, whose coconut hairstyle and huge, bulging frog-like eyes served to make her the human equivalent of the Mary Celeste – empty and aimless in both expression and manner though by no means mysterious. (Incidentally, her name is Maria)
As I said, her voiceless muffling (definitely not caused by a speech impediment or anything) was the most aggravating thing about her, and I could not help but spitefully imitate her manner of speech in my own head.

This is the atmosphere in which I was meant to study Matisse today. Near boiling point, I eluded both the teacher and the class during a short pause of the lesson, and with quiet fatalism, I left the building. The cloudiness outside prophesized rain.

On the way to the bus stop, I was stopped by two younger girls asking me whether I could buy cigarettes for them. When I refused, they beckoned me to do it with such forceful insistence that I thought they would eat their hands on the spot just for the sake of acquiring some fags. Not that I condemn smoking, I embrace it personally as I am myself an occasional smoker, but a girl with a cigarette clutched between her lips is one of the ugliest sights conceivable to me. I fucked them off naturally, and as I resumed walking, behind my back I could hear their loutish voices hurling vulgarities at me. They would have been eternally grateful had I bought them cigarettes, but now I had the privilege of being genuinely hated – a step away from the cold indifference that awaited me back in the insufferable classroom at school. All for the better that way, I concluded. At least the hate was mutual.

What strikes me now as I am writing this, is the contrast between the two realms which I have described above. The classroom, well it symbolised the nothingness which humans are capable of: their utter ignorance, their rigid, unshakable indifference, all in contrast to the curiously attractive albeit uncouth hate of the two girls. This dichotomy fascinates me, because what it does is to confront you with a choice – the frozen apathy of the genteel people in the classroom as opposed to the coarse loutishness of the two girls on the street. I refer to my classmates as ‘genteel’ because they are not the street type, they are generally middle-class and attend an admittedly excellent school.
Yet, as I’ve said, they are somewhat apathetic, and though they are perceivably ‘better’ than the two female smokers on the street, their tedious manner of being repulses me for more greatly than the childish discontent of the two girls. I know at least that from the latter, I am getting some kind of a response which I unquestionably prefer to the crushing ‘nothingness’ of the non-chalant bricks in the classroom. The reference to André Malraux here is not accidental. This is the type of condition I have extricated from the today’s happenings: the human condition.