Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Homeric Charmlessness

Note: Ipchuk shall be away for some time and as a consequence, Winter House will be left rather more inhospitable than usual for a while, until all is back to normal again. If your feel the urge to vomit, scream or shed a tear because of that, Ipchuk's advice is for you to read the following, and enjoy the gritty silence in the end...

Of course, Homeric characters are very much driven by their indomitable egotism. Indeed, their hubris, the tiny thin thread on which hangs their characteristic heroism, is paradoxically the primary cause of their inevitable downfall. In that same spirit, I have come to ruminate over the various aspects, degrading or invigorating, of people’s ability to communicate with each other in public. Undoubtedly, the perceived charm of the natural charmer is indispensably important for the flawless communication of his ideas. He is a gifted in the art of persuasion, a skilled orator and not short of the odd acting ability. But what of us, the lesser communicators, indeed what are we left with? Are we the ones locked in a cage like beasts, salivating perpetually over the much-desired, greasy bone that is so far our of our reach?
What belies so openly and unashamedly our ability to speak well, is our intrinsic quality to hide the truth inside us so well, so ably that our familiar, natural figure of speech becomes this very same greasy bone out of our reach. We lose the plot, and in the process, we start talking in a voice that would thenceforth remain the subject of heavy critique on our part. In other words, some people, although wealthy in ideas, are penniless in the face of the all-too unpolished means of verbally channelling them through. Our penchant for self- expression turns in on itself and like a frightened dog, shoves its tale between its legs and a large ‘guilty’ sign swims across its face – the process is instinctual and most people generally have had the bittersweet benefit of practice in this field. So there, amidst the numinous mists that mask our finite ability to achieve the perfect tone of conversation, or the ideal use of expressive diction, we stand on the peak of our human desire to achieve what we hitherto only conceived of as impossible.

Every so often I bear a certain amount of detestation for my perceived appearance when I am conversing with someone: the sheer banality of my tone, the treacherous stammer which my nervousness sometimes elicits from my voice – it’s all so discouraging, so discomforting, so disingenuous, so artificial! In the end, your speech is stripped of its quality and you are unremarkably steeped into the insipidity of your own insecurities. In fact, you become the next promenading, pseudo-flamboyant, whacko-wanker of Gogol’s Nevsky Prospekt, and the world and the people around you assume the role of a Shakespearean chorus – they paint somebody else’s world, not yours...
In that intense moment of expectancy where you are determined to make an impression, you become the impresario of your own ego, and die a thousand deaths in that single instant when your efforts bear no fruit, and you only end up as the fictional director, not as the actor partaking in the action as you initially set it out to be. Sometimes I think that all this resentment and bitterness that people amass within themselves is due to the fact that people are too presumptuous when it comes to their ability to transform themselves; they think that behind their ego lay hidden millions of other alter-egos that they may with ease exploit to further their own ends, and achieve the perfect manner of speech, the perfect tone, the perfect expressive diction, and the optimum temperature for their charm to thrive in. This presumptuousness gives birth to immediate disappointment as they realise that in reality, those theoretical alter-egos are in fact the plain, grey cardboard cutaways of their own single, unimpressive, perceivable non-entity of a personality.
The eventual disillusion would arrive soon enough.

This is the martyrdom which every shy, modestly dressed, humbly sworn introvert has to go through before eventually receiving the honour of guiding other people out of the labyrinth of their blissful ignorance. His crown of thorns, which hitherto had rendered him a pitiable being, which had in the past unflinchingly disavowed his true persona, which had denied him access to the gratitude of other people, well that thorny crown would in the end implode under its own weight and unblock the pure streams of his painfully-awaited tears that would crystallize on his slushy cheeks and with stupor and vigour bring him back to life. This would be the end for the Stalinist period of his insufferable ego and others shall grasp the purity of the source of his seemingly troubled being; he would enchant them all with his inspirational carelessness, with his shell-shocked consideration, with the dispirited drum of his attractive indifference, embalming only the remnants of his hitherto unexplored countenance. The transformation would be complete, and he shall feel (whatever feeling in this state means) the altered nature of his being – he would be the last man! No bible in his hands, no flag to vaunt, no name to go by, no ode of joy to sing; nor would he desire power or be in need of cash – he would have nothing to fear! His coldness will not recoil from anything earthly, least of all the plights of others, for there is nothing more earthly than those long overdue plights! In a terrible twist of events, he would become the blank sheet of paper, on which others shall write with their cunning quill, and mould him in accordance to their own self-indulgent will.

He would doze off and hibernate over the eternal winter of his unforgiving surroundings. This would be his hubris here, and this would be his punishment hereafter! The misty, numinous peak on which he proudly once stood, from which he thought he could finally descry his innermost desire to achieve that which he hitherto thought of as inconceivable, was a peak among peaks and it was no Mount Athos!
From then on, hands casually in his pockets, he would saunter nonchalantly and whistle incessantly under his nose – whistling, with due care for every correct note, the inaudible tune of his requiem!
Eventually, he plucked up the courage to say ‘hello’ – courage which was mistaken for crass, sharp, bold, impudent audacity, and he dared not survey further.
‘Ah, Homeric Audacity!’, he thought, and consoled himself on that very fact. He went home, and began work on his Homeric Indifference – the only note of existence for the charmless man.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Balkan Folk Tales They Did Not Want You to Know

In the midst of a violent, adrenaline-pumped election protest outside parliament, with an enraged crowd of people all grunting and shouting 'Democracy! Democracy!', one man feels a streak of rebellion within his unfittingly jocund soul, and decides to emphatically change the subject of conversation. He starts shouting, as loud as he can, 'Menstruation! Menstruation!', completely disregarding the character of the protest.
A bewildered protester, baffled by his supposed comrade's unnatural behaviour, starts questioning him:
'Mate, why are you shouting 'menstruation' instead of 'democracy'?
The courageous rebel-within-a-rebellion casually replies:
'Well, it doesn't matter as long there is blood shed!'

Unfortunately, he did not survive to fight another day...