On the Segue

‘Segue’ is originally a musical term, denoting what follows a note or a movement. It’s a hint at what is coming, an anticipatory inflection of the present: like the darkening of the horizon on a sweltering day.

Or it could just be a darkening of the horizon.

In the last five drawing rooms I have been in, the topic of conversation has been the resurgence of the right. Those of us who are left of center, for want of a better way to describe ourselves, cannot but feel what seems like a weird thrill, that we are living this segue. Our words have, more than usual, gained the character of portents. At home and abroad, we are talking about this moment that has never been so much about the future. We are talking incessantly. We are excited that maybe we had understood history correctly, and maybe we are going to be proved right by the thing that crushes us. Or maybe we are going to prevail. Maybe our wealth is in our dread, in our premonition, in the fact that we are the grim faces who are ruining parties around the world.

The segue is even more inexorable than the thing that follows.

The truck leaps over the ravine.

2016 AQ- 164 misses the earth by 104, 400 km.

“After many a summer dies the swan”.

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Spirit of the Age

Much of 20th Century Women is zeitgeist. Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence”, those silent aerial shots, the punk scene, the American West Coast a psychedelic continuum, second wave feminism. Not…

Source: Spirit of the Age

Spirit of the Age

Much of 20th Century Women is zeitgeist. Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence”, those silent aerial shots, the punk scene, the American West Coast a psychedelic continuum, second wave feminism. Note that this sentence you just read has no verb. It is not a true sentence. With some nonchalance, it abstains from doing anything. Zeitgeist defies doing. At least in representation, it is an abstraction of otherwise frenetic action. It has that curious quiet of hindsight, a place in time (not necessarily posterity) when for better or for worse you know that you can’t effect change. And you’re the calmer for it.

Mike Mills’ work put me in mind of another film I love, made from a book I adore. Stephen Daldry’s The Hours, adapted from Michael Cunningham, has more doing in it. Or at least, there’s that one of a kind frustration that you feel when you cannot translate your world into palpable doing. That’s what underlies Virginia’s arrogant personalization of her madness: “If I were thinking clearly, Leonard, I would tell you that I wrestle alone in the dark, in the deep dark, and that only I can know, only I can understand my own condition”. You’re mad because you know you’re about the world, and you can’t do anything about it. This is also, to an extent, Jamie’s madness in Women. His mother, he loves telling people, is from the Depression. She’d learned to fly planes, and in her time children were raised by communities. The world was full of actual doing. Jamie hasn’t inherited that world. His is one of happy plenty, enough for ‘happy’ to be a relentlessly strange category.

And doing feels like a lie.

Dilli

Dilli, for me, always comes before. I have never called it Delhi, that word being so cruelly empty of lilt. It always occupies the past, even when its present I cannot but inhabit. It is the strangest city I’ve been in, and the one I’m in love with most irredeemably. This poem is probably an inauguration – of the rest of my life of attempted returns.

 

khirkiDilli

 

The city ends in strangeness.

 

The road coils around

the flag that tries

to lick the stratosphere,

gives up bemused

 

The grey river purrs,

and howls, and curls up

into stories

the rainbow and silver

being river no more.

 

In the fog

between thought and thought,

the city comes apart sighingly;

into time and time and time and time

tied up like wires:

live, spitting fire

 

Agha says:

it’s December

 

and my city sleeps in strangeness.