Rescue

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You dragged me from the water for the third time that day with a look of determination on your face. A look which seemed to be new, even to you. This whole charade was driving you into uncharted territories; testing your endurance. I slumped myself down next to a rock, feeling nothing but raw. My senses were protesting at the stimulation they were expected to process. Not this again. The world was an inconvenience. I was sick from the things I once loved. We were way beyond reassurances by then, and there were no more words you could say to me. So instead you paced back and forth with your hands in your hair and your eyes to the sky.

What happens when things have fallen apart about as far as they ever could? Entropy take me.

Then you gathered a bunch of sticks, much faster than I could comprehend, and right there in front of me you started a fire. My tired eyes were some way comforted by the sight of colour, my worn and crumbled body warmed by the flame. In the crackle of the wood I heard you promise that you would find me a desert in which to dwell if that is what it would take to keep me from the waters edge.

We sat there for some hours in silence: I as a pile of stones and you as a boat. I fell asleep, and you took me home.

Staring at the Sun

On days like this I begin to feel that even those who I considered to be my kin are set against me. I look into their eyes and I see snakes coiled up and ready to bite. I have no choice in this case but to retract into myself, to find solace on my own beach of calm. I must soothe myself, heal the wounds imagined and real, and rebuild my tower of strength from within.

He is here, on the beach, as the waves lap gently at the sand. He is crafting a crown for me, smoothing out its imperfections and dents. There is no doubt in his mind that I should wear it, that I am worthy. In fact, he sees no other possibility.

“You can rule,” he says, “or you can lay down on the ground and turn to ash.”

I sit down on a lone deck chair beside him, closing my eyes momentarily and taking in a deep breath of cool sea air.

“When all seems misaligned,” he goes on, “it is madness to expect the rhythm of all that is beyond you to change. That is like swimming against the current and you will drown for sure. Better to take stock of your own beat. Take back control of your own frequency.”

He wears spectacles today, and clothes akin to rags. I wriggle my feet in the sand, watching as he polishes the metal and jewels on my headpiece.

Remember the periphery, I think to myself. I have been storming ahead with my focus, I have been bullish. But there is another landscape on the edge of consciousness that never ceases to exist; that opens up a whole universe of possibilities and versions of this. I just have to relax into it.

He looks up and smiles kindly, sensing my realisation.

“It is no use staring at the sun, you see. Not only will you risk becoming blind but you will surely miss the beauty in the shadows.”

He stands and stretches out his arms to admire his handiwork before passing it to me. “Here, try this.”

Searching for the Self: Somewhere

The beach. Where water meets earth. It is damp, flat, open here. There are steep, grassy cliffs leading back up to civilization. I think I’m supposed to feel something in this place: happiness, excitement, or humbleness towards our great planet. I think creativity is supposed to bloom here, born of a new found appreciation of the small things and just being. Of smelling the ocean air, of feeling the sand between my toes. But the truth is, I don’t feel any of that. Instead of beauty I think of soliloquies, Stephen Dedalus and sulking. I feel uncomfortable; my mind awash with greyness and a longing to be Somewhere Else.

I look along the coast to the bustling amusement arcades and eateries. That isn’t the Somewhere either. I’m starting to think the Somewhere doesn’t actually exist.

Children play happily on the beach. They don’t mind the cold wind that tangles their hair into impossible knots or the stony sand that clings to them head and toe. They don’t mind the long walk back to comfort that lies ahead of them, or the grains of earth in their sandwiches that they grip with their seawater-soaked hands. Is childhood the Somewhere? The mind of the child has experiences without the multi-layered analysis we all apply years later. It is a home no one can return to.

Run. Breathe. Centre.

A walk across the rocks. Find the balancing point, make a stack. All the colours, all the textures, all natural. Then the water comes forth; aggressive, ready to swallow up the manmade designs into its chaos. No more sandcastles, no more stone stacks. Keep it random, the sea says. Entropy will always trump empathy.

Fragments of Dark: George

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Heal my wounds?

Night after night I awake in that place; drenched in sweat, feeling a hundred years old. The walls around me are brown and peeling, etched with words that won’t stay, covered in blood that is rotting yet alive. The stench fills my eyes with tears, and the tears melt my leathery skin on contact. There are echoes around me of incomprehensible words spoken, sharp and hasty. They resonate in my skull, around and around.  I am bound, yet there are no ropes and there are no chains…

Sometimes a rusty iron ring emerges from a wall as though it were soft, and I reach out for it. But I slip on the pool of blood beneath my feet and

I cannot regain myself and

I slide around, unable to grip and unable to stand or even to pull myself to my knees amongst the maggots. Yes, there are maggots now, ok? Continue reading “Fragments of Dark: George”

Fragments of Dark: Julian

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Julian…

Call me dramatic, but there is a black, spherical void at my core. at least, I imagine it is black. The type of black that is so black, it misses the point of being black at all. And everything else that I am, all my solid matter, my emotion, my human soul, is constantly on the edge of falling in. My heart is particularly close, and the void darkens its vibrations, tainting it so that sometimes I think it has already fallen in and is now pumping the void around my body. My soul is dark too, from the void in me. It feels tortured that it should go on in this conscious host instead of being at one with the infinite void. My mind, I think, is not wholly convinced that the void is where the heart and soul should belong, but then my mind is tainted with human arrogance as well as eternal darkness.

Continue reading “Fragments of Dark: Julian”

Fragments of Light: A Forgotten Place

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There used to be a forgotten place where I could go to paint. The narrow, graffitied entrance was right beside a bookshop on a busy street, and led to a lift. The old gates screeched as I pulled them across, and travelling up in such a temperamental contraption in near darkness gave me the chills. At the top I would leave the gates open to prevent anyone from following, knowing fine well the only other way in or out was through the fire escape.

Up there it was like a home that had been left for nature to take. The door frames and bare floorboards were rotting, there was only natural light streaming through the tiny barred windows for all electrical fittings had been removed, and there was dust upon the dust. I would carry my bundle of sheets, my easel and my satchel of paints down the musty corridor and choose one of the rooms in which to take up residence for a few hours.

I was stuck in a melancholic depression in those days, and I somehow felt at home among the dilapidation. Being away from people and noise and brightness and commerce felt like a blessing. It took me to the oldest part of my soul, where I could directly experience my personal myth and boundless unconscious. I was free to express whatever I needed. I could throw paint around, I could meditate, I could make myself bleed, I could cry the truest of tears. I could be what I was when there was no one around, without being coloured by them. Without having their circles of influence and perception overlap with mine.

I stayed there just once overnight, with a sleeping bag and a candle-lit pumpkin in the autumn. In the unrivalled quietude I was haunted by the depth of emotion I had experienced during the day; it saturated my heart and soul. I stared into my painting and I saw in it something familiar, like a memory that had been long forgotten and suddenly come flooding back; a deep-seated memory that was ages older than me. I realised in that moment how small and insignificant I was as an individual; how humanity had been experiencing this memory beneath the surface for thousands of years.

Something indigo and covered with stars was coming through the broken ceiling. I felt ancient and wise and immaterial and filled with fear and love all at once. I felt so at home it scared me. I was removed from it all, I was free.

Nuit.

But I knew even then that I couldn’t stay in her arms, for then there would be no more paintings. I was addicted to the process, and I wasn’t ready to abandon that flow for anything.

But one day, when I’m done.

I know what awaits me in that forgotten place.

 

*****

Fragments of Light is a hand-bound, illustrated zine compiling short bursts of creative writing about magick and madness.

 

Fragments of Dark: Jesse

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Depression is not a dramatisation of how you feel when you lose your wallet. Depression is falling off the merry go round; and broken, bruised and dizzy looking back up at it wondering why you were on it in the first place. Despression is not immediately jumping back on, because from down here you can see the rickety mechanisms and the shady characters that operate it. From down here you can see that the shiny paintings and smiling faces are easily peeled away to show the cold grey metal underneath. The mirrors are not true reflections. From down here you can see the open space, the trees and the sky. All these things move much slower, and the more the dizziness wears off, the more beautiful and attractive they become. The faces and the hands reach out and try to pull you up onto your feet, but instead you slowly back away from the fairground and melt into nature…

 

Fragments of Dark is a hand bound, illustrated zine compiling short bursts of creative writing about depression and madness.

The Twenty-Four Hour Mind – Rosalind D. Cartwright

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Rosalind Cartwright is a leading sleep researcher, with expertise in behaviour and neuroscience. Her work has led to her becoming known as the ‘queen of dreams’ in her field. In this book she shares some of her theories and findings from laboratory tests and experiments with sleep patients.

Dreaming is a big area of interest for me, and although I largely subscribe to Jungian analysis I am always interested to keep up to date with new research on the subject. It is an area which, according to Cartwright, it is fairly difficult to obtain funding for, due to the application of knowledge about dreams in general being unproven, and being costly in terms of time and resources. The Twenty-Four Hour Mind describes why it is so important, and how furthering our understanding could be beneficial in the treatment of mental illness, behavioural problems, and even in law.

One of the most interesting sections of the book for me was the write up of some work the author did in exploring the link between depression and dreams. Cartwright follows the theory that dreams are part of our information processing function. While we sleep, our unconscious mind takes the new impressions received during the day and tries to match them to similar experiences in our memories. It is in effect filing things away for future use to keep the conscious mind current and clean. But when we become preoccupied with something, for example when a strong emotional impression is left by an event that is new to us, we can’t match it to anything and don’t immediately know what to do with the information. Continue reading “The Twenty-Four Hour Mind – Rosalind D. Cartwright”

Fragments of Dark: Jack

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The sound of the commuters starts at 6am, as surely as the sun will rise each day, but with more precision. The start of daylight and the commuters never quite coincides, you see. Sometimes the light will come first, sometimes after, but always the commuters at 6am.

The sound of acceleration, brakes, exhausts, horns, people calling to one another in aggressive tones. They’re always in a hurry, the commuters. Always in an integral daydream of purpose that cannot be broken.

I lie awake listening to them, watching the grey walls of my room. Well, they’re not so much grey as watered down versions of the colours the commuters see. When I was little I was given books containing thick black outlines of characters and scenes, which I was to cover in the water from a paintbrush to reveals light colourations. They were barely colours at all, but there was something satisfying about revealing them anyway.

My morning view is predictable. The wardrobe doors are still there, as are the radiator, the curtains, my lamp, and the cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. What is different is the shapes I see in the pleats of the curtains, the fall of the duvet and the lay of the laundry. I note these differences long after the sound of the commuters dies down into a steady buzz, and I imagine them settled into their respective roles as citizens.

Officially, I have a job like them. Sometimes I imagine myself sitting back at my desk in a brightly lit room, surrounded by chatter and nonsense and things to  think about other than the shadow cast by yesterday’s teacup. But in my room I am separate from all of that. I am safe and I am in my own head; not the heads of the commuters.

Mid-morning, when my back or hip or head starts to twinge, I sometimes venture into the hallway to glance at what post has arrived. Then I float into the kitchen to make a drink and pick up painkillers. Other times I will take painkillers from my bedside drawer without assistive liquid.

If it is a kitchen day, I will pass a collection of unfinished paintings I once created and be briefly upturned by the change in me that now inhibits such pursuits. I don’t like the paintings much anyway. It would be no bad thing if they were to be destroyed to take my small stamp upon the world away…

 

Fragments of Dark is a hand bound, illustrated zine compiling short bursts of creative writing about depression and madness.

Lanterns, they are

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It is the morning after
The dark night of the soul
Another orbit is complete
And sight has returned
Stronger now
All is projected outwards
All is reflected inwards
And lanterns they are

Powerful friendships showing themselves to me one by one.
Strength built from mutual respect and separate but shared inspiration.
Shapes that overlap but are ever in flux…

I adore unique people with ideas and passion. I will always forgive them for not pandering to me, pitying me or wallowing with me when I throw myself into the mouth of the shadow. Such is my art and my work. I love that they live their own lives and their light continues to shine whether I am there to see it or not. I love that they accept my movements in and out of their circles. They turn around on the dance floor to find me gone: they shrug and maintain the flow and the smile, not out of lack of care but out of utter acceptance. They look up from their sketchbooks and notepads and keyboards weeks later to see me back from my pit of depression and despair, and they continue the conversation as though it were never broken.

And I feel that it is ok to be among the blackness, because when I emerge my lanterns will be there.

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