Hello, it's been ... what feels like an era.
A lot of the last year has felt like a time in which we strived to preserve our bodies and mental sanity. I remember the semblance of mornings and evenings slipping away from me in March of 2020, watching the world as we knew it turn on itself, from the safety and banality of my room. I remember my own self unable to grasp the information on my Instagram feed in the early days of contracting COVID, and how the promise of leaving my apartment in 20 days was the ultimate absolution of my plotline. It's been over a year since.
These days, with an emotional threshold that seems to expand with every headline, WhatsApp forward, Instagram story, and work emails titled 'sad demise', time (minutes, whiles, eras) itself feels subsumed by death - first my father's and now, every person that was loved and known by someone.
I didn't know then, how long this would be, or how entrenched my naiveties were in the belief that the worst was already present, and not yet to come. Now the world feels like a shadow of its previous self, and every day a new reckoning, an act of letting go of the same things over and over again: proximity, loved ones, precedented times.
Within my nostalgia sits the image of my friends dancing in a crowded club, my father taking my dog for a walk, travel that symbolized possibility (not fear). How much of this will I ever get back? How much of it is left to be had?
Each day, I peek into my loved one's lives through a screen, watching them sequestered in rooms and forming tiny planets of consciousness. The way ebbs and flows of friendship, romance, bodies, and intimacy have been interrupted by the pandemic resembles a heartbreak- a collective, unending heartbreak.
And then, there are parts of this pandemic that have etched themselves into these extremities: QR codes at restaurants, hand sanitizers in the doorway, the uselessness of face ID on my phone. Instagram itself becoming a boon and bane of representational realities, of incidents struggle to see but can't look away from. All this, in spite of the fact that we do not suffer equally - that infrastructural help and access to necessities still remain a distant reality for most in my country- obliviating the question of whether this pandemic's experience is collective or wildly singular.
Oh well, these are my thoughts and fears on the world that the internet is giving to me right now.
I have more, and hopefully this mountain quiet will ease them on paper.
Wishing you health, and safety.
— Rae Armantrout, Money Shot
Now, a poem and piece of art dedicated to my screen time being out of control:
Turn off your phone.
Place it, face down,
on cold sandstone: that oxblood-red back-step she buffed for sixty years.
past the well-kept lawn, its marrow stripes
while radio waves walk through walls,
bark, bone and steel: congregate to a signal.
Rest your eyes beyond the fence
on the trunks of birch that ebb into the wood.
Feel those white trees breathe.
The entropy of branch and leaf may offer some relief.
Whether they do or don’t,
after a time you must pick up your phone,
face its empty screen: turn it on again.
— Subhadassi, Turn Off Your Phone
— Peter Brown Hon
On creativity and burnout in turbulent times, by Akshita Sinha:
Linking this helpful article on overcoming art paralysis, courtesy of my sister who's been pushing me to write lately:
Also, this philosophy of roaming the Instagram universe in these difficult times:
These haunting thoughts on intimacy when intimacy is obscure:
❝It must be nice to wrap your arms around an unscathed body. It must be nice to wrap your tongue around every word in a song without also asking to bleed out on a sidewalk.❞— Hanif Abdurraqib, A Genealogy
❝Surely the world would be something to love / if it weren’t for us, insatiate, / our history of harm.❞— Stephen Dunn, Loves
❝I didn’t know how to look for courage inside myself. I didn’t know how to lean on my friends without either overwhelming them or pulling away from them. I didn’t know how to show myself to people slowly, building trust patiently. I wasn’t realistic about the fact that most people are pretty jumpy about being needed too much. I didn’t know how to believe in the future or in myself. I was very, very afraid, of everything.❞— ask polly
I made a Spotify playlist filled with love songs from another relationship (the songs are bomb! the man wasn't). It's called "ever ours" if you look it up on the app. It'll be authored by a srish.mp3.
Had a wonderful conversation on activism in relationships with incredible women, which I will talk about in the next newsletter.
My partner and I have been on a donation spree. Linking some credible organizations and fundraisers here. Try donating the equivalent of your swiggy, uber, and amazon bills. If not, please do amplify.
And lastly, this tweet:
As always, you can find more art & poetry on our website ~ unographymag.com