Wednesday, August 30, 2017

On inspiration and social anxiety

  Recently many people ask me where do I get my inspiration from. The question more than reasonable, as these days I mostly write fiction, and I focus on regular creative writing exercises that serve me best. Few years ago I would have given a very elaborate answer to that: I would be talking about all thoughts that come to me as I pass the streets, looking at all buildings, blue sky, how strangers on the train evoke me a story. This time the answer is way easier: inspiration comes to me, like to most people in the world, in silence. Preferably in calm, slow paced environment of my own bed alongside the feeling that there is nothing in this world that I have to do right now.
There are few things that can enhance your inspiration. Such as a stable dayjob, that you do not hate, a peace of mind and the lack of internet. There is probably no need to explain the blessing influence of the first two, so I would like to focus on the latter. You see, Internet makes me socially aware. And as I am naturally socially awkward, the access to the window to the world makes me feel totally exposed. One click on Google icon and I am no longer alone.
I guess there is more people around for whom the constant connection to the Internet is a source of social anxiety. Dont’ get me wrong- it’s not only social media. It’s the feeling of being constantly connected, available, exposed to any information that might pass through the digital channel; it’s the feeling like someone was creeping behind your back, watching your every move.
And so to speak, social anxiety is a number one enemy of the inspiration of any kind. Most writers admit that they are at their best in their own bed, not so say desk (if you live in London, you know that a decent desk is a luxury one shall not be dreaming about). Straying from the theme of writers’ inspiration: the inspiration of any kind. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, let’s focus on example of thinking activity. Every person thinks. Now connect all of your devices to the Internet and try to think. The shadows of your family and friends will be creeping out from every direction, and all those information you were searching for seven years ago with no purpose at all now becomes available. Is your thought still roaming freely? Expand this image- now picture yourself, with all your connected devices in a busy coffee shop where you’re endangered to meet all your neighbours. Someone in the queue looks like your former colleague you failed to contact over the past few months. Your email inbox lies wide open before you, ecouraging you to insure a car that you don’t have and sign a petition on something you have no idea about, while the radio bombards you with the recent weather podcast. Now let me ask you once again: what is your inspiration?
The need of being alone with our own thoughts is a vital part of any creative process. From the point of view of your poor, supressed individuality any human contact, whether direct or indirect, is an unnecessary distraction. It’s creativity that prevents us from becoming a part of a herd. The feeling of social anxiety reminds us that a human is, first of all, an individual. We believe we ought to fight it in the society that pressures us to be a part of a larger body, appealing to our need of belonging. Maybe nowadays one needs to ask themselves, if feeling socially anxious is not a cry of some inner self, the call for individual development. Afterall, we are all imprisoned inside our minds, and we only ourselves we possess truly. And maybe that’s why the real inspiration can only come from within. If we dare to listen to it.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

One-off Summertime

 She would be telling this story to George Noskov, surrounded by empy coca-cola cans. To George, the one she used to call a misogynist, a lunatic, sometimes a dreamer. She will regret all that she said after his death, or rather all the other things that she didn't say. Especially that she would never tell that story to anybody else, because who would like to listen to so ordinary a story, so sad, so elusive that it seems to be untrue. But she doesn't care whether anyone believes it or not, for there is no way to tell it the way it was, with all the smells, the colours, the music it brought, the wind it brings when it comes back. Anyway, it doesn't matter if someone understands it, as there is no more such summer, and it never will be. That one was the only one, a one-off summer in the world, and it has already passed away, not leaving anything which could be picked up by someone else. It was only her who could understand, her and somebody else, another her in another part in the world. You see, once a time, one summer, two girls simultaneously had fallen in love. A blonde and a brunette, born only few weeks apart, only few miles away. For neither of them it was the first time, but all the loves are the only ones in the world for their own summertimes. Years later, only one of them will remember. 
 The feeling which will come along with it will be like a memory of a time loop. She won't be talking about it, as it is not a memory which might fit into today's reality. Only sometimes she will be wondering if it still exists, that bench outside the old bus station in Bristol, if any trace of her memory still sits there, awaiting. 
 The other girl will be getting married. She will change the spelling of her name- it used to sound Russian, now it's just a name. On a picture she will stay just as beautiful and untouched, like experiences had gone past her, not leaving a mark on her shoulder, no trace on her face. She will look happy. 
 Or maybe it is because they have lived so many miles apart for so many years, they both appear to each other just as images, faces from the past, and they cannot relate to each other anymore. Or perhaps for both of them, the summer wind has never stopped, and there will always be parts of them, paused within a loop of one-off summertime. Perhaps.
 The memory will bring them together on one evening, seven years and hundreds miles away. It would be one of them looking for the other, and the second one answering within seconds. Through all these years they have not grown indifferent or unaware of each other, like their souls were right there, waiting outside the loop. In their paused smiles on old photographs, for a moment, they will find a way to resume their one-off summertime, and to be drawn back, like it was all they've been ever waiting for.

 The story is a piece from my new short story, not yet completed, but just a sketch as I am trying to get back on track with writing. Soon I am to start an online creative writing course. Join me in this journey!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Political beings. Lost ethics of political involvement.

 Few years ago, when my dear grandfather was still alive with relief he proclaimed racism and xenophoby to be finally dead. He said, with true conviction, that such hatred had its roots in people's ignorance and simple lack of education, and will never find the place in modern world where people travel and have first-hand experiences with other cultures. Unfortunately for my late grandfather, with the whole love and respect I cultivate for him, I have to admit he could have not been more mistaken. 

 It is worth saying that the world my grandfather remembered, with all its possible cruelty and divisions, was the world which more than anything valued education. Although it was an often biased education, vastly preaching injustice and white supremacy, it also opened the door to the old science of ethics and philosophy, encouraging the whole generation to rebel and stand up against what they once learned. It is no wonder that for a person of such background it was difficult to accept the values of the new world, where science and philosophy have been successfully replaced by politics. One can argue that the renaissance of the old Greek term of polis reflects the awakening interests of individuals in public life and brings up private units to the true engagement in social change. It might have been long obvious that politics, no matter how distant they appear from the daily lives of the commoners, has direct influence on the course of our destinies, as unveiled by author Milan Kundera, who often presented his characters as heroes of their own 'small histories', sooner or later interrupted by the 'great history', which has no consideration for individual's agenda. Nevertheless, the opportunities to connect with different platforms of experiences and opinions, have led us to a live confrontation with such matter, making us not only feel swallowed up by a global machine of world's political systems, but also aware of the benefits we might draw from it as vital parts of those systems. It would be too much of a conclusion to say that the Internet bears sole responsibility for the expansion of our private matters onto a global platform, especially after decades of the modern world driven by the idea of political and systematical unity, but the accessibility of mass media is, at  least partially, certainly to blame. Never before an entity had so much connection with decisive process of political order of the world as it has nowadays. Even if such connection in reality remains only an illusion, it is still enough to give another dimension to the political side of our lives. The accessibility of opinion-sharing plaforms and switch from private to social are essential agents in shaping whole new range of definitions of qualities until now existing only within comfort zone of the individual, juxtaposing our systems of beliefs next to the global political system, which for a private entity becomes nothing else but a ladder.
 I am straying from open evaluation whether the globalization of our private lives is right or wrong for humanity (this is a job for ethics, sociologists and media experts and I am neither), but I stretch that it brings a whole new quality of political activism and exposes us to social involvement in a way we have never experienced it before. Especially that wide spread politicization of our private matters corresponds with underlying needs of millennials- our ancestors vastly had opportunity to gain first hand experience of the 'great history', by fighting the wars and engaging in revolutions, while our generation has been long forced to accept the role of the history mostly through struggle with economical crisis and instability. Modern media, being so easily within reach, brought us opportunity to have our piece of cake of the real force driving the world, even only by sharing our opinion on social media, which replaced the famous spot in Hyde Park. But even if we can envy our ancestors their vital involvement in shaping world's history, in reality they remained mere participants of the events determined by real players. For us, unjustly treated and forgotten by the great mother history, it is a matter of standing face to face with our new god- the mighty order, the Olympus of decision making, offering us a principle role in the process, and fulfilling such role is another step on the ladder. The milestones of our lives no longer stand for private achievements, as the meaning of the individual is strongly connected with their position in global political order. Hence the politicization of our beliefs and terms, which in a private space might be seen as universal. 

 Once the global politics start driving our life through a promise of social advancement, temptation of catching a finger of the 'great history' replaces the value of retriving to a personal space and political dictionary is being adopted in place of terms describing individual freedoms and beliefs. Revealing our private persona requires political statement and creates definition, which further exists to be associated with sub-terms and sub-definitions, to later contribute to a creation of new, political being which is meant to maintain their integrity while living within reality of chants, statements and slogans. (At that point I start wondering if being an anarchist does not stand in conflict with living in Islington.) Such political creature will now measure their value against other creations, to whom they apply other qualities and definitions approved by global political system. These qualities are based on certain criteria agreed by the sides of the system: personal documents of the individual, educational and ethnic background as well as material status. Based on that criteria, political beings are divided into teams, where the strongest team will defend the global system which allows them to proceed further up the ladder. The engagement in system soon will create strong sense of 'us' against 'them'- enemies of the system, which by now has already replaced the system of beliefs. This kind of division is nothing new: in past it had successfully evolved into slavery, apartheid and Holocaust to name the few and has been widely practised during colonialism and civil wars across centuries. The modern engagement in political system is different because the globalization of our lives gives us the illusion of participation in creative process and, maybe first of all, the illusion of choice. Staying connected and having the opportunity to see contemporary political agenda from different angles brings us to the point when we choose to participate in the system in exchange for the benefits it proposes, which seem to be rightly deserved by someone who remains a faightful participant of the global system and, as it seems, actively helps shaping it. A political being, once convinced they form the part of the strongest team, is no longer bothered to rewrite once accepted categories. They will continue climb the social ladder, empowered by empty terms from political dictionary, which are telling them that it is exactly what they deserve. And that is why my poor grandfather was so wrong.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A simple ode to my face

 To all those concerned about my recent disappearance, do not worry, I haven't grown narcissist. It's just that I realized that with my online disappearance, there was something else that had disappeared a long time ago, something I have been trying to erase with premeditation. My face. 

 It  came to me as sudden awakening one usual day on the train, after many dazy nights dedicated to study and busy days committed to my both equally important jobs. 
 We have abandoned our faces, let them leave us embarrassed, and we've grown apart from them, like estranged family members. We don't look at them, we don't study them, although they are more ours than anything else, aand they are the last images able to remind us who we are. Our plain selves are not something we want to cultivate, as in comparison with beautiful images surrounding us, we want them to fade, to leave us alone, and stop reminding us of our imperfection. Our faces every morning remind us how unfit we are for the modern market. How do they not comply with the internationally accepted definition of 'the desired', so wanted and so to be chased.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Dear George. Open letters to friends.

 There is nothing more both tragic and ironic than a writer, being a writer of their own story. Or rather looking at their life as at a story, or mutiple stories one after another, often without an end nor beginning. Tragic, I used to think, as these stories often have no purpose, they are an elusive creation, shaped to last only for a minute, for example, during a one-off ride on the escalators. Writing a novel of your life without inspiration. And without any chances for premature appreciation.
 My friend George Noskov knew it. He more than anyone else understood this sickness of being one experiences while walking around the streets with no purpose, writng their own story, seeking and reaching forward to hold it, the way it smells, the way it sounds. I was thinking about it while sitting at George's desk in one winter afternoon, and reviewing pages of his diary-style short story. Of course, if I can even call him my friend, as he died long time before I reached the age of consent.
Here I was. Sitting at the desk a deadman once sat, reading his story so close to mine, his story so tragic and ironic. I used to think bad things about George when I first heard of him. And I owe him some apology. He would, probably, like no one else, understand the higher purpose, for I keep searching for a friend to walk with me around Covent Garden, with no success. No one likes walking without a reason. People don't like walking in general, but you George, were not just like other people.

 How would it be, George, if you were still here. If we came to share this desk, would we be colleagues? Would we become lovers? Or maybe just good friends, sharing long discussions about Russian poetry, and why we both don't like Pasternak. 'Doctor Zhivago' is a poorly written novel, as you claimed, reading my mind once again. Or maybe we would argue even more than once, if it came to Sonya Marmeladova, and you would repeat again while taking a sip of coffee: 'a whore is just a whore'. And nevertheless, I would admire your hunger for life, always nevertheless, and your reluctance to ever compromise. We could both curse the era of technology, and complain about those around us who understand nothing. 

 But ironically, the only thing I have left from you is your diary, carelessly left on your desk for all these years. I was asking for your picture, but no one has been storing any. I have to tell you though, you haven't been forgotten. Just yesterday I was reading your scripts, shame on you, George, that this is all you left us. With these few words, how to we keep talking? One day your story will be over, written, finished and stored in archives, until one day another person comes to take over your desk, and opens your diary, to release the magic of your world again. 

 Beacuse you see, dear George, I am writing to you today in need for a friend. The one you can sometimes argue with, and it changes nothing. The one you can admire and contradict at the same time. I am looking for a friend who would walk with me, right now, around Covent Garden with a can of Red Bull, with no purpose. Dear George, shall we?

 *I have gone a bit quiet for a while due to overthinking the whole shape of the blog. However, next chapter of The Journey to Yesterday will be released this weekend.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

On the run- Looking for Yesterday

 A Journey to Yesterday- story in chapters. Chapter 1

Back in Yesterday I had a dreamy flashback of a perfect morning: it was in some coffee shop, with a full cup of course, starting to write and feeling just so fresh and full of energy. Somehow, it was purely a flashback to the wonderland as it's 2016 and it still basically never happened. But since I still see it, like I once saw it Yesterday, I am packing my bag and run out on a mission: I'm looking for Yesterday! Anybody out there wants to help me?

 Recently I have undergone a lot of changes which not necessarily served me well in a matter of 'future'. To be frank, I stopped writing even my personal diary. There is this space in between whatever's in your head and a piece of paper. What's in this space, sometimes turns to be hard to chew. In regards to whatever had been happening in my head, I regularly practise mindwriting. And on some level, it works just as fine as if one had swallowed three bottles of whisky and finished it off with a pack of Gauloises. Oh, and RebBull of course, always RedBull. 

 But mostly mindwriting has one quality none other activity really has: it brings up images which had been previously deeply buried and forgotten. I had this flashback while walking through Drury Lane some other day: suddenly I saw faces of two of good friends of mine next to me, laughing and crossing the street towards Holborn Station. The point is, I have never been there with these particular friends, surely not at that time of the year either that time of the day. Then I realised that mindwriting can be dangerous: it may actually bring over the memories of somebody else. 

 Thrilled by my recent discovery, I decided to jump onboard of a time machine and find my real Yesterday. I was hoping it was going to simply lay down behind some corner of my mind, resting and waiting for resurrection. But the truth, my dear readers, turned to be more complicated. As usual. 
 After crossing several avenues of my mind, I finally reached the door of Mr Frank. I kept repeating myself that if he still keeps compulsively holding his nail file I would just leave. But Frank, my once regular imaginary therapist, opened the door wearing a fluffy dressing gown and slippers that he got from Mr Charming for Christmas five years ago. He seemed much more calm and collected, and a steady smile on his face made me thinking that he might have overdosed his incense sticks fumes. But he seemed to be also happy to see me and at the same time, not surprised at all. Maybe he had been also thinking of Yesterday, of old times when he has become created in my mind, before I offered him an independence from my imagination. Although, he did not seem to get carried away by being an autonomous unit- his apartment was just as tidy as it used to be and his favourite armchair was still in the same place where I put it. He offered me a cup of tea, and almost everything seemed like an old Frank, the Frank of Yesterday. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

There used to be a funhouse- a memoir

 I always had a feeling that the new year somehow starts in February. You see, I ought to hate Januaries. Simply detest them with no reason, treating them as something unnatural and lacking a specific shape. Maybe that is why celebrating Chinese New Years always came to me as rather handy. Especially this year, which is, indeed, the year of a monkey. Making it my year and the same time, the fourth year of existence of Monkey Seduction.

 So where is the meaning? Let's go back, my dear readers, to where it started. To Shoreditch, next to an old-school butchery shop, to the place which no longer exists. I have done this trip myself a week ago. I was staring at empty windows and a door which is no longer that door, trying to recall endless cigarettes smoked in this passage, between one article and another. The office of my first internship, and my first position as a writer. This is where the idea of Monkey Seduction has begun, as  tool to help me familiarize myself with wirtten English, to become what it is now: my last exit to paradise, my ultimate place of a miracle which did not happen. My Monkey Seduction, a medicine for my soul. There used to be a funhouse, this place in my memory, long evenings-nights with bottles of Desperados, and London, so modern and so so of nowadays, as some of us even has smartphones already, and Youtube was just so cool. There used to be a place to belong, and an illusion of creation, elusive, buried, done, thrown out. 

 But this is not meant to be a sentimental goodbye, but a stubborn 'go ahead', without a care for grammar, wthout any clear explanation. Chased by a black force through the streets of London which used to be my love (oh London, the one I wrote so many peoms to!), I escaped the magma of their evil fingers to what I thought I knew. The memories, the start, the hope. The hope which was still there where I left it, can you believe it, on a shelf at vintage clothing shop. I used to visit this shop on my way back from work. Now, four years after, the shop is still there. And the place, which used to be so much of a place, is no longer there. Has turned to the eternal feeling of detachment serving to me every morning. 

 Then I left the shop, once again torn and detached, with a cigarette in my hand. In my pocket, there was my lost hope reclaimed from the second hand outlet, and on the back of my coat- a shadow of black force, restless. I looked at it through my left shoulder. I smiled. I am, indeed, not yet given up.