Angst of a failing expression

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 23 Oct 2018 10:06:24





By Vijay Phanshikar,







When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain; ...

- John Keats,
THIS is the grief, lament, angst of a genius. Yes, my brain is teeming with thoughts, ideas, sparkling expressions. And I struggle to capture all those -- in every possible nuance, in every manner I can. Yet, I realise my incapacity to do that more fully, more deeply. And I slip into depression, wondering if I could ever go the fullest distance to pick up and pen down every grain of that activity in my busy brain...!
This is not a lament easy to cope with, not easy to fathom even. For, the trauma it causes within, the spiritual torture it lets loose on the soul is not something one can be comfortable with. It is a trauma that really torments the inner being.
There often is an urge to pick up the pen, dip it into the thought-zone that is all along crowded with ideas that jostle with one another to tumble out. Yet, some times the words fail, and on other times emotions
jumble up and end up in a mess. That is a poet’s grief, a painter’s failed brief, or a musician’s truant with notes. Whatever its nature, whatever the art form, whatever the need or whatever the occasion, the feeling that I cannot capture those almost divine moments is unmitigatedly traumatic. If John Keats had not felt it, it would have been a wonder -- of sorts.
Of course, out of those torments emerges various expressions of art or of literature, of prose or poetry or essays or satires of a
classic variety. There may be people who can keep doing things thoughtlessly,
purposelessly. But then, John Keats does not belong to that macabre category. He is tormented, traumatised, tortured as he is gripped by the fear that he may not be able to capture the frenetic activity in his brain and convert it into poetic or meaningful words that will carry on their shoulders certain unspoken, divine metaphor.
That is a difficult process when the teeming brain wishes to empty itself out, but there are no words -- as in John Keats’ case -- to complete the circle of expression. That
unexpressed metaphor, that scattered idea that the words fail to assemble in an ensemble is very troubling, to say the least. The world has known Michelangelo, for example, roaming the nightly streets in search of ways to capture a tormenting idea through the brush. On one such night, when a friend accosted him, the great artist, in one of his foulest moods, said angrily, in effect, “Get out of my way, you brute. You just thwarted an idea entering my being!”
This has happened to all geniuses, especially on the art front. Of course, the sciences, too, have seen such moments time and again. For, when he struggled with his grasp of the vast, limitless universe and its physical definitions he sought to finalise, Einstein, too, lost his cool when an acquaintance just said “Hello” to him. For, at that precise moment, when he was about to capture a deep principle of physics in words and a formattable idea, the friend stood in the way ...!
When the teeming brain waits to have its doors opened into the zone of human
creativity, when it is afraid of bursting at seams in an overcrowded labyrinth, and when words fail at that precise moment, frustrations mounts so much that a John Keats fears that I may cease to be ...!
The world of ideas, the world of words, the world of arts, the world of sciences all the time dwell under the fear of incapacity to capture the essence of thought that is raging inside the teeming brains.
But perhaps, even in that torture, people of John Keats’ category must be finding a sense of romance, a burning one though.