Indian artist, Anjolie Ela Menon:

“I inhabit a place which I can share with no one for any length of time. This place is subterranean, remote and inaccessible. It is a lonely moonscape of my own making; trespassed upon by the occasional bird or animal, and the protagonist is often the person I yearn to touch, the person I long to be, or just me screaming to be let out!”

what does it look like, the realm of your creative spirit? that place you must descend into and travel in distinct solitude, without even the comfort of being able to point to it for someone else to glimpse, not even able to compose a postcard from within it. How do you know when it’s calling you? how do you gain entry? how do you keep yourself there despite the distracting topside world that screeches at you in a fury of abandonment?

For me, I know it by a poignant and sweet and unfixed melancholy and the way I am suddenly struck by an awareness of excruciating details about things in a kind of relief image to their usual ordinariness. But not in the form of ideas or logic or systems explaining themselves in my head – more visceral. Like I’m suddenly experiencing an ordinary moment exactly the way it would feel to read in a book but an exquisite book about something that matters to me. And I read it with my senses and translate in my being instead of with my eyes. The defined edges and solidity of my body that is normally a barrier between me and all of that dissolves into a softness and quiet. It feels as though if I move or make too much noise or let myself be distracted from it my body would become solid, dense and my senses filmy and clogged. Everything will go back to being hard, plain, ordinary. What has become bathed in this glow will go back to being one thing or another instead of the shimmer and mystery of being many things at once. The tingles and butterflies of unreality will firm up.

And I have to come out of it into the solid world eventually – a balance between the two is essential for getting anything meaningful done for me but, I have learned that it is essential to me to spend time in this place every day – I don’t have to do anything in particular there – though it is my best writing mood – but I have to dwell in it, experience my immediate surroundings from inside it or I dry up and wither. Because of that I cultivate a way of living that lets the slip into this space happen as naturally and often as possible. My huge windows and the singing of green and birds and the languid napping of my horde of cats, the rainbows that I tell seasonal time by, the way I set up my space and even the happy bi-coastal arrangement between me and my love are all trails that lead me into my dreamspace.

In this place, I also often meet with my council where they are not limited to words and conceptualizations to get their wisdoms across to me.

In the quote, Anjolie says: “the protagonist is often…who I long to be”. That’s why I need to go there. My art form is the cultivation of who I want to be and how I want to live. I need to ache with longing for that person so that the inspiration for my efforts is rich and steady. Growing yourself into yourself out of vast possibilities is my passion and it lives in this ‘moonscape’ like a haunting.

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