Tag Archives: Depression

Gonzo

“last man standing after an all night drinking marathon” Bill Cardoso, 1970

Hunter S. Thompson’s disparaging innuendoes have me all hot and bothered. Sometimes, you gotta live it to love it. Last man standing, yes? Here we go again. Coherence be damned.

After a half-night of incoherent, inarticulate boozing and a morning of colorful dreams accompanied with a massive headache, I can’t help thinking of Thompson and his suicide. Considering that my evening began with talk of a friend’s suicide, it makes sense. Was I resentful? Did I feel anger? I think I was broken a little. My friend lived the myth, right to the very end. I wish you love.

Visual artists of Pakistan, where are we headed? One of us gave in and ended his life. One can attribute personal disorders to such behavior and shove it under the carpet. I refuse to let it go. We are all responsible. I claim responsibility. I claim friendship and love. I claim empathy. It has been 2 years. I don’t think I can ever forget.

The myth (the goddamned myth) comes and bites us in the ass, yes? Am I fighting the myth or living it? How can I dissect something without objectivity? How can I be objective when I am so deeply immersed? Oh the burden of pop culture. It weighs me down.

Sometimes, nothing can be done. However, I get this nagging feeling that saying that, or thinking it even, is the easy way out. Perhaps I am too emotionally invested? Maybe I need to quit blaming myself and everyone else. But that again, is only natural. Maybe in a few years, I will come to terms with the entire business and have something more intelligent to say about it. Though, I doubt if one can ever be intelligent about the loss of a friend.

Meanwhile, I keep watching them as they live out their fiction and I live mine. Fiction is often the best fact – just like Thompson said. Just like he said.

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I’m a Fraud

Yeah. That I am.

Update: I almost deleted this post today because it was too depressing. But I’ve decided to keep it as a reminder of how terrible things can get sometimes. However, on a brighter note, I don’t feel like a fraud anymore. Defeat generally makes you reconsider and gives you more to draw about. Also, I’d never ever let my students down. No matter what. 

This blog was meant to be about my art practice. I suppose my life is an integral part of that practice. Anyway, my life is in shambles but I try to channel it into my art-making practice. Sometimes, I just end up with shit.

Being depressed does give me an opportunity to make pointless drawings and to play out pointless fantasies (usually involving Andy Warhol endorsing my awesomeness) but it does make me feel like a fraud. There. I’ve said it. I feel like a fraud.

The past few years have been no walk in the park and I figured if I could make the stress go away, I’d come out clean and shiny with all my energy intact. However, that was another fantasy that didn’t quite work out. Sometimes, it feels like I’m working on a drawing which refuses to “resolve” to anything that I could put up. Gloom and doom. I remember a time which felt something like this and I never thought it would happen again. But unfortunately, it has and there seems to be nothing I can do about it except wait it out and see what happens and all that crap.

I have these beautiful young people who look up to me and that usually makes me feel wonderful and useful. Now I just feel like a complete fraud. How can I help them when I’m such a mess? If they knew how helpless I am, would they still care about what I say? Today, I made a wonderful child blurt out her story by insisting that I could understand. And I could. But have I resolved my stupid problems? How can I dare to be anything other than a failure? How can I dare to even try to help? I am a fraud.

But, I can be brave. I think I still remember what that is.

Smack My Bitch Up

the woods

by Nadia Batool Hussain on Saturday, April 7, 2007 at 2:26am

it started with the eclipse, with how kissing a man and marrying a man are very different things, with neruda, with tears on the early train, legs brushing on strange legs, gloved hands and sitting on the floor. but then the keys were misplaced. and we got lost. and then we found it. the finger bridge. the hot chocolate. navigating the slippery rocks in trusty boots. gurgling stream – or was it the river? i am not a nature girl. we were looking for something in the woods. a story? then began the telling and the listening. the diner. the cemetary. sprinkles and jimmies. more words for my brain. if only i didn’t feel so sick.

The internet is a funny place. It documents life in a way. All those years ago, I was looking for something. In those faraway lands, right here at home – I was looking for something. We’re all looking for something.

In my quest, I found a lot of pain. No, this is not a sentimental journey into the past. This is a frank self-evaluation. If you’re not interested, nobody is forcing you to read on. Why so glum, chum? I ask myself a lot these days. Everyone makes mistakes but some of us make more than their fair share. We make the mistakes you can overlook on a good day. Our hearts and our minds are carried away by kindness. And then, when kindness is replaced with what lies under it, we are disappointed. And then we are marked with yet another scar. All of this is almost self-inflicted. We allow and so, we deserve.

And here I am, so many years later wondering if indeed I am masochistic. Nothing new here, people. I’ve talked and written about this too many times. But am I masochistic? Are we all masochists? Do we enjoy this miserable game? I look around me and all I see is suffering and insecurity. As somebody told me recently, these are difficult times for us all.

On another note, there has to be more to life than just this crap. That’s what I tell myself every day. My art practice is almost at a standstill. My health has deteriorated. Work is weird. Everything seems to be falling apart. Even the aunties have quit their aunty-ness. This is all so depressing.

But there is something…perhaps a new obsession which is difficult to define at the moment. It is absolutely illogical in the context of “real life” and makes no sense if I think about it too much. However, it has given me more inspiration than anything else for a long time. That got me thinking about the practice of art-making. Maybe the whole idea of muses was closer to the truth than I thought. Who knows? In constructing my own reality, I can do anything. And isn’t that what I do? I construct reality and then show it to other people. For some reason, they’re interested in looking. That part of art-making has always pleased me a great deal. People like to look. As long as its worth looking at, I suppose.

Sometimes when people tell me that they “don’t get art” I want to smack them. What’s there to get? Why do they expect profundity? Why can’t they just look and let it tell them about a new world somebody else constructed just for their viewing pleasure (or their own viewing pleasure). In this brave new world, where we “share” everything – our thoughts, ideas, pictures and emotions, what’s the harm at looking at some artwork and just – looking? Why do people expect some profound statement in a picture? I have to admit it frustrates me.

hand touching hand

Many years ago, in another world, I was manning the coffee station at a wedding at the Racquet Club, Philadelphia (wearing my sweet black bowtie) and the wedding singer did a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” – the following lines got stuck in my head:

Hands, touching hands, reaching out
Touching me, touching you

Those were good times indeed. I had been on my feet for 10 hours but I felt alright. That’s where this drawing came from. Those were good times, yearning for that feeling – but it was a good yearning. That’s where my artwork comes from. Life and those moments when songs or people get stuck in my head. Is that so profound? It is something we all know.

Heart On My Sleeve

Yes - my bleeding heart.

So, I wear my heart on my sleeve. Sometimes, I wear my sleeve on my heart but those times don’t really count. Here I am, at work, done with everything and waiting for the powers that be to put their fancy approvals on my hard work and my stupid soul. Also, with the state of the great and powerful force that governs this pure, pure land, one can never be sure what’s around the corner. Anything can happen.

The HEC has been devolved. Maybe I didn’t love their equivalence department so much because they were rude morons but eventually I got what I deserved. Now I feel bad about the whole thing. They’re still better than the rest. And what the hell does “devolved” mean anyway?

Devolve:

1. Pass on or delegate to another.

2. Grow worse.

Synonyms include: degenerate and deteriorate. Wow, really. Those are the words that define everything that is happening. But maybe I’m just depressed. Maybe something will make sense eventually.

I do realize that I took them for granted.

As for the esteemed organization where I work and bleed and sweat – well, what can I say? There is suddenly a complete confusion in the administration. Nobody seems to know who we’re under anymore. The devolution of most of the ministries has left us suspended in a vortex of confusion and misinformation.

Coming back to my stupid bleeding heart: I trusted them all. I trusted the establishment to be an establishment. Or something. I trusted people – in the sense that they were like me and they actually wanted to work. I trusted the system to atleast provide the basics. I trusted that there would BE a system. I was a fool. I was naive beyond reason. Is this bitterness? Is this regret? I’m not sure. As a young assistant professor, what am I supposed to do? Who and what am I supposed to rely on? As an acting (well, I’m not sure if I am acting or if I am the real deal) department head, what am I supposed to do for my department? For my institution?

The only hope I have is as a teacher. I can let my students hope for something better. But would I be misleading them? This is my bitterness talking. I feel sick to my stomach. The powers that be, the great governance, the pure overlords – well, they can do whatever the fuck they want and all I can do is flail uselessly or stitch up my stupid mouth while my stupid heart breaks over and over again.

The Virtue of Selfishness

A friend sent me a link to the preview of Atlas Shrugged a few nights ago on Facebook (ah Facebook) and I remembered my frantic joy when I read The Fountainhead. I have yet to see this film when it comes out and I don’t know what to expect since I haven’t read the book. But the philosopy of Objectivism is very interesting.

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

-Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

From Wikipedia: Objectivism is a philosophy defined by the Russian-American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand (1905–1982). Objectivism holds that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive and deductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness or rational self-interest, that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in laissez faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform man’s widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form—a work of art—that he can comprehend and to which he can respond emotionally.

Isn’t that how things are now? Or at least, how things are expected to be? Aren’t we encouraged (by some who are supposed to matter) to live and let live? Aren’t we encouraged to discourage government coercion? Aren’t we encouraged to be individuals and to live our lives in the pursuit of happiness? Aren’t we supposed to spend hours comprehending and interpreting art? Artists struggle to understand themselves, their art-practice, their art-work, the world around them…and then they struggle to get all that across to others. It’s all we do. In fact, sometimes it makes us crazy.

What indeed is my stance on Objectivism? I have been fairly interested in it since I read The Fountainhead. No, I was extremely interested in it and then with time, I became fairly interested. I was reading this article I found online last night by David Kelly, titled Art and Ideals and I really enjoyed myself.

Some anthropologists argue that the appearance of art reflects a significant advance in human cognitive development—the emergence of a spiritual capacity in our species, the final stage in the evolution of the human mind. Although that is a speculative thesis, it is a plausible one, for art does satisfy needs that arise from our unique cognitive capacity: the ability to think in abstractions.

And:

Art is the most powerful means of creating embodied abstractions. In art, we can experience perceptual objects and worlds that achieve an extraordinarily rich meaning through the artist’s work of selecting his subject and shaping the work to embody his vision. In the hands of a master, artistic creation can provide the most complex, the most precise, the most subtle, the most evocative—in short, the most powerful and effective—form of embodied abstraction.

Yes. That does make me feel a lot better about things. It’s a positive approach.

 Ayn Rand noted that a moral ideal is: almost impossible to communicate without the assistance of art. An exhaustive philosophical treatise defining moral values, with a long list of virtues to be practiced, will not do it….There is no way to integrate such a sum without projecting an actual human figure—an integrated concretization that illuminates the theory and makes it intelligible.

The use of the human figure here is debatable but the general idea is pleasant. This is mostly because I have been depressed for a while and brooding in my confusion (and making an ass of myself).  I’ve decided its better to find ways to justify my existence than to pine for enlightenment.

L-L-Lies

When the world ends, collect your things…you’re coming with me…

Such lies.

I’d like to believe in all the good things in art but sometimes, it is so difficult. In this cynical world, nihilism runs amuck and the future is always bleak and depressing. What am I to do? What am I to believe in anymore? I was thinking back (bad idea) and I realized that I always had something to look forward to. Now, all I see is a weary nothing. The butterflies in my stomach are all dead.

I can blame all the schmucks in the world but that isn’t really going to help much. I can’t even blame the dumb aunties. How depressing is that?

On another note, I have started working again. I can’t stop looking at pictures of the human anatomy and working from that. Nothing new there. When in doubt, I always regress to former obsessions. Nothing makes me happier than staring at gory photographs and illustrations of the insides of a human body.

My Ailing Fecundity

Shake me like a monkey. Didn’t they say Rembrandt had sold his soul to the devil? This is embarrassing. I’ve never been lacking when it comes to making and here I am, miserable in my lack of creativity. There is nothing at all in my head. Even my little victory (I did get tenured by the HEC after an epic battle with their evil forces) means little in the face of this adversity. Which means little considering the ministry’s ban on new appointments – so it’s not even a real victory. Even so…

I have been missing for a while. I have been down and out. I’ve been diseased and depressed. That plane crash hurt me very badly. And then watching the terrible flood videos on TV made it worse. Then I got the flu. I still have it and all I can do is watch episodes of Fringe back to back while I lie in bed.

I think I’ll go away for a while.