Thursday, March 01, 2012

A Literature of Flame

There are Singapore nights when light pollution is oddly absent, when star-fires fill the sky and when clear winds soar, lifting musing thoughts into darkness, into mystery. Perhaps one would look at a star, deceptively youthful, yet an echo of ancient fire before the ages of humanity. Stretching forth, one could reach across space to touch a star, or vision a vastness exceeding the worlds. Our quivering spirits can encompass infinity; yet remain very much, ourselves.

If imagination is the prophet sight of some inner spirit, then what it fathoms, it could also perceive?

But we doubt. For into our cramped death-bound lives, far mystic oceans send messenger ships of thought-woven sails into harsh obliterating light—silent heralds into a marketplace crowded with bustle and worthless priceless wares. Only in Silence can we sometimes hear the stirrings of Angels’ wings.

And thus the spectacle of life unfolds in high darkness—a cosmic cinema effusive with scenes of brief pains and briefer joys, dramas of prolonged anguish, music of strange lasting content dancing with the rushing of life’s winds. Life—built on death, a splendor-song reaching for joy, an impermanent raft sailing on a white river stretching into eternity.

The wheel spins and ages change. Beauty dies, and rises again in whirling fire, then sinks once more. And we seek the purpose of the dance.

But at some point, by a blue sea, we may hear a Call. And we voyage within, like miners hunting for diamond-beams of mysterious bliss. Materialistic ideology tells us that man is a limited creature compacted of unknowing mud, wondrously contrived by processes meaningless and blind—limited in knowledge, in existence, in joy. Yet when one journeys into the deep caves of self, one may find essential radiance. From above, a gesture of Grace and a torrent of fire; from within, a diamond sight and abysmal sweetness. From around, Angels' wings enfolding space, their robes of glory flickering. From beyond, ancient Beings of pure spirit, reigning in silence.

If literature is fundamentally about the exploration of man, of his nature, experiences, sufferings and promise, then we cannot neglect the art of the infinite. If transfiguration be humanity’s fate, then even on its level plains, literature must be a beacon of dawn. On royal peaks, literature should incarnate Flame.

Thus do we craft characters who walk with mortal pace, or characters shining with aureole light, luminous forerunners of humanity’s far promise? There are surely already enough exemplars of the former.

In my series on prehistoric Atlantis, I sought to portray a humanity set aflame by spirit-stuff. Atlantis was a civilisation of light, yet one of poignant tragedy. Of Eleven and their few followers who soared high to the mountain of God, but who cannot incarnate the Flame.

In this series, the Atlantean nation was the child of primeval Seers who ascended into 'the True, the Right and the Vast'. Through the Word and the Sacrifice, they opened the doors of the flaming planes - they entered into the 'Overmind ' and the 'Supermind'. Through them, the path of the Shaman had reached its luminous end. Yet these great men and women, eleven of them, found no way to bring down the Truth. Their ascent could not be followed by a full and all-conquering descent, and Death remained the King of the world.

Yet their conquest of the Planes had brought them immense power. With their disciples, they began a mighty weaving of the archetypal forces of the Overmind, riveting their Work with the summit creations of their Art: the Atlantean Stones. Through this 'overmental creation', they massively reduced the influence of Death and darkness, and brought the divine Powers close to the earth. Atlantis became an isle ringed by divine Fire. Thus did the Eleven cleared the way for their descendants, making it relatively easy for them to attain the rare gifts of spiritual and occult knowledge. Hence began the transformation of Atlantis into a civilisation of splendour, a land of gnosis, a culture where the manifold works of beauty flourished and are one.

Imperfect the Atlanteans may be, but they did not, like us, live impoverished lives of seeming opulence. The highest of them lived close to a sun of everlasting splendor; the middling folks were free citizens of inner realms whose doors are barred to most today. Even the lowest and most materially engrossed enjoyed capacities of intellect, perception and strength that were well above our average. It was a civilisation where Wisdom, whether intellectual, spiritual and occult, reached heights that were rarely approached again in the last twelve thousand years. It was a nation where Art ascended fiery peaks and descended flaming into every valley of life.

Atlantis was a burning luminosity revealing a face of the integral Divine. The Atlantean Flame is a many-planed Light revealing the worlds, a lightning sea of occult might, a mad golden laugh of God – and a fathomless depth of star-fire ecstasy and love.

In a still evolving form of poetic prose, I seek to produce some echo of this Flame. I try to write some semblance of the 'future poetry'. This, as Sri Aurobindo wrote in the Future Poetry,' will present to us indeed in forms of power and beauty all the actual life of man, his wonderful and fruitful past, his living and striving present, his yet more living aspiration and hope of the future, but will present it more seeingly as the life of the vast self and spirit within the race and the veiled divinity in the individual, as an act of the power and delight of universal being, in the greatness of an eternal manifestation, in the presence and intimacy of Nature, in harmony with the beauty and wonder of the realms that stretch out beyond earth and its life, in the march to godhead and the significances of immortality, in the ever clearer letters and symbols of the self-revealing mystery and not only in its first crude and incomplete actualities.'

Finally, this series is a revolt against the hard and earthbound culture of Singapore – which for all its strengths is something less than inspiring. It strives to be something that is not at all an expression of the existing national ‘mind and soul’. In The Future Poetry, Sri Aurobindo wrote that in such a case, the writer in fact brings out ‘something that is latent and suppressed or at least something which is trying to surge up from the secret all-soul into the soul-form of the nation’. If this series could one day become the revealing song of an integral Light, then perhaps a greater Spirit might touch this nation.

My craft is poor, and far from being equal to the task. And my mind is like the Singapore sky, awash in light that drowns the Stars.

But one must begin.