I’ve been trying hard – so hard – to force a change of mentality in recent weeks. But it doesn’t half bring forth its challenges, and that was truly epitomised this week.
This week marked the fourth anniversary of Writing Privacy. Time for a long-overdue makeover, I thought. And perhaps more importantly, time for a change.
It’s the time of the year when, either in pleasure or platitude, we are naturally drawn to reflect upon companionship (or the absence of it). And though I’m rather at a loss after an already tribulation-filled February, it almost goes without saying that the good poet finds such a beautiful way of coming to terms with this absence.
These end-of-year epilogues have become invariably sad affairs. Of course, I would prefer that it was different, but I still believe that they help me channel energies in a better way. Last year – in what I still believe to be my best ever contribution here – I said that structural positives had been offset by surface negatives. Now, the poles have changed.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of Knightmare: the show that brought me to life and nurtured me into the person that I became.
I’ve thought many times before that Andrew Marvell’s life and my own show distinct traces of overlap, and it’s never escaped me that this may be one of the reasons why I identify so closely with his writing.
More people than ever are still looking for a philosophy on life that offers any comfort. During the New Year, a time when we deliberately parse our minds for retrospection and hope, I thought about the paradox of interconnectedness: how, by superficially feeling closer together than ever before, we might never feel further apart.
Once upon a time, I would write to conjure up positivity, to attempt to push the boundaries of human feeling. But when darker arts have a lasting hold, this is what tests relationships with writing and with the self to their extreme.
The problem with Marvell is that he tests the limit of our modern standards of biography. Writing this particular life – much like Marvell’s own work, ironically – ends up just as wary of the literary mechanics of the exercise as the exercise itself.
2011 was a story I don’t know how to tell. It’s a year that had so many structural positives, countered by surface negatives. Perhaps it’s best defined by what others have said.