The Melancholy of Resistance: A Letter to Antoine d’Agata

Dear Antoine,

I want to write to you about the luminosity of defiance. By defiance I am not signalling towards hubris or impatience, but a quite different—resisting, reverberating, radiating—absence of deference. We know very well that this defiance has been, and still is, existence for many people around us. What are they resisting? It is only wise now to not point at selected pedestals of injustice, for every day we wake up to new horrors and inhumanities. When I started observing your photographs a few days ago, I stood witness to this very manifestation of dissent, and sensed an inchoate breeding of camaraderie—an unsettling urge to respond—taking shape between us. I did not resist. I kept writing, thinking that I was writing directly to you: a peripatetic nomad. But to this very moment, I do not know you. When I call you a nomad, I am trying to describe your photographs—the itinerant obliqueness, an almost euphoric derangement of your frame. I wrote as if I was corresponding with a boundless romantic, myself being one in the first place. You narrated stories to me through your images; I responded with words.

 

When I felt I had written what I wanted to write, the hurdle was finding the reader—offering this correspondence to a third party—so that we could invite more companions along us. Unfortunately, this could not be bought to fruition. What I have to offer below is my acknowledgements to you. What you have gifted me, your photographs, are absent from this scaffolding, an incident which was unforeseen, and manifests a lacuna. The third party, therefore, will now observe only one part of our correspondence—mine. If the reader is hungry enough, and if I have done my part a little well, Ze shall be obliged to hunt for those images which I have failed to present here.

[1]

You have just laid placed your feet on the steps, some of them broken, and at the very next moment, without even a faint direction or presentiment, the boys hold you prisoner, you cannot move, you remain where you are, transfixed and perplexed, trying to avert your trembling gaze towards the door that has been opened below you, trying to fathom a way to reach that door and enter the outside world, but you can’t, because at the second you imagine all the comforts that await you outside, everyone loved, all the treasures—the jewellery, the fine clothes, the dear books—the fleeting momentum of the boys hold you prisoner, and you begin to wonder—are they three distinct figures, or is it their lightning movement that is holding me prisoner in this forlorn direction filled with broken steps and a shadowy corridor?—you consider putting up a fight, resisting, because at the instinct you think that you can brush the boys aside and swiftly enter the outside world through the open door which is already displaying the warmth of the sun, but when you pause and think, trying to refute your futile delusions, which by now you know is futile, you come to complete terms with the fact that their rage is bound to overpower your ambitions any time, that the resistance that they have so far put up against the world, the world in which you and your friends participate with so much hubris, will not succumb to the narrow confines that you have constructed, therefore you decide to wait, to stay where you are, perhaps to inspect and clear the mist between yourself and the boys, so that maybe you can clearly say whether they are three distinct figures or not, perhaps also because you think that this waiting would tire them out and then they would run outside through the door, through which you could then go out and embrace all the comforts that await you outside, but at this very moment, the three distinct figures stare at you, sending their spells to your eyes, and there you stand, innocent of all these allegations or not—utterly disarmed.

[2]

From the mirror which is slightly tilted, you stare with all your attentiveness towards the television which displays a girl—torso slender, hair frizzy, nipples dark—who is also staring towards you, her eyes betraying a colour of precariousness, her hands restless—as if they would spring towards you from near her thighs, while you look at her with fierce devotion, imparting that you certainly know the labyrinth that she is in very well and that you are desperately waiting for her to configure her own path, for otherwise she would be lost and then everything thus salvaged would also be lost and then nobody, even you who is looking at her with fierce devotion would not be able to console her, leave alone help her, but now you do not think about all the aftermaths, you have taken a hiatus from your cigarette (is it a cigarette? Is it lit?), holding it safely between your fingers, because right now it is the girl who is most important to you, not yourself or your shirt that is nowhere to be seen, you fix your eyes at the girl who is perhaps waiting for a command, an instruction, for she does not know what to do with her slender torso, frizzy hair and dark nipples, and therefore is standing up straight, looking at the camera which is also staring at her, though without the fierce devotion that you are presently offering, frozen within the inexorability of time until she receives that command or instruction, but she only needs to look back at you, therefore returning the quiet empathy that you are presently offering her, to realize what you are trying to tell her—to disagree with the command and ignore the instruction, to even behave as a profanely dissenting figure in front of the camera which is staring at her—and then, at that moment, she would demand the impossible, and set herself free, but the imminent event of the girl disappearing from your screen once the camera refuses to stare at her does not seem to be perturbing you.

[3]

A blurred, barely perceptible distance separates you from the equally blurred and perceptible world outside, the world that is throbbing with tumult, discontent, fury, and you are just about to enter it, from this veiled space within which you have assumed tranquillity, and soon after your feet would stamp upon an earth that is in conflict with the space that you have until now inhabited, for you only need to spare a faint glance outside to witness the people outside looking at you, awaiting you, it’s better if you rush, for they won’t be holding their view for too long—because this is a revolution, and here everyone is equal and one has to earn one’s place—therefore prepare to do what you have to do: ambush the Imperial Palace, rewrite the Manifesto, mock the He’s in the Bible; because if you do not hasten, if you hesitate and proclaim that the time is yet to come, the people shall stop awaiting you and proceed as they should, therefore sharpen your blades, fill your quiver with the quickest arrows—doesn’t matter what you collect inside: love, literature or a lunatic—and offer all that you have, because as I said, this is a revolution, and they will need every single comrade who is willing, and you are willing, you have waited for this moment for too long—you have had your waiting, so have everyone outside who are awaiting you—and therefore you have finally decided to gather everything, you might even take them along you to your grave and you know that, and while these vacuous pretexts have occupied the fortresses of your conscience and you are fearlessly battling them away, you pause to inspect whether you are now alone—have the people awaiting you left?—and you slide your eyes slightly to gather vision, only to witness the infinite pairs of eyes reciprocating with the same, perhaps even more, hope toward you.

Ajin K Thomas
Malappuram, Kerala

 

N.B. The title ‘The Melancholy of Resistance’ is László Krasznahorkai’s, from his 1989 novel of the same name.

 

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Ajin K Thomas Written by:

Ajin K Thomas grew up in Malappuram, Kerala, and currently lives in Bombay.

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