The Window's Charisma and The Nihilist
February 23rd, 2017
“Don’t think of the Elephant in the room. It’s been gone for the rest of the week. Don’t think of the blinds, how they broke into pieces when its beak of a trunk lay flat on the floor. The elephant in the room has gone and you are now its heir. Poke fun at its faults, cause it can be poked at with various instruments. Your ankle’s trombone, your mouths flute, and your knees trumpet. Let it be hit so that it knows not to run to the orchestra. Let it be hit so that when it falls, it begins to sing.”
The poet could very well be a lunatic, a crazy fanatic to the feet of words. But, I know the poet as something quite different. A gentleman, gentlewoman, gentle creature. I wrote this poem within Mr.Hollander’s class my Junior Year. “The Elephant in The Room” is a reflection of how the philosophy of Nihilism came into my life as a welcomed mentor, one that would allow me to place my perspective of the current moment on an atmospheric level. In short, perceiving life beyond myself, as an external observer.
I did not recognize, nor acknowledge, the extent to which this series of thoughts would come to define my transition into the world of nihilism. Nihilism, if parted to reveal its latin root, suggests “nothing, that which does not exist”.
My brain became enamored in the idea that maybe, just maybe, nothing really exists. Although I do believe in life as a real, coherent “thing”, this concept diminished my fears.
To be a Nihilist, allows you to be everything and everyone all at once. In the absence of everything, there is also everything. That is just how this word goes- it is a characteristic but also a way of life. But when the elephant fell, she learned to sing. And that is both the elephant’s, and my own story--finding the nihilist within us. And you too, my friendly scholars, may dwell in Nihilism. I was bathing in it before I could define it.
The term “The Elephant in the Room” is used to symbolize space, openness, a sense of coherent mistrust amongst peers in the heat of discussion. Yet, the term would not be in our vocabulary if it did not give substance and imagery to the notion of silence, something every nihilist knows as an essential component of the philosophy. To me, nihilism, is as the author and poet, (one of my most beloved) Jorie Graham describes Eve’s lover, Adam, in her book of poetry entitled, The End of Beauty: “keeping him in this shadow-lessness in which he needn’t breathe, him turning to touch her as a thing turns towards its thief, owned but not seizable, resembling, resembling…”.
This “owned but not seizable” is the easiest way to understand Nihilism. You can live by the trait, but you should not try to pinpoint its mastery. There are only two types of malleable Nihilists: the ones who perish in the absence of everything, and the ones who thrive. In other words, a vastness of possibility can be found only within Nihilism.
I learned to quantify silence and Nihilism through the disciplines of the artist, actor, or writer, yet I found confinement in the structure of these words. I simply could not resist to use just one identifier, mark of identity, as every source of study became a tributary to one larger, cohesive frame of understanding. What it means to be exactly, human.
To be a Nihilist is to be extraordinarily free in knowledge, open to even the confinements of the world. The elephant, took a literal beating by the world, the “orchestra” that so tortured her life, tore her to pieces only to later find that when she was on her knees, battered and bruised, she had no alternative but to sing- to entertain the oppressors.
So, we must continue. A nightly ritual, I always search for the moon. The moon is the landmark of myself as a Nihilist. As the moon is representative of what lies beyond you, the world that exists outside of your own. One of the pivotal moments of my life is when my family had my window removed that used to face out to my backyard. I grew up looking out that window, dreaming out that spectacular space, truly, I believed in that window more than I had believed in my books that would come to substitute the glass frame.
I touched that moon from every window I saw, whether it be in Cyprus, in Minnesota, in Greece, I trusted that the moon was the singular thread tying my cultural landscapes together. And so, as a library now fills the once window-crater within my room, I find that the moon has shifted to my other window. I suppose it always finds those who search for it, constantly reminding us of times gone past, people we used to be.
As Henry Miller’s novel, The Tropic of Capricorn, now sits on my windowsill. A character named Elie Faure, “was a sunflower turning with the sun, always drinking in the light, always radiant and blazing with vitality. He was neither an optimist nor a pessimist, any more than one can say that the ocean is beneficent or malevolent. He saw everything as creation, as solar joy. He didn’t record it in orderly fashion, he recorded it musically” (299). And awfully so, we must continue.”
Nihilism has allowed me to see everything as “solar joy”, burning, real, feverish, and temporary. That is what keeps me amply able to substitute: to choose music and the theatre, to “record musically” as Miller states, all my hindrances. When I first started taking part in the theatre, I became enamored by the congregation of actors which became something more than themselves. I had found an emblematic industry in which the basis of conduct was on who you could become, not who you were. For any young person, this was riveting, an impulsive sentiment to what truly matters. This, is where Nihilism saved me, and could save you.
I am no elephant, no poet, no artist. But I learn from these creatures, these habitable souls that have taught me to find solace in their confusion. For the elephant, she had no remorse, no way of silencing her inner chaos. She took a fall only to find song in her resurrection. For the poet, she had too many abstractions in her little brain that caused her to seek shelter in the words, even the words she had come to construct. But poets persist, consciously, rapturously, carving heart from rubble. But the artist, I have come to love. Simply because I learned to quantify a life well lived through visions, imagery, day-dreams. This for me has been artistry, liberating imagination. Finding windows to life unabridged by confinement.