24 February 2023

The world is made of waves

The song that's best known from Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ album (1979) is ‘Another brick in the wall.’  ‘The dark side of the moon (1973)’ and ‘Wish you were here )1975)’ are considered to be the better albums according to www.ultimateclassicrock.com. I watched the 1972 musical drama based on ‘The Wall’ and by that name. It was surrealistic and psychological. Got some of it, but most of it was lost.

The song I liked in that album, and which comes back to me off and on, is ‘Comfortably numb.’ Two ways of getting there, it seemed to me even back in the late eighties which was when I actually listened to Pink Floyd. One, cultivating the virtue of equanimity and two, acquiescence beyond belief.

It all seems laden with dystopian melancholia, but the following lines, with the musical accompaniment of course, played in the mind for a long time.

There is no pain you are receding
a distant ship
smoke on the horizon
you are only coming through in waves

It is, one could argue, all about comforting numbness. It’s also about moving to regions beyond reach or someone having left reachable regions. It’s also about waves. In other words, not straight lines but made of ebb and flow, undulation and somehow intangible.

Those lines never failed to take me to someplace between Belihul Oya and Beragala. Endless layers of blue-tinged land as far as the eye could see. Laid out like waves, I’ve always felt. And now, close to 40 years later or perhaps just 40 seconds, it seems that the folding, bending, layering and constant repositioning is not an indication of some kind of departure or fracture, not the play of light and dust on landscape, but a phenomenon that all things are subjected to.

Light can bend for we talk of light waves. Conversations bend for that’s how things get said, unsaid and mis-said. Leaders bend and we know this well. People bend when the borders of a country called Comfortably Numb approach. Love bends and that’s how poetry gets fractured. Dancers bend because this is necessary to make the dance more elegant. The river bends because it’s not in a rush to reach the ocean. Mountains bend before wind and rain. Friendships bend because they are tested all the time.

Time bends.

And in this multiplicity of bending, waves are naturally formed. They approach. They recede. They pass over us or we ride them to forgotten landscapes of childhood and romance, schooldays and scoldings, unity and disharmony, finishing lines where stories don’t necessarily end, cut-mangoes and woodapple juice, and to ourselves from the blurry past and into opaque futures.

Still waters are rippled by the slightest wind. Tempestuous waters never sleep. And in rare moments of unity, in love and in the arms of the beloved, the heart hums a timeless tune about the marriage of moment and infinity.  

There’s a knock on the door. Is it a person or unionised furniture, innocence or arrogance, wisdom or ignorance, or all such things and more in an uncomfortable and yet decently aggregated unity? What songs live in its kaleidoscopic repertoire?

I can hear receding footsteps but is someone really going away? Did arrival and departure, those irreverent twins exchange places all over again? Did a ship sail over the horizon or was it just the sea in immemorial invasion-rage? Is that smoke, rising far away, or is it just the ridiculous deciding it is time to evaporate?  

I am sure that licit love finds required oblivion in the deliriously undulating landscapes that contour the dark side of the moon. I am sure that revolution can be more than just another brick in the wall. I am sure that there’s so much disquiet in being comfortably numb that it is nothing more than passing delusion.

There’s a dream at the threshold of slumber. It sings a song of melting mountains and winds coloured for the first time so the world can see the magnificent dances of the elements. The bo tree is chanting. It’s about waves, petrified and blissful.

['The Morning Inspection' is the title of a column I wrote for the Daily News from 2009 to 2011, one article a day, Monday through Saturday. This is a new series. Links to previous articles in this new series are given below]

Other articles in this series:


The circuitous logic of Tony Muller

Rohana Kalyanaratne, an unforgettable 'Loku Aiya'

Mowgli, the Greatest Archaeologist

Figures and disfigurement, rocks and roses

Sujith Rathnayake and incarcerations imposed and embraced

Some stories are written on the covers themselves

A poetic enclave in the Republic of Literature

Landcapes of gone-time and going-time 

The best insurance against the loud and repeated lie

So what if the best flutes will not go to the best flautists?

There's dust and words awaiting us at crossroads and crosswords

The books of disquiet

A song of terraced paddy fields

Of ants, bridges and possibilities

From A through Aardvark to Zyzzyva 

World's End

Words, their potency, appropriation and abuse

Street corner stories

Who did not listen, who's not listening still?

The book of layering

If you remember Kobe, visit GOAT Mountain

The world is made for re-colouring

The gift and yoke of bastardy

The 'English Smile'

No 27, Dickman's Road, Colombo 5

Visual cartographers and cartography

Ithaca from a long ago and right now

Lessons written in invisible ink

The amazing quality of 'equal-kindness'

A tea-maker story seldom told

On academic activism

The interchangeability of light and darkness

Back to TRADITIONAL rice

Sisterhood: moments, just moments

Chess is my life and perhaps your too

Reflections on ownership and belonging

The integrity of Nadeesha Rajapaksha

Signatures in the seasons of love

To Maceo Martinet as he flies over rainbows

Sirith, like pirith, persist

Fragrances that will not be bottled 

Colours and textures of living heritage

Countries of the past, present and future

A degree in creative excuses

Books launched and not-yet-launched

The sunrise as viewed from sacred mountains

The ways of the lotus

Isaiah 58: 12-16 and the true meaning of grace

The age of Frederick Algernon Trotteville

Live and tell the tale as you will

Between struggle and cooperation

Of love and other intangibles

Neruda, Sekara and literary dimensions

The universe of smallness

Paul Christopher's heart of many chambers

Calmness gracefully cascades in the Dumbara Hills

Serendipitous amber rules the world

Continents of the heart The allegory of the slow road