For Aristotle poetry is representation, and the poet a maker of plots rather than verses—even history can be written in verse. After all, poetry is the more philosophical of the two. Yet poetry has its limits in representing the infinite possibilities of montage, especially when the poet refuses to imagine the unimaginable, simply because it’s unmanageable.
Navayana’s latest offering is an event. In The Absent Color: Poems, a/nil weaves a colorful plot that captures what is philosophically absent in the void of history. In A-nil’s world, history is a nightmare that must be versified to wake us into slumber. A Nil not only imagines what has been left unimagined by all creators, but he manages to arrive like the ancient Habiru, step by step, at the fault lines of tremor and beckons us over.
Earlier, the earth was Euclidean flat
Uncorrupted by mafias
With parallel lines only embracing
Beyond the field of vision
Flat Euclidean reality gives way to the curved Riemannian real, much like the scientific axioms of universal absolution that turn into poetic metaphors of manifold relativisms. The word is unconscious, devoid of meaning, a void of meanings—a ‘nil’. The Word is a Nil. To understand a/nil’s word is impossible; now one must understand the impossible. The impossible becomes possible in absentia. The Absent Color is a lagoon that flows with no clear demarcation.
For a/nil, poetry is that which, peeled off, bleeds. The end of which ends in the middle, already and always. It brings nothing except black. The poet is the maker of a nil and his poetry is the corrective fluid distempered over history. There is no question of reflecting on what is more philosufferable. The only question a-nil asks is a refracted one: what is the shape of the question that is past?
Now neatly Riemannian
Curved, explorable manifolds,
On the surface, all parallel lines,
Once untouched and untouchable,
Coalescing against our vacant eyes
The poet Sharmistha Mohanty finds in a-Nil ‘a voice which has read everyone, but imitates no one’. For the philosopher Slavoj Žižek, ‘The Absent Color is an authentic miracle: deep philosophical insights clearly rendered in poetic language.’ In each new reader, A-nil assumes the shape of a question to come.
The Absent Color is to language what Annihilation of Caste is to politics. For the absent Other gains justice only when that which calls itself color is made colorless. A/nil writes with an intense conviction about Babasaheb and his politics, in a time when both are receding into infinity, red-shifted, like colored dots on an expanding balloon.
A Nil is the founder of a religion which no one but one can follow. Not even G-d can set it right.