The following poems map what isolation does to a human in our epoch of extreme interrelation, blurring the hot mirage of conjured reality with events from a diminished ambit into a sort of emotional impressionism. Loneliness alone, loneliness in company. The clinging to memory. The double consciousness of looking inside and out. Visions swinging between fear and wonder.
This recounted moment of personal history, which induced the author to reflect on the many times he’s been told that he looks just like someone else, started out as a holiday greeting to colleagues and friends a few years ago. Using analogies to quantum physics and to the distinction between particles and waves, it addresses how we are all connected to each other and mutually entangled, to make it resonate (albeit subtly) with some of the pressing issues of our day: e.g., isolation, identity politics, polarization, silo culture, and whose lives matter.
The following inventory project is intertwined with the pain of restricted freedom of movement in this current health crisis period. From this grounded place, a longing for intimate places outside the confines of the home arises. Each of these images is part of an inventory count of moments that were taken for granted and are no longer so.
“The Moolian Stream” is about missing the company of true friends and loneliness. These have always been true for humans, but for groups such as immigrants and those who find themselves in exile, they are experienced more acutely. The exiled experience cultural isolation as well as existential and physical loneliness. After the COVID-19 pandemic, many others feel increasingly isolated.
In the 1950s, Harry Harlow performed a controversial psychological experiment in which he separated baby monkeys from their mothers and placed them in isolation for months. The effects included: mental distress, depression, aggression towards self and others, and obliteration of social instincts. Animal rights supporters’ outrage led to the criticism of solitary confinement for humans in prison — if the effects were this debilitating for monkeys trapped in a cage, how then can humans cope with the same conditions? On a larger scale, the past year (2020) has introduced large swaths of Earth’s population to governmental lockdowns due to COVID-19. Though much of the world has since reopened, we have been faced with the reality of isolation and its trade-offs when it comes to contracting COVID-19. “The Rabbit Hutch” grapples with the effects of social isolation and the desire for freedom despite what might be waiting for the narrator outside of lockdown.