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Updated: Jul 30, 2022

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Our monthly stories are productions looking to connect people to the magic of stories.

We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.

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Rasa → Kāruṇyam (कारुण्यं): Compassion, mercy. Presiding deity: Yama. Colour: grey, Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow, Bībhatsam (बीभत्सं): Disgust, aversion. Presiding deity: Shiva. Colour: blue

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ArchetypeCaregiver

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Sadness is a rainbow; Low blues to brown dreary places and champagne-pink melancholia; From frantic orange distress and kind yellow glows of compassion, to the positively mossy green wet states of drunk-sad and everyday miserableness; The beige slow death of grief; Anguish cutting red and pointedly-purple brief displeasures; Grays—somber and dour—towering over the unmoving black waters of clinical depression.


The Rasa theory from eastern performance arts studies is one of our most useful storytelling tools. It’s a great viewpoint into human emotions and their enormous breadth. Among the Rasa theory’s nine elemental emotions, or aesthetic flavours, one of the most poetic rasas is karunā—a rasa embodying a range of emotional states from empathy to sorrow. Although not exactly a pleasurable emotion, karunā is an aesthetic flavour that has a curious ability to create beauty through vulnerability. This month’s story portrays the breadth and diversity of this emotion and the kind of beauty that it inspires. We’ve brought light undertones of two other rasas to add more dimension to the story; Adbūtha (wonder) voted most popular by our subscribers and bhībhatsa (apprehension).


We used the caregiver archetype from Jungian psychology to construct Siri’s character and explored some of its shadows like guilt and feelings of inadequacy. parallel to its strengths like the immense capacity to nurture and care.


In the reading list below, you’ll find stories, art and incidents that inspired us; from Joe Abeywickrema’s award-winning performance as ‘Wannihami’ capturing a father’s long-drawn sorrow, to the psychological disease ‘Munchausen by proxy syndrome’—where a caregiver fearing loneliness imposes nonexistent sickness on an otherwise healthy dependent.


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Our monthly stories are productions looking to connect people to the magic of stories.

We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.

-

 


Rasa → Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Colour: yellow, Bhayānakam (भयानकं): Horror, terror. Yama. Colour: black

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ArchetypeSage

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To know more is having more keys to doors, but to understand, is to really be free.


The Jungian character archetype that we’re looking at in this monthly story is that of the sage—the pursuer of truth and understanding as the way to real freedom. In this story, we explored the shadow of this archetype through R. M. —the sharp politician who underestimates the possibilities and viewpoints beyond his sensible frameworks. The mood we wanted to create in this story is that of wonder, or adbūta, identified in the eastern aesthetic theory of rasa. We used the mood bhayānaka, or terror, as an undertone to give more dimension to the story.


In this reading list, you will find books, films and other works that shaped this story through interesting ideas exploring the process of unravelling that takes place during death. This disengagement of the mind’s many layers during death became a context for us to explore the shadow of the sage archetype that values understanding the truth more than anything. Events and stories like the assassination of S.W.R.D—one of Sri Lanka’s sharpest politicians—and Oppenheimer—one of the masterminds behind the atomic bomb—speaking about what it felt like to understand the gravity of what they have created, are links to exploring a common blind spot of the sage archetype where knowledge is mistaken for actual understanding.

Updated: Jul 30, 2022


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Image → @eye4dtail

Rasa → Adbūta (wonder), with Bhayanaka (terror) as secondary

Archetype → Sage

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R.M.’s index finger traced his full name—Remus Molligoda—undersigning the no-confidence motion to impeach the President. He finally had enough signatures. His secretary should walk in any second now to say that the driver is here. R. M. resisted the urge to re-read his carefully worded speech for what would’ve been the twenty-second time. Instead, he picked up the worn translation of ‘The Republic’ by Plato from his desk, and opened the earmarked page with a particularly revisited text;


“One of the penalties of not participating in politics is being governed by your inferiors”, it read.

R. M. grew impatient wondering where his secretary was. The office door opened. But, it wasn’t his secretary that entered. It was a man with eyes like walls—fixed, impenetrable, unyielding. R. M. knew danger when he saw it. “Who let you in…?” he asked, reaching for the phone. But, the man’s hand shot up too fast, pointing a gun. R. M. felt his entire being compose into airless rock—like an animal first realizing it was caught in a trap. The world around him drowned in irrelevance. Then, something incredibly hot and hard shattered in from between his eyes.

R. M. saw his head hit the desk and a red stain grow like a mushroom on the no-confidence motion document while a loud storm of running footsteps and shouts took over the office. He spiralled out of the storm and into its serene eye amidst the calamity. In the stillness, R.M. watched half his mind wrestling with the stinging disbelief of this cosmic betrayal while the other half wept, beating itself for an answer.

‘Why?’ he asked. But, the face of the universe stood all around in absolute indifference.


R.M. realised that he was surrounded by a black ocean. This ocean had nothing but somehow, it raged against the last vestiges of his existence. He felt an utter fatigue of bodily limits as the weight of remembering pulled him further down into the depths. Something instinctive in him knew to start letting go. R. M. watched his life take flight around him in pictures; memories dissipating through the feeble gravitational pull of his naked mind. He watched a memory of a particularly warm March afternoon in childhood, hiding in his father’s study, reading books from the high-up shelf placed purposely beyond his reach; The memory left him effortlessly. He watched the distinct shape of his only son Ananda’s face begin to lose significance as it started to resemble the nothingness. A vaguely familiar, argumentative voice quoting political ideology to an opponent in the parliament was heard from behind the fold of time; Was that him?

He was positively earless and eyeless. But, what is the thing that is listening and watching?


The parameters of sensibility were already starting to fall away into the long, black expanse... He contorted to accept; to let go of clambering; to loosen the neverending grasp for meaning. Just then, a mirror of light appeared.

A mirror of light? He couldn’t comprehend it. Yet, there it was.


He felt the mirror of light dawn on like a sunrise on a strange island. Soon, it started to appear terrifyingly all-encompassing, blinding him. A wordless urge came to close in, to stop seeing; to welcome the unknowing as where the road to understanding begins.


Perhaps, understanding only comes in hindsight when we look back at the full view which includes the answerless.



>> Reading list for this MS episode.


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