Nunc Stans – a phrase meaning “the eternal Now” – is the title of Prakash Kona’s third book. Kona, who teaches English at the university in Hyderabad, India, writes in English. Nunc Stans, shelved as a creative nonfiction text, is a study of the author’s flowing ideas about time, love, illness, and intelligence (described lucidly as “madness”). The book measures 4 inches x 7 inches in a landscape format and looks almost like a coupon book, yet it could go on a coffee table or in a glove compartment to read in traffic or at random moments. Eleven meditative statements appear on each of 165 pages for a total of 1,800 or so aphoristic and poetic arguments. In their varying approaches to given subjects, the statements give the impression of cycling.
To follow one of these subjects a short distance in the book, the subject of time.
“Empathy is nunc stans – time that stands still.” (p. 2)
“Time is a drag queen.” (p. 4)
“All I want is time to end.” (p. 4)
“I nurture passing time.” (p. 4)
“The neurotic in me is timeless.” (p. 5)
“The end of time is now.” (p. 6)
“Time’s legacy is death. Death’s legacy is eternity.” (p. 6)
“Give me space and I’ll tell you how time looks in my mother’s kitchen.” (p. 8)
Other words, related to time that cue the reader to that subject include “present,” “moment,” and “space.”
The reader who wanted to track the progression of each theme could map the small book and see where it leads – using tables and graphs (it might be interesting and reveal the intentions of the author more fully) -- or allow the random or seemingly random thought processes – poetic in their precision – to wash over one as time itself, as elements in nature. The accumulation of the aphorisms is not narrative or prosaic by design, yet quite a number of the statements and definitions could be regarded as fictive and metaphoric.
“On a street I’m a singer, in a house I’m a prisoner.” (p. 11)
“I bear my ageing body as if it were a truant child.” (p. 11)
Since there is no “story” in the book, the statements do not accrue as suspense – do not arrive as a reading-to-see-what-happens-next momentum. Instead, they ease an agitation that exists around illness, death, and time. “Forgiveness comes from food and language.” (p. 13)
A few statements about illness:
“I’m necessarily ill.” (p. 3)
“The body is a nihilist.” (p. 3)
“Pain is a theist.” (p. 3)
“Ill, I’m myself.” (p. 4)
“I discovered spirit writhing in pain with a broken back.” (p. 120)
“Illness is knowledge of spirit.” (p. 120)
“To my dying body I owe the aesthetics of uselessness.” (p. 137)
The statements cast herein seem truer, more resonant, even when imagined in a fictive vein, than the writings of thirty other contemporary writers combined; they contain the wisdom of experience gained openly and romantically with all the nuance of time.