Karan Kapoor

How To Quit (2023)

Content note: alcoholism, addiction

Dress yourself as a knock on the door, a lock in the door. Dress yourself as a No Entry sign. Drive to a farm and kidnap a horse. Steal his blinders and put them on for seven hundred days in a row. Pursue October to teach you patience. Sprinkle aloe juice on everything you eat. Google if you can photoshop thirst? Be a bird who loves the nest more than the sky. If the question “everything requires patience, what does patience require?” arises in your head, bury it under the oldest tree you know. Then burn the tree. Bathe in its ash. Shave your head. When the mirror asks you to get a lifetime membership for a gym, listen. Store your guilt in the locker room. Invite your nightmares for dinner and poison the dessert. Play rock, paper, scissors with your craving. Get over your fear of heights and get into a romantic relationship with clouds. Go to France, buy a pig, name him Napoleon. End up in jail. On the day of your release, rob a river and get shot down by a guard. Spend years in a hospital under the care of a hepatologist. If anyone asks how it is going, tell them the heart of a volcano is always burning. Listen to the sad Mohammad Rafi songs you first listened to on the transistor under your pillow to put you to sleep. Let the music of your childhood transport you to smogless skies. When unable to fall asleep, sandpaper your burns. Let remorse darken the hue of your despair. Once opaque, sign a petition to get discharged. Go home wearing a garland of freshly cut tears. Tell your children how dinner without them felt like the saddest of songs.

About this work

Through the surreal and flowing yet authoritative—almost aggressive—imperatives, How To Quit navigates the hopelessness that addiction can create alongside the desire to quit that still arises. The work is from a larger collection by Kapoor called Portrait of the Alcoholic as a Father.

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