The Matter of Form

So, my last few posts have been about the writing block. Or Laziness. Or some such thing. While I venture on exploring what causes us (me, actually) to shy away from writing well enough and often enough, I discovered that it may have something to do with the platform. (Previous Post).

100 Links

I wonder whether it is about form — that makes us choose a platform. Now that micro-form is more popular than longform, do platforms like Twitter make more sense? But then, Twitter has added features that allow it become a platform for “longform” writing. See this thread:

So is it the death of longform writing as we know it, and that conventional longform has no readers now? From a readership and access point of view, perhaps, – it makes sense.

What then, stops anyone from using WordPress (or any other conventional blogging platform) for microform writing?

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Painlessness

It was a sharp pain.

Below the chest. Not exactly in the stomach. Somewhere in between. That’s where the intestines are, I suppose. Having majored high-school in Biology didn’t help, all that study, and I had no idea what was there; which of those many tightly packed organs was keening like a banshee. (Sorry, Mrs. SS!) My thoughts went back to my textbook from school, trying to remember the organic arrangement. Then, and I have no idea why, I realised I had been feeling the pain for a while; I just hadn’t noticed it. My thoughts shifted from what I was thinking, to the pain, and —without notice — like a ghost spirited away by sunlight: the pain vanished.

Just like that!

It took a couple of kilometres, to realise that I was very angry, when the pain started. Very angry about something that’s going on in the world that I live in. Very angry about how people are reacting to this thing. Very, very angry at all the name calling, the all too common spewing of venom all around me. Specifically, the bile-filled pit of 140 chars. And as soon as I started thinking about the placement of my organs, I wasn’t in pain anymore.

A while ago, I made a conscious choice not to go anywhere near that pit. And I haven’t ever, almost never. But it is all so pervading. It’s a big pit. Large. Huge. Massive. Enormous. It’s inescapable. And just like that, I left.

Not Twitter; I left the pit.

A Fine Divide

The medium is not the message. Sometimes, bits of messaging corrode the medium, all we need to do is clean the medium. It’s all clean now. I am away from the pit.

There’s no pain.

Capital Schizophrenia

“You never reveal your true self on Twitter.”
“I do, I just don’t like being personal in such a public forum.”
“How will we ever know the real you?”
“We’ll meet IRL (In Real Life) and we will discover each other.”
This goes on for a while.
Something happens, I feel strongly about it, I express my true feelings, as gracefully as I can, given the context.
“You are so rude.”
“No, I expressed what I felt, politely.”
“I can see the malice in your tweets.”

#Facepalm

*

I stepped out for a smoke. [Smoking is injurious to health. This blog does not promote smoking. If you smoke you should stop now. If you don’t, never start.] Two other young men stepped out too. One of them was a smoker. Smokers are confined to small places. We end up being more intimate. Overhearing their conversation, I realised they were from the Indian Army. One was posted in Leh, the other in Dimapur. Brothers. Different Mothers. They meet in Delhi during their furlough. As they were about to leave, I stopped them, asked if, indeed, they were from the Army. They confirmed. I shook hands with them. Thanked them for the immense freedom and safety I live in. I avoided mentioning how most of us wantonly abuse that freedom. We had a short round of wonderful introductions. I was ridden with goosebumps for the next half-an hour.

*

My disgust at the word startup and related terms is well documented. [All disliked words are suitably italicised] To be sure, the disgust is about the terminology, not the act itself. I have immense respect for those who take a dream and struggle to make it a reality. I was there once, twice, thrice, before. I feel blessed, that I have had, an almost, equal measure of success and failure. And I have learnt from both events. And then, recently, I heard, “We are a startup, we don’t do documentation or plans.” A very small (thankfully) bit of me, died a writhing death. Some idiot, somewhere, laid out a sexy sexy (not italics) imitative path to success. And the entrepreneurs (another word I dislike) gravitated to it like engineering students to porn. I call it “Building bereft of basics.” And I smile, and go my way.

*

Until you use the public transport in a city, you are a tourist. I know, even tourists use public transport. But there has to come a time when you say, bloody tourists – since they have no idea about the local protocol of the public transport. Man becomes one with a city when he makes the public transport his own. He feels possessive, guarded, and intimate with the system. Every city, in this world, has something that you can dislike. And if it is not a good thing, you should dislike it. If you live in that city, however, you have to also find what is lovable. Every city, in this world, has something that is lovable. I sensed today, that I can be friends with Delhi. I said hello, the city reciprocated. We smiled. We are going to spend more time together.

*

I got my Delhi Metro SmartCard today. The equivalent of an Oyster in London. These are childish pleasures, but immense in their intensity. Touch a card, and the baffle gate opens, only for you. Automagically the amount is deducted when you exit, because, automagically it remembers where you boarded. It was fun in 2005, it is fun, ten years later. Those who were born into it, may not appreciate it, but if you knew what it was when this tech didn’t exist, you will know what I mean.

Delhi Metro Card

Delhi Metro Card

*

I carried a book today. Thought, I’d read it on the Metro. But it didn’t come out of the bag. There was so much to see of this new city, I didn’t feel like reading. Distance, usually, is measured in length. In Mumbai, we measure the distance in time. So, if you ask someone in Mumbai, how far is [some place], they’ll respond in time, not in kilometres. So, traveling a distance is a means of consuming time. Books, for example. Most people today consume media. Head phones and eyes-down on a small screen. I was smiling to myself. Loudly. No one noticed. No one looked up from their screens, at my face. In Central Delhi, the metro goes underground. And it comes up at the perfect station: Qutub Minar. It’s far away from the station, but the view from a distance doesn’t diminish it, at all. Being childish, makes sense, all over again. [No, I didn’t take a photograph, I was busy looking at it.]

*

It’s very easy to insult. There are print books dedicated to a number of insults. 1001 insults, 5001 insults, and such. I’ve always wondered if that extra, one insult is special? Reading and using insults from books is so yesterday. Good insults come from really smart people. I was insulted twice in a single conversation today. One, I easily defended, it was obvious. The other one, was smart. It took me a few hours to realise it. Long after the conversation was over. I just smiled, when the second insult did a sunrise across my forehead, and inside my head. It was a class act. I didn’t accept it, but I mentally saluted my insulter. The sophistication of an insult, that’s an evolved art form.

*

I just killed four more thoughts that were supposed to make it to this post.

But that’s life.

 

Threatopology

“How many friends do you have on Facebook?”

“About two hundred-something”

“That’s it?”

“Yes.”

Recently, I’ve seen more than one post on social networks, where people in my timeline threatened to unfriend a few folks based on some criteria. There’s an inherent apology in that threat. Sorry, but you are quite un-followable. I have never felt the need to make this threatopology, if I may call it that. When I have seen a pattern that certain people adopt when using social networks, and if I do not subscribe to their method of sharing, I have just unfollowed them (Facebook) or just muted them (Twitter). The reason I don’t unfriend them (Facebook) or unfollow them (Twitter), is that it allows the possibility of direct messaging. I’ve noticed, more often than not, direct messages (or private messages) are made of worthwhile content. Having lesser people populate the timeline also helps me focus on what to see (and click-through) and what not to see (unfollow). We can achieve goals without extreme measures.

The platform is not the message.

Beauty: #Anthem 12

Every time I think of an Anthem post, I think of one thing only: How come I didn’t think of this song as an Anthem. Paul takes all the blame. Needless to say he takes all the credit, for these posts.

Madhubala, is the most beautiful woman ever. Feel free to send in other contestants, on this blog, they will rank later. We’ll of course make an exception for Charlize Theron, because she is alive and Madhubala is not. So, separate categories. The one advantage of having your own blog is that — you get to decide. So, Madhubala is the best of those who don’t exist, and Charlize is the best of those who do. At this time, you all should know that Charlize was one of protagonist in The Italian Job (2003). The primary protagonist was Mark Wahlberg, who BTW follows me on Twitter. (I am glad that we have that out-of-the-way)

I spent this evening with my uncle, and we sang some wonderful songs. We are separated by 25 years and we are together by the music of the 60s. Most of these songs were made before I was born. Yet, I relate to them. The presence of beautiful women is just one thing. The nature of two lovers, the stories of yore, and the way we relate to this music, all comes together to make meaning.

How could anyone not? In the video below, watch Madhubala at 1:45 and at 3:15.

It’s a love song; needs no translation. When you see it, you will know.

Je Suis Moron

I’d like a T-shirt that says that.

I don’t know what’s the theme and sense of the local social argument around the world. In India, if you have a difference of opinion, or are asking questions (whether innocent or not) – you are a moron. Almost, always, self-styled lieutenants address every other person as a moron. I am a teacher who has taught a beautiful language for more than 40 years. I am a teenager who seeks to understand my world. Just because you have knowledge of a narrow theme (which of course you dwell in) it’s easy for you to call me a moron. I am often amused, when questions are asked of these experts, on a social platform, and the seekers are dismissed as morons.

A Boatman's Question

Not all questions are about casting aspersion. Some are innocent questions. Some are about curiosity. Some a genuine doubts. A leader answers a question, even when they do not have an answer. “I do not have an answer for you at this time, but I am happy to seek an answer to this question, with you,” is a leader’s response. But to call a seeker a moron? In the first instance? Without seeking context? That reeks of a power-obsessed personality, conceit, and some specific delusions of grandeur. What if this moron has dedicated his life and times to study a specific theme all his life?

This conversation happened on Twitter, and perhaps it is easy to blame the platform than the people dancing on the platform. Platforms are as characterless as they get. We often make the mistake of mistaking the person for the platform. Twitter as a platform enables us to have a public conversation. Twitter as a platform enables us to make things better. Twitter as a platform enables us to call people morons. The good and the not-so-good that we publish on the platform is about us. It has nothing to do with the platform.

If this is what it means to be an expert — calling people names — I never want to be an expert on any thing. I am happy to be an amateur and ask that people ask questions of me, so that I may become better; so that they may become better. If asking a question, whether through ignorance, or as a challenge, or to seek more information is about being a moron, then I have only one thing to say. For when I stop asking questions, I’ll be dead and irrelevant at the same time.

Je Suis Moron.

The Cost of Twitter

Screen Shot 2014 10 01 at 20 32 17

As dedicated bloggers, we have to ask ourselves this question. I know, for sure, I have to ask this question to myself. And while I know the answer is above, I still have to ask myself this question. Did a tool become a medium? Am I mistaking a medium for a tool?

I imagine myself shouting myself hoarse in a bazaar where the preoccupation is about the price of dead fish. Do ideas die in the cacophony of the slur of oneupmanship?

Conversations matter less, in some worlds. What matters, matters less than what matters less.