On the nature of blogging and other things

Lately, I have been thinking about returning to blogging. But up until now I could not get myself to write anything specifically to blog. The truth is, I don’t know what to blog about anymore, as I have lost interest in all the things I used to write about and I have been curling into more and more complex knots inside myself so that it is becoming more and more difficult to be coherent and sensible about anything in particular. When I stopped blogging effectively, my desire for all the things which had kept me going for two years enthusiastically – page views, comments, connections, had finally died after a long decline as I felt more and more disgusted with myself and a majority of people in the blogosphere who had deeply misplaced notions about blogging. The more blogs and the more content I saw, the more insistently the question came in my mind-why do we blog?

Why do we blog? The quick, and right, answer would be – to be heard. But as we observe the evolution of the world of blogosphere, the answers get more and more complex. (Whatever I am saying here is quite obvious and not an exposition of a hidden truth). Blogs used to be individual voices with a platform, with content for people in general or for a specific section of people. As blogs got more and more popular, the content-audience equation began to change. Earlier, the existence of ideas, content and creativity demanded audience and necessitated development of a platform. As the platform or the system ensuring the meeting of the content and the consumer subsumes the values previously stored in the content, content-audience equation changes. And since the value-system of the platform derives from consumer engagement – traffic, page views, likes, comment, subscription and sharing soon dominated. Consumption soon became the dominating variable in the equation of creation-dissemination-consumption. Previously it was: “I have something interesting, I should share it with people”. Then it became: “people want to consume something interesting, I should do/create/write something like that and share it”. The body of the blog post soon becomes unimportant; to widen its readership what becomes important are the post-mortem done on it called SEO, inserting keywords, flooding of tags and labels, and sharing it across all platforms with shameless self-promotion. Before I inevitably say something about social media, I would just like to add that this phenomenon is not limited to various modes of individual self-expression only. All kinds of websites which create content for readers and viewers work according to this phenomenon. Even startups over time are no more the visions of geniuses but late-comers jumping on the bandwagon. The individual consciously/unconsciously starts searching for an idea around which she can build a startup. What lies at the end of it all? Profit motive, of course. But that is to be expected, so no surprises. All this is distortion of the content-consumer equation where content has been relegated to the margins. But the rise of social media has changed the name of the game. The equation is rendered irrelevant. The dichotomy of content and consumer is shattered and transformed into an endless orgy of creation and consumption. Social media stands on three pillars: Consumerism, Exhibitionism, Voyeurism. It is one giant leap towards the perfection of the art form of consumption, the perfect capitalism dream. Interestingly, consumer-oriented production runs counter to one of the apostles of capitalism, Ayn Rand. She would rather force people to consume what genius-billlionaire-playboy-philanthropists of her novels produce for the moral uplifting of the human civilization. However the cycle of production-consumption is central to both conceptions of capitalism; indeed, the whole system itself.

I have strayed far away from the main topic. Coming back to it, all the drivel I wrote above is the reason I gradually got disillusioned with blogging. I wanted attention and recognition, first for content, then through likes, comment, subscriptions and page-views. Now I don’t understand why I was interested enough in all kinds of miscellaneous stuff to write blog posts on it. Maybe it was genuine interest, maybe the result of trying to write more and reach more people. Eventually, I grew tired of it all, and stopped craving empty attention, and forgot about writing itself.

Then why have I returned? Because I can’t forget the simple joy that publishing a blog post gives. Beneath all the reader-baiting, design-flaunting, there is something simple and attractive about writing whatever you want, without the pressure of it being ‘literary’, and talking about and discussing content with people in a more meaningful manner than on social media. As for the second attraction, there might not be any such communities on blogosphere anymore(this is  me being too cynical) or they may be too self-contained to be untraceable. But the joy of writing is still there, the freedom of no-pressure writing (though this is easier said than done, as I am aware of a lot of restraints working on me even as I write it).

My desires this time are somewhat contrary to the desires I had when I started blogging. I no longer wish to be popular, or become a small-time internet celebrity(which is the maximum that bloggers can usually aspire to), or an internet rebel or visionary/philosopher through my blog. I am a nobody and wish to remain a nobody, writing in my own way and primarily for my own pleasure. I say primarily because if I didn’t want anyone to read it, I would not have posted it at all. I do want it to be read by people who, like me, are away from the hustle-bustle of the parade on the highway of the internet, and like to write and talk about stuff they like or are concerned with in a simple manner. I hope I find some of them, but even if I don’t, it is perfectly alright.

 

P.S. – This post in no way implies that I will write regularly from now on. I hope I do.

 

 

 

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Wasteland

Hours on the internet
Sucked dry; out of mouth,
out of eyes, fingers creaking
Bent, unused, joints aching

Viral videos, Somebody’s top 10,
Amateur porn, crash course
Pop trash overdose imminent
Sign up if only 18 years of age, or more

Reality blurs along burning paper
Of an unfinished cigarette
n-th of an unending stream
Moving closer, to the bright light

Hazy eyes trace patterns
Among light and dark
Dazed minds stumble
Along a crowded, deserted walk

Facing the absurd
Reveling in the blinding glare
The beautiful revolt from the real
Till it turns into a nightmare

There and Back Again

So, recently I was thinking something, and out of nowhere, the word “Prairie Wind” popped up in my mind. Didn’t it use to be the original title of my blog. And amazingly, I never thought about this word in such a long while, more than a year actually. Okay, I wasn’t exactly active on my blog in last year, but I did write some posts, and occasionally checked up on the blog. But never for once did the title came in my mind. That’s sad, actually.

On the other hand, a word like “Wanderer” is quite catchy, coming into mind now and then, when one is gloriously and uselessly daydreaming. But on the other hand, the meaning of this term is equally vague, hard to catch, and often the word is picked up without really picking up its meaning. Which happened to be the case with me. So I was thinking. Quite an ironically amusing thing to happen. Prairie Wind, quite an unwieldy and cumbersome term as it is, is very honest and goes back to simpler times when idealism wasn’t burdened with fancy words and overused, bombastically misguided imagination.

There were times when others alternatives for the title popped up in my mind(as you can see here, I have much more important things to do than actually writing in the blog), mostly from the songs I’ve heard and loved. Two most prominent ones were “Into the Black” and “No Direction Home”. The second one was already being used by another blog. Tempting as they were, employing them would have been equally self-defeating as employing “Wanderer” was.
And now, as I have run out of imagination, active desire for readership, a cohesive vision for the blog or a set of ideas to flaunt my jugglery with words, basically everything except the desire to keep writing, I have nothing else to turn to, except the old, disused, and accommodating-without-intruding-its-own-meaning title, “Prairie Wind”.

Addictive nostalgia and vicarious living

Going back to Kanpur. Last few days of (unofficial)college life left. Now the definitive end is here. Even the stretch of one year comes to an end.

Not going to talk about the end, it’s still not here, and we’re not at all for killing the goose before it’s cooked fully.

Today is for the strange vicarious feeling, which i often feel, and which forms the backdrop of all my experience. It’s very difficult to define this feeling. Let me try.

It’s part nostalgia for the past, part anticipation for the future, part daydreaming, part romanticizing the present, part vicarious living, part idealization, part idolization of the others, part distorted self-image, part living in a semi-real reality in one’s own mind.
Yes, that’s much of what it is.

Is it good? It sure feels good at times. But that’s where the deception lies. It’s only felt when it feels good. When it’s bad, you aren’t aware of this addictive habit of yours, but it’s working in your subconscious. It’s like opium, dulling you into the most romantic of reveries, at the cost of this life of yours. It’s a very crude analogy, I admit, and can’t be applied thoroughly. But the deception is pretty much explained by this. The cons of this thing are much more real than the elusive, theoretical pros of it. Everywhere I see, people living in their half-formed dreams, living in a half-real world, unable to grasp the fullness of the reality around them, the ‘reality’ inside themselves, and living in a limbo, which is neither this world, nor the world inside them. And though it might feel like heaven to the imaginative and conscious one, it’s a slippery heaven nonetheless, so much the slipperier for your mental faculties. And they lose to the reality outside of them, and are unable to do full justice to the vision, the lofty reality inside of them. That’s the danger of this addictive reverie.

Now to the theoretical pros of it. It all depends upon how much control you have on yourself. Control comes from knowledge and realization. The one who knows the nature of reality, inside and outside, and of the other-worldly, devious path, which lies between them, knows how to tread it, to facilitate the integration of the two realities. The one who knows, controls the path. He is the master of his dreams, visions and imagination, not their slave. But it’s insanely difficult to attain it. Most people who fall prey to this strange no-man’s land never get to master it. Those who never experience it, never get to experience the inner reality(though I won’t be fully sure, but from where I’m seeing it, it’s the key to connecting the two realities). Others are content with controlling the outer reality, based on flimsy principles of money, power, fame and (misunderstood)love.

I’m often reminded of Buddha. Since long before, I’ve often pictured, and discussed it with my friends as such, the path of knowledge as the path of sorrow. The path is full of sorrow from beginning to the end. True happiness lies only at the two ends. The one end, from which we start, the end of complete ignorance. And the other end, the end of complete knowledge. And at that other end, I can only imagine one person, Buddha. And all those who walk the path of knowledge are destined for sorrow, unless and until they complete their journey.
But that’s a story for another day…

Time and Again…

There is never enough time.

I have acquired a bad habit over time. The habit of rushing over everything, at least anything that requires effort, or is worth the time. This habit gives rise to a disconcerting feeling of never having enough time, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and I never have enough time for important things. First of all, I never get down to do them, avoiding them as much as possible. When confronted with the task somehow or the other, I tend to rush through the damn thing, only doing just enough for it to qualify as a day’s work, to be able to be held off till the next inevitable confrontation, and again resuming the gargantuan task of avoiding all the important things and lazing around. This thing gives rise to the perpetual disconcerting feeling that I’m missing out of something important, overlooking, forgetting or avoiding something important, which should have been done by now, or whose deadline has passed. Somehow I’ve been lucky too many times already, but it’s not going to save me every time.

Shortage of time is not the problem. I have no shortage of time, not until now. Time has been in abundance, probably too much abundance for my own good. The problem is my thinking. If you are doing something important, worth doing, or something you like or are good at, give it time. Give it time at the expense of other things, if need be. Basically, just don’t think about time when doing those things. Think of the work only. Just like when you watch 9gag. You’re ready to read on till the last gag you had read weeks ago, even if it take hundreds of gags, and an hour or so of your time. This is the dedication required (sarcasm intended). You stop thinking about the work in context of time. You think about the work, and not the time.

This is the only way to produce good work, be it good learning, good knowledge, good professional work, or (most importantly) good art.

So we can modify the first sentence now. There is always enough time. What’s lacking maybe is dedication and passion.

Heaviness

All the good things, enjoyable things; the more worthwhile they become over time, the less enjoyable and spontaneous they become. I’m not sure what other people feel on this thing, but slow decline in spontaneity has been a consistent characteristic of everything I’ve enjoyed since my childhood, be it chess, reading or anything else.

With time and greater amount of proficiency and seriousness in the pursuit, the spontaneity decreases, the stakes become higher, or, the stakes which were not there before start to appear in the picture, as you struggle to attach a meaning to the thing which is so important in your life as to picture somewhere in the whole scenario and the purpose of your life(whatever you’ve pictured that to be). The decline in spontaneity and the unconscious search to find(or contrive) a purpose starts killing the fun and enjoyment part slowly, and a heaviness comes in the pursuit.

I read more books nowadays than ever before. But the pursuit today with filled with a heaviness, coming from a sense of purpose I’ve somehow attached to it, markedly different from the carefree school days. I think a lot before picking up any book, weighing all pros and cons of investing my time in that book, and till the time I start reading it, the interest has gone down significantly. Compared to this, I used to pick up books at random in school days, read them with an omnivorous curiosity, and never once looked at the size of the book. Adam Bede, David Copperfield, Sketches by Boz, other Victorian novels, were read with no concern whatsoever for the size and readability of the book, and their relevance and connection to modern times. I had those books, and I had to read them, and that was it. This heaviness, although attaching a purpose to it, ironically makes the pursuit somewhat meaningless simultaneously.

The Blog is Dead. Long Live the Blog!

In every beginning lies the inevitability of an end, and in every end the seeds of a new beginning.

This first part is pessimistic, and latter one optimistic. That’s how it is used. In the end, it’s all the same. The end, the beginning(interesting to note here that this was the title i used for the first sketch i wrote. Hmm, the phrase added to #obsessions.); it’s all the same in face of cosmic indifference.

It has been more than four months since I blogged last. This was not a break, premeditated or unpremeditated. It was an end. I had lost the desire to blog in the same way I used to have. It had been deteriorating for a long time, but it completely disappeared in the days after December despite the fact that the last blog-post was an inspired one and I liked it myself. The two years of blogging had come to an end. I would never blog the same way again.

It was a vigorous start, the joy of discovering an expression of medium, the hunger of page views, comments, likes and acknowledgement. The last one remains, but its manifestation in the form of the other kinds of hunger has disappeared. With time, disillusionment crept in, with the state of affairs in blogosphere, even though i consistently got to know new awesome people, and underlying futility of the exercise in a social context(a highly debatable point, said in context of certain type of subjects, and not for inherently social kind of blogging, which I don’t like anyways). But this was not the final or the decisive strike. The coup-de-grace came from within. In the last one year, there was a mental drainage of enthusiasm, energy and active positivism. Personal issues sparked it, laziness and procrastination fanned it into a fire which consumed everything. The desire kept getting eroded, and achieved an ironic end, when after completing my courses and placements in December, becoming completely free to blog/write/whatever as I please, I completely lost the desire. A point needs to be emphasized  The desire, lost mainly because of procrastination, was not the most harming aspect. I had been battling procrastination since forever, but still managed to write something from time to time. The thing that hurt most was, I had nothing to write. I had absolutely nothing to write. The mental drainage has drained all the fertility from the soil of my mind, and all the seeds lay there hopelessly, amorphous, in a void, without any shape or voice, without any germination and budding of creative crop. My mind has stopped working(said with all the emphasis possible). I need to kick it back into action.

…Which is the main goal of this new beginning. For a new beginning it is, no continuation of the old story after a break. No. A new beginning. The old one died from creative and emotional exhaustion. A new blog with a new goal, a personal one, and simple- to write what i think, and to start a positive loop in the process. Nothing more.

I want to beat the shit out of this desire of acknowledgement of mine. For what good is such a desire, in the absence of work, commitment, energy, force and determination, and above all, concentrated action. A new beginning is needed. An end is needed, most of all.

The old has to die, for the new to be born.