The more I try to know things, the more I realize how little I know.
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.
A line of mercury separates us
What is it? A gulf, an abyss?
Is it her name, or his face?
Or the coming fork on the road?
We struggle, to find our feet
To bridge the gap, to meet
We meet, we part
In the chiaroscuro of our art
And when we part again,
Bearing shards of incomplete pain
I write mediocre poetry, hiding
From the mocking prose, brazen and bold
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
The days are lengthening now. Nights are getting shorter and noisier.
Another winter is passing away.
I wait for winter every year, more than any other season. For me, winter evokes images of silence, solitude, scribblings, the surreal, the spiritual, and everything unreal and fantastic. Other seasons are a festival of life, an expression of joy that is life. Winters signify something that is beyond life, something that is inside, and at the same time out of this world. When the noise and clamour of the real recedes into the distance, you are free to unfold and expand your inner world, let loose, dive long and deep inside.
However, as each year gives way to the next, life presses on inexorably, relentlessly. Reality demands attention. More attention than the last year. First there are fantasies, joy(borrowed from Christmas cartoons), and an enchanting sense of a wonderful world. Then the joy fades away, but fantasies remain, fantasies of love long lost and regained, warmth in a lonely cold winter. Slowly even the warmth fades away, and fantasies shape into dreams nurtured deep in the heart, yet to come to the surface. Silence and solitude become the refuge from the unceasing din of life.
Still later, reality breaks the shell in the end, buries the dreams, and forces the winter out of the mind. Winter departs, taking whatever remains of the fantastic with it, and all you are left with is a cold weather, which meant something to you, but you can’t quite catch the feeling now. Days are spent in air-conditioned cuboids of factories, maufacturing bits and pieces of distorted reality. Nights are spent eating junk food and cigarettes, and testosterone fuelled entries into dens of desire, where noise is used as a mask to hide the hideous awkwardness of reality facing its own ugliness. Reality begets reality. And it feeds on itself to produce more, deformed, variants of reality.
Next morning, back to work. Manufacture reality. Buy reality. Consume and flaunt reality. Lust for this reality. Fear sleep, silence and solitude, for there is nothing to fill the void in the absence of reality.
There are no winters, no springs and no autumns in this world.
I read an article on Brainpickings some time ago, which contained words of Joesph Brodsky on why it’s necessary to write. In it he says that it’s very important to keep up your writing with your experiences. The more you live, and experience, without writing about any of it, the more experiences keep getting piled up one on each other. Writing is a process, a search, a struggle to make sense of your experiences, as you live them. Without the defining (and probably self-limiting) framework of language, experiences pile up one upon another, mingling into each other, through their still vague, permeable boundaries, and before long, your strongest experiences of some time ago have become strangely undefinable. Even the sand patterns of a big wave don’t last long.
And the farther you move from your writing, the more suspicious you are of your words, and even more of their meaning. Meaning, like a slippery eel, slips away from your mind the moment your words fail you(or vice versa, which has rather been the case with me).
I haven’t written anything(not literally, but it means the same thing more or less) for so long that the devil has got my tongue and goblins my expression. I feel even more a novice to writing than when I started blogging. I remember I was pretty confident in my writing at that time, irrespective of the stuff I wrote(those were exciting times). Now, only incomprehensible monologues comes out. Clarity has been suffocated to death under the crushing weight of images, sounds & words. Chaos reigns supreme. Meaning has slowly evaporated from this bedlam, like uncapped petrol.
There are no starts to life. It’s a river. It’s only flowing. The contents are not in your hands. Only the experience. ‘Real’ life doesn’t start at some point in time, after certain things are looked after and taken care of. Life is here and now. As Tyler Durden says, This is your life. And it’s ending one minute at a time. You have this time, and this time only to do what you want to do. There is no future. And the past doesn’t matter. Yes, the past matters in a emotional, affecting-yourself-and-forming-your-character-and-personality sort of way. But stripped down to bare essentials, the past doesn’t matter. All you have is here, all you have is now. It doesn’t get any better than this.
You wanna write? Go write in that uneasy, fragile state of mind of yours. You wanna play chess? Take out the chessboard. You wanna fuck, stop thinking about fucking, go and fuck.