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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This is your life

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.

Amen

Blankness, for those who’ve seen too much in this world
Slavery, for those who were given too much freedom
Guilt, for those who thought they were too happy
Self-doubt, for those who achieved everything
Amen

Absolute is the mercy of God
To surrender, to lose oneself in the euphoria
To think, to fight, to survive, to define
Existence, swimming against millenia

God, give me strength to surrender
Shut these eyes, they’ve been open for too long
Close these ears, they listen too much
Sew this mouth, the tool of blasphemy

I just want to sleep
The beautiful sleep of nothingness
Amen.

Notes from the No-Man’s Land: End of the Exile

It’s time to end the exile.

I’ve been here in no-man’s land for quite some time. The arrival was very unexpected. I had always counted upon my ability to find my way back home no matter how badly lost I was. But somehow, it was not to happen this time. I was irrevocably lost this time. Not just in any unfamiliar place, but a place without any characteristics. Basically I had no option but to bide my time in the open cell.

There were a lot of questions to ask, even more kept emerging, but the answers remained vague and not exactly traceable. During the endless days, I lost my secretkeeper, a sparrow who used to perch on my shoulder daily and talk to me. I didn’t stop her, it was better for her to leave a dead place and the other inhabitant which can at best be described as a half-zombie.

But the answers did start to show themselves. Not completely, but in short glimpses of clarity. The vagueness and the mist was still there, but the form could be deciphered. With that the horizons began to appear in this boundlessly finite continuum.

I too have to go from here now. To where I don’t know. For all the heavy rains in August outside, it was dead and dry for me in this no-man’s land. The eerie wall of silence, which reflected back my own thoughts seem to be gradually disappearing and I can sense things around.

But there is no direction home now. No destination to go anymore. Just the pathways. Will have to walk along with the journey, wherever it takes me. As of now, the No-Man’s Land is slowly fading away.

I hope no sleep for me this September.
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P.S.- This is the last post of the series. I hope I won’t bother you with my baffling mindless abstract twaddle anymore. Can’t be really sure though.

The mad, mad world

It was a sunny Sunday, as they sat outside a cafe. Everything was too bright. He squinted at her, as she merrily sipped her coffee. The sun and the smoke had alerted him into a wide-awake, consciously tensed state of mind. ‘Am I looking at my antithesis?‘, he thought to himself. He wanted to chuckle with amusement, but the excitement of the talk they were having had made him like a taut string, drawn arrow.
She was a new friend he had made in this town, where he had come only a month before. She was talking about the nature of the relationship between a man and a woman. He had long stopped provoking such conversations as it was a drug to him which was both useless and fatal, if taken in large quantity. But somehow it had popped up today.
They had been discussing cursorily each other’s experiences regarding the matter, and she was talking about what she thought was the unpredictability, and ephemeral nature of everything, and the oh-so-shaky foundations of the relationships in the society, and the ironic inevitability of such a set up. “It’s a mad mad world, you know,” she said, giving a serious look momentarily, before beaming her sunshine smile, beating back the sun itself. One should keep on the lookout for one’s own happiness. Apparently experimentation seems to be the only recourse possible, in absence of any other sensible alternative.
Amusing. Very amusing.
He chuckled at his cigarette, lowering his gaze on it. “You know what? With modernization, we’ve expanded our concept of going out so much, we make relationships on the slightest pretext. But the irony is that almost nobody actually knows what he/she is really looking for in the other person. Nobody wants to burden oneself with giving it a thought. They just go with the flow, without actually thinking about why they are doing what they are doing.”
He paused, took a puff and sip, and continued. “This results in the ‘mad world’ you’re talking about. I have quite a liberal mindset, but my surroundings have always been traditional ones. I used to think, long back, why one bothers oneself so much with this love thing. Morality means nothing to me, so why not just go out with anyone you like to, any time you like to. You are completely free to do anything you want to. and so are others. But now when I see what you told me, I realize, once again, why it’s worthless. Yes we have the freedom, but that freedom means nothing if we ourselves don’t know what we are looking for in the relationship/casual-relationship/marriage/whatever-the-hell-it-is we are in or seeking.”
He abruptly stopped, as though the current of thought was suddenly stopped midway in his mind. He didn’t know what else to say. He looked at her, she was staring intently at him, not looking completely satisfied with what she heard. “For all the things that I’ve seen, I still have no idea what is the right thing to do. But I do know about some things which are certainly the wrong ones,” he thought to himself.
“I think we should go,” he said, closing off the rogue topic, sealing it with an amiable smile. “I’ve got to head back to my place for some work.”

Loneliness

Companionship in life can stop some of your dreams in your tracks, some, not all. Who knows, but life has a way of dealing with things, you can have some, but you can’t have it all to yourself. Greed leads to misery, in all aspects of life. 

One who embraces loneliness, is a greedy person, in a way. But he chooses greed at a cost. One who embraces loneliness, seeking completeness in himself, an inner perfection of all the faculties of life, is bereft of one vital thing-companionship. I sometimes think, loneliness slowly consumes a person, surrounds all around him, from inside and outside. It becomes his shroud, the all-consuming, all pervading characteristic, shadowing the faculties towards whose perfection he once chose the loneliness for. This is quite ironic. 

We are not talking about Buddha, obviously. Loneliness comes at a great risk, and often a great price, for those who dare, arrogantly one may almost say, to choose it. 

Points of Authority

……I hope they won’t mind me taking the office of the Vice-Chairman of the company. Of course, they’ll grumble in corners, there will be small dissensions… But on the whole they’ll not think of betraying the authority, because authority and power, my dear friend, are the only two operators which have the ability to tame as wild an animal as man. And they’ll submit, and they’ll obey, all the while hating themselves for having done so.

Authority. Such is the nature, such is the power of authority. It keeps them under check. It keeps them from degrading into mere caricatures of what we proudly call ‘humans’. Without authority, the Goddess of power, the civilization would crumble under its own weight, a victim of its own vanity…..