On Writing

When it comes to comments, I am increasingly getting used to monosyllables. Not that I mind it. For one thing, I am extremely grateful that YOU – read me. I know how quick I am to flip to another tab when I get even mildly bored online. I realize that commenting takes time and effort. Even if it’s just one word. While we make fun of one-word comments, in many ways – one finds it draining to explain why something finds resonance. Or why something is found brilliant. Seriously, I am glad that you just choose to even say “ah” in the comments.

At the same time, it also provides a certain luxury.

Over at Crazyfinger, the author (I cannot figure out if it’s male or female) – has very generously decided to take a closer look at some of the pieces on this blog. I have to admit that it is mildly scary.

At first I thought I would simply comment on her blog, but didn’t like that idea. My comments tend to be long, and for a good reason. They have many points crammed in them. I have a vague feeling that when long comments show up on blogs, it sort of discourages the traffic to that blog. I feel a strange silence and looks that say, “We were having fun and then you had to piss all over this…”

More important, a series of blog posts with personal impressions on my own blog seems like a better way to create a space for like-minded readers of Neha’s poetry and fragments, those who like to see a bit more meat in comments, to share, with no restrictions on length and direction.

But I am grateful at the same time. Crazyfinger for instance reads between the lines on a piece I wrote titled “His Mother’s Sarees”.

Someday I hope to do more than blog. Someday I hope to actually spill my soul out and have it out in print like a book. In my mind, a story has been brewing for some time. Perhaps it just isn’t a matter of time or commitment. It’s also that the process of writing is necessarily a reality check. In a way reading Crazyfinger’s “criticism” of that piece made me examine it very carefully. In response to the point being made about the varying perspective – this is what I have to say.

Somebody told me once that the only reason I write remotely decent stuff is because I have gotten over my autobiography. It’s the other way round actually. I become many people. I have many autobiographies.

When I say “she walks like a penguin”, I say it with great empathy. Without judgment or malice. There is a certain tenderness in me that rises when I compare a person to an animal. I love animals. That woman – she waddles. Like children cling – I call them monkeys. When I flop tired on the floor after a long day, I think of myself as a Baby Elephant – flipped out after a day of play and knotting my own trunk. To me, to be animal like, is to be in one’s element.

But I suddenly realize that to many people, comparing someone to a penguin may be “cruel”. It ceases to be a description – it may de-humanize? Thank you for the lightbulb moment. If I do make that sort of a statement – I need to justify it – not leave it dangling in the air.

Update – The links won’t work anymore!

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0 Responses to On Writing

  1. mp says:

    hey you changed your theme…i guess you were not very happy with K2, eh?

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  2. vidya says:

    Justification? Defense? Copy-pasting from one of my favorite Sontag essays, titled ‘On Interpretation’. Oh and the new theme looks pleasing ..

    ————Begin c&p ———
    None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work of art what it said because one knew (or thought one knew) what it did. From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art.Indeed, we have an obligation to overthrow any means of defending and justifying art which becomes particularly obtuse or onerous or insensitive to contemporary needs and practice.
    In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.

    Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world — in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings.” It is to turn the world into this world.
    ————–End c&p ————

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  3. tinkertoon: The scariest comment of all.

    mp: I am not entirely happy with this one either – but well..

    Vidya: Thank you so much for that. The fundamental problem I have with Crazyfinger’s “take” – is this formula for fiction. What fiction “should” be. Or what non-fiction is. To justify the form and the content, to me, is the ruin of expression.

    I don’t even know if there exists a distinction between art and the intellect. But what my mind really fights is this need for taxonomy. To shelve every experience – piling it into categories – not to make finding that experience easy – but to instead, to give it a frame of reference, that the work itself may not want to belong to – or has no aspiration to belong to.

    I do not wish to interpret my own pieces. But I must learn to read about what people think without letting it push me to the point of examining what I write even before I write it.

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  4. km says:

    “Error: Please type a comment”

    *So* unBuddhist.

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  5. Firstrain says:

    Justification? C’mon at least leave one place in the world where one does not have to explain what one means! πŸ˜›

    Personally, I think the beauty of being able to write and let it go is mostly because other’s may do whatever with it – they can interpret it any which way they want. That is sometimes enlightning, sometime frightning and sometime hilarious, among other things.

    Nobody is *supposed* to conform to anything – to fiction or to a pack of lies. As long as it makes me read it to the end – oops I mixed up the “reader” me and the “writer” me!! And this comment is already running too long.

    Nice template, btw. πŸ˜€

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  6. So when are u gonna start commenting on blogs u read :p πŸ™‚

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  7. Nilu says:

    kadasiya enna solla varel?

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  8. dipali says:

    Re-read ‘His Mothers Sarees’ after reading Crazyfinger’s comment.
    CF had written painstakingly and in great detail, and yet…
    I enjoyed the shifting perspectives- though the mother’s emotions come through very strongly there is tremendous empathy with the son as well- you can feel the angst of the displaced youngster trying his best to fit into his adopted milieu. As well as of the mother- her pain at her son’s rejection is predominant.
    As firstrain says, one is free to interpret it as one wishes.
    The penguin phrase didn’t seem at all offensive- the dissonance between the grace of a saree and the klutziness of trainer shoes renders all waddly, ducklike comparisons valid.

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  9. km: The Zen Comment.

    Firstrain: I am not sure I have to go into an explanatory mode. That might have more to do with my own need to explain. I guess Crazyfinger is just articulating an interpretation. It may not always be palatable.

    Twilight Fairy: I guess I read too many blogs to focus on commenting. But I do wish I had more time to comment on at least some of them – I’ve promised myself I’ll comment on at least a few blogs a day. We all thrive on feedback – don’t we?

    Nilu: Kozhandai ku WoodWards kudukkanum nu.

    dipali: Yes. I think that’s exactly what I meant by that penguin thing. That to me was empathy. As a writer – I am unable to take sides. I identify with both the characters…

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