Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And This Is My Opinion, BTW

I was reading the Vigil Idiot’s Raavan comic just a little a while ago (really funny, you should check it out here). And while I was at it I thought I’d read the previous post too, where Vigil Idiot turned one. And look what I found!

It was on the Avatar comic. You don’t have to read the comic (you could though, since that is really good too) but read the comments by this person called Bill The Butcher on this comic. For convenience, the link is here: Bill The Butcher's Comments

Now if you’re done reading it, the rest of this piece will make sense. The image that instantly came to my mind after reading all of Bill The Butcher’s comments was this: A rabid dog tied to a really short leash and snapping at anyone and everyone without any discretion. Many people surrounding the dog while the dog frantically snaps at someone or another, pretty much having lost sanity after a point.

He was done putting the Vigil Idiot and his comic down. But he kept going back and snapping at anybody and everybody who responded further to his comment. And he put them down too. If he had stopped with his first comment there would have been some dignity in doing what he did – he didn’t like it so he tore it apart, fair enough since the Vigil Idiot is in the business of tearing apart too (in a funny enjoyable way). The moment he starts making fun of everybody who supports the guy and directs his ire at them, there is nothing left to save. Fans exist and Bill The Butcher should come to terms with that fact.

Many times over now, I have thought about identity, opinion and how closely they are linked. Yes they are interlinked…heavily if I may. But my muse has been more on the lines of what happens when opinion becomes one’s sole identity. Don’t tell me you don’t know people like that. Take their opinions from them and there is nothing left…zilch.

Why am I thinking about this so much? Because time and again I have felt uncomfortable around people who have such strong opinions and who will bark back no matter how little they know. Many times I have known what they are saying is plain wrong and I have wanted to have a sane discussion to understand why they say what they say. But I have been barked at so many times that I don’t even attempt any more. But that’s ok because I hardly care about being right. In fact I am happy when I am wrong. Because that’s where I learn.

And fighting with someone you know can be considered to be a healthy debate. Fighting with someone you’ve just met and proving they know nothing while you’re right is downright rude. There is a way to disseminate knowledge, if that were the aim. Here they feel attacked when a counter-opinion is raised and start a fight with total strangers sometimes. Ok, you’re right! I get it! Now get over it and please listen to the other person. He has a point of view too.

It’s almost as if by acknowledging that someone else is right, a part of their identity will be lost. And I most of the time don’t understand their worry. I am in fact even scared of people with very strong opinions. They represent closed minds and fanaticism for me. I would love to be proved wrong but so far in my life I have always seen a one-to-one correlation between the phenomena.

Because frankly you can’t pick an argument with anyone and everyone just so you can believe for one more day that you, and only you, are right. Most of the time it doesn’t even matter. What matter is hearing each other’s stories.

I had heard in one of our Toastmasters debate contests that when we argue we exchange ignorance, when we debate we exchange knowledge. We don’t necessarily have to walk into our conversation as if our honour was on the line and success depended on saving our opinions and converting more people to them. It is in being graceful and hearing everyone out, plugging holes in our knowledge, acknowledging that a reverse philosophy could also exist and be a way of life and not being judgemental that we win. We could fight for our opinions and even win…but what would that win amount to?

Increasingly I am growing to believe opinions don’t matter at all. And it is a sign of learning if they keep changing. And we must know which battles to fight, which ones are worth fighting. I express my opinions lesser and lesser until one day I will stop saying anything at all, because frankly it doesn’t even matter and nobody cares that much. Yes maybe I’m wrong and maybe I have no identity. But at least I’m happy. I’d rather hear you out than believe I was heard and acknowledged. Like I said, I don’t care too much about being right and definitely not in the presence of people who are blind to their own vices.

But all of the above is just my opinion. One that I’m not going to fight for.

Closing with my favourite bit from Kari –

Because I had no politic. Means, I have no Burning Issue. Blurring genderlines? Bigotry? Cultural genocide? Dying planet? I can’t pick. My favourite form of movement is ‘float’. I stand for nothing. I espouse nothing but Ruth.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

For The Love Of The Dark Goddess

I came to know her well when I was thirteen. She had strange mystique to her the way she was so calm and smiled like she knew everybody’s secrets. She was beautiful…the dark goddess.

She had been shunned by everyone. Only the wayward welcomed her. They had a dark side. She knew the dark side too well.

She was lonely, an outcast. Her presence was equated with all that was dark. People couldn’t wait for her to leave when she came around. They gave her ugly epithets and wrote morbid idioms for her. It was true she covered more than she revealed, making it impossible to see reality. But it wasn’t her fault.

And yet she never talked about any of it. She always watched from a distance, sitting pretty, her black tresses flowing in the wind. Her beauty was overwhelming. It was soothing to be in the presence of someone so beautiful, so calm despite all that she had been labelled as by the cruel world. Her dignity was what drew me to her. They judged her but she never judged them back, she accepted all as they were and gave them solace if they came seeking. She never gave up on people. She never gave up on me.

In her presence I could be who I was inside. There was no need for any pretence. She heard me out, my deepest dreams and desires and smiled at it all. Like a mother watching her child describe his first fascination. If she was amused she didn’t show it. She continued smiling encouragingly.

Soon I grew very fond of her until a day wouldn’t pass without greeting her and talking awhile. She probably realized this since she started to speak too more openly. Never of her misery though, mostly about my dreams. She would add to them and help them grow. Like two pairs of hands patting the damp earth after a sapling has been planted. She inspired me to many things and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. In her peaceful presence I worked on them and together we shaped them. No matter how irrational, she made me believe it was all worth pursuing. It was this undying faith that made her my confidant…of the highest order.

I have spent so much time with her, spoken to her when my heart overflowed with joy, lay on the street broken or felt plain empty. She has watched over me when I thought I would never sleep again and the world had ended, patted me to sleep and the world has always been a better place the next day. And despite all that she has done for me she has never spoken of it to another soul, never mentioned it to me ever again.

She remains my inspiration, my companion, my confidant to this day. It is her optimism despite the darkness, that the sun will shine again no matter what even if it means that she must go away, it is that which will always stay with me.

The Night…how I love her! 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

When Bubbles Burst

In the light of the sun, is there anyone? Oh it has begun...
Oh dear you look so lost, eyes are red and tears are shed,
This world you must've crossed... you said...

You don't know me, you don't even care,
She said
You don't know me, and you don't wear my chains...

Yes, in the light of your blackhole sun. There you are. Giddily watching the rainbows all around. In your own soap bubble. Looking through the fingers at the fact that all that is in there is air. The day the pin pricks that’s all that will be left. Air. And memories. Delusions.

Sometimes the soap bubble bursts and in the time that it takes for you to blow a new one to feel safe in, life tells you the truth about what you are. Redundant. Replaceable. Removable. You bring nothing special to the table. In fact, you bring nothing to the table. You’re a nice-to-have. Just a nice-to-have.

Essential yet appealed, carry all your thoughts across
An open field,
When flowers gaze at you... they're not the only ones who cry
When they see you

You thought you had a new life. A new town. A new start. How long was it before you became a social network update, a blip on people’s timelines? That’s all you are…a name in the list of friends. You live on the fringe of their lives and make that place your own…floating from fringe to fringe until that’s what life becomes…mindless floatation. And before long you are left wanting to start all over again. Maybe find a new place. Meaning. For yourself.

She said I think I'll go to Boston...
I think I'll start a new life,
I think I'll start it over, where no one knows my name,
I'll get out of California, I'm tired of the weather,
I think I'll get a lover and fly him out to Spain...

It’s tiresome, this running around in circles trying to catch your own tail. Tiresome to end up at the same place no matter how far you run. Away. Towards. Maybe you do need a new town, new people who don’t know your name, a new landscape, a new identity. Another new start. To start making the same mistakes again.

I think I'll go to Boston,
I think that I'm just tired
I think I need a new town, to leave this all behind...
I think I need a sunrise, I'm tired of the sunset,
I hear it's nice in the Summer, some snow would be nice...

Boston by Augustana on Grooveshark

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Armchair Psychology: Death By Thought

Death of instinct that is.

I have a theory…that (compulsive) thinkers have no instincts or gut feelings as we call them. I am not talking about impulse here although even that can be broadly included in this category and is pretty much absent with thinkers. But more precisely gut feeling.


Before you pounce on me and try and make me an ingredient of that keema paratha you are planning to prepare, let me make it very clear that I am not talking about thinking as a loose term. We are all thinkers…at least I think we are (there! I think too! Who would have known) I am talking about those who are addicted to thinking, who like to over-analyze, over-discuss and over-do anything remotely involving a long chain of thought.

An example: why did my best friend order coffee at breakfast when he is a tea-drinker? Is he trying to tell me I don’t know him well? Should I warn him of possible dangers of drinking coffee instead of tea? What does a change of preferred beverage signify in someone’s life? Are they ready for change now? Does he…umm, you get the ring.

I believe that gut feelings are born in the heart. But in case of thinkers they are then processed in the head and shredded to pieces before they can begin to think of acting upon that gut feeling. Know the feeling when you see a lone mosquito buzzing around and you have this irresistible urge to swat it to death? That.

Over a period of time, this becomes a conditioned response and any gut feelings are killed right there - in the gut - and don’t even make it to the brain. The subconscious displays artificial intelligence and learns repeated behaviour. So the next time feelings start to rise from the gut (I am not talking about the feelings that form in the gut after you’ve eaten too many beans for lunch, no…let’s focus here – gut feelings) the subconscious suppresses them even before they reach the mind for processing. And that explains the absence of gut feelings in compulsive thinkers.

And the very nature of thinkers and ponderers says it all…the whole ‘Look before you leap’, ‘Think before you act’ philosophy prohibits them from considering gut feelings as worth acting upon. Or impulses. They must be thought about. The many layers of meaning understood. The various ramifications considered. The options must be weighed. And by this time if that feeling is still waiting by the door plucking ‘he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not petals off flowers, it must be acted upon.

I am still doing armchair research on how gut feelings can be re-invoked and made to travel all the way to the brain before they are killed in encounter somewhere near the oesophagus.

But going by gut feeling, I think a good start is randomly walking into any store in a mall and picking up 5 objects without batting an eyelid or looking at the price tag (whether or not they need them…that involves thought you see, elementary). Which mall to go to might involve some thought though, and from there it’s a downward spiral as we all know –

What should take priority – proximity or variety? What about parking space? Should I take my two-wheeler or car? Assuming that it takes a total of 22.27 minutes to park the car and take it out, is it an optimized decision? What are the other variables? Is it fair to spread more pollution by using the car? Will part of the money that the retailer gets out of my purchase be used for environmental causes? Is it fair to the others living on this planet? Maybe I should…blah, blah, blah…