Page fear

Not all writing impacts readers; some do and it is unfortunate that some among them do. To write prose or poetry, one might plausibly argue, is the last remaining art unscathed by Trojan algorithms and codes peddled for adwords and other such click baits.

Little else explains overnight “instagraphers” slapping in a filter on to allegedly “unearthly” sunsets or singing sensations whose talent boils down to mastery over digital synthesizers and auto tune. Neither, incidentally, offer new perspective, a novel story or anything for that matter worthy of consideration or a mild ponder. Yet these works of “art” are evidently admired abundantly; conceivably, for not much else other than what the technology at use has achieved.

Words, in spite of dictionaries and translators, have fortunately not been entirely taken hostage to technologies of creation. The weight of responsibility this fact implies to preserve the page’s sanctity should make any pen tremble in fear. But that isn’t half of the problem.

In a case of the tail wagging the dog, much of words written are affected not by thoughts preceding writing but by reaction to it after. Writing isn’t confined to a book or a webpage consumed by unknown readers. Its scrutiny accompanied by showers of accolades and disapproving denunciation is immediate and prolific. This sharing and feedback phenomenon would not affect the writer much if the pattern of reaction weren’t discernible. Unfortunately though, the pattern is less complex to decipher than a cooing parrot trained to thank you for a nut and say fuck you for a fruit.

As a consequence, pages fill up with what readers wants to read rather than what writer has to say which doesn’t do much for its authenticity. And a page that isn’t authentic serves humanity rather well as tree trunk than as a page. But then, if that page is a bunch of pixels… well (sigh), there isn’t much else to yammer over here.

Idiot box

It’s no wonder “idiot box” is condoned as television’s alleged epithet considering the abominable content it has beamed toward unsuspecting viewers. But is that description veracious? There is reason to believe its not.

For starters, new breed of televisions are christened, ironically as, “smart” TV. So, that amply eliminates any niggling ambiguity about the accused object’s intelligence. That leaves examination of the other party to this idiocy, i.e. the viewer. Allow me to examine how this victim’s viewing habits, so to speak, has evolved.

The Beginning: When human began staring into tunnel vision, which nicely abbreviates as TV, he had no choice but to consume whatever state controlled single channel broadcasting beamed at him. That meant attending to ideological and religious bull dung programming in between handful commercials for a handful of oligarch corporations. It’s the simpler time which is rather tempting to become nostalgic about. Truth however is this period was intellectually debilitating. Probably the Era when television truly deserved to be declared an idiot box.

Middle Ages: After dark ages was the prompt arrival of multi channel private broadcasting which was equally fascinating for its briefly meteoric improvement over state television in programming quality and for its unstoppable and enduring deterioration into shameless voyeur disposing machines. But at least, the viewer had the choice to watch endless commercials in between brief programming about travel to far away lands or about cheating celebrities’ gossip. Invariably, it was the latter that was chosen. Television was no more the idiot box. It had become the idiot’s box.

Sorting Age: Its the YouTube Decade and it is the Television. In its own words “number of users who start at YouTube homepage, similar to the way they might turn on their TV, is up 3x”. With unlimited content, if you thought we’d do reasonably well choosing content, you would be totally and spectacularly wrong. Human race, in all it virtue, has most chosen phenomenally feather-head content such as a boy curse while playing video games and a woman showcase toys meant for 3 year old while pretending herself to be a 6 year old. To think these videos are worse than the innumerable make up tutorials and cats videos says depressingly a lot in itself – about us.

Even worse, if you stake claim to be that lonely viewer choosing to follow nothing but Stanford OCW, try accidentally click, which you will, on a cute cat video and the “smart” TV will offer a million more cats to binge adore on – So much for suggested videos. Because some genius figured choosing isn’t worth spending all our precious time on,  that responsibility has now been delegated to the box (or lets call it tube!). Its the era in which you sure hope that your roommate isn’t a religious fanatic, Ricky Martin fan or just patented pervert, because every “choice” he makes using your IP address will come back to bite your karma on your “home page”.

Television isn’t the idiot box or the idiot’s box anymore. Its the smart box arresting your attention against your will and then asking you “Whose the idiot now? Idiot!”

Unremarkable

Life is a naughty little brat. Take eyes off it briefly and it sneaks tiny precious moments in and out in a blink. I caught it in its act today.

A faint supple squeak made contact with my hearing. I was too snoozy to barter scarce sleep for amusing inspection. Then a squeak again! I jumped out of bed like a kangaroo. Surely it must be important if it’s heard twice.

There he was, smiling straight into my eyes sans a wink and a “got you”. A moment is all I needed to grasp that my slumber had been victimized by a two and half month old human. Only half a moment happened though before my face blushed on its own and my lips said “good morning” – I recall on its own as well. This tiny gentleman for his response cheekily stuck his tongue out – and greeted with a wide smile. Again! and we traded good mornings and wide smiles a few times over and then… over and over again.

I have consumed many joys in life – few I recollect as unremarkable as this moment. None I recollect as unadulterated. This person, who I have had the pleasure to have been woken up by is the best person I have met. This isn’t a romantic thought – it is a supremely well thought through admission. He may or might not be the best person to wake me up some day in future – but the person he today is, is. To resolve why so is to render words redundant. So lets let it be.

What struck me later was how little this joy lingered through the day until it returned to memory in the evening. It was not for lack of  its delight, rather for my minds occupation with my daytime occupation. I was all too absorbed by deadlines and abundant conference calls. So absorbed that my morning glee all but jumped off the cliff into the ocean of forgotten moments. I’m glad it didn’t. I’m glad it returned to ever so gently inform me how life’s passage is unremarkable – sneaking tiny precious moments in and out in a blink. Life is a naughty little brat.

Despair

Despair for others is despicable not only for how it feels but also for how it defeats, eventually, our entire faculties to feel. It convicts us to an existence as, natural since it is to us, creatures of routine – plush sleep, delicious food, soothing weekends and annual vacations – all in spite of and amidst humiliatingly sharp awareness of present, continuous and intolerable suffering by countless victims. Victims whose innocence proves itself by their mere mention – murdered toddlers, en masse kidnapped school girls, beheaded journalists, shelled weddings, gassed villages, starved nations and several more among a depressive unending list.

Perhaps, to say this world is now going to hell might offer solace in that it indicates an opportunity to salvage ourselves before its too late. Grievously though, in reconsideration, it is an opinion uninformed by history, both recent and long past. The world has been, for many, a hell hole for far longer than we want to admit. How then, if at all, are we to make sense of good fortune, freedom and peace while surrounded by such dreadful agony.

Should we impotently reason away this human propensity to inflict suffering as merely second nature to us? should we pray on behalf of victims to a god, who likely is the one in whose name the said victims suffer? should we absurdly resolve to end this evidently unsolvable misery? or should we shamelessly be gratuitous for good fortune and publish a fucking blog post? Irrespective of the choice, indignation at self is, as must be, unavoidable. Guilt is, as must be, guaranteed.

There is however one sure course, one which televisions and radios are all too familiar with, to live uninterrupted by uncomfortable moral dilemmas – ignorance! It’s no surprise cat videos and makeup tutorials are watched far more exponential often, and usually, instead of reports from far away lands about human suffering. It isn’t for nothing that ignorance is claimed blissful. Nobody ever claimed “better despair than ignore”.

Oh such terrible corrupted bliss, such despicable despair. Makes you wonder whether it’s really such a loss if a comet is hurtling this way.

Share

How unfortunate that entire generations have uncannily been coerced into ignorance that icon-clicking is synonymous to sharing as if it were an altruistic act, a thoughtful act or, for that matter, an act at all.

Call it “republish”, Call it “seek attention to self”, call it ” add to clutter” or call it whatever you may please, but “Share” isn’t one among many uninspired labels this annoying ubiquitous icon deserves.

Consider for a moment the sorry plight of this once benevolent English word which, during its glorious past, meant “to use, to participate, to enjoy or to receive jointly”. It has since descended unceremoniously to also come to mean “to give specific users access to online content, as by posting it on a social-networking website or sending it as an email attachment”. It’s decent entirely to the credit of dastardly marketing geniuses at Messrs.’ “I’ll care not mention who”.

Before you Kony up its relevance or Arab spring its impact, do ponder over, if you will oh dear armchair clictivist, how joys of sharing life’s tenderness has changed. There was a time when people, I suspect, made pictures of their child’s first smile, a family vacation or a graduation party only to share it later and recall how happy they were, how excited or how fulfilling that time was. Today parents chance upon their child’s first smile – an amazing moment of establishing emotional contact – and, I’m certain, run for mobile phone in anticipation of how satisfying it will be when the “shared” photo is liked by thirty nine “friends” or, even better, receives unimpeachably heartfelt comments like “cute!”

Think

Think about it.
You don’t think anymore.
Click, Click, Click and
Click is all you do.

A world of two digit,
knocked at your door.
It took quick command
as soon as you let it through.

You pursue wit,
like clams at seashore,
lunge in and out of sand,
all day and night too.

And you await a visit,
by a thought to adore,
but if it leapt to lend a hand,
you would have little or no clue.

Because, Think about it.
You don’t think anymore.
Click, Click, Click, and
Click is all you do.

Stillness

A beautiful piece of music visited my dreams the other day. As I desperately tried to hold on to her, she refused to stay as if my mind wasn’t worthy enough an abode. She was, perhaps, right. All that I’m now left with are memories that she sang like a lonely chime and thousand violins. After her fierce departure woke me up, I could not recall the song or how she sang.

I woke up and felt soft breath of my wife sleeping on my shoulder. There is a calm about her. Not just in the way of her sleep, but even the way of her anger, exuberance and impatience. There’s a calm about everything she does and everything she is. Its contagious. A contagion  to which men, women, children and butterflies are not immune to. It has deeply affected me.  Lying in my bed with eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling lit by city lights – I clasped a stillness in the moment.  Stillness and nothing else – no fear, no anxiety, no greed, no guilt, no desire, no longing – just stillness.

The dream I just had woken up from also revealed upon inquiry that I heard my father laugh. He was a tough man when he lived. He grew bitter with life as his end neared him. I witnessed both innocence and joy betray his life with brutal discipline before entirely abandoning him. But to the final day of his life, when he laughed, he laughed like a child. I cannot imagine a gift more precious. From memories, I might recall nuances of his laugh, but its only through my dream that I caressed his joy and his innocence. How precious.

It was a dream as well of nostalgia. About the days I played with friends I couldn’t keep count of. About the days I played as rain bathed scorched fields, when we felt a cool from skies and warmth from earth together. Those were the days I was closer to green grass than I have ever since been. I was glad to have spent my life the way I did. I was glad I could spend it the way I did.

As I gazed around admiring how everything was where it belonged, a sanguine thought pierced into me. Isn’t this still moment what life IS? Nothing happened in it and yet its depth and weight can hardly be grasped. This is a moment carved from my life. Isn’t this what it means to live? Then. Then. Then I wondered “what if…” and hurried back to dreams before that thought completed.