Sunday, November 4, 2012

Feeding My Brain-Fish

It’s been a very long time since I last updated this blog. So much has happened in the intervening span of time that I feel compelled to describe it all in detail. Yet, whenever I set out to do so, the words fail me. I suppose constantly having to justify my choices in real life has made doing the same in cyberspace seem needlessly tedious. So that will have to wait for another time.
For now, I feel unusually fecund. Creatively, not biologically. A host of things to write about are swimming around inside my head like goldfish in an aquarium, their pouty faces begging for sustenance. Excuse me, for I must feed my brain-fish lest they die an untimely death.
I just finished reading a newspaper article about Carlos Santana which led me to dwell upon the plurality of music. No two people can possibly have exactly the same tastes in music; of this I am convinced. If they do, then music itself will have entirely different meanings to them. Musicians feel this exceptionally so. The evolution of a distinctive style is what every musician strives for. While some believe in hooks and riffs, others may prefer dreamy soundscapes where no two vistas seem the same. Personally, I like my music deceptively simple. Music that affects you on a primal level on first hearing but which on repeated hearing unveils layers and layers of complexity. No, I’m not into heavy metal. I can appreciate the technicality, but the genre often seems dead to me – needless posturing and mechanical flourishes that try too hard to be something they’re not. I prefer harmonies over screams and guttural growls, slide guitar over shredding. That is not to say, however, that I can’t get tired of one when it is used gratuitously or be unusually affected by the other when it is used innovatively and tastefully.
When it comes to lyrics, I feel there is no real hard and fast rule. So many people write abstruse lyrics these days. Lyrical complexity is most certainly an ideal, but at times songs seem uncomfortably pretentious – a stringing together of random images. When the effect intended is one of chaos and unpredictability, these songs work, but when people claim that those same random lyrics hold a deeper meaning which they themselves do not feel compelled to analyze, it just seems fake. It seems like lazy writing, writing meaningless verse to shock or impress. An I Am the Walrus, I can appreciate. A Black Hole Sun, to a lesser degree. Whatever happened to beauty in simplicity?
I cannot read good books without feeling intimidated. A failing, but one that I can use productively. Such moments of inferiority compel me to improve as a writer. Evolve, or face extinction.
The cold is miserable. I do not like it. How can I enjoy life with a blocked and chapped nose? It is impossible. Yet for everything, there is a time. Without the monstrous discomfort of winter, perhaps my beloved summer would lose all meaning.
I keep trying to write about something, but it slips away like a greased orb, a simile I have borrowed from another writer, I am sad to say, but of which I am not ashamed – it is so apt.
Would human flesh taste like lion meat? I would say so. We are not so different after all.
Death erases many a grudge, smoothens many a rough personality and consolidates many a career.
Again! It slips away from me.
Time slips away so fast, leaving nothing in its wake but an overwhelming feeling of shame and regret – so much left undone!
There is no greater tragedy than when a brilliant idea disappears without a trace. But perhaps that is necessary too. Perhaps what seemed astounding in the heat of the moment is later found to be dull and inspired. Perhaps thoughts never disappear; perhaps they merely withdraw into the vegetation of the mind, eluding the questing gaze, fattening themselves on the kelps of the subconscious and re-emerging unrecognizably changed, like a camouflaged catfish in an enormous aquarium.
I had intended to end with the previous paragraph, fittingly I thought, since I revive the fish metaphor. But look! Fate, or my mind, or both had other plans! Contrarily and perversely, my missing thought has resurfaced and now I must put it down posthaste – to hell with aesthetics!
Why does the word ‘woman’ have so many associated connotations while the word ‘man’ is so sterile? ‘I am woman, hear me roar’ is filled with so much pride and power! ‘I am man’ pales in comparison. Man means only humanity. Woman seems to represent a whole different species. Of course, this is how patriarchy functions, creating stereotypical gender roles and universalizing the interests of the male, but I can’t help but feel the male has lost so much in doing so. Someone once wondered at the lack of literature on male sexuality. That would be because it never seems to be a concern to us. So overrepresented it is, we feel no need to dwell upon it. Sadly, this only perpetuates a masculine stereotype of machismo and stoic dominance. My kingdom for an alternative masculine model!
The idea is fading. Put it down, fast!
Women accuse men of so much. So much repression, so much evil has been done to women by our very hands. Yet why do I generalize? Who is this ‘us’, this ‘them’? Are we not equal? Ah, the learned ones say, equality need not mean absence of difference. We are equal but different. This seems unfair. Why complain of the evil patriarchy has wrought while talking about girl power? It either creates further division and vindictiveness or lessens the true cruelty of a patriarchal society. If patriarchy is truly repressive, should not women be stunted by generations of its existence? Even as I write this, I am aware of the flaw in my logic. If stunted, affirmative action is, in fact, the need of the hour. But need affirmative action be at the expense of another? Common sense would say yes. But there is a difference between upliftment and pettiness. But see! Even these words of mine will be criticized and called chauvinistic and regressive! Why should I be prevented from airing my opinions and judged in this way if I try not to do the same? (I’m usually very diplomatic – but to hell with diplomacy! For once, let me be a Chughtai – let me be brash and opinionated and embrace the consequences)
Why must all men be vilified for the crimes of those who are long dead? Patriarchy still exists, no doubt, but please do not tar all men with the same brush. Not all of us believe in dowry or rape women or sit in the seats reserved for women in the metro. Some of us are as angered by sexism as women. And we still feel hurt when a joke aimed at a woman is censured while similar jokes mocking men are praised as progressive. Either allow both, or frown on both. That is equality!
It is finished!
Postscript: I’ve been working on a very long blog post that is nearly finished and will probably have to be split up into multiple posts. It’s going to get very morbid, but bear with me.

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