Monday, September 18, 2006

Frustrated. And How!

One mundane evening, nothing much to do
Exams start the next day, I ain't got no clue
Goin to get the 'screw'
Feel just so helpless, races past the time
What the heck! I don't care, I'll sit and rhyme!
Oh shit! Can't find a word that ends the next line...
In no mood to keep trying
Reason be damned, I'll just write 'Slime'

Flash of inspiration! Slime reminds of crime
Crimes that we commit over a lifetime
We hurt hearts, a million eyes left cryin
Why do we do it then?
Oh, its so bloody satisfyin!

What am I doing here, with my demented mind?
My brain's worth as much as many a folk's hind
Logic's lost, can't nowehere I find
Fight till the end they say,Yeah! I'll survive the grind!

I sit here, blog inanity
Inside the clock, the hands keep whizzing by
Let me get down to some work and fast!
Or else, gotta kiss my grades goodbye!

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Art of Criticism

Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic. ~Jean Sibelius

A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs. ~John Osborne

Quite apparently, critics aren’t the most endearing creatures to be found in this part of the universe; the underlying motivation for such dire emotions against them are not very difficult to understand. We, the living, have never really been able to submit ourselves to the irrefutable fact that our remarkable achievements and readiness to use technology have not necessarily rubbed onto our Maker, who still continues to be much retarded in technology-comprehending intellectual faculties and insists upon sticking to the age-old rudimentary processes of manufacture, which, of course, take ‘perfection’ completely out of the equation.
Going back to the three quotes that flagged off this article, I’ve got a question to ask about them. What exactly did these men of influence and eloquence have in mind, when they made such sweeping statements about this much maligned fraternity? Are these statements any more profound than just blatant ‘criticisms’ of the critics? A classic case of not managing to practice what is being preached, eh?

Truth be told, there’s not a soul in this world, and never has been, who has at some point or the other, not dabbled in the joy and soul-stirring satisfaction of unrestrained criticism. We all do it. And when other people do it, we criticize them for doing it, and then continue doing it anyway.

Critics, I’ve decided, can be classified into two broad categories. There can be numerous other methods of classification, I accede, but for the purpose of this discussion, this one will do just fine.
1. The ones that do it with enough arsenals to cover their arses.
2. The ones that do it with all the exuberance and energy they can muster, but forget to zip up their own pants in preparation.

There is another category of critics; the kinds that’ll perennially crib about the taste, flavour and quality of the ice cream you so kindly bought for them, and eventually end up losing their rights to savour un-self-earned ice creams for the rest of their lives. This category is its own nemesis and therefore, we shall not spend time discussing their plight in the after years.

The former bunch, those that are well informed and battle-ready, are the ones that derive the pleasure of the game to the fullest. And they manage to provide considerable entertainment value to those around them too. These are the people, who make the criticisms as pinpointed, and often the most embarrassing for the critiqued, as they can and offer the most well thought insights to the most mundane events. Whether the insights are indeed of any value whatsoever, is of course an entirely different issue.
There cannot be any doubt, that such people have an inborn flair for the art. What varies, however, is the motivation. Some do it with honest sincerity and a genuine desire to aid improvement; some do it to take their inner frustrations out on unsuspecting victims and some do it just for the heck of it.
This sect can be as devilish or as helpful, as it chooses to be.
On the whole, the world needs them. Because, they are the ones that find faults where most others can’t. And finding faults in the prevalent best today is the first and, perhaps, most important step towards finding a new prevalent best for tomorrow. Yes, when all’s done and dusted, no one remembers their names, but that doesn’t make their contribution any less important.

The other, more abundantly available and generally more trigger-happy bunch is not half as potent. Their most significant contribution to society often turns out to be making a fool of themselves and being a source of amusement to the rest. You ask for their opinion on, lets say something you’ve written, and they’ll come up with such pathetic responses as “I don’t know, it somehow doesn’t feel right” or “I can’t really put my finger on it, but it just doesn’t seem to connect” or worse still, “Oh! What utter crap have you written!” You need not fear this species; it doesn’t take long for the world to figure out the true source of the ‘crap’.

I shall end here. Don’t let yourself believe for a moment that I ended so abruptly because I couldn’t figure out a better way of doing so. Its just that I want to allow everyone an opportunity at criticizing my work, for once, and to show how much I appreciate and encourage criticism.

Note: The objective of this exercise is to educate the reader on the benefits of accepting criticism from knowledgeable quarters and take no notice of those that come from other quarters. And not to take these matters as personal affronts. And treat them as friendly evaluation meant to help in the continuous betterment of skills.

And yes, I belong to the first category.

Monday, September 04, 2006


‘Why do you write such depressing stuff?’, ‘Why does death figure so prominently in your work?’, quite a few people have asked me in the last few days.

The matter has been duly contemplated and discussed with a friend of mine, Raakesh. By the way, do visit this fellow’s blog – Some of the stuff on it is simply awesome. Don’t ask me what that name means. My ignorance on the origination and essence of it is rivaled only by my ignorance of the temperature on Alpha Centauri in 1763 AD.

In any case, I was talking about this enchanting discussion I had with Raakesh. Now, enchantment of the reader is not the objective of this piece of literature and therefore, I’ll refrain from going into a word by word account of the conversation. The crux can be put forth as simply the following statement:

Involving death in anything related to life is not a matter of choice. It is in fact imperative in its presence. Any discussion on life and its philosophies must find its logical closure in death.

However, in the interest of diversity in my blog, I’ve decided to write on an issue, slightly removed from death.

‘Nature is all powerful.’

So we’ve been told. I respectfully disagree. Or I don’t agree to it in totality, at any rate.

Nature is so hopelessly powerless in its ability to protect its own self against the perpetrations of men, and yet so astonishingly powerful in its ability to exact remorseless vengeance on them.

Interestingly, the same can be said about Mankind too.

That basically throws the ‘more powerful-less powerful’ theory safely out of the window. The battle is indeed, between equals.
Even more intriguing is the thought that the adversaries are so completely dependent on each other for each other’s existences. With the fall of one, the other must fall too. Some might argue that Nature will last beyond life. The argument is not incorrect, but then, what’s the point of nature’s being, if there’s no life?

‘Mother Nature loves us, cares for us, blah blah blah…’

Raakesh and I touched upon this issue too. And while we held diametrically opposite points of views, both our views were equally diametrically opposite to the one mentioned above.
For all the geometry-obsessed characters who’re jumping out of their seats in agitation against the apparent impossibility of this statement, here’s a clue: Go 3D. Go ‘Sphere’.

Raakesh feels that Nature just doesn’t care. It is in fact, entirely incapable of emotions. It is just a non-living, inanimate entity. Now he might be scientifically true to an extent, and perhaps even completely so, but as long as he’s not able to produce proof, I can allow myself certain creative and philosophical liberties and come up with an alternate interpretation.

I feel, Nature actually does care, but it cares for its own self esteem far more than it does for such mere trivialities as life.

Perhaps, it derives a strange sadistic pleasure out of its own destruction, by the living. For it knows that as it is pushed, inch by inch, towards its end, Mankind too, hurtles towards its own annihilation.

Just thoughts these. We’ll probably never know the truth of the matter.