Lament of a Notebook Fetish Victim

The only thing I want, indeed the only thing I have ever wanted is a perfect notebook.

Sometimes the cover is too bright or too happy (LetterNote notebooks). Sometimes they use dots instead of lines on the pages (Finpaper notebooks). Sometimes they are hard cover (Karunavan, Moleskin). Sometimes the lines are perfect but too bright and overwhelm the color of the ink (too many notebook brands to include in this one). Sometimes the lines are too close together and cramp my writing (Moleskin – Yes. Not a fan at all). Sometimes the lines are too expansive and don’t have the taut measurements of good writing. Sometimes the shade of white on the paper is too white (Bilt Matrix). Sometimes they put margins into pages as though I would follow margins while writing. Sometimes they use such rough handmade paper that writing suffers on those pages (Pinnacle notebooks). 

Why is finding happiness so hard in life?

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Hearing Lerner

“Where a word repeated starts to lose sense and become mere sound… That’s a moment that’s both terrifying because it makes you aware of the fragility of socially constructed meaning, and really enabling and inspiring. It reminds us the world is a fiction made out of vibrating columns of air.”

This is one of the best things that I have heard. Ben Lerner’s ideas are lucid; I find them very fascinating.

Jorge Luis Borges: “Las Calles / The Streets”

golempoem

LAS CALLES

Las calles de Buenos Aires
ya son mi entraña.
No las ávidas calles,
incómodas de turba y de ajetreo,
sino las calles desganadas del barrio,
casi invisibles de habituales,
enternecidas de penumbra y de ocaso
y aquellas más afuera
ajenas de árboles piadosos
donde austeras casitas apenas se aventuran,
abrumadas por inmortales distancias,
a perderse en la honda visión
de cielo y de llanura.
Son para el solitario una promesa
porque millares de almas singulares las pueblan,
únicas ante Dios y en el tiempo
y sin duda preciosas.
Hacia el Oeste, el Norte y el Sur
se han desplegado–y son también la patria–las calles:
ojalá en versos que trazo
estén esas banderas.

Jorge Luis Borges
(de la edición 1969 de Fervor de Buenos Aires)

Photo: Las calles de San Telmo por Libertinus

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Anaconda? Don’t.

This article, talking about female desiring and its problems in contemporary culture deserves attention.

I suppose, in contemporary culture, in reclaiming sexuality, one feels the need to conform to the kind of stereotypes that is perpetuated against a certain type; the pride of being ‘that’ person that you are accused of being. Not that people have not been doing it: the blacks embracing the n-word in their vocabulary in rap music. Or the Dalit Panthers trying to write about the aggressive masculinity. One could suppose that this has been the idea of any disadvantaged group that tries to reclaim its own territory: quite famously in one of the earliest works of English literature, The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. Anyone else remember the Wife of Bath? Yes.

So the question is not so much about the terms being embraced but the context within which a community or a group decides to embrace. Insofar as it is always ‘claiming’ it, the pose is that of a hostile member and the very pose of this stands upon negation. Are we surprised that Nicki Minaj is body shaming that “skinny b*tches” in the song? Perhaps no. What we should we questioning, instead, is the whole politics behind having a body that is supposed to be appealing at all. And since Ms. Minaj is not confronting that question, we are left with the dichotomous choice of the “skinny b*tches” or the “Real-Women-Have-Curves” rally while understanding a cultural norm about the idea of beauty itself.

The Word Cunt

I keep up with pop culture for a very specific reason, and it’s not because I’m fascinated with the Kardashian sisters. I keep up with pop culture because I recognize the resounding impact that it has on those who willingly or unwittingly consume it in its varied and vivid forms. The recent release of rapper Nicki Minaj’s single Anaconda received very mixed reviews, but all the same the song had 1,41,000 download in the first week. It begs discussion.

image

When Nicki Minaj came on the scene with her hit single “Super Bass” in 2010, there was plenty to talk about, from her bubblegum hair and make up and overt sexual expression (neither of which is particularly unheard of for pop stars in America or England) and her notable contribution to the underrated tradition of black female rappers. Nevertheless, Minaj’s formula worked – she grabbed eyeballs and raked in the acclaim…

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delhi diaries: (part two) Paharganj

(I wrote this a long time ago, but do forgive me. I did find this publishable)

My heart is becoming a necropolis” – Flaubert

Of all things in Delhi that become fainter and fainter is the memory of faces. I had two friends who spent their hours in the little alleys of the city trying to find their doppelgangers. They found them – one was in an advertisement for some bogus establishment trying to sell education to those who did not make it to the University of Delhi while the other one found it in the university canteen. I never asked them why they wanted to find their doubles. In retrospect, it seems apt. One of the friends would end up doing acid after college, his attempts to get into Arts and Aesthetics course for Post-graduation in Jawaharlal Nehru University was a futile one. Sometimes I forget what he looks like. Knowing that he has a doppelganger somewhere in the city’s billboards is almost a consolation. I keep looking for mine. I spot familiar people but cannot see my own. A gardener looks like my friend’s patriarchal father who believes that girls should not go out with men, especially Muslim men.

In Paharganj, the faces looking for faces are interesting. Here the scum of the planet is the looking for peace and god knows what. Gigolos, guides, tourist ‘helps’, shopkeepers all roll into one and the city of the dead, Delhi, Dilli, breathes in the glut of its identities. The bookshop owner I was conversing with flirted with the girl who was working in the shop. Perusing through the books – Jack Kerouac for 200 rupees was cheap – someone was making orgasmic sounds in the next room – the supposed beauty parlor. We continued what we were doing without indicating how the rhythm of the moans was audible through the walls – me looking at the books and the man leering at the girl. Layers on layers. They are as ostensible as the emperor’s clothes. But we don’t recognize them. We are too busy looking for other faces. Doppelgangers, mirrors and then some humanity.

Delhi Diaries

10th Sept, 2014

The world is within the smallness of who you know and who your friends know. Your neighbours have tinted blue windows; cheap, just like you did in your last rented apartment. But you moved out and you are now sure that you will never want a lot of things in life: it makes moving on in life much harder. It reminds you of two people you met in the US: one who said you should have enough things to travel around in two suitcases. Another one had the smallest briefcase you had ever seen when he pulled up to fly somewhere.

The lightness. The Absolute Unbearable Lightness of Being. There are no anchors in life. If you choose to have them, they are both good and bad.. Siddharth understood that, Hermann Hesse wrote that. But living means you are constantly playing between the two. 

Maybe reading will help.

“the poet is a man who – because of everything – is always about to cry”. Lorca wrote that. I recited that. She said, ‘how true’ – with a snigger. I did not know what to say. 

On Conrad’s quote on Adventure

Adventure by itself is but a phantom, a dubious shape without a heart.

Perhaps the core of this view lies in the unanticipated shape or ‘form’ which the word ‘adventure’ brings. The difference between the ones who searched for adventure in Conrad’s time (these are his words that I am quoting above) and us who live in the era of Google Maps and Google Earth is the fact that we ‘know’. The challenge then is to find the source of this anticipation and still preserve it in us so that we should not be affected by the fact that there is, indeed, “Nothing to be done” in our age. To face that concrete meaning that we have now built in our midst on the Internet and elsewhere and still find the “phantom” of the unknown, or even be beguiled by the fact that we are still on the fringes of what we call the ‘unknown’ – that is the journey. The “dubious shape without a heart” is the same heart which, should it plunge into it all, would become the heart of immense darkness and see the horror of it all.

The horror of the civilization is where Heart of darkness is more than likely a satire on adventure and a homage to the futile search for meaning of being human. The language is elusively searching for this centre of being which the civilization can no longer hold. It leaves us at the fringes of grasping at the aftermath of an encounter where the world has collapsed into a nebulous state of non-time and the vast colossus of the space in front of us is the nightmare of dimensions. Conrad captures it in the ‘darkness’. The adventure is a dark comedic description of this negotiation.