Monday, July 24, 2017

Vendetta

There was this exciting sport which used to be practiced by Italians, more specifically attributed to the Sicilians, called the Vendetta. Apparently, if some chappie took it into his head that another chappie was just the person needed to complete the Heavenly Harpists group and decided to send him there with the benefit of the lupara or some such...well, the entire family of the newly-made Harpist would take it upon themselves to add this guy too to the Heavenly Choir. Some families, apparently, took a more wholesale view of the issue. They would feel that the maker of Celestial Harpists would do a better job of being a Harpist himself if he had his entire family along with him. Accordingly, they would pledge to send all of them to join their own dear departed in torturing the Harps of Heaven and sending angels flying in every direction to avoid the cacophony.

Legal luminaries across the world, either because they are not musically inclined or because they prefer the music to be played here rather than up there, frowned upon this sporting endeavor. Or, perhaps, it was a problem because it could not be marketed like other sports. After all, the other sports worked, eventually, on the basis of personality cults. I mean, come on, if every tournament threw up a different winner and, even, had a wholly new set of participants do you really think that you could get to be interested in it? Where would tennis be if Federer could win only one tournament in his lifetime, as would Nadal, as would...you get the point. This Vendetta game is somewhat like that...you win one, you become the target of your victim's family...till you are dead and your killer becomes the target of your family...well, where is the fun in that? And all that the players would be good for is to endorse coffins...so how much funds can you raise from endorsements from Undertakers alone to keep the sport going?

So, for whatever reason, legal luminaries sort of stomped down on the sport. Apparently, though, it still thrives in secret but...well, if it cannot be televised or discussed threadbare on social media, it may as well not exist, right?

But you cannot keep a good idea down, can you? Even if it has to morph a bit in order to keep in with pesky laws.

So...

"This idea is unsound and illogical..."

There goes that vile chap who just attempted the murder of the idea that you and your friends espouse. "VENDETTA", we all scream and...

"It is a pity that your father and mother met the one time they did..."

"A face so ugly that even a mother cannot love..."

"What did you use to blackmail your teachers into passing you out of school?"

"You have friends? Which gutter did they crawl out of?"

"So you took time out from beating your wife and raping your children and came here to talk nonsense about our ideas?"

The Italians and Sicilians were milksops. I mean, come on, their son is killed and all they can think of is kill the killer or at best his whole family. We, if he even dares touch our ideas, we can convert him into a bastard born of a one-night stand, ugly as sin, blackmailer from childhood...we rewrite his entire history from birth onward; vilify his whole family and friends and neighbors and servant maids and the person who takes out his trash; denigrate his clothes, his car, his choice of pet and even the lamp-post opposite his house; in short, we can make him know what a fate worse than death really is.

Those guys who lay claim to the parentage of vendetta would do well to take our correspondence course on the subject.

THIS is real VENDETTA.

Monday, July 17, 2017

e-Narcissism

I am slowly realizing that if something does not have an e-avatar it might as well not exist. That, though, is not likely to be a fate that Narcissism will suffer. In fact, it is quite likely that it IS Narcissism that drives all of social media interactions. At least, it is that way with me.

I mean, come on, I did not start blogging - which is where I started off with my social media voyage - because I thought of a blog as some sort of a private storage space, a sort of external memory storage, for my thoughts. Of course, I was there preening about how well I write and wanting the world to echo my thoughts. Self-absorbed? But then what did you expect of me? To not be narcissistic?

The problem, though, was that everyone else in the world (of blogging, at least) was also too busy preening to watch MY feathers. So, it was like I had to go and admire other people's feathers so that they could, in turn, come and admire mine. You know what, these others, they are such dumb creatures. Instead of understanding that their function in the world was to come over and admire me they seemed to think that I existed to admire THEM! Such self-absorbed narcissistic people as I had never expected to see.

And then I came upon Facebook. Here, at last, I could find myself an appreciative audience. I showcase my brilliant thoughts, throw out quips by the dozen, and find no takers. What the hell was wrong with these guys? Then, I realize that the same damn thing was wrong here as well. I mean, this preening all day is sickening I tell you. If people cannot take time off to be entranced by MY preening, they must be too selfish for words. Back to the old grind, again. At least, it cost less effort here to go admire others. In blogs I had to read them and give 'meaningful' comments. Here, a 'Like' sufficed, though some were too narcissistic to be satisfied with them...they needed comments, too, greedy folks that they are.

And, meanwhile, all these chaps think I am fool enough to be taken in by just 'Likes' on my post...especially my blog posts. As though I did not know that you could scatter 'Likes' like confetti without even being aware who had posted what. I mean, if they do not even write a comment...

As you may well be aware, I had not risen to the stratospheric heights of being 'Shared' as well. Well, to 'Share' is human, to be 'Shared' is divine...and everyone seems to aspire to divinity rather than humanity! AND they say there is something called Twitter and other such media, each of which would have its own equivalent of how to let someone else know if you admire their preening so that they may watch you preen in your turn, hopefully.

Apparently, there was this chap called Narcissus who caught sight of his face reflected in a pool and fell in love with it. Every time he tried to touch his 'love in the waters', his love also leaned towards him but vanished as soon as he touched 'her'. He kept pining for her till he turned into a lovely flower of the same name.

I rather think that if I do wither away like that guy, I may end up being a noxious weed. Though, from the 'Likes' I get when, rarely, I post a pic of myself one would think that I was as handsome as that fella Narcissus.

No wonder the world of social media is so Narcissistic!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Flummoxed by reviews

You know, I never really wanted the world to look up to me. I was quite content if it did not look down on me...well, even if it did, as long as it kept the opinions away from my awareness, I was fine. What can be more modest than that - just asking to be left alone? But, no, even that is too much to aspire for, apparently.

Well, you see, I read books (What else does one read? No need for the sarcasm - there are newspapers, cinema hoardings, advertisements, user instruction pamphlets...). Harmless and certainly not an area where I thought I would be facing anyone bothering to look down on me. And then..."Ah! You say you read thrillers and have never read Baldacci? Tch! Tch"; "Hmm! Ok, so you read Ludlum and Clancy and all those potboilers. Fine. Anything better than that?"! (I have said this before? So? You do not repeat yourself, often? No? Well, you cannot expect everyone to be as peculiar as you.)

And then people told me there were such things called reviews. You could read them and get to know what books to read and all. Sort of guidebook to books, you know what I mean?

And, then...

"....if only the author would not keep writing tired old tropes...."

What was that? I would not know a trope, whether tired and old or young and energetic, if it bit me in the nose. How was I supposed to make out whether this book was good to read?

"...the author almost manages to bring to life, with words, Daliesque scenes..."

What the hell was that? I go searching for enlightenment and discover that this Dali chappie was someone who messed around with paints. What had that got to do with books? Oh, you mean it gave the same sort of feeling to read the book as when you see Dali's paintings? Yeah, I feel the same way whether my cousin shoves the scribbling of her dear daughter in my face or someone drags me through the Louvre...an irresistible urge to escape. So, how does that help me understand the book? Am I supposed to be a connoisseur of paintings as well in order to understand which book to read?

I really think it is not as bad as a friend caustically said once, "Reviewers forget that they are supposed to inform you about the book and not about what they know about everything else but the book." He was of the firm opinion that they sought to highlight their own knowledge and not what you ought to know about the book. Not true, I think. It is merely that people feel special when they use the jargon of their profession, they feel 'professional' only when they do it and, as a consequence, they end up writing reviews that only other reviewers can understand. Or, maybe, there are these beings called discerning readers though, to me, it appears as though they will use up all their discernment in just understanding the reviews. I must be wrong, of course, I usually am.

So, then I think perhaps the readers who give opinions will be a better bet in getting to know if a book is worth reading. The process though reminded me of Wodehouse. Writing from America, about the new wave of movie Westerns, which believed less in the six-shooter and more on the analyst's couch, he says that the Sheriff calls in the town badman, psycho-analyzes him and discovers that the reason why he holds up the stage, robs the bank and shoots up the Malemute Saloon on Sundays is because someone deprived him of his all-day sucker at the age of six. I needed to do something like that to find out what these reviews said of the book, too.

For one, "I could not engage with the characters" could well mean, after analysis, psycho or otherwise, that the reader did not like the fact that the female character wore stiletto heels and the male character sported sideburns. I may be averse to sideburns but may not think that necessarily disqualifies the person from being a protagonist. As for stiletto heels...let it be, as it is I get bashed up without having male-bashing added to the list.

And then, "The heroine...she is so sexy, I loved the story". Ye Gods! THAT's like loving the movie merely because Sunny Leone features in it...the sort of movies she features in THESE days, I mean. I know that 'fans' is a word that is merely a short form of 'fanatics' and there are such who will follow their darling star through any trash that they may act in but to have that happen in books too?

Anyway, you will now realize that I am still reading any and every arbitrary book. Look down upon me all you will...I am done with reviews.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Ladders everywhere

I must have some sort of vertigo, though it does not seem to be the conventional kind. I mean, I can climb up ladders, literally, and even look down upon the ground. Yes, there is that dry feeling in the mouth and shivers down my spine and all that. I certainly would not prefer to cross over to the next building on a tightrope but, get this, my head does not start spinning nor do I feel the pressing need to end it all by taking a swan dive into eternity. But THAT is only when it comes to physical ladders.

The problem with the world is that it is too damn full of metaphorical ladders. You run into them the moment you hit school. (You probably run into them even before on the "Oh! Your Chintu started walking only at xx months of age? My Montu did it in xx-2 months" basis but, at that time, your parents do not get on your case, berating you for your tardiness in toddling around the house breaking glasses). School...Ah! 'Look at Kumar! Always comes first, scores 90+ in all subjects. You...Even if I total up all the marks in all the subjects, you do not equal his score in one subject' These, of course, were the days that grades had not come into the picture though, I am sure, there is an equivalent of this even now. So, there you were, bemusedly wondering about the fact that people saw you squatting on the lowest rung of a ladder that you could not even see.

By around the time you got ready for college, you HAD started seeing those ladders too. IIT - top rung; Medicine at JIPMER/MMC - top rung with a strong case for putting it a notch above even the IITs; NITs next rung and so on till you reached the abysmal depths at which you were positioned. By then, of course, I had developed a definite aversion to these ladders, considering that it seemed like whichever rung I occupied was the last possible rung in everyone else's opinion.

About the time I joined the ranks of the wage slaves, I found out the ultimate bitter truth. Life was a perpetual ladder climbing expedition. You never got off it. You could only fall off it and be stamped upon. First, you are on a ladder of a starting salary comparison, slowly you are on another ladder where your position relative to batch-mates/friends/relatives and the man on the street was important; then, of course, it is position in WHICH company; then your lifestyle; then the sort of people who you know and who know you, then...

Well, sitting at this end of seeing a job as only a way to earn money to eat, drink and be merry, I was lost in the bleak contemplation of an endless life of being the play-piece on an infinite Snake and Ladders board. THAT is when I developed that vertigo, this swimming sensation in the head, the pit of the stomach nausea and an irresistible desire to take a swan dive into eternity.

AND then I realized that I could just refuse to climb them...pile up enough to suit my modest needs and walk away. Which I did.

AND I thought I was safe. Books, I thought, were safe enough a refuge and nerdy book-lovers a solace from all this endless ladder climbing.

"Ah! You read John Grisham and David Baldacci? No Murakami, no Paulo Coelho...Tch! Tch! AND you do not like Rushdie..."

Omigod! 

"If you have not delved into the layers of meaning in the Kafkaesque prose about an Orwellian universe..."

Now, what was all that? I thought the damn thing was a good read. What the hell is Kafkaesque prose and is this Orwellian universe a flat Earth universe or a Copernican one or dangling on strings or afloat in quantum foam?

"What? You only know that you liked the book? Come on, you should be able to tell me whether it ranks for literary quality with a Jane Austen or depth of characters with..."

Ladders here as well! AND, as usual, I am on the bottom rung!

Does being descended from monkeys mean that we should be climbing something always? Ye Gods!