Monday, 4 June 2018

The Monthly Ledger: February - May 2018

Hello everyone!

How are you? I'm great, and I hope you are too! These past two months, I read quite a few books (maybe I should've read more :P ) and I can't wait to tell you about it!

1. A Feast For Crows, George RR Martin

Image result for a feast for crows A massive book. Simply massive.

It has been nearly 6 months or so since I last visited Westeros with all its blood and murder galore and I would say this book didn't entertain me as well as I wanted it to. First off, there were no parts about Jon Snow, Denaerys, Tyrion, Davos or any of the characters that truly add significantly to the story. Martin justifies this in a note at the end of the book, "I wanted to write all the story for half of the characters instead of half the story for all of the characters". I understand that the main purpose of this book is to relate the reader the atmosphere in Westeros in preparation for the Great War in the coming books, but nevertheless, the book was a little hard on the brain.

1. Characters: Martin has done an excellent characterization of the common people of Westeros. The smallfolk talk of bandits and horses, and are unaware of omnipresent Game of Thrones controlling them. I was impressed by this because it reflects that without technology to spread information about what is going on in the kingdom, people know next to nothing about who to blame for their problems. The smallfolk don't care at all for who sits on the Iron Throne. However, this got really tedious. After a point, I honestly didn't care what a Septon or a farmer or stableboy thought. The dialogues were long, tedious and irrelevant to the big picture.

2. Plot: Too many mini-stories on the side that detracted from the main story. The characters in the prologue were mentioned only in the epilogue and they had nearly no impact in the main story. Having seen the TV Series already, the subplots were mindbogglingly slow-paced and excruciating. While I was reading the book, I was unaware that Martin planned to write about only half the characters, so for most part of the book, I was foolishly hoping for Jon Snow, Daenerys, Tyrion or at least a sensible, clear-headed Sansa Stark.

Image result for star rating 3


***
In May, I visited a second-hand bookstore in a place like Ukkadam here in Coimbatore. Ukkadam has a collection of twenty-something second-hand bookstores, bookstores with tarpaulin doubling as roofs,bookstores where the grey pollution of the air and smell of dung from the nearby dump is replaced by the strange wistfulness of bookstores that can calm a reader like nothing else can. I was positively buzzing with energy when I came in and lost my mind when I saw all the leaning towers of novels, tipping over with the weight of all the carried. New books are great, but used books are beautiful. I love the yellowed pages, to know that before me, there were probably random people who I'd never meet, who thumbed through these pages, took time off their schedules to devote themselves to another world, exactly like I was going to do in the next few weeks with my newfound drugs. 

A list of the books I bought:
  • Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code, Bart D Ehrman
  • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, Steig Larsson
  • The Alchemist, Panlo Coelho (I know, I know, I haven't read this yet)
  • Fall of Giants, Ken Follet
  • The Oath of the Vayuputras, Amish 
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
  • Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking
  • The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  • From Amazon: The Selection Series, Kiera Cass (because your girl can do both)


2. Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code, Bart D Ehrman


Image result for truth and fiction in the da vinci code It goes without saying that I bought this book to know if Brown's claims in The Da Vinci Code, especially because it shook the very foundation of my limited knowledge of religious history.

However, throughout the book we learn that the only artifact that could be gleaned for information from biblical times is the Bible itself. Understandably, we have to be extremely critical (critical analysis, not 'criticism') about what we learn from the Bible. This is what we learn over and over again from this book.

I don't want to  spoil it, but a lot of what got me excited about The Da Vinci Code turns out to be merely theories, not solid facts.

Technically speaking, the book's writing style is really more suited to an academic, and was kind of excruciating to me.


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Note: Despite the 2/5 rating, I must emphasize that this book does meet its purpose: to argue and inform to its readers the historical validity of the claims in The Da Vinci Code. However, its style didn't appeal to me - this may be better-rated amongst academics.

3. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy

Image result for the ministry of utmost happinessPredominantly revolves around the life of Anjum, a hijra (an intersex person), in Delhi and a Tilottama, a Keralite woman in Delhi that hates jewellery, settling down and any semblance of a stable life. Set in the 1970s, it describes how their lives are influenced by the Kashmiri conflict.

This book is stylistically rich, complex, politically-inclined and crudely questions the core of the Kashmiri conflict through Tilottama's critical eyes. In fact, it is full of subtle ridicule of many traditions/prejudices that make no sense - the shunning of hijras; the pointlessness of protests in the 1900s when literally everything, from the agricultural system to the Kashmiri conflict, was protested against. The collection of characters were very interesting too: a strong-minded hijra, an untraditional woman, a thrifty business-oriented Hindu man that calls himself Saddam Hussein, a dog, a goat, 20 people in their graves of which a few have a 2-3 page long backstory.

However, there were so many subplots and so much description that it began to get confusing and excruciating. I had to suffer through a 20-page backstory to a character to finally find out that the said character was Anjum's vegetable-seller's niece's tailor that served in Kashmir and has an alcohol problem, several mistresses, and a white polka-dotted shirt stained brown from that one time he was playing with his son and tripped and scraped his knee, the son that is great at school and can play football but hates eating brinjals. But hey, YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS TO UNDERSTAND THE CONFLICT OKAY

By the time you're done with the book, you realize that there is literally no story. It appears to be, or atleast tries to be, intellectual, although it only feels dense, slow-moving and rather purposeless.

Maybe I should push reading the The God of Small Things?

Image result for star rating 2.5

A few more quickies:
4. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest - Image result for star rating 4

5. The Alchemist - Image result for star rating 4

6. The Selection Series - Image result for star rating 4 (a necessary breather after the Ministry of Utmost Happiness. It might seem unusual that I rate a YA fantasy higher than a complex, political novel, but in terms of entertainment and how immersive it was, The Selection was much better.)

7. The Fourty Rules of Love, Elif Shafak - hands down one of the best books I've read. A little fantasical, but very hopeful and uplifting. Image result for star rating 4

And that's it from February to May!

See ya!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Hopefully Inspirational

Hey everyone!

Look at me, posting twice in the same week! Hope you guys are doing great and are assaulted by good energy only!

As mentioned in a previous post, I graduated high school. What I failed to mention, however, was that I graduated as Topper (or Valedictorian). In line with school tradition, I was invited as Chief Guest for my school's Republic Day Celebration and asked to give a speech. Since obtaining the video from the school's authorities may take a few decades, allow me to present the transcript instead!

Enjoy!

Teachers, Parents, Guests and Students, 
First of all, thank you. Thank you for this incredible honour - my younger self would have killed for this opportunity. In all honesty, I struggled to write this speech. I was racked with fear and nausea, because I couldn’t decide: what is the perfect topic for this immensely important occasion? What will interest a crowd so varied in gender and age? I would like to inspire you with a fiery Steve Jobs-type speech that will drive you to write the next Nobel Prizes-winning book. But I doubt I can, so allow me to talk about something a little different. 
For the past 12 years, like most of you here, I’ve battled homework by day, deadlines by night. I’ve wasted time on Instagram and studied till two am. I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into projects and assignments. I would’ve been crushed by the pressure if it weren’t for one thing: people. While most inspirational speeches focus on success, ambition, fire, goals, motivation and numbers, the most underestimated item on that should be on that list is people. 
Every day, as I climbed up those stairs on that block to the IB classrooms, I would see my classmates sitting in groups, hopefully surrounded by textbooks, the air energetic with talk of thin film interference, organic chemistry and, who am I kidding, the newest movies too. There is always something refreshing about this moment, because it shows how strength is in solidarity, how youthful spirit can ease pressure. As I look back at these 12 years, it is not my grades or awards that I remember, but the time my friend taught me physics or when we joked about how school was basically ‘12 Years A Slave’(it isn't!). Or when we begged the teacher to let us go early for lunch for the biriyani, and when we struggled to climb the stairs afterwards because we ate too much.  No number can quantize the special relationship I share with each teacher here, the hours spent in their cabins figuring out a difficult math problem or discussing my assignment. No number can quantize how much I depended on the lab akka (assistant) to finish my experiments – she always had way more common sense than I did.
As of today, it’s been nearly two months since I finished school, and 68 years since India implemented the Constitution. Both India and I haven’t stabilized ourselves yet. We stumble in the dark, but our freedom lies in the heat of youthful spirit, ambition and people. It is spirit that sustains us, inspires us, propels us, that keeps us hungry for more.

Now I doubt if you listened to this entire speech – if you haven’t, I ask that you remember this: never settle, choose to be extraordinary, but do so with the strength of spirit and people backing you.
Awkwardly waiting for a cue.

Talking: be it to huge crowd or a single guinea pig, I really get invested in it.
See ya soon! 

Monday, 12 February 2018

September 1, 2016

Hello everyone!

It's been quite a long time since an update! I'm currently at the end of the college admissions process and at the beginning of the will-they-accept-you phase of crippling anxiety. Now that high school's over, I have an alarmingly large amount of time in hands. The moment my eyes snap open in the morning, true to the routine I've had for the past two years or so, I make a mental list of what I have to do. No word can perfectly capture that momentary shock when you realize that there's no homework, assignment or task waiting to eat up your day. In a way, it feels rather lonely. (o_0) I've constantly been working on something or the other for 12 years, and even for the two years before that, so this kind of emptiness feels quite disarming and frankly, is dangerous when in the hands of an obsessive person like me. Nevertheless, I've realized that it was only after graduation that I connected more closely with many of my classmates than I had done in the past few years. I tried out new restaurants and went to my first stand-up comedy show too (FRONT ROW SEATS YEAH!)!

Anyway, the point of this post was to share with you, dear readers, a particular poem that I had written for my IB English Language and Literature SL course and later even submitted to many of the universities I applied to. The text below is what I've submitted to universities, so it's an edited version of what I submitted to the IB.

I consider this work to be one of my proudest, most heartfelt accomplishments yet. It is often hard to find the right words to capture your mind without overdramatizing it. As mentioned in a previous post, I believe that only the simplest of words can accurately describe the complexity of your thoughts. They make your reader look beyond the beauty of your words into the beauty of the very concept that you are trying to express. It is precisely this that I've done here and I hope you do enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


***

Both science and poetry have immensely influenced my life, character and values. The former makes me look at the universe in awe, and the latter allows me to introspect and condense my thoughts. Despite science and poetry being viewed as contradicting, both have conjunctly furthered my eagerness to simply learn. Through my blog, I’ve written numerous poems and essays commenting on various facets of the society: parental expectations, anger, the glorification of depression, etc. However, my best work yet was a culmination of all these endeavours in my IB Written Task assignment (a 1000-word creative writing piece with a 300-word rationale), for which I mimicked a popular poem: W. H. Auden’s September 1, 1939. This was both exciting and challenging, as I had to critically analyze the present society through the eyes of a man who lived decades ago, imagine how he would’ve looked at today’s world, and how he would’ve chosen to convey his thoughts. I find these 893 words to be one of my proudest achievements. 
***

Rationale
How has the world changed since Auden’s September 1, 1939? This is the question I have attempted to answer by writing a second version of the same poem, set in the 21st century (2016), from the perspective of Auden himself. September 1, 1939 was a poetic analysis of the early-1940s society, just at the brink of war and ideological shifts. Similarly, in this task, I aimed to analyze the present society, with an Audenesque poem - the analytical clarity of Auden’s style would help me achieve my aim more successfully. This poem highlights issues that would’ve irked Auden about today’s world, like morality, body shaming, pollution, terrorism, exploitation of the working class by the economically powerful, the ruination of everyday life by technology, etc. I have also written about issues that have ameliorated from 1939, like LGBT rights and women's rights. Auden would’ve included these to emphasize that there is still time for hope.  The audience of the poem includes those who want a critical take on world affairs and humans, such as social critics and psychoanalysts.

In line with Auden’s style of work, I have used various biblical references (‘Serpents’ and ‘biblical tower’), biological terms (‘tumors of blood’), imagery and numerous metaphors (‘flesh of apple and the seeds within’) and simple vocabulary. The main themes covered are universal love, war, totalitarianism and other political and social concerns.  I have not adhered to a strict rhyme scheme or meter like Auden, so that readers aren’t distracted from the intended meaning of the poem. The tone is analytical and detached, but dramatic and contemplative. This poem also expresses Auden’s well-known insecurities when it comes to his poems, his frequent revisions and his belief that poems are pointless.

Note: To clear any ambiguities in the meaning of my poem, a word/phrase describing the main idea of a paragraph has been added following each paragraph. Different ideas are separated by a comma.

  
September 1, 2016
It has been a long ride, 77 years to be precise,
when I wrote a poem strange, one that I now purely despise.
However, if there is one thing these years have taught me,
It would be that the unbending human heart ceases to change,
It’s cruel, wicked, unbending ways. 
I am no longer uncertain, no longer afraid –
The bold quest taken in seeking a pattern
has reached its sharp, chilly pinnacle;
 The answer, I fear, is horrifyingly simple:
We humans have a death wish,
and a talent to destroy ourselves from within.

I sit now, not in a dive, but in the Garden of myth,
Ruminating, contemplating, thinking
Of universal love, compassion, affection;
Of treachery, violence and ignorance,
O Eve, what have you unleashed?
(Dynamics of the soul)

From the womb till now, corrupted is the race,
That once sang of soaring skyscrapers and rich dreams.
Its needles of steel and plastic pollute paradise,
and it is now crumbling in the destruction left in its wake.
Scholarship, no longer accurate, and the raven, no longer true.
(Urbanization, unreliable academicians and media)

What rays there were, proved to be merely reflections off the moon.
The Messiah, they say, will arrive in all his glory to rescue,
But humans I ask you, what rescue do you imagine to receive,
When you have barred the gates with ugly fumes?
(Pollution)

Love? Love is mercurial. Thumping and fleeting.
It tears from within. Love of all forms,
Platonic and romantic, lesbian and gay,
Are attempts to either fill voids, or create them.
Love today is merely sparks of lust,
What more could one expect?
For we are made of ephemeral dust,
Ravaged by our selfish despairs.
(Nature of love)
  
We are still tornados, swirling, destroying.
Occurrences at the home, errors of the heart,
Allowed mere rashes on the Earth, to bloom
Into fatal tumors of blood and destruction.
Cross seas and oceans, to join a fanatic cult,
That destroys the flesh of apple and the seeds within.
Thrive in differences, thriving indifferences,
Perhaps another biblical tower is due.
(Scars of childhood impact actions, terrorism)

Stations of knowledge and jurisdiction
soliloquize of fortresses profitable and safe,
promise a Garden of inviolable concrete and cement,
and accomplish these with Alt-Right, a club and mace. 
Can only a poet see the missing ‘but’?
The slightest shake of the Earth, can bring down lairs,
and even in the Garden of Eden, the mortal flaws of the body,
are laid, for all to see, naked and bare.
(Politicians deceive and achieve lofty goals with crude methods)

 The holy sanctum sanctorum - violated,
Evil demons trespass into the dualistic world
Causing a diabolical manipulation of Plato’s ideal:
Ideal horse, ideal speed, ideal beauty reinvented.
The public children once sang ‘Ring around the Rosie’
Oblivious to Europe’s rosy history.
But now they draw, on the cracked shell of dust,
straight, meandering rivers of crimson,
as the demons rebuild the ideal body.
(Rigidly-defined beauty standards set by society, self-harming)

Frozen forever in a capture of 1989,
Stands a man in the street with modest bags.
Passively aggressive, strikes a revolution,
Stares at the four green monsters before him,
As the State silently curses, “We’ll settle this soon.
Growth of revolutionary citizens, as in the popular picture from 1989 of a Chinese man rebelliously standing in front of army tanks)
Playing its game of throne and power, assured
We need polity and stability to survive lest we are
untrue citizens for what are we without belonging,
Without pride, loyalty and a proud history.
But reality will always show its nature true,
For when hunger is out hunting, you will
Not survive. Forget history, pride and loyalty –
We will stop the game and only rue.
(Governments brainwash citizens with lofty emotions that won't matter in desperate times)

Glassy eyes of children, the young and old ripped
By a fragile monster fashioned by the victim’s own.
Creations have turned upon the creator,
Who tastefully designed his own hell.
The morning cockerel has been replaced by
a dejected, disturbing digital death knell.
The evening polity of chatter and cigar replaced by,
A grand gamut of glowing, glazed eyes under a spell.
(Humans 'murdered' by digital media overkill)

While a poet commands merely a sharp pen,
powerless to defeat the slithering Serpents.
A ray of hope there still may be for I,
Like any poet, can instill hope, destroy futility
And scribble away verdigris and rust. 
(Power of poetry)
  
Time has mended some tears in the cloth,
The laws of attraction match the laws of the heart,
like cannot repel anymore; the unlike needn’t attract either,
‘Don’t ask, don’t tell?’ Well then, I’ll sing and proclaim:
Natural selection will weed out your breed!
The Second Sex rules empires of wealth.
Unlike physical strength mental prowess is eternal.
They bring down the damp, the deaf and the dim,
with grace and cogent analytical clarity.
(Acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights, women empowerment)

The decades have never been more dishonest,
the decades have never been more advanced.
Might we, a species of collective indecisiveness,
learn from history, revise the past?
Might I, a creature of doubt and flawed produce,
journey to the underworlds to bring back Eurydike?
Would you, beleaguered by the Eros in your construct,
become the creature of my dreams, of a poet’s futile exercise?


***

P.S. If you're an IB student scouting for sample Written Assignments, it might help you to know I scored 19/20 for this assignment (rationale + poem).

Goodbye!

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Monthly Ledger: January 2017

Hello!

I hope you're doing well! I've just finished school (I miss it already!) and I can already see the light at the end of the terrifying tunnel of US college admissions! UK and Canada awaits, so I shall stall no longer with this month's reads!


          1. Origin by Dan Brown - finished 28/12/2017

Image result for dan brown originI mean, need I say anything? I've been a long-time lover of Dan Brown and have found no other author that can meld mystery and fact together so skillfully.

Origin begins with Robert going to the tech-prophet Edmond Kirsh's (a genius that can predict the future with statistics and computing - go data science and analytics!) unveiling of a presentation that could potentially destroy religion by presenting solid evidence that could upend the fundamental laws of all world religions. On the day of the presentation, however (perhaps a little bit too predictably) Edmond Kirsh is shot. The story then follows Robert Langdon and Ambra Vidal, who helped organize Kirsh's presentation, as they try to unveil Edmond Kirsh's secret.

Edmond Kirsch is definitely one of my favourite characters from the Dan Brown series. His flair for the dramatic, his combined love for poetry and computing, his open hate derision of religion make him an interesting, varied character. I also liked how Dan Brown didn't completely stereotype him - Edmond Kirch was a tousled hair, sarastic-t-shirt wearing, unassuming genius at college, but is now a fashion-savvy, 'totally hip' man that knows how to ruffle the feathers of the masses (Elon Muskian, in my opinion)

And as always, I loved the references to poems of yore, the description of Guggenheim and other tourist sites, the sheer amount of information about everything, the omnipresent symbols and the intellectual discussions between the main characters, particularly one between Langdon and the priest of Sagrada Familia - the conversation was purely intellectual and academic from both sides, with no fierce emotion clouding rationality - I liked that. 

On the other hand, I felt Dan Brown went overboard with the descriptions that is annoying when all the reader wants is action. Some of the characters, despite being very informed and 'intellectual', seem to forget simple bits of information at crucial times. The plot was also quite predictable: 24-hour treasure hunt set in an exotic location (mostly European/Middle East) as Robert is being hunted by said exotic location's goverment while he runs around, trying to crack the code with an exotic beauty (in this case, Spanish). 

Quite unlike his previous novels, Langdon takes a backseat in terms of knowledge in this book, probably because it has a lot of technology in it. 

Origin maybe isn't Dan Brown's best work, but having been starved of a book for four insufferable years, it was reliving to meet Robert Langdon in another mindblowing thriller again.

           2.  Gone Girl by Gilian Flynn - finished 07/01/2018

Image result for gone girl book
My list of psychopathic books is limited to only two- The Shining, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (and the farmhouse part from The Girl who Played with Fire). 

Gone Girl is another addition to my short, I-hope-I-don't-read-this-kind-of-thing-anymore-oh-wait-I-will list of books. When my friends told me this was disturbing, I never imagined the extent to which it would ravage my sanity. Gone Girl was chilling, disturbing, traumatizing and definitely, entertaining. 

The book revolves around Amy and Nick, unhappily married, unhappy because when they met, both of them pretended to be 'cool' to impress each other. It's this effort to impress that leads to an initially happy marriage, and soon, an alleged murder, frame-up, a righteous vendetta, actual murder and an alleged-kidnap-and-murder and a psychotic sociopath that is downright scary.






A quick punctuated list of Gone Girl's highlights:
  1. Amy and Nick - what a clever choice of names to contrast a story so insidious. Just your average Nick and your average Amy. 
  2. The book, like many, intelligently portrays that justice is largely determined by society - there's no 'right' or 'wrong', just 'what does the public think'. Towards the end, when a character is (wrongly) thought to be blameless and another wants to convict (spoiler alert) her, a police officer says it isn't possible, because it's all about 'what the public opinion is' (not verbatim). This malleability of justice is liberating in some cases - it has what made homosexuality, which was previously considered criminal, to be legal. In other cases, this malleability could be exploited by criminals that have actually committed a crime like murder or rape (which have always  been considered a crime in nearly all societies - should even this change in the future, we know we've hit rock-bottom) because public opinion is always driven by emotions and TRP ratings, not the truth. 
  3. The uncannily persuasive narrative writing style. Flynn's writing style literally messed up my sense of judgment - it takes advantage of our prejudices, our lack of knowledge of our lack of knowledge. Insanely clever. 
  4. At a point in the novel, we find out that it was Amy's 'Cool Girl' persona that initially drew Nick to her. It really made me think of personality standards, as I had discussed (ranted?) in the previous post. Amy complains of how men prefer the 'Cool Girl' - young, funny, attractive, easy-to-maintain, light-hearted and undemanding. As though men want an undemanding creature for their entertainment, not recognizing that the creature is an entirely separate being, a woman, who can be grim, demanding, attention-seeking, dramatic, high-maintenence if she goddamn wants to. And for that reason, I understood Amy and her (spoiler alert, sort of) God-like dole out of punishments. 
And with that, I give you January!

Goodbye!

Monday, 18 December 2017

Magical Creatures, Instagram Captions and Romanticism

Twenty-first century poetry sings,
ardently designs the elusive 'she'
She, the dreamy fighter,
the wondrous traveler,
the unimaginable lover,
the magnificent conqueror,
a perfect, aesthetic woman, girl,
that fulfills the longings of
digital hearts.

Beauty standards?
To hell with it!
Let's set personality standards instead.
Let's create a fantasical creature,
with cheesy quotes and unmeaning words,
now girls have to change their personality instead.

Go, now,
become the girl with demon wings and starry eyes,
become the girl that fights to death and silently cries,
become the girl that displays strength but is weak inside.
no, learning coding isn't magical enough,
no, displaying your emotions isn't elusive enough,
no, wanting to bake isn't wild enough.

Mind, Instapoets, 'she' is a representation of
our depression, anger and longing,
emotions that are forever bound by ever-pervasive isolation,
and while you submit to 'her' so willfully,
care before you sacrifice reality for inspiration.

***

I'll admit it, I like poems about the 'she' too. They sound exotic and otherworldly. They give me a fantasical 'role model' to follow in a life dictated by college admissions and academic credentials (nothing wrong with that I guess :P). The words are powerful: they are sweet to my ears, soothing to my heart and invigorating to my mind.

This one, for instance (and for obvious reasons), was a memorable quote:

Image result for poems she

However, I began to have second thoughts when I began to see kids using these as their Instagram captions. Ten more posts captioned the same way, and it became annoying, but I couldn't exactly put my finger on what was it about this 'she' that began to annoy me - this 'she' was beautiful, daring and exotic and even I  admired her, so what's so different about it when kids younger than me begin to talk about her?

You see, what is odd with 'she' is that this creation glorifies sadness. It makes being depressed, lonely and elusive a beautiful, exotic and fearless thing to be. Crying behind closed doors, instead of seeking help, is lovely. Putting up an energetic, social persona, and crumbling behind curtains, is appealing. Being this messy, deep, dark girl that doesn't utter her deepest desires and acts them out through wildness is fashionable.

And when young teenagers are exposed to this kind of personification (without the context of a novel, unlike the Dean Koontz quote above), while the extent to which it can be dangerous is questionable, it would somewhat alter their idea of practicality. Being practical and responsible would be (and in fact, is) regarded as boring; being reckless, wild and full of fun (nothing wrong with a little bit of each though) would be the 'it' thing. This reminds of the Romantic era (refer Sophie's World book review) when inspiration and star-crossed love was glorified - perhaps it must be mentioned that in conjunction with the rise of romantic philosophers, suicide rates skyrocketed too. It still remains one of my favourite eras though.

On a deeper level, we could ask why we want to be romantic, why we like fantasy and magic, why we don't like practicality and empiricism. As Camus says in 'The Myth of Sisyphus' - without romanticizing things, life becomes stripped of all meaning and we find living to be indefinite and unworthy of living. (On a side note, The Myth of Sisyphus is an interesting read - it discusses if realizing life is meaningless necessitates suicide).

Though this may be a very small 'issue', and definitely a privileged, first-world one, it is something that has troubled my mind countless times.

Tell me what you think?

Friday, 17 November 2017

Primordial Emotions

 An interesting article from the online magazine TeenInk: 

"Use a Simpler Word in a Complicated Word's Place

English has a wonderful dual heritage. At its core there is a duality, a choice, between its formal, official Latinate roots, with its information, transubstantiation, and nutrition; and its earthy, warlike, immediate Germanic roots, with its knowledge, God, and bread. The Germanic words often hit us on a stronger, more emotional level. They are words that are more connected to our immediate needs for survival. They are the words that tell us about blood, food, and love, not lacerations, nourishment, and amorousness. One teacher of mine called these words, the types that refer to our most basic human desires and instincts, as primordial words. They are words that were in us before words even existed. If you think that's a contradiction, just don't overthink it. The goal of this exercise is to stop overthinking.

At moments of great importance or emotion in books, you'll notice how everything gets simple, and writers return to primordial words to describe things. They are much more effective, more timeless, more human. The other words have their place, but they are fussy and distant. It's easy for you to switch them out at key points in your story, and they'll immediately give you a jolt of something both more vivid and more spiritual. These words feel more essential to our humanness. So when your character is dying or loving or weeping, remember these words, and use them liberally. Strike out the anxious, intellectual Latin."
 "Writers return to primordial words to describe things"
Please note that all credits go the author H. Blair*


***

It is quite comforting to know that no matter how much humanity advances, no matter how 'un-humanlike' we may become with our increasing isolation, no matter how many lines we cross to create a utopian society, concepts like 'love', 'hunger' and 'blood' will always be our base instincts. It truly shows that we could go a full circle back to our primal instincts. There are countless articles claiming that we live in the most peaceful time of humanity, which I personally agree with, but I believe humanity yearns for the innocence of its ancestors as an adult does for her childhood.

*From: "Teen Ink | Use A Simpler Word - Teen Ink Weekly." Teenink.Com, 2017, http://www.teenink.com/Weekly/2017-10-24-article.

Friday, 27 October 2017

IB is the Thing with Feathers

IB is the thing with feathers, that clings to the soul
and screeches the tune with all the words and never stops at all.

- I'm just kidding!