My Dear Country

Long have I dwelt who I write for. Is it for the bong none of us know we are, the shamefaced legacy of a colonial one night stand? Is it for you who I hate for the same reasons I hate myself? Is it for the blood on tabletops and silver iodide on the sidewalks of my hometown? Or the delinquent who gives a damn as long as it buys her another shot?

Long have I dwelt why I write. Is it to flash my "perverse, incongruous, absurd, forbidden" innards at craven corporate netajis, their wobbly craven spouses and pretty craven babies? Is it to somehow make the mundane seem heroic? Is it to honor my ancestors, to keep you from judging me by my seeming lack of politics or literacy? Is it to help you decide that you really do need that optical whitener?

The greatness that comes from peoples painted black or white or green or saffron is an illusion. All ideologies are a waste of time when all you need is optical whitener. What you really achieve is the desolation that every Agent Smith knows but cannot acknowledge. The wealth of cultures ground down to the glorious globalized spam we all create and consume, like blog posts, like vacation selfies (more of the miracle that is me), like bestsellers racks in an Indian bookstore (if you are reading this when you need to look up what a bookstore is, thank your stars you still can read).

The Medicine Of Language

Recently, my alter ego, the Khan who must not be shamed, used the analogy of the typewriter to emphasize the importance of diligence. The evolution of the movable type is easily one of the greatest leaps that mankind has ever made, comparable to the invention of the wheel or the taming of fire. One would have thought that the journey from printed books to instant real time self publishing (like Facebook updates or blogposts or digital journalism) would somewhere set minds free and take civilization to its next pinnacle.

The story of corruption, intolerance and bigotry in the year 2017 seems to indicate otherwise. Somewhere in this amazing journey, the true value of information has been sacrificed at the alter of commerce and power. One wonders what Plato or Socrates (or Auden or Lennon) would have done with Twitter for example. Not what Trump or Chetan Bhagat are doing, for sure. The journey from wooden block printing to digital printing took 1700 years, while the journey from electronic  printing to virtual self publishing on the Internet took less than 10 years!! The shift from hand written to block printed text was driven by religious mandate (the need for uniform transmission of teachings of Buddhism in China), whereas the explosion of social media was driven by technology and commerce. Alvin Toffler ascribed it to the pace of human evolution and highlighted the dangers that lie behind such rapid change.

Our worlds are changing, dictated by commerce and government policies (think Reliance, think 3D-printed guns, think cloud-based streaming audio and video, think demonetization, think self-driving cars, think Russian election hacks), but our minds are several decades if not centuries behind. Public relations and advertising are the best places to see this in action. Whether it be for consumer goods, political figures or ideologies, most advertising tickles our baser instincts, greed, gender politics, tribalism, aggression, violence, etc. And it works like a charm; a multi-billion dollar industry will vouch for that.

Your Burtons From Your Nolans

Reboots wipe memories down, start things afresh, freeing one to build things up the way he or she would like, unfettered by the landscape of the past. To leave the warts out and wipes kisses off the brow. To forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. Ten years since this jejune diet rebooted, a fine artefactual mist obscures what I set out to say. Prescient most days, but some mornings, I squint to even recall what I set out to say.

Ten years, mourning the death of poetry, of mother and child, of civility and integrity in public life, clinging on to beliefs that the world scoffs at. Ten years of unexplained context to what one reads. Worsened by adjunct imagery.
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