Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Contempt that bred familiarity

Clichés and I, we exist together peaceably these days.

In fact the friendship, I am not displeased to report, has far exceeded this mild temper. Clichés and I have become Fast Friends.

Of late, I find we’ve been rescuing each other from many daunting situations.

Often these days when I falter in thought and speech [it is Age, I’m convinced. Wily bastard has been preying upon my faculties]… pronto, a cliché presents itself without consideration for its well being or reputation.

And I, on my part, renowned enemy of the cliché in my more agile days, am now but a mellow creature, who welcomes, nay defends the cliché with the magnanimity of a lactating cow. There is, undeniably, certain joy of the spirit in representing those less fortunate than oneself, and I am pleased to share my late [but Ever Timely] discovery that though the cliché can assault the finer sensibilities of those who fancy themselves a part of that remote league of linguistic militia that pit their wits against what they arrogantly refer to as the corruption of the Word [I was once one of them], there is an inextinguishable truth burning fierce and pure at the core of each of these much misunderstood foot soldiers of language.

After all, what has a cliché done, but repeat an incorruptible truth relentlessly over the ages, across language, caste, creed and sex, without fatigue, or thanks or even an honourable mention?

No more shall I indulge in this vile act of arrogance and ignorance! In fact, solemnly have I pledged that at every crossroad whence a cliché is challenged, I shall rise, without fear to wreak vengeance upon those who try to shame it with Scathing Retort and Quick Repartee. And clichés, gentle generous angels, in turn pour themselves forth with heartening abandon into every sentence I construct. They apply their sturdy time-tested selves with loving attention to every thought that I think, and together with a camaraderie befitting twins, we endeavour to erect linguistic monuments of engaging proportion.

Of course not everyone appreciates such fond memories that clichés and I are creating for posterity.

Certain dark forces are streaming forth their untrammelled maliciousness in the garb of “concern over my sudden lack of creativity” and other such thinly masked pretences at sympathy from the inner circles of Those Who I Work For, and Those Who Used To Like Reading What I Wrote in a deplorable and dastardly attempt to Put a Spanner in the Works.

If only I could tell them: Live and Let Live. But to their insensate ears, this is just another cliché. Ah irony! Such is the nifty wisdom of a handy cliché. Who but they stand by me in this Dark Hour? Is it not true that A Friend in Need is a Friend indeed? Oh clichés! Upon My Soul, you are the truest of the True Blue.

And now, gentlefolk of BlogWorld, I extend my plea to all of you who empathise with this cause – please pause a moment to sign this petition*:

Save the cliché.

Because, Without Them We Are Nothing But Shells of Ourselves.

If you forward this to ten people, a Click in Time Will Save Nine.
If you forward this to twenty people, you will Make Hay While the Sun Shines.

If you don't, Go Die in a Ditch, B… Witch.

*Disclaimer: We, at Shout, cannot promise that anything will come of this petition despite our Best Intentions, as There is Many a Slip Between the Cup and The Lip.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Love and a Book

There was once a boy who knew how to love. With compassion and joy unbound, in oceans he dealt his love to all. To his parents, siblings, friends and to his teacher above all.

Wave upon wave it soothed their souls, and spread joyously from the land he was born in, to the farthest shores across the seas.

Many years passed, and in their passing they found he had enveloped the world in a delicate sheath of love.

Then one day, in peace and joy he passed away. A drop returned to the ocean it splashed up from. A drop that before dissolving coursed its ecstatic story on a page.


Many decades later, another boy, unsure of his love, gifted those pages to someone. And gently, a dream was stirred. A dream dreamt many years ago in ignorance. A dream that haunted and stayed and singed both sides of a brain. Until a pair of eyes hungrily devoured a gift of uncertain love, and discovered an immeasurable truth deeper that conscious thought.

Ironic that that which he mistrusts the most should convey depth that his eyes couldn’t.


In an autobiography of Love.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

James the Blogger

I have returned to James Joyce after two years, and discovered talent.

Perhaps I will discover too, some day, that Jhumpa Lahiri is an enjoyable writer, and that fairies really do exist. But, let us leave that safely and realistically for the distant future. For now, James Joyce is quite enough for my fragile constitution.

Tangentially, I also love the word fragile. It starts with a nicely fulsome, furlsome “fra” and then rides up a hard “g” to come gently looping around a lovely lovely lilting “ile”. Fragile. Like a dimpled smile.

But back to James the joyous. Who wasn’t very joyous. At all. In fact I’d even risk confessing that my first impression was that he was a bit of a raging bore. The sort that come thumping dully at your brain at .01 kmph with their battery of tenuous detail and plateauing plots that never conclude. Anything. At least not on the very gross plane that I exist at, intellectually speaking.

But before you march me off to the corner to clutch my ears and contemplate my horrific impertinence, do for a moment consider this: Roddy Doyle, official Darling at Shout, hottest Irishman in the World, sharpest writer in the Galaxy and my focal point of very shameless obsession in the Universe, officially went on record to say this.

My little encounter with Joyce, however, occurred well before I chanced upon this soul-soothing article.

It was my very affected literary aspirations that lead me to Joyce. When you’ve been a student of literature, unread works like Ulysses hang very heavily on your conscience. Especially if many of your much admired writers have at inspired moments of gratitude acknowledged the deep influence of this one big unexplored mine of very pressingly weighty writing that somehow, instead of seeming exciting, bears down upon you like… weighty writing.

It is with this sense of martyr-like duty towards my literary evolution, and the moral incandescence of those who [try to] choose right over wrong I sought James Joyce amidst a gay pile of Agatha Christies, with pursed lips and the determination of a cobra.

“Short stories”, I thought with the smugness of one who has slyly outdone fate, as I held a very blue copy of Dubliners, “how torturous can they be, short [to intensely and meaningfully stress the point] as they are”.

But, my Strength of Character so bright and fierce, paled a few words later. I shoved Dubliners aside very quickly after buying it off a railway station rack as a last minute, inspired remedy for a very boring journey. I decided that I’d rather fall into a gazeless, senseless stupor watching trees go by in an endlessly unchanging landscape than read about the non-lives of an unexpectedly wide range of numbingly insipid characters.

Literary pretensions or not, there are some things I will just not subject myself to. I’d rather accept that I am shallow, uncultured and utterly unliterary.

Two years passed by. In the interim I started blogging and realised a lot about my taste, style and appreciation of the written word. I also became acutely aware of how words can elude you with cruel disdain sometimes and make you beg like a blubbering bitch to be allowed that exact meaning you are trying to convey. However, even as I struggled, each time I came across a blogger with James Joyce on their list of favourites, I turned a complicatedly squirmish-dismissive-sheepish-arrogant blind eye to every J, A, M, E, S, J, O, Y, C and E on the list.

And then, fate struck with a slier backhand.

The one bit of relief I unwittingly grabbed minutes before rushing out of the house, on what has been the most torturous journey of my professional life, turned out to be, several thousand feet above terra firma, strapped in an economy seat, the same blue book. Dubliners.


I read rather carefully this time. Gratefully even, for the distraction.

And it struck me like the thunderous thighs of a rampaging elephant, that had James been a blogger, he’d truly have made me joyous. I’d have pledged my undying allegiance to his daily/ weekly/ monthly outpourings on blog. I’d have pronounced him King of all thinking bloggers in the universe.

And, I’d have begged him to write a book.

He is that subtle and fine. And I must now go and rub my face in poo for being so unjustifiably, unthinkably, enormously, unbelievably, embarrassingly judgemental.

PS: I still haven’t the courage to attempt a reading of Ulysses. Yet.