Thursday, June 27, 2019

57 not out

I feel guilty all the time.

When I'm at work and not working; Also when I'm at work and working.

When I'm sitting on the train and staring vacantly out of the window, lost in half-imaginations; Also when I'm sitting on the train and reading a book.

When I'm trying to read through a hard, technical tome; Also when I'm reading an airport thriller.

Watching a boring, art film; Also when watching a mainstream "commercial" film.

When listening patiently on the ..


Sometimes I understand what is going on and am given convincing explanations so that I can feel better. Other times, I roll and scream, agitating at my inability to find mental peace or going meta and brooding over my desperate need for mental peace, shifting between views of Rocky-style strength of will and images of Malkovichian puppetry. The truth, as they say, is right in the middle, too pristine to be fathomed.

Life does not begin after I've achieved the answers. Life seems to be the search for answers. Or is it because I've shaped it that way. But have I ever shaped anything really, when this 'I' precisely was shaped by external forces. I have just started reading Dennett's From Bacteria to Bach and Back in the hope of finding a physical explanation for consciousness (just a fancy word for identity?). It seems to me that all search, physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual (whatever that means) is the search for freedom, is the search to transcend all limitation. Which is strangely understandable (that beautiful word, understand; What does it really mean?) because what I call myself is shaped by my limitations- I'm not anything beyond the limits of this area I can seemingly control (my body), I'm not anything I don't have atleast a passing knowledge of, I'm not someone who has not invested emotionally in this specific set of people (my family and friends), I'm not someone who knows what it is to be anything else except me.

It is frustrating to keep writing the same thing over and over again, running around in circles (or as Cixin Liu memorably put it, "Every era puts invisible shackles on those who have lived through it, and I can only dance in my chains."), making no linear progress. Is that the nature of reality, is it to realise and accept the lesson: to master this level, ostensibly playing the same thing over and over again but getting batter, smoother, savvier at it until I can finish the goal, only after which I can move onto the next level; Assuming there's something like that.

If an idiot is somebody who keeps repeating the same thing expecting a different result, is a genius somebody who keeps repeating the same thing believing that this will eventually lead to a different result (because although repetitions might not be changing anything in the external world but are subtly modifying his internal composition?). Belief, the f-word again: Is there no alternative to faith?

The ravenous hunger for knowledge and experience1 (and subsequently documentation, theory, model-building, analogies etc. ) seems to stem from the impression that if we can get enough data, we can hold it hostage and extort meaning and purpose from the (currently) invisible masters of the universe. If the universe isn't teleological, I don't think we'd know what do to with our lives (or should I read the existentialists for answers who've already, reputedly, grappled with these questions).

"Aesthetics, if they even exist, are to be discovered only once a film has been completed." -Herzog

The above quote sort of makes sense, because otherwise how would you create something original or for that matter even end up creating if it becomes impossible to arrange the conceived idea in the physical world, but it also throws up a gamut of questions3.

How will I gain knowledge? About the world, about myself, about knowledge itself. And if that is what I should be seeking, or if there are any should be's in life.

1 This ofcourse includes poetry, abstract painting, music and the like. Art is how we create maps of our internal landscape, impose structure so that the conscious2 can access it as per need
2 As much as I don't understand the nature or working of my consciousness [Thoughts that I can choose to convert into physical action in comparison to the subconscious, thoughts I neither understand nor can control], I've noticed that I don't want to have to do with anything internal, feelings, ideas, states, unless they're shaped in a way I can atleast pretend to, or delude myself that I do, understand
3 A few from the top of my head: i. Why is it so important to make the film at any cost, even if you're betraying your ideals? ii. If you're not your unchangeable aesthetics/ ethics, then how is the film you're making really the film you want to be making? iii. Is it possible for a human to not give in to aesthetics (a stand-in for ideas tethered in this point of the spacetime) and then isn't it better to subscribe to it more consciously? iv. If the opposite of every rule for writing is also true, like Mark Tredinnick repeatedly insisted, then should I end up being the ping-ping ball, unable to claim surety of anything but still making a film from this, and about this, uncertainty v. Isn't Herzog's insistence on consciously not imposing aesthetics, a certain aesthetic in itself (oh! you post-modernist meta beauty)

*As a chronic overexplainer and fetishiser-in-chief of myself, and currently in love with the idea of DFW's usage of footnotes to emulate the hyperlink (which ofcourse doesn't make sense in a blogpost except purely as style), the not out in the title is a reference to a scorecard reading at the end of the day in a test match.. Fighting, resisting, playing, still hanging in there