Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tooth lost, Wisdom gained [Presumably]

People do adventure sports on their birthdays. I had my wisdom tooth pulled out. Today morning as I was thinking of my last few birthdays, I couldn't remember what I'd done since the 2011 birthday. I can be assured that that won't be the case next year. My first experience with any sort of surgery, if you ignore that incident where I had my head stitched in the presence of half of IT, has been pretty okay. The jaw's numb because of the anesthesia but the doctor promised pain after it wears out. If it's too bad, I'll do an update post.

As I was sitting on that fancy contraption at the Dentist's, first to have cavity filled in another tooth, I couldn't help but think about this blogpost. I was trying to store my feelings and impressions so that I could vent them out here but I could only think of the opening paragraph. If your only thought during an incident is your framing of the experience for later reenactment, are you really having that experience? In one of his Woody Allen film reviews, Ebert says that the Allen character lives only to talk about living. Even this thought popped up in my head while I was thinking about this post. It's all so convoluted inside that its impossible to have a firsthand, unadulterated, virgin experience anymore. Real is not interesting. And even if it is, it is only because of its association with something we've read or seen before.

.. literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't anymore. I don't know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script. It's a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters... -Gone Girl

The helpful thought for which you look is written somewhere in a book -Edward Gorey 

I kept looping four keywords in my head while walking back home: Cause and Effect, Claustrophobia, Cartesian Self and the thoughts of writing this post in the process of collecting material for it. And then hovering over all that was DFW's image (actually Jason Segel in DFW Avatar with that benign smile), which I took to interpret as my ideal image to become: of a genius, self-effacing, interesting, funny, pithy essayist a la the writer of To Consider the Lobster and Other Essays. What a book. He's so bloody alive on the page. I'm pretty sure the Maine Lobster Festival isn't half as good as he makes it out, even after applying Hofstadter Law here.

So yeah, to elaborate on those topics, I don't really believe in Cause & Effect. Probably too little Indian Philosophy, too much Nassim Taleb. As much as I tried telling myself that I ought to take care of my health, ensure I'm not treated like a malfunctioning machine in the future, I also thought of Moni Mama and how a non-smoking, teetotaling, extremely disciplined man had to suffer all that he did. Not only is it unjust in a cosmic sense but also utterly bizarre. That's the thing about life: Heads it wins, Tails you lose. You can never win it, can never figure out the game because its so unjustly balanced against you. Consider them rules sacred and you are constantly tempted to trespass. Take them flippantly and you'll be left adrift in the middle of the ocean.

Yes, I felt slightly claustrophobic because of the close proximity of the doctor and the nurse limited my vision, and their hands affected my breath but it had more to do with my helplessness in that situation. Fittingly, I was reading Venkat Rao's Breaking Smart Season 1 before going in, and the episode I was reading was talking about the eternal ubiquity of the internet and how its almost impossible to get off the grid atleast for a while. For all the good internet's doing (I'm a fan, seriously), I guess it's also making us less nimble in the real world. It's an obvious side-effect but in times like these, when you are in an uncomfortable situation, left with just your thoughts, the pining for a phone or a tablet really shows. There's a fantastic video where Louis CK (that master commentator of first-world urban living) talks about how this connected world is making us feel more secure at a surface level but making us lonelier and insecure deeper within.

The tooth splintered into 3 pieces before they pulled it out and as I saw the blood soaked thing lying on the table, I tried to analyse if that pulled out tooth was taking some part of me with it, but apart from the uncomfortably numb physical void, I don't think I really felt a part of me was gone. Which reminded me of this very interesting Daniel Dennett essay which I'm yet to finish. I was talking to Amma the other day about Zen Poetry (ofcourse, as usual, I presume I know more about it than I actually do) when I mentioned what they say about expanding yourself to envelope the rest of the universe, or annihilate the circle of the self to fuse with the other.. I forgot why I started this sentence (Amma'd come to give medicines and this thought bloody fizzed out). Anyway, thanks to the painkiller and the sedative, I'm dazed, which is why I was able to write all this in a flow after a long time. Writing's become a chore of late, something to live upto and its in times like these, when there's no unnecessary meddling on the path between thought and type, that it feels really exhilarating.

All writing is a frozen capsule of space-time. The reshaping of certain experiences sculpted by the time/ mood of writing. But equally importantly, when the gaze of the reader falls on it, it becomes something else entirely: an indelible fragment of that space-time. We don't write, the writing comes to us. And that's all we know about it. I feel good today, slightly buzzed, masochistically pleased about going through the pain to reach this feeling (Fuckall protestant work ethic is the way of our times), and happy about getting my ass down to blog. Thoughts are fantastic, until they strangle you. Today's not one of those days.

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