Wednesday, April 17, 2019

standing on zero

My new hero is, or is it already was, Cory Doctorow. I don't remember how I rediscovered him sometime in the last few weeks though I've had a copy of Information Doesn't Want To Be Free in my reading list for years. Then I read his How I work interview and I realized I wanted to work like that. Be a self-driven, independent, scholar/ writer who knew a lot of things, learnt more everyday, communicated effectively on important matters, attend conferences and had public discussions. More than that, I too wanted to swim daily to cure my crippling backache. The clincher was seeing this photo of his workspace.

The question that cropped up, again, is what do I want to do with my weekdays. On days when I'm obsessed, more than usual, with my own narrative from a third person POV, I appreciate the irony that for a person who publicly abhors work I spend a large part of my life trying to decide what work I'd like to be remembered for. I want to write about technology, the cyberpunk aesthetic, existential crises, end of civilization, historic grand narratives, truth, reality, agency. I also want to write about growing up in Hyderabad in the 90s, want to cover India's general election from the ground, make a refreshingly good masala film with excellent background score and colour splattered visuals. I want to write a serious book analysing and giving a map on the world now, and do a book tour. I want to learn, study, recite and teach classical telugu poetry. I want to learn urdu and memorize beautiful love poems. I want to write a book like Suitable Boy in Telugu set in the 1980s by reading newspapers and periodicals of the day to have a glimpse of how people lived.

I want to read, write, watch, make, listen, talk, taste, travel and learn. It used to be because I thought I could understand the world better and thus deal with it better. Now I'm not so ambitious, not so arrogant. I want to do all these things because they, while admittedly satiate my ego, expand my notions of what it means to be alive and what entails a good life. At this point, I think there is never a time when I'll have 'cracked' the puzzle of life. All knowledge, including Truth, seems spacetime bound. I don't want to transcend life anymore, even though fantasizing about my legacy from an imagined post-death perspective has become a habit really hard to break out of. I just want to soak into life, like slipping into a hot bath, and savour the effect.

Everything we know is an extreme, a stereotype of itself. Every colour in the spectrum can be the last in an arbitrary range. There is happiness beyond the happiest I've ever been, sorrow and despair beyond what I'll ever know. There are those who are worse than me in many things and many who will be better than me in everything. There is hunger and opulence, disgrace and adulation. Mind-boggling ignorance and crystal clear clarity. Gut-wrenching ugliness and breathtaking beauty. And I stand smack in the middle of this, between negative and positive infinities. I stand on zero. To live well is to never forget that.

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