Monday, March 19, 2018

Here and Now

I couldn't send a post for AZIndia Times March edition because I was facing Writer's Block; I know that is a really immodest statement but it wasn't laziness because I tried writing multiple times, even going so far to use Cold Turkey Writers with a challenge of 1000 Words, and nothing, Nothing, came out. It was strange because I've always been able to write something (no matter how unoriginal) and send it across. Not last month. It wasn't as much an need-to-put-an-original-argument crisis as writerly ennui. Which is funny because I was atleast able to write about the ennui earlier. Maybe like Meheranna put it the other day, it is just connubial bliss. I'm floating in some sort of a wonderfully warm-woolly bubble since marriage and it seemed to have reached its apotheosis then. I'm still reading and thinking about interesting things but for probably the first time in my life, firsthand experience has completely overshadowed it. It just feels so good going from one day to the next now. I still have mood swings about the job and my inability to stick to a discipline but they're not overarching themes anymore.

Jordan B Peterson is astounding company everyday and after a brief stint away from Pocket and Feedly (and the myriad blogs and website I follow for "intellectual" stimulus), I'm back to using them albeit in a more controlled fashion. I've been meaning to write about learnings from the JBP podcast for a while now but he packs so much in each of his talks that I may have to listen and read multiple times do a modicum of justice to the breadth and depth of his lectures. I've always loved writers who are generalists and can use theories and frameworks from one field of knowledge to shed new light on a totally different area of knowledge. One of the criticisms meted out against JBP is that he really doesn't have anything new to say but just collates data from different fields and presents it in one narrative. I think we need more people like that, those who not only have the required authority on the subject but also are able to put across their learnings in an extremely compelling manner.

Most of what we know, the frameworks and mental models we use to navigate reality, comes from secondhand or tertiary sources. I've always been obsessed with Truth. With the Best way of doing things. With doing the Right thing, the Beautiful thing. I read a theory somewhere that according to Hindu scriptures, that not only is Satyam- Shivam- Sundaram the sweetest spot but you can't have any one without the other two. Truth, Ethics and Beauty (Digressive Fun Fact- Anand Gandhi once spoke about how the three stories in Ship of Theseus are based on each of these tenets and how those character were trying to reach salvation via the path they chose). JBP, a Darwinian, says Utility trumps Truth. And all the mythologies that have existed and seeped into our culture for a few millennia do so precisely because they are wonderful tools in helping us deal with the ethical, aesthetic and existential questions that we face everyday. I've really found his ideas of Order and Chaos (Culture and Nature) very useful in making sense of most things I unconsciously do. I hope to finish Maps of Meaning soon. After Nassim Taleb and Venkatesh Rao, Jordan B Peterson is one of those phenomenal generalists whose paradigms have completely altered the way I view the world.

A couple of weeks ago Sravani and I did an Oscar movie spree watching 6 of the films nominated for Best Picture. We're still unable to decide whether Phantom Thread or Three Billboards is the best picture but Shape of Water is definitely the worst in the list. Even Spielberg's The Post, despite its extreme shallowness and unoriginality, was more stimulating. She really like Lady Bird and my thoughts on that film are more conflicted, which I wrote in a now-abandoned post. Things are going well.

So long.

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