How long has it been since I sat down after midnight while music played through the earphones and started blogging. Not writing for a deadline nor something I think I ought to. Just the simple act of opening this page and start typing. The most recent image I can conjure up in my head is from, probably, 2014 and I'm sitting in my computer room in Dilsukh Nagar. What might I've been listening to? Maybe The Grand Budapest Hotel OST. Or maybe Shankarabharanam or Saagara Sangamam, my perennial favourites, like I'm doing right now.
I started watching Shankarabharanam earlier in the evening. I don't think I've ever watched the entire film. I've been meaning to write on Viswanath gari films for a while now, especially since I discussed it with the Cinema Kaburlu guys, Chaitanya and Teja, for a video essay and I've been putting it off. Ofcourse, I haven't seen a majority of his films, but the ones I like, I've watched, thought of, spoken about, listened to quite a bit. They would be, in the order of preference, Saagara Sangamam, Swarna Kamalam, Subhalekha, Shankarabharanam, Swathi Muthyam, Swathi Kiranam I think. But what do I write? An introduction, an interpretation, a tribute? I don't know enough to write a study and I'm not preposterous enough to write my take- "This is what I think, its my opinion". I hope I'm not filled with as much hubris yet.
Which has been my biggest fear with the podcasts as well. I recorded a couple of podcasts with Cinema Kaburlu on Trivikram, then I did one on Rohit and Sasi's work despite telling myself not to do it (I just had to do it, I immensely admire Nirudyoga Natulu, Story Discussion 1 & 2 and if this was 2013/4, this blog would've had quite a few posts going gaga over their work) and a few days ago did a recording with Medi Chaitanya on Meheranna's Chedu Poolu anthology as a trial. The reason I told, keep telling, myself not to do a podcast: Its too easy. Nothing against the medium- I absolutely love and admire Amit Varma's Seen Unseen but there's so much work behind every episode and the conversations are of such a high calibre. I don't want to be the guy droning on in a podcast, a bloody uncle who's peloing gyaan because he found the mic. There's a wonderful exchange in The end of the tour where DFW says that he doesn't want to become someone who writes one book and spends his time going to parties and talking about it (scene 96- read it, its articulated way better there). Ofcourse, I've done nothing comparable to Infinite Jest, not even managed to finish reading it, but the even minuscule feedback the podcasts have gotten has made me very nervous.
A voice in my head says that I'm unnecessarily complicating what was done for fun and with honesty. But a louder, saner voice I think, tells me that all the good intentions in the world don't mean shit when they're not backed up by serious work and rigorous thougt. To paraphrase Venkat Rao's The Gervais Principle, I'd rather be the sociopath, can accept myself as a loser but never, ever want to end up a clueless idiot. Thankfully, my years of exalting at whatever comes out of my head as inspired are over. Or I desperately hope. Ofcourse, it is a valid question to ask, what this blog is then? Its a semi-public forum where I try to wrestle with my thoughts and express them with as much honesty as possible. I might do this as a journal but I have scattered notes in many places over the years and this blog is a much better organisational drawer. This blog is also sort of a backup: all my "work" is here in case I don't end up creating anything of value ever. My engraving on the beam, a feeble shout to the universe.
These thoughts have been running in my head since the last two days as I've tried to start on Viswanath gari essay. Most of it is plain laziness, a hope that inspiration will strike and drive me, fear that what I have to say is neither original nor "correct", an inability to look seriously at anything I create, but also, somewhere deep inside, a feeling of futility. What difference is it going to make? I'm not complaining, I feel thankful for being able to feel all these things. I've also been meaning to write a couple of Telugu essays to send to Rajanna for Sakshi (one of them is putting together learnings from The Great Derangement, Michael Sandel's Justice, a bit from Fromm and maybe Alasdair MacIntyre), and I have the basic structure sketched but I haven't taken off from there.
I feel so cut-off from the world (wow, talk about the tyranny of distance), as if all my actions are futile and frivolous, that I haven't found inspiration to put out what's going on inside. The podcast recordings slightly helped I guess. But ofcourse, as the world is tackling COVID, climate change, authoritarian regimes, discrimination and injustice, what is the point of squabbling over the work of a writer-director or interpreting/ cherishing the work of another director? Somehow, I'm unable to summon my old self and respond with a buzzkill remark. I genuinely think right now that, yes, words I write are too less, and mostly self-serving, but I feel obliged to put them out. Not entirely because I'm weak and cowardly and unimaginative and its easy to do that than more powerful actions and all those things; also because they're alive and powerful and important. Because, and I can't find another other way to say this, it's the right thing to do.