Sunday, May 30, 2010

The world of digital social ersatz

Vague thoughts of an idyllic world meandered out of my mind very early, and the stark reality of earth struck me blind. Pleasure is bound in inaccessible crevices of the planet, hard to reach in abstemious conditions. Tumbling and falling all along the way, I reach the destination barely in one piece, only to find the goal-post farther away.
Trying hard to view the world in binary format, all black and white, zeros and ones, right and wrong, conveniently filtering divergent thoughts, focusing on what can be sold and bought, my world could have been perfect. Except, without my knowledge, I heard a solitary voice and chose to let myself contemplate its contents. Ah! And this would change my life forever.
What with coming from a country surging ahead, neo-liberally, information technology consuming all sectors, becoming an engineer is invariably the supreme of all middle class dreams. And there I was, in love with paper-back, and black-ink pens…the reaper growing on the computer’s integrated chip; burnt by short circuits. But this is not about computers.
I discovered Noam Chomsky, and it’s anyone’s guess what happens to a twenty three year old mind encountering ideas of liberty; already quite drenched in thoughts of Vedic Hinduism and heavy doses of Buddhism. The result: berserk.
Here in India, reality is what’s on the Liquid Crystal Display screen, truth is what the cinema stars in revealing clothes tell us in unsophisticated language on main-stream television. What’s not reported on the internet is not crime. Genocides which are not on television, ethnic cleansing with no pictures on the internet, and anything without market value is non-existent, non-real. Sensational stories on the Indian news channels about bickering politicians, ghastly wardrobe choices of international actors, cricketers dressing white women in saris on live programs….this is our reality. The farmer in Vidharba who killed himself caught up in poverty, the Manipuri poetess who undertook a fast-unto-death asking the government to scrap iniquitous laws, those tortured unfairly in Kashmir, tribes in Jharkand…non-real, non-existent.
It’s as though the realms of reality which the Buddhist Sutta Pitakas describe are all existent side by side here, but are not real, because they are not yet digitized. So here I am, doing my almost insignificant part, recording these thoughts in cyberspace, digitizing human pain, so that this reality also exists.
I do, of course, wish sometimes that my quandaries were confined to not being able to get a table in the night-club, that my favourite singer didn’t win on American Idol, that I wish India becomes a super-power, that I belonged to virtual reality. To the contrary, I cannot claim to be a Ghandian, for I enjoy fine dining, the Jacuzzi, and champagne. I am in a maze, as contradictions abound… along with many others of my generation, trying to break through virtual walls, trying to reach a hand across the borders with a poem, a few benign words, a humane thought….to encounter reality, the truth.


  1. u r welcome.. r u a professional writer?

  2. yes, i guess i'm trying to become one! my debut novel will be published this year, do read it!
    and my best wishes to you!

  3. good to hear that... i will read it when its published.. i hope u will publishing in your name and not with a pseudonym.. my best wishes to u...

  4. thanks again Pradeep! I will be publishing under my name :)

  5. I heard the sound of wheels screeching when I read "Noam Chomsky" in your writing.... and very..... very interestingly, you also mentioned about the Vidarbha tragedy.... Now, is that a coincidence? or do you see the obvious connection between Chomsky's principles and the Vidarbha tragedy?..... should I care to explain? or do you know it already?....

    Because the last time I ever made a connection between those two.... I was looked at like I was suffering from a mental disorder.....

  6. thammizh: after discovering Chomsky, I started applying his principles to almost everything. i did not necessarily mention a connection in my writing...but there is one...
    the connection i see is thus: Chomsky's ideas on capitalism and corporates, i suppose you know very well,, he often talks about the state free trade policies, opening up the market, imposing corporate crops on the farmers, etc. Chomsky talks of this in a wider 'how capitalism and free trade can severely hurt workers and farmers' perspective, and looking at can see it all. the govt imposed BT cotton on the farmers, when the cotton economy collapsed, the farmers were severely hit....
    maybe the connection is not exact---but the connection does exist.
    also, smthg vaguely connected to Chomsky...he also talks about how numbers are misrepresented by governments and corporates to fool the people. in vidharba--the state has continuously misrepresented numbers, sometimes even denying the farmer suicides! what's not on paper didn't even happen--is what the world has come to....
    do add to my view by sharing your perspective!

  7. Thammizh, en thammizhJuly 15, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    now... that is a very interesting reply.... my ideas are very much the same as yours - but! it differs in few, yet very significant points.... I dont know where exactly to start to begin my explanations. So, but let me make an amateurish attempt and let this be a back-and-forth Q/A discussion, so that I can lead you to what I think, as opposed to my monologue.

    First - you talk of "inequality" and "injustice"..... and "egalitarian" and "equal means to all"....etc.... So, my question - Is equality and justice the same? If not, what is the difference? Do you think both equality and justice be attained at the same time?

    again, I am not arguing with you.... and there are no right or wrong answers.... Am just trying to lead you to a line of reasoning where you will find some answers, very valuable (and probably helpful to your writing career)