And finally, how do you define a blogger. Or rather, a Blogger.
Shefaly points me to this good post by Usha Vaidyanathan, which covers a similar tangent. The valid points raised there, taken together with that discussion on blogging and writing, leads to some interesting conclusions.
Such as, while some writers may also be bloggers, it's not necessarily true in reverse. Neither, I would add, is it a given that all writers can be bloggers, or that no blogger can be a writer. It is possible that people can bridge, or even overcome, the gaps that separate the two activities.
It is interesting how similar they can be, and how dissimilar.
Both demand a certain discipline of regularity. Both allow you to explore themes and ideas and voices with widespread freedom. Both are intensely individualistic activities, and hold an element of suprise for the giver and the receiver as to what will come next.
Because it so much more personal, so much more free-form. And so much more time-dependent. We all know the feeling - miss a few days of following other blogs, and you're saddled with scores of posts to read, and comments to go through.
And in this sense, blogging resembles not so much editorial and comment-pieces, but conversations you have in the college canteen. With people going on about whatever little or major thing that happened to them in the last day, and commenting about the latest news in the world, all in ever-fluid groupings formed of mutual interest.
And just like in college, it's possible to just drift into these conversations, and find yourselves a few months later intrinsically embedded in them. And some day, some people just up and leave, because they find other things to do, or their honours classes leave them no time to indulge in chatter.
And this is why (I feel) some people create blogs, post for a while, and then go off. Because they've fulfilled whatever need it was that made them start it in the first place, or because they realise they've exhausted whatever benefit they could get from it, or because they just got inundated with other things to do.
I've tried to convince myself that the above sort of activity isn't 'real' Blogging.
I've tried to believe that there's some sort of an ideal, where the blogger is devoted to the cause, and doesn't just start a blog and maintain it because "it's there", but rather because it is something they want to, or need to, do. A person who doesn't just blog just so they can tick it off the labels they attach to themselves, or as a conversation-piece, or to add to their resume - but because it is something who they believe themselves to be. Who uses the medium to enhance themselves, and guide others, and forge an existing idea into something new. Who doesn't stop posting and say it's because of "real-life".
Somebody who chooses to say "I am a blogger", rather than "I also blog".
But, I'm not convinced.
Or rather, I'm not convinced that's all that blogging is. Because it can be an additional activity that one does, alongside one's guitar-playing and book-reading and marathon-running. It can be something you just come back to occasionally. It can be something you take part in, as an extension of your other activities, without considering it to be anything more than another medium of expression. It can be something you turn to because you need it then, and something you move on from, once you've had your say and done your thing.
This is probably not very illuminating, but then, I'm thinking aloud - and that's what blogging is too.
And perhaps, trying to define Blogging, or blogging, is just a futile exercise, because there are as many forms of it as there are the people who do it.
And finally, how do you define a blogger. Or rather, a Blogger.
So, two things to answer - why we blog, and how do you define a blogger.
The easier one first - why do we blog? Shefaly's post earlier this week offers an answer:
"Some blog for professional reasons; some blog to create a discussion and a community; some are working to create a living archive of their lives; some blog because they need the discipline of writing regularly; some blog because others are blogging."But those reasons only partly fulfill why I started blogging, and continue to, and how I do. To explain those reasons.....flashback!
**********Backintimemode eshtart keejiye*************************************
I originally decided to dabble in blogging while setting up a blog for a friend over four years ago. After that petered out, I began this blog over two years ago. It stayed static with one three-line post till the period that you can see regular blogging beginning (from the archives). Why?
Because I had nothing to say.
I began the blog because I felt that I needed to learn to write again (see here why I'd stopped). There was also this conceit that the book that had been bubbling inside might eventually reveal itself, once I did some, you know, actual writing. And a blog seemed like a good intermediate way to go about things (of course, that idea got canned (and you know why)).
But, after months of that one post, nothing happened. And I realised I'd really started the blog because I thought I should, and because - as Shefaly says - everybody else had.
When I did eventually start properly blogging, it was because -
* I felt like it
* I had something to say (however undefined and random it may seem)
* I found it was fun.
And that's why I still do it. Of course, the sense of community is another major reason, otherwise I would have never been part of this maaaad pun-a-thon (which was, like, the bestest!).
*****************Backintime mode khatam**************************************
So, more reasons. To which, as Shyam notes, some people just do it for the glory. To which KM adds - le moolah. To which Shefaly appends, 'archiving' or building a 'repository of material' which may be used elsewhere. Not to mention there have to be people out there just doing it so they can get a date (and no, not Falsie - have you not read his posts? After that introduction, kaun dimaag ki maari bechaare ko chipkegi? (Don't worry Falsie, we still love you)).
But that's not all, surely. Some people do it because they need to vent, or to receive some form of validation. Some people blog because they have the time to spare to do it, and because they can. And some people just want to get a book deal out of it and make some money.
And that, perhaps, is that.
And so, to come to the crux of the matter, is there something called a Blogger, or is that just another myth invented so that we can feel a little better about ourselves?
Ummm...in part 3 ok?
Earlier this year, I'd asked whether Blogging could be considered to be a form of writing - an idea which Falsie and KM were quick to refute. Later on, it occurred to me that perhaps the more pertinent question should have been about what I so authoritatively described in the last couple of paras of that post. Namely, is there a difference between having a blog, and blogging?
My definition then was simple - the former being the mere creation of a blog to put up stuff that was already created, and the latter being the process of reactive and/or stream-of-consciousness writing.
But this definition seemed simplistic, because a blog can be more than just about posting your thoughts, memories, or opinions. It's a (web) log isn't it, and so even if it is just the writings of that person, it can be seen as a log of that person's thought process and the changes (if any) in their writing style.
So a blog (perhaps) is simply a personal page for a person to put up whatever they want, or like.
It was then that I realised that what I'd done was simply define the medium...not the users of the medium. And this perhaps was because of the phrasing of the question (hey, even super-intelligent pandimensional species get this wrong, ok?).
So perhaps, the question really was - is there a difference between someone who has a blog, and a blogger?
Now this, finally, was interesting. And although it may seem as semantics, it goes to the very heart of what (to me) blogging is, and understanding why those of us who do it, do so.
More of this in the next post (I'm splitting them because otherwise it would too lengthy - the next one up in a few hours).
Further to the post on 'blogs as neighbourhoods' (re: (More) Thoughts on Blogging, dated Wednesday 24th September, 2008), I would like to bring to your kind attention that the concept described in the post above (hereinafter referred to as 'the previous post') can also be applied to a further instance, viz., parties.
As proof, I would like you to submit to you that the entire virtual domain of blogs (variously referred to as 'blogosphere', 'blogland', or 'bloggyworld') be assumed to be a standard party given at an individual's abode of residence. Keeping this in mind, it is my humble argument that blogs and bloggers can be compared to the generic personality-types that frequent such parties. In evidence, I propose that -
1) Some bloggers represent the effervescent personalities commonly referred to as 'the life of the party' (hereinafter referred to as Type A). These Type A personalities attract the most attention at the party, as everybody else is keen to either meet them or be seen with them. Complete attention is paid to any uttering made by Type A personalities, however banal and trite, and are invariably followed by a chorus of affirmations, exclamations about the insightful nature of the utterings, and exhortations to continue delivering more of the same.
2) At the self-same party, there are also exist those who mingle exclusively amongst their own friends (hereinafter referred to as Type B personalities), and who have attended the party only because their friends are attending too (this attendance is equally likely to be due to reluctant agreement under peer pressure, or because they genuinely wanted to attend and were supported by the afore-mentioned friend circle). Type B personalities usually make little attempt to get involved in conversations with those outside their immediate circle, although they may be open to following such conversations from a distance.
3) I would like to submit that such a party will also include the inevitable 'lonely soul' (hereinafter referred to as Type C personalities), who is determined to inhabit any ill-noticed position, either due to an innate shyness, or due to a desire to observe the events of said party without being involved directly. Type C personalities are not immediately forthcoming when approached, but are usually prone to become highly voluble about topics that they are particularly passionate about.
4) Additionally, the party includes 'speechy' and 'preachy' people (hereinafter referred to as Type D personalities), who can be counted upon to fulminate excitably on a range of topics, preferably those that are in the limelight of current affairs. This passion is often seized upon by mischief-minded individuals ('trolls', or Type T personalities) at the party to work Type D personalities into a frenzy, usually by making some derogatory remark about such topics, for the sole purpose of providing entertainment.
5) Additionally, a large number of bloggers may be classified as the 'standard guest' seen at the party (hereinafter referred to as Type G personalities), and who are content to enter, enjoy, and exit the party with a minimum of fuss. Type G personalities usually partake fully of all the opportunities the party provides, and are unrestrained in mingling with others, even those they may not already know.
I hope the above examples quite clearly support my original argument, and will be viewed as such by your good self.
I eagerly await your astute judgement of the matter, and kindly request you to expedite the matter at your earliest convenience.
These posts are over a week delayed, but I can't seem to be sorting the ideas systematically. So I'm resorting to that old cliche about just writing, and (hopefully) letting them sort themselves out.
I've posted before about how blog relationships are like Venn diagrams. It has since occurred to me that there are other models to describe blogs, and bloggers.
Neighbourhoods, for instance.
An extension of the concept that each blog has its own 'address'.
Some blogs are like those neighbourhoods that are more popular and more desired than others. Everybody wants to be seen there, and even if they don't inhabit the area, they want to be known as if they are close to people who do inhabit them. These blogs are always full of life, with lots of back-and-forth chatter between the cool folk who're seen as being privileged to live there.
Such blogs also attract lots of lookers-on, shy folk who want to become part of this community, but are too uncertain about their own 'coolness' factor to attempt to establish contact. These people end up simply hanging about in the public park that borders these areas, watching enviously at the fun, trying to put together a coherent story from all the names and events that get bandied about, pausing occasionally to try and make sense of semi-regular references that seem to be the cause of much mirth and mock-outrage.
There are blogs that are quieter locales. Little alleys full of little personalised touches left by those who live there, and which yield unexpected treasures if you ramble far enough and often enough through them. These places are usually discovered by just a few lucky people, who find that their joy is inexplicably unappreciated by others who they introduce these areas to.
These places often have an ethereal feel to them, and give the impression that the only continue to remain inhabited, because of the appreciation shown by the few who do visit. These visits themselves are often the matter of unceasing surprise to the inhabitants, who cannot understand what interest others derive from what they themselves view as mundane and arid surroundings. Conversations in these places tend to be short, with long pauses, and then only at varying intervals when the inhabitants deign to come out of their shadowed tenements.
And then there are blogs that are community enclosures. Self-contained worlds that only grudgingly bother about the bustling world around them for unavoidable purposes. Worlds in which everybody is an aunt or uncle or sibling or child. Where every newcomer is keenly watched, and is a source of much (usually non-malicious) interest, till such time as judgements of character have been universally issued and agreed upon. Where what really matters is the little occurrences that made up the day, while the events of the 'outside' world are mentioned to share mutual feelings of outrage, ridicule, and hilarity.
Finally, there are blogs that are public spaces. Institutions so big that everybody merely shares them, visiting them for individual needs of entertainment, education, enlightenment, peace. Places where a person's own individuality is, by necessity, diminished to their leaving a little mark saying that they were there.
(My contribution to the never-ending Bruce Lee jokes. I was going to keep this till next week, but I couldn't resist)
Q: Why did Bruce Lee's opponents run away when he turned up for fights wearing a skeleton suit?
A: Because they realised he was Dead Lee.
Ta-daa! Have a nice weekend, y'all.
(Warning: May or may not be true)
I can't remember the lyrics to songs.
Well, not entirely.
I can remember the main line, and some other interesting/catchy lines do get stuck. And sure, there are a few songs I can remember large parts of. But on the whole, I usually end up going "Actual line, actual line, mumble mumble, na na na na".
And this seems to be recent. I distinctly remember playing lots of Antakshari when I was chhotu-motu - and being able to carry my own back then. Sometimes I reason it's because I've continued to read more than I listen to music, and I'm probably remembering more storylines than lyrics. I like to think it's because I stopped listening to the words, but focused on the music. This sort of reasoning does more for self-esteem than having to admit I just can't remember the darn words.
Either ways, it's a pain to not be able to quote them randomly. Which is why you haven't found me indulging in any on the comment-space in all this while. In fact (more head-hanging), most often I don't even know who you guys are referring to, unless you do state it. Then I have to go Google the lyrics. Yes, that bad.
So what do I do instead? What any self-proclaimed writer-type would - make up alternative lyrics*. Which is why for a while back there, I was singing -
Girl put your kettle on,
I've got some fresh baked scones,
and we are going eat them wiiiith cream.
We are like that only.
* This is quite different from my habit of making up alternative lyrics for songs that I can remember. Which is a fun way to entertain yourself when you're waiting for things and have no other means to amuse yourself. Like so,
why are you so lazy;
the glass is so hazy,
it's driving me crazy,
it's driiiiiiiiving me crazy.
It's not polite to be rude (ha! new slogan), and while I've tried to keep out of the whole blog-award thing, people insist on giving them to me. Which is nice of them, but.
Now the reason I'm so award-indifferent isn't because I have a problem with people appreciating others - it's just the nature of them that I don't appreciate. From what I can make out, these awards originate when somebody decides to create a graphic and pass them onto their friends.
That's not an award, that's a gift.
Now, if there was a blogsite where these awards were announced, and people nominated those blogs that they thought deserve the awards, and people voted for them, and then the award was given to 'x' number of the most voted-for blogs, then the whole thing makes sense. And it's a more streamlined process too. Otherwise, with the current system, everybody and their ant (sic) gets the award, and that just devalues the whole thing.
However, while principles are important, compromises are polite.
Now, since I don't put up any awards I get, people imagine I'm not getting them, and then they give me one (often the same one), and I have to thank them and explain why I'm not putting them up, and in the meanwhile, other people go and give me another one, and it's round and round the garden like a teddy bear.
I'm accepting the ones I've been so kindly given thus far. Just this once though. Because I'm quite happy getting your comments, and being read, which are prizes in themselves (dialogue maara).
Firstly, I'd have you know I've been a Rockin' Girl Blogger for a while. Which honour I'm thrilled to (posthumously) bestow on
BM/OTP Revati, because she was the epitome of the title (since nobody thought of giving her one while she was around. And then you wonder why she left bloggyland).
Then, this blog has been deemed Brilliante, not once or twice but thrice. And finally, Dewdrop has declared we're eternal blogpals.
There. Covered. Thank you - Space, Shyam, Bride, Mad Momma, DDD - for the appreciation. Really (this is not sarcasm).
Now, back to blogging.
Labels: Announcements and such
He finished proclaiming his latest view. Moments later, the expected storm of outrage, scorn, and counter-arguments burst.
He weathered the first wave, amazing as always at the vehemence that a few well-chosen radical words could raise. He then sent forth his words again. New outburst, another comment, yet more backlash.
The hours passed. He finally stopped when it hurt too much to laugh.
Another successful day baiting other commenters on Rediff.
Labels: Imagined un-verse
When those that are gone, return, it takes but a few moments for it to seem as if they have never left. Everything seems as it was, matters return to their old rhythms.
And the pain that was, is forgotten, instantly swept under carpets of denial and in-the-moment contentment.
When those that are, go away, it takes little time for you to take longer to remember that they were ever there. Like a fact you once knew but cannot remember just now, they shadow the outposts of your memory - haunting you with the history of their existence, damning you for the vagueness to which you've reduced them.
And the pain that is, may eventually ease, but you never cease to ache*.
* I thought there was a positive point to this when I started, but it seems not. Sorry - Space, OTP, Scout.
Labels: Some life
Those posts may not start today (busy-ness became), so instead I leave you with a little exercise.
Count just HOW many times the reporter used the wrongly-spelt word in this article, without it ever once occurring to him/her that it should be 'e', not 'a'. And then wonder how the sub-ed could have let the article through. And then despair (again) at the state of the Indian print media, if even the ET is getting as sloppy as this.
Q: What's is the perfect name for an Indian brand of strap-ons**?
(With many thanks to an unnamed friend of Aishwarya's, who also loves puns (A, not the friend. I don't know who the friend is. Keep up already))
* It's a silent 'f'. What? Bas bahut hua. Too much discrimination for too much time. We demand equal rights for all letters.
** Yes, yes, we are not a family blog. Like I said, keep up already.
and here we stand.
But what if we had
and turned again?
Would we have solved the labyrinth,
or would we simply have
out the same?
Labels: Thoughts in Flow
Anonyblogger Recognition Paranoia
The assumption by a blogger/blogreader that an anonymous blogger they've come across is really someone with whom they have/had some offline contact/connection.
ARP can be triggered by a wide variety of factors, including but not limited to - the (written) linguistic traits and idiosyncracies of the blogger, the topics the blogger tends to write on, the facets of the blogger's offline persona that they choose to (seemingly) reveal, clues about the blogger's life that other bloggers may refer to, and the number of common friends that they both seem to know.
ARP is usually encouraged by the rationalisation that it is highly probable that the subject must know the blogger, given -
a) The relatively low percentage of bloggers amongst total internet users
b) The distinct social sub-type that almost all bloggers belong to, viz., the middle-class educated urbanite.
c) The number of people who the blogger cannot be, after eliminating bloggers who post under their real names
d) The number of literary-minded friends the individual has, who are likely to have blogs
e) The wide social circles they both seemed to have circulated in
When the subject knows or suspects that the blogger resides in the same city/town, ARP usually results in the subject making a greater effort to spend time with those friends that are considered possible identity-matches. The subject usually utilises this time to try and get to know more details about their friend's life, in order to match them to any details revealed by the blogger. A risk-taking subject may even raise the subject of blogs and blogging, in order to gauge the friend's reactions.
In early-stage ARP, subjects are known to re-read all of the blogger's posts. All subjects that have been studied say that they do this in order to gain a better understand of their 'friend' from their writings, as well as to try and see if the content of the posts appears differently, now that they can put a face and voice to the writing. However, under more in-depth questioning, some subjects have admitted that they largely do this to see if there is any reference to them in the posts, or to see if they can identify any other mutual friends that the blogger may have (supposedly) written about, so as to gather any 'interesting' bits of information about them, or the blogger's relationship with them.
When Chronic ARP (when the subject is fully convinced that they know the blogger) sets in, it results in a distinct change in the way an individual reacts to the blogger's posts, this change reflecting the offline relationship the subject (believes they) had with the blogger, viz, the subject becomes more appreciative/disdainful depending on how well they got/get along offline. It also results in attempts by the subject to indicate to the blogger that their identity is known, by 'hints' that refer to past shared incidents, or things the blogger has done.
In the case of widely read anonymous bloggers, ARP can morph into a group-experience phenomena, with the identity of the said blogger being the subject of a mass puzzle-solving exercise.
This can take the form of a coordinated approach, with the various bloggers taking turns to ask a series of wide-ranging questions that are designed to help fill in/eliminate as many aspects of the blogger's persona as possible, and which are raised in a tangential, off-the-cuff manner.
ARP can cause a subject to alienate their friends, as they seem 'too friendly' due to their constant questions and generally chatty behaviour (as they attempt to discover if the friend is the blogger in question).
Comments made by the subject where they indicate the supposed identity of the blogger, often only results in providing the blogger with much amusement and/or irritation, as well as confusing others who may be themselves (consider themselves) close to identifying the blogger
Additionally, if the group ARP tactic is not subtle enough, or is too prolonged, it runs the risk of causing the blogger to suffer from Identity Discovery Paranoia, which can cause the blogger to become even more discreet.
And after the lull
is fiercely torn away,
and decide it was but the wind
her body surfaces,
like a perverse aquatic phoenix.
Just some drifter, they shrug,
as she drifts by.
Labels: Imagined verse
Jeroo Dalal leaned on the railing of her little balcony, and took a exploratory sip of her tea. Satisfied at its milky sweetness, she took another, and then looked around.
None of her neighbours were out yet. No matter, there was bound to be something interesting happening on the road below.
Aha. Like that little fellow sneaking up on those two girls...and was he holding something in his hand? Yes. A balloon? No, too small. A stone perhaps? But what was he going to do with....
oh! The silly goose! He gave her such a start, bursting that nasty little cracker so unexpectedly. No wonder the girls were chasing him; she would too if she could. Not that they stood a chance of catching him - he was always too quick. No wonder they called him Jaldiram Haldiram.
Although she really did think that was such a silly name. Always made her picture one of those snack packets running about everywhere, prancing about in shops, hiding from the grasping hands of a baniya desperate to get some money from the fat man at the counter who was drooling over the thought of gorging on what was inside them. Poor little packets. Plucked, torn apart, their innards devoured, with fingers poking into all the little crevices looking for the last morsel, and then being discarded dismissively, their shiny skins soon to be grimed over by all the effluents of the world.
Besides, it wasn't as if it was a proper nickname. And he had such a nice name too - Vikram...Vikrama...Vikramaditya. Such a solid name. You could hear the echo of centuries each time you said it. Vikramaditya. Yes, such a good, old name.
And so rare. You didn't hear too many of them anymore - names her generation had been proud to carry, because they meant something, had some history to them. Kaikhusroo, Jalaluddin, Banoo, Meherbanoo, Gerson, Marilyn, Amreesh, Pradipto. Names that had a personal history for her, all old friends and family. All gone, of course. And what was she left with? These newfangled foreign words, with as few syllables as possible. Kaia. Gaia. Laia. Miel. All Greek and Hebrew and Latin and whoknowswhich other languages. No wonder she just kept calling them baby. They probably thought she was senile. Let them - she still knew what was what.
Ah, there was that nice upstairs Mr. Narayanan (with his cup of coffee, of course). What was he pointing at though, and why was he gesturing and grinning so much? Aha! That boy was right below her window, and the girls were headed in the other direction. Well. He might have a nice name, but he had startled her.
She leaned out a little, and carefully poured half her cup of tea over him.
And as he yelped and jumped up, only to be spotted and chased again by the girls, she settled back, acknowledging Mr. Narayanan's exaggerated claps with a modest smile.
It looked like it would be a pleasant evening after all.
Labels: Imagined un-verse
The epiphany suggested,
There are two ways to write well.
You can invest all you are into your writing, put in all the thoughts and beliefs and hopes and dreams and prejudices and assumptions and emotions that you possess, and imbue the story (and the characters) with your presence. Tell the story as seen through your eyes, felt through your skin, remembered through your memories, thought by your mind.
You can write the story as it would appear if you were reading it. Be outside it, observing, narrating, analysing. Write what is, not what you think it to be**.
And that's it.
That's all there is. As long as one can remember that, and choose one over the other, all the conflicts and struggles in how to write can just....melt away.
And it reminds me of one of my favourite quotes about literature (and writing) - C.S. Lewis, explaining his motive for writing, saying, "I wrote the books I wanted to read" (many thanks for the quote, Space!). Which struck me then, and still strikes me, as one of the most profoundly simple ways to approach any form of writing.
You should write something you would like to pick up repeatedly, and which would have the power to surprise and thrill you even after many re-readings. And, extending that theory, you should write something that readers of the category you're writing in, would like to read.
Yes, there is also a need for those who show us what we should/could be reading, instead of what we're used to. People and books who defy us to step outside our comfort zone and see what else there could be, and who end up being labelled as 'genre-defying'. But there are far too few of those, and too many pretenders to the label.
....of course, all this doesn't really matter if you have no idea of what you want to write.