The Idiot by Elif Batuman, an introspection and a review

My friend @Sentient Garden had written a very insightful review on Kafka on the Shore by Murakami.  They critique Murakami a lot and have fairly read a lot of his books thus their critiques are not unfounded nor are they lacking in reason. There are certain tropes or things Murakami followed that many modern day readers may not inherently agree with. I had started reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and though I was skimming, let’s just say the novel, though not inherently bad, would be heavily critiqued by some people in the era of #MeToo and at times rightfully so considering how the novel transpires  with some of its core.

Some of the nuances Sen got from the novel, that they feel are a “thing” in most of Murakami’s novel is the fetishisation of the uncomfortable (Trigger warnings ahead for sexual abuse, transphobia and homophobia/queerphobia):

Sakura and Miss Saeki, our only significant adult female characters, sexually prey on Kafka Tamura. The former by an ‘innocent’ handjob, and the latter by regular intercourse in the office. I’m always down for commentary by way of Lolita, but Kafka on the Shore is decidedly not that – Sakura and Miss Saeki are treated wholly sympathetically with no indication of any lasting discomfort on Kafka’s part. It is, for the most part, intended to be a titillating fantasy, one that conveniently ignores the real harm of female sexual predation on underaged boys. I can perhaps see an attempt to make the sexy uncomfortable, but this honestly happens so obsessively in Murakami’s novels that I don’t think that’s the intention anymore.

The gay trans man Oshima is easily the most awful attempt at representation in a Murakami novel. Kafka and Oshima’s older brother misgender and undermine his identity near the end of the book, the former having a fetishistic bent to it. Oshima does a similar thing that I mentioned female characters do in which he tells complete strangers how he has sex with men’s behinds using his vagina…you know, something that would ordinarily be an awful dysphoric experience for real trans men.

Granted, Murakami is not the only author who does this, considering titillating things that are “alternate,” “othered” and so on and so forth is something that happens in fiction a lot in a particular era. I understand that era as I am a person who has somewhat come from that era. It doesn’t always make it right nor does it make it “safe” or even “risqué” anymore. Sometimes, it is just uncomfortable. It does not serve any purpose aside that discomfort. Yet, the seeming “aesthetics” of the time was that sexual “awakenings” are to be “liked.” Though the question Sen asked is obviously imperative: should not abuse be highlighted and acknowledged?

One of the things Sen had mentioned that interested me highly and was en pointe was these lines:

Unless someone has a better name for it, I’m just going to go ahead and call it the Evangelion phenomenon – when you incorporate outside cultural references purely for aesthetic reasons, without a true understanding of neither origin nor significance.

Sometimes, we unfortunately, use references because they are popular or because we want to show our understanding or knowledge or use the popularity of tropes/references as a way to pivot forward in our own careers, life or just on social media. Social media is a good place for this to happen. Sure, we all desire some clout or influence, so we reblog from prestigious people, or verified twitter accounts and/or users,  However, it must align to what we really believe and how we really think some things; at least subjective and genuine. It seems that many authors, even before the advent of the net’s popularities and popularisms, used the “meme” culture’s bandwagon fashion to explore certain subjects. I cannot at all blame them for this was once what the market considered  “good writing.” The ability to categorise and research a myriad of discourses and pepper it through your work. Even I am guilty of that. I am somewhat doing it now.

What matters is the efficacy. It can be a hit or a miss. A good example of this is Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco, which started off on a cool note about a Pendulum and even about an engine but then focused so much on museum artifacts in its premise that I just gave up on it. The Name of the Rose used old medieval texts and detective fiction and that read through better. The thing is is how things read and how we can also see them flow and intersect. Good writing is usually about those checks and balances (as noted in the Indie-like film Paperman).  So, even if you use a whole armada of references it just has to work in your novel.

I used Sen’s review initially as they really understood why certain things can and cannot work. They allowed me to explain a bit of the “mememisation” of knowledge, which can both useful but also caustic and entropic, close to a disintegration of original intents and purposes. An early 2000s anime Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex explored the way knowledge is disseminated in the internet age, without much of the authorial imprints and signatures, allowing both widespread knowledge or knowledge itself being cult or deified into something else as para-religious accessorization or losing its validity due to untraceable sources. Or, even without a source, its latter adaptations get clout and spike revolutionary, both minor and major, advocacies. Sometimes, this is useful as anything, other times, it is not at all optimistic. GITS: SAC was on the slightly optimist trail in the first series and then on its second series it showed the downfall of said knowledge dissemination. It highlights that culture is also culpable of getting onto the bandwagon of hating many disenfranchised people: classic discriminations and racisms run amok with memisations and not necessarily a form of knowledge that could be valid or “ideal” or its usefulness disintegrates almost immediately.

Knowledge, in this positionality, is not a vacuum. Its sustainability also runs on the user base and its relationships with other discourses. I have been writing on this uptil now because The Idiot by Elif Batuman seems to extrapolate these in its formal and non-formal ways of addressing language, psychology, semantics, semiotics, culture, mathematics and even “biological” attractions (it has its own queer leanings).  The novel is in first person, but you can see the references, it is set in the 90s, when net was only being introduced to the public, especially academically to the student bases of Harvard and many such prestigious universities. The novel is aware of its own “privileges”, Selin, the protagonist, is Turkish-American and as grown up in America as an American. She is very introverted. She has certain aspects to her that would remind you of Anna Karenina, but she has more self-awareness than the other protagonist, but it leads to somewhat similar circumstances. Yet, the knowledge is conscious to point that neither protagonist is at fault of this.

The novel is aware of intellectualist biases, the case of the ivory towers, of young people acting silly but ONLY because older adults also act silly and provide no such respite from the situation. A classic example Selin documents, is when she is in a Literature class and she notes the professor hardly listens to the students’ questions and seem to go on about his own way. Selin is gravely disappointed at this. You realise why. Even when you are older, you expected teachers, instructors or professors, to be amicable, approachable and/or understanding. Selin is only eighteen years old. And, it shows. I could relate a lot to her because I had been like that age and I knew when I started uni I acted pretty much similarly. At times cocky, at times so sure of my knowledge, at times really unsure, pressurised, bored — wanting connection with people but not knowing “how” as in how to seemingly adult. Or, function. Many older adults do not necessarily grow out of this because we are not given the circumstances or contexts to do so as effectively as we want. and surprisingly, the novel is aware of those things. There are also many funny, introspective pages:

I found myself alone for the first time in days. Remembering that they had said I could eat whatever I wanted, I cut a big slice of apple cake and ate it while reading Dracula. It felt amazing to eat anything without having to listen, nod, smile, or do anything with my eyebrows. Dracula visited the Wolf Department at the Zoological Gardens. “These wolves seem upset at something,” he observed. The next morning the cage was all twisted out of shape and the gray wolf Berserker was missing. Dracula had temporarily inhabited its body. Dracula had a totally different experience at the zoo from that of other people.

Batuman, Elif. The Idiot (p. 329).

These are references. Yet, they are interwoven into the fabric of the novel as subtle influences or foreshadowings or stuff that people generally do that may not have some higher Modernist meanings in their lives. Reading is something Selin loves to do and thinking and analysing. It may seem common and not “extraordinary” but it doesn’t have to be at all. It is what it is. It makes the novel something you read and don’t feel intellectually biased upon. Even if some of the settings are in Harvard you feel at home with Selin because she thinks she is “boring”, “plain”, “simple”, “naive” and at times “redundant”, yet she is hardly any of those things.

Selin’s story also actively questions the gendered views on passiveness and activeness. Selin is active, she does do things yet realistically they don’t always lead to drama or to seemingly popular outcomes. Selin is also passive but you will see many female and male characters having the same outcomes and demeanours despite what they say or aspire to do. Batuman’s craft is showing how people think they are NOT something but are actually more powerful than they seemingly are even when look passive or ar acting passive. Passiveness has potential too and just going out and doing things is not necessarily strength. Selin attempts to do things. At times, she is successful and you marvel at her strength. Other times, she is not and you realise how real that is and you are grateful the novel did not censor those aspects out. That it expected them because the author was writing a thing that would be gotten by many people especially POCs because they know what it is also like to be Selin, to be from cultures that can be conservative but also quite liberal and progressive.

There are a few gems in the novel that explain this. Note the writing style and how beautifully Batuman writes certain things:

“Right,” I said. I couldn’t imagine viewing Bill’s presence on Earth as any kind of a miracle, but wasn’t that itself the miracle—that love really was an obscure and unfathomable connection between individuals, and not an economic contest where everyone was matched up according to how quantifiably lovable they were?

Batuman, Elif. The Idiot (p. 364).

Because I was in the front, I didn’t have to steer, or set the rhythm. I just had to row at the pace that he set, to keep us from going in circles. As he spoke, I felt how I liked following instructions, and it made me ashamed. Following instructions was what had led to the Holocaust. And yet it turned out that shame was a separate thing. If you enjoyed something, you enjoyed it, whether or not you were also ashamed.

Batuman, Elif. The Idiot (p. 374).

Selin is not necessarily submissive nor is she necessarily dominant. The reasons is because she is young. Following instructions is something that logic-oriented people usually like, however, the downside, as Selin is intelligent and self-aware to realise is that you “come-off” as passive if you are AFAB/NB/a young woman, which has become so inseminated into mainstream cultures that she becomes conscious of doing something that to a man doing would seem like “disciplined” or “useful/resourceful” or a good “soldier.” Yet, considering the socio-political gendered scripts don’t take that as something autonomous or having agency for AFABs/NBs/women. It is taken a perverse turn so Selin feels ashamed. These lines depict some inrospections the novel ventures into.

As, Selin is self-aware but she is also disenfranchised by cultural and gender scripts around her. At one point, Selin even asked why is a “rationale” so important or why does “reason” govern pleasure so much as in people asking why you to do things. It is not there isn’t a reason, there could be but it seems cultures love to ask AFABs/young women/women/NB people such questions more and more than they do to cis, men especially White, cis men. At another point, Selin considers how “beauty” is dependent on the male-gaze as it is aestheticized using a male-centric grandiose focal point meaning it becomes deftly linimal and Eurocentric. And, she uses this beauty-principle on another White girl that she was quite beautiful because of her simple, clear features and admonishes that why such simple aspects are considered mundane when they are beautiful. Romantics and Modernists be damned. Beautiful can be beautiful in many ways. If truth is beauty then that beauty is not liminal to one gaze.

The novel is filled with such references. There are passages of learning textbooks. One or two of them actually make Selin angry but we the readers are made to realise that her anger is justified or in time her anger would be on other things that don’t necessarily have “neat” endings. Selin questions those a lot: with everything she reads you can see she expects it to educate her about life, love and friendships. This is not gendered but very human. We may question this but seeing that Selin is a young girl we may be biased to think it is because she is a girl she wants that. Actually, everyone else is looking for similar things. Even the male characters. In fact, Orhan Pamuk’s The New Life was essentially speaking of the same things but seeing the male protagonist did not want to admit that we glean it via what he is not saying. Yet, ultimately, in small doses, he admits to it.

The seemingly main plot of the book, via its subtle and trickster blurb, is that it is meant to resonate on a “romance” happening with Selin on the net, a la epistolary style, with a student named Ivan. Ivan is a few years older and is graduating with a degree in mathematics and wants to go to Berkeley for higher math studies. Selin’s first active usage of the net happens when she wants to connect with Ivan outside of learning Russian. Ivan is from Hungary. He is tall and somewhat towers over Selin. He is a contrast in many ways to Selin as he is seemingly an “intellectual” and has very mainstream way of doing things. Selin is interested to know him.

The novel is all about Selin. I am quite happy to say it shows a rich inner and exterior life of Selin without Ivan perturbing all her thoughts or making her unable to do anything. Yes, Ivan makes her restless and additionally she does think on him. The way he absentmindedly flirts with her, the way he calls her name and the way he pays attention to her. Yes, they are sweet things. Yet there is something about them – perhaps as I am older – the reader will find margining towards a level of “obnoxiousness.” However, we would be like Selin in our younger selves. Not knowing how we can be attracted to the “wrong” people or people perhaps not best suited for us. Roxane Gay effectively put it in her goodreads review of the novel: “And Ivan is trash. Utter trash. And the way he was written, to show how terrible and irresistible he was, well, just bravo.”

She also wrote, and I agree:

This was an interesting novel, dense, unique, written from a very specific point of view. One of those books where I marvel that it was published and am grateful it was published because, I mean, who wants to read the same type of book over and over? As someone who went to college in the 90s, not far from where much of this novel takes place, I felt an unexpected amount of nostalgia for that first year of college where you know nothing but think you know everything and are surrounded by people who know nothing but also think they know everything. This novel is incredibly ambitious. There are levels to this shit. The Idiot is easy to read and really difficult to read.

Roxane Gay’s observations are true. The language may seem simple at times but it is complex. There is no “Brevity is the soul of wit” here, it can go on for paragraphs about Selin walking somewhere but it does not sound boring or over-the-top trying hard. It sounds and reads organically and actually gives a visual lexicon to how Selin feels and observes things. Such language also becomes intersected with how Ivan makes Selin feel. It is at times romantic, at times bittersweet, at times hollow and empty but not in a good way. The novel does not romanticise anything; it is aware the protagonist attempts to romanticise certain things because they are naive and because they don’t want to admit the object of their affections have been a major jerk in a way. Haven’t we all faced that? Not only with crushes or lovers but also with friends and family? In fact, there are many gendered, obnoxious things that Ivan does that make Selin realise certain nuggets to their exchanges at times, which bother her as she has not thought of it in such a barbaric or superficial or crude manner:

The breath caught in my throat. It had never occurred to me that power was something he would actually use, on me of all people.

Batuman, Elif. The Idiot (p. 384).

A disturbing part in the novel is when some female characters notice Ivan is doing something nefarious but their silences also speak that they are selfish in not stopping it or that they want to let it go because it may not concern them.  Batuman is aware of unfairness and patriarchal structures but she is also aware how women can let younger girls and other women down. There were times where some girls stayed so mute even when they had the agency to topple or make statements that would work better. Yet, they seem uninterested in Selin possibly because she is Selin. It could also be a racist or cultural discrimination alongside of the disinterest of some people but you see it and the author wants you to question.

Selin is in many ways a writer and has a writer’s sensitivity to the world and also her own inner world. There are a lot of things she extrapolates with a beauty and a delicacy that mesmerises you about her. Selin is not necessarily the eponymous “Idiot” and even if she does silly things we are meant to question even the word “Idiot” and the way it is applied. It could easily be Ivan despite being a math major (that old and arcane subject revered by so many) due to how he behaves. The word “Idiot” cannot always be synomised with words like “foolish” or “ignorant.” It could be synomised with words like “selfish” and “misleading.” The novel makes you think and moves with other exchanges and relationships.

The more potent relationships that Selin have are with her best friends whom she sometimes forget about or rather undermine precisely because she undermines herself. One of them, Svetlana,  who becomes her female best friend, she considers beautiful but also troubled, mirrors a lot of the issues Selin has and in that they seem powerfully connected to the point of actual romantic equanimity/compatibility yet they do waste their time on less deserving people.  Even if the relationship is not romantic Svetlana cares a great deal about Selin and she her. Their friendship is also, realistically, defined by what they do and what they do not do. The ease in which they don’t have to try in front of each other in being their genuine selves is quite warm and real. Svetlana also considered Selin to be highly beautiful in a hypnotic way (you will catch it) and it actually depicts why dudes like Ivan, who are quite boring and selfish, are pitching way above their league. Society makes them think they can hook up with people like Selin. They can only wish.

Selin is unaware of her beauty and strengths thus she comes to doubt her connections with her male best friend, Ralph. Ralph may have some romantic leaning on her but she finds that impossible because of how beautiful Ralph is. She undermines that Ralph may genuinely care about her and one point opines that it could be that he is “gay” so he likes her so much in such a platonic way. It is unfair. And, we can say it is the residual homophobia and misogyny inherent in the 90s and even today that makes Selin question herself so much. Ralph is warm and welcoming and, he is quite real in that he interacts with Selin in an everyday manner and not some romantic tropist way. Ralph is someone who is not only dependable or boring but he is someone who gets Selin or rather isn’t someone that Selin has to try so hard to impress or feel that they become easily jealous or is a hypocrite. Yet, Selin doubts this because of how classic novels and other sources of phallogocentric knowledge seem to tell women/AFAB/NBs that they should not respond to their attractions and not seek beauty but reliability whereas male people are encouraged to only seek beauty. It is due to that Ivan seeks Selin even when they are implicitly, to us readers, incompatible and also we get from Ivan that he isn’t necessarily friendly or even respectful.

Ivan also exoticises Selin as some “Turk” due to Ottoman legacies in Hungary. Selin does not understand this as she is not part of that colonial empire nor has she reproduced its systematic ideals and when she meets people who are keen to know of the Ottoman from her you can see the gaps in her. She is an American. Also, race and colonial aspects are featured hand in hand, at times, more than religion. She does not find any kind of religiosity impressive nor does she seem interested in Ottoman relics but respects Hungary’s artifacts showcasing their defeats of the Ottoman. The same respect is not seemingly given to her all the time. Ivan hardly makes the exchanges easy or even bearable. What Ivan does and does not do feels in itself some PUA moves borderlining on narcissism even before the advent of those tactics online. Selin seems convenient and then she is not. Yet, Selin has not viewed him in those terms. Neither does she do with Ralph or Svetlana or anyone she encounters even VERY difficult people.  Selin feels and thinks. She doesn’t seem to cleave them in some Cartesian manner and does not boast on things she does not know. Even her lack of knowledge feels real. With Ivan, we see someone who is trying very hard and failing miserably. Who uses society’s permissions and chauvinism to be vulpine and arrogant. Selin finds such emotions and ego meaningless. She is right in the human equation.

Ultimately, the novel is about youth and Selin, about questions that people have when they are younger and/or older and shows that friendships, relationships, or society are not always easy. That subjects we wanna learn from may only give us half-answers but not full ones. That our reliance on them is probably as much of a fiction on how we undermine ourselves. It is the novel’s brilliance in catching the impetuousness of being young but also the mature and kind voice of its protagonist that moves it. If it gives references you can see it work in multiple ways. Its comedies are rich, dark at times but ultimately on how life is quite unmanageable within frameworks of the grandiose. Sometimes, life is just you walking in a street. There is no reason why that is less real than something epic written elsewhere in some hallowed tome.

Slices of Writing (2)

Now that I have established certain stuff I hope it gets to you in an important. If not, no matter — I have some more pointers. If you already knew the previous rules, more power to you. If not, try to incorporate them in your life in whatever customised or direct way you want and need. There is a reason I highlighted those words. Your wants and needs are important too. Though, your wants and needs also can be hierarchal. You must balance them accordingly to get a process going and get results. More on that later.

Onwards to new things that perhaps will be helping for you with writing. In the last segment I had shown you that writing is a psychosomatic, emotional and spatial skill. It interacts with other skills, with you and your environment. I have written how the word innate should not mean fast/rapid/genetic in your repertoire. People can be gifted but so can gifts be earned and attained. I am reviewing this because this is something that must be constantly reviewed. It will stick, then unstick, then stick again only to unstick once more. And again, more on that later.

  • Avoid/Resist Toxic People and Situations as Much as Possible —This is not a rehash of the Trolls and the Haters phenomenon. This takes that further than that. Trolls and Haters usually occupy social media. They can also be real people as well, as I cited. But, they may be distant people. So, though this may sound similar it is not necessarily identical.

    You may have to work with people who are unpleasant or unpleasant towards you. Usually, it can be latter than the former. If it is the former you can sometimes talk about this person with some other colleague who is a confidant. However, doing so regularly may a) jeopardise your job as no one can fully be trusted in the work space and b) cause you to create more toxicity by making your complaints a habit. Trust me. We all may have been there and we don’t want that.

    If it’s the latter know that you don’t have to interact with this person beyond the minimum. Keep your interactions work related and respond only when particularly referred to. If this is your boss then choose select words and let your work do the talking for you. Do not reiterate anything much or try to seem over enthusiastic because toxic people use that opportunity to shoot you down and even publicly humiliating you. Do not tone down too much either nor else they will choose to be especially unpleasant and give you poor performance reviews.

    If this person actively complains about you to your other bosses consult someone you can trust and change sectors or jobs if need be. Chances are that you will be happier and more productive in the new area. You have to prioritise your productivity and passions. Do not waste any of it on toxic people. Toxic people are not completely avoidable. This is just life. You will meet them in social media, in family, friends and even spouses.

    If it is social media you can always ignore them or blocked them. If these are reviews then set the “no review” box for a while and even “non anon.” If this is family try to gradually lessen your interactions with them so that you can well not feel guilty or allow them to guilt trip you to go back to their toxic traps. Importantly, if they are parents you can really lessen your interactions with them. If you are being Abused. CALL SOCIAL SERVICES OR THE POLICE AND GET HELP.

    Now, the other important parts. If toxic people are friends, you have to do what Anne Lamott said in her book Bird by Bird — your friendship needs a sabbatical. Seriously, if you feel you can’t cut them out think you are taking a sabbatical from your friendship. Sometimes toxic behaviour is also passive or indifferent behaviour. Such as not giving attention to your texts, not including you or showing any signs of elation when seeing or interacting with you. Then there is passive aggressive behaviour. Passive Aggressive behaviour is hard to stomach because it is a statement designed a joke or abstraction to still bruise you. You need to resist or stay away from these types of behaviour as much as possible. Friends are meant to enrich your life not make you feel like you are an abyss of uselessness.

    If your spouse does this either go to couples counseling or seriously rethink the relationship. Your spouse/partner is not meant to belittle, humiliate, berate and ambush you with guilt all the time. Gaslighting and manipulating you is AN ABUSE. So, don’t stay with these people. PLEASE GET HELP ASAP.

    The reasons I stated this is because toxic people like haters and trolls will debilitate and distract you from writing. If writing is your joy they will belittle it and they will try to ruin your work. Renowned novelist Buchi Emecheta had an abusive husband. When she wrote her first draft of Bride Price and gave it for her husband to read, she came back and saw him burning the manuscript. Yes, that did happen. That is how violent and toxic her ex-husband was.

    You don’t need partners like that. Or environments like that. They will first feed parasitically on your writing and this will effect and eventually lead to other parts of you. Your writing is not only your passion, it allows you to gain privileges and opportunities and give you work. In the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport he didn’t support passion so that is why I called writing also work. His reasons are actually credible. Passion, he states, is a side effect of mastery so that ties into how innateness does not equate much in the long run. And, a spouse who doesn’t take your work seriously is not going to take seriously other avenues of your life. By work here I also mean your efforts to master talents, your needs and wants and efforts at communication, habits you try to inculcate, and also your personality and beliefs.

    Toxic people and environments may ultimately ruin your needs and wants to master your craft. They are sometimes more dangerous than haters and trolls because they have a certain sense of closeness and intimacywith you, which they shamelessly take advantage of. If haters and trolls are clever and lack courage the toxic people are cowardice magnified. They also take the discrimination of cleverness and mutate it to entitlement. They feel that as they are with you they are entitled to behave with you in any way they please.

    Don’t suffer from this garbage and take a stand for yourself to resist and avoid as much as possible. So yes the sticking and unsticking come here a bit. Toxic people and environments make you doubt yourself a lot and let you cave in to defeating pressure. Yeah, there is positive pressure. The feeling the demanding need to write and write as heartily and skillfully as one can at the moment.

    So for your health tied to your writing stay away from toxicity as much as possible and resist it whenever the opportunities present themselves.

  • Do not Wait for the Mood to Write — This is a cardinal rule that you need to repeat to yourself. I know I have to because I procrastinate on it and don’t do it but it is seriously and important rule. Even if you are depressed, take some time off for your health and then try to write one line and draft it out and redraft it out.

    The reason I am saying this is that writing is a muscle and that it needs development and stimulation. Now, you may be thinking if I have writer’s block how can I be stimulated? Well, do other things. Or better yet start free writing. Take out your journal or Document and just start writing/typing random things and you will sure to get ideas. These writings do not need to final products or anything perfect. They can be to do lists or 40 best songs you liked or movies or even books. Write out your feelings of toxic people, your anxieties, your triumphs, etcetera and you are sure to get something.

    Writing is a balance of passive and active nodes. Thinking alone about writing ideas usually don’t help. Thinking can also be passive because the mind is not stimulated enough to get somewhere. Free Writing can also be passive because it doesn’t have a necessary goal. However, both can be active too gradually. When I first started writing these writing tips I didn’t completely know how I would go about it. I still don’t know but I kept on writing and the ideas gradually came. If I stuck to only thinking and planning alone it may have taken longer. Yes, I thought out the headings and such and some of the chunks but not everything.

    That is why I mentioned the hierarchy of desire and wants. Writing will not always operate on those things. Writing like any habit and skills needs time, dedication, discipline, patience and reiteration. If you are a victim of your moods and always get easily seduced by them writing will believe you are a player and not interested in a relationship (yeah, I went there). You need to understand that as there is no true innate quality to writing there is no ideal hour, moment, time or whatever for writing either.

    Writing is paradoxical because human beings are paradoxical. Writing is sometimes born and borne out of great frustration and misery and flicks off your happy pastures world. Writing at times scowls at decay and looks for pure Nirvana. Writing is concrete in its form but relative in its act of conception. It creates its own ideals and mixes other generally thought out ones. It may sometimes strive in purity which can also be chaos and at times live in greys which can be a ordinary day in the park.

    Don’t think that you need a mood always to write. You don’t need a mood always to breathe? It is as Scout said in To Kill a Mocking Bird. Reading to her was breathing. And, how do you breathe. You do it continuously. Now, I am not saying burn yourself out by writing. I am just giving a loose analogy. You don’t always breathe deeply and loudly so take writing also as gradual breathing which may sometimes stay nice and stable as though you are in a dream, sometimes peak up as you are being athletic and sometimes even be “soggy” like you are in a flu. You are writing about life so writing won’t be excised from life.

    Like Life writing also needs other avenues than your thoughts to be feed. It needs experiential stuff, segments from classrooms, snippets in cafes and the smell of coffee and the warmth of tea, the kiss of a lover, the kiss of a stranger, the theories of betrayal and actual betrayals, the concatenation of pearls in a bracelet, the mathematical equation you learned the other day, your dissertation, your lab assignment and even the joke you told your friend.

    Writing stems from all of these. Writing is the nodes of you as you go through life. Writing is the anatomy of your body, the curvatures of your spirit and the oceans of your soul with the forests of your thoughts and subconscious — writing is the braille of time and the alphabets of your spine dancing in unison to some track that is in your head and the cusp in your heart. Thus writing requires discipline, effort, time and dedication.

    As you are analogous to your writing (if not themes or characters then certainly the process) than like you writing needs proper nourishment and nurturing. And your moods erratically firing off won’t always help.

    Be consistent as much as possible. And I mean a healthy consistent. Write in a day or two days. Write small quotes. Plan projects and try your best to finish them.

    The more respect, time and attention you give to writing (a healthy amount because you need to take yourself and do other things) the more your writing will respect you and feel like listening to you.

~ To Be Continued

Not everyone will like you — Medium

via Not everyone will like you — Medium.

One day, you find a yellow orchid in your room

But you don’t like orchids

A week later, the orchid starts flourishing

But you still don’t like orchids

Two weeks later you notice a golden reflection on its surface

You start disliking the orchid a little less

A month later, you bow to the orchid

For despite your dislike the orchid kept flourishing

And just like the orchid not everyone is going to like you

But as you continue flourishing many will admire you

I really loved this poem I saw in the Blogging platform Medium. I mean this was one of the best pieces I read today (though I didn’t read much today or any day, my reading is as daft and dry as  an iguana in a snowman outfit). I really know this does feel true. Not being liked is a case that is  considered quite important — two other stories seem to capture my attention focusing on likeability a) Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and maker of Facebook, has willingly become homeless to prove a point for likeability (he did it to have solidarity with homeless people) and b) NHS gets both critical feedback and admiration after Justin Bieber endorses for it. The second story has probably more to do with national health care than likeability but the NHS is a subject of much talked about criticism. If you ever lived in the UK or visited it for a long period of time you will know funding the NHS is a mammoth issue. And funding on it depends on likeability to an extent (I can be wrong but I feel rather than know it to be that way).  Zuckerberg’s act followed his own criticism. Some of it is unfair. Others like the one by Mike Goldsmith, actually shows a better response:

Mark Zuckerberg making himself homeless is like a bulldog making himself a vegetarian. Selling stock ,buying a tent and deciding to camp out is not being homeless. Being homeless is when you lose everything, not give it up. It’s when you are forced to face the harshest elements of life by circumstance , not by choice. Camping out on a sidewalk, eating in a soup kitchen by choice isone thing but doing it as your only means of survival,that’s quite something else

I am sure Mark means well, but if he really wants to do something he should abandon these optics and do something that will really make a difference. With his resources he should do something to address the circumstances that put most of his new found friends on the street in the first place. He has the means to create and fund opportunities that would help a lot of people find new meaning and purpose. He could be a force behind new sources of rehab, retraining and jobs. Unfortunately, this “Look at me” optic is not the way to go.

So mark, If you really want to help, get off the street and actually do something that will make a difference. Stop acting like the lost little boy with to many toys and act more like the captain of innovation that you are….

That does make sense actually. We do get derailed to actually want “likeability” and this actually affects who we are. Like many people don’t talk about their editing processes feeling that likeability is focused on some template of genius. And that is true, we are all inculcated to believe the genius requires no effort. And for a while  I believed that too. Actually, the genius might need more effort in many things and that, with her/his innate vision, is genius is usually born and borne. I will readily admit that I had to read the comments’ sections and also the main article to get the gist of what was happening in the Bieber article (the article by Williams is a bit vague if you ask me because I didn’t read the title properly but I also feel it paces on ambiguous  terms without announcing its ambiguity because it probably doesn’t know what to think about itself; it is a bit divided and that is fine). However, most people won’t mention that for likeability. I am not always going to put likeability in parenthesis because likeability and “likeability” are both concrete and also elusive phenomenon. Everyday likeability and the major form of “likeability” (as a collective or pouring into theme) is faced by all of us. We may not know it but many or some of our actions are based on likeability and “likeability” — though it is true that some social etiquette and politeness should be taught many people overburden themselves with it all the time leading to overall ungratefulness. And this is where “likeability” and likeability actually does fail.

Jonathan Franzen wrote an article of being liked saying it was for cowards. The article also mentions Donald Trump but it was written in 2011 (Trump’s recent comments are more on the extreme scale than on any likeability or “likeability” scale: that is another topic. It is one thing to be disliked by going your own way and another to be disliked for racism, totalitarianism, extremism, plutocracy and oligarchic need for control in human interests which become reduced and violated as your own interests), so, it is more on how consumer culture is based on wanting to be liked more and it has nothing to do with love. Love is an adaptation, poetry in progress and motion, love is also constructive criticism, helping you reach great heights — liking is more about satiating some immediate need and moving on. Though that is important too the main thing I gleaned and developed my own way from this article is that you can’t have either/or: one extreme corrupts the balance you have for yourself. We must do things we like but we must also be challenged and become finer, polished beings, so we require that love too, tough or soft, it’s a need and ultimately a want for us as humans.

As some short stories on depression show in Medium that liking, even for a gift, after a point fails. I put in part of the story down below:

“Karen! Guess what?” he asks excitedly.

I look at him to acknowledge his question.

“I got you an iPhone 5 instead of 4!”

I consider this. I consider him –– his face lit up in excitement and anticipation of my reaction. I feel nothing.

“Pretty cool, right?” he says as he hands me the box.

I take the box from him and shimmy it open to reveal the iPhone nestled in itspackaging. As I lift it from its shell and examine the polished design, I think about how I should be grateful.

“Thank you, daddy,” I say because it is the right thing to say. But I still feel nothing. It takes a Herculean effort to force the corners of my mouth up.

Thoughts wander aimlessly through my mind. I think about how my dad is trying so hard to make me happy. I think about how disappointed my lack of reaction must be. I think about how if I felt any emotion, I would feel guilty for being unable to show him happiness. Guilty for not having accepted his gift with more grace and grandeur.

The pain in this piece is obvious. After a point likeability can fail. To a person suffering depression liking, likeability and “likeability” fails big time. Because there are times, like when is depressed or suffering from depression, no gift can really cheer you up.

Well, likeability and “likeability” in themselves can be complicated issues but no matter how complicated the complex in you has a greater chance fate and faith to win. Because we were all made to be uniques in and with and within a collective. So, we are born into a middle-ground many a times. Unless, you truly want extremity or it is dished out on via circumstances, I don’t think you have to worry on it being your identity too much though another reality is it is hard not to worry too much either. We just have to find frequencies that work for us.

The orchid at the beginning of the poem may have blossomed elsewhere or change its pot and dirt; but as long as its reached this state it’s fine even if no one admired it immediately for it or at all. The thing is some honest things won’t be admired either but you can choose if that is something you can live without being appreciated for: whether you can or cannot doesn’t also determine your worth; you may be living a different life and may have different needs. When I was younger I read the dialogue between Jane Eyre and Helen Burns pertaining to this likeability and “likeability” (the novel itself tracing a lot around it) — I suspected that Burns was wrong when she thought Eyre’s humiliation publicly in their boarding school should not matter as long as God still loved her. I wasn’t wrong in thinking Helen Burns was wrong but I was wrong in thinking she totally was. Burns is not totally wrong. To her, this sort of humiliation did not matter, she was older than Eyre and probably had faced this form of torment previously, she has known that people can be stupid and hypocritical and cruel. But she is wrong to seem desensitised to it and not understanding Jane Eyre’s younger self’s need of acceptance and also how justice needed to be served there which only honesty and truth could help prevail in it. Yet, at the same time Jane Eyre should know that getting their aproval should not be her end goal. Both have right arguments in that debate. It was the frequency, the extent of each voice in it, that needed to be understood and possess a corrected pitch.

I would like to conclude with someone’s poem, who is at the moment, my favourite poet on the internet:

If there’s a tic in your toc

It wasn’t me – I am afraid

Of its –  r.a.p.i.d.n.e.s.s

Especially when running

So very – f.u.c.k.i.n.g – late

This poem by Mari Sanchez Cayuso is called Time. Someone in the comments stated that the use of expletives helps the piece. I agreed. If Mari was only vouching for likeability and “likeability” alone she may have exempted from it (though the young adult phenomenon of doing anything one wants is actually more with the grain than against it – that is also a separate topic; I just hinted on it). Yet, this piece is  hers and honesty and truth on her conditions and beings is always why I loved and liked Mari’s poems. I guess, in her own way, she has shown a great balance in her for both things.

confession (i)

I didn’t know that studying abroad would be a lonely experience. I am just into the experience so I am not sure how the entire experience will be; yet. And I notice people have more boundaries than me. There are a lot of cool White and Black people – people of Asiatic origins and such and I desire, hunger to talk to them. Talking and intimacy has always been an integral part of me. My being cannot resist it. It gravitates towards it as its gravitas.  People are just good at hiding or at bearing shyness. I cannot. I do not know silences that stretch due to stranger strangeness; due to anonymity. For me, I feel everyone is an adventure waiting to be explored; a university of individualism wishing to be learned and interacted with. Human to be humanly and humanely encountered and understood. But I know many people will seldom look at others this way. In a sea of bodies I am just well, just another body. Not even an attractive one. I am new. My freshness stinks like cleaning soap, disinfectant, like some form of ripeness that has ripened with the irresistible tug of the green. The men and women here are beautiful and presentable. They look healthy, fit, accustomed to walking. They have developed really clean and well attired aesthetics. I saw a woman from East Asia or East Asian origin with painted full lips – colour of poppies and blood crushed into the metaphor of richness and life. I envied here. I am plump. My skin breaks. I am not a beauty. My hair is the wires of a mess, cables of neural electricity refusing to find sockets or comfortable patterns. The climate here is colder. More foreign. My skin has broken with it. I am a noob. The gamer term encapsulates me and my personhood perfectly. I am a noob and it reeks off me like dying fish on some forgotten sands.  I have no sense of direction. Today, I was a bit in shock at looking at an official registration form that asked for my sexual orientation. It was a well definable space; a well defined definition to a sexuality. That hasn’t happened before. It was beautiful. But also a bit difficult to process. Then I giggled like a teen. I am in my 20’s. I am older than most people in my dorm or my class. But compared to them I am stupid. I am a social invalid. I am always at awe at how beautifully people do day to day things. I can’t do anything like that. Not yet anyway.

I was spoiled. Sheltered unreasonably. But where I am from many middle class or upper middle class people are like this; so are high class people. We don’t count money fast. We don’t know how to cook. We don’t know how to clean a bathroom. It just is. It just was. Imagine me. A sheltered weird creature among people who already know what they want from life. What they need in life. How to carve out their individuality. How to carve soul and identity into both paper and flesh. You may be disgusted by it. Rightfully so. I apologise for being so incapable. So immature. Yet, it was so fostered into me. So ingrained. I knew it was problematic but lacked the means to obliterate it. I do not know what sort of creature I am. I am not aware how to live. I am lesser than a baby. I am like Kyle XY without the brains. I am just me. A stupid. But I love the city. I love the openness. I love the liberalness. Love the scope of magnitude of chaos and harmony. Buildings here astound me. I am from such a backward land. I am not really even acquainted with online ordering. I have had so many privations. They are not so private or public. They just existed. I walk so much now. I love it. I wish I could share the walking with a beau. I wish I was beautiful enough both inwardly and outwardly; more strong enough, more efficient enough to be a proper human being. But I am not. And I am sad I was made into this half-formed thing. This failure. This tragedy. This inconsolable invalid.  I wish I could love more freely. Be decent enough to love.

I am like a carnival attraction. I am so carnivalesque. Maybe I look odd to others. Today I wanted to shake hands with a girl in a lecture. She seems uncomfortable and uninterested; she had bright red hair, coloured as a cherry. She spoke on Jeanette Winterson. On gender. And I didn’t impress her. I was just there. I was just an odd person. The guy who sat next to me just walked away not caring of me. And my flatmates don’t seem to think I am great either. I feel like the fool. The jester everyone encounters but is so scenic that no one would really pay attention to know. I feel so inadequate. In brains. Beauty. Aesthetics. Brains…I just feel kinda lost.

I don’t know if I am good. Or even decent. I just wish that the “me” I am can change, can evolve, can adapt and become better for myself. Also, for others. I just feel lost and the wideness of this urban wilderness both scares me and tantalises me. I wanna be found and rescued by myself. I wanna meet my spirit, my animal, my spirit-animal. I just want to be more than what I am now

Coy Lips; fictionic

We begin our story at a small school in a city in South Asia that may be South Asian in geography but has a geography a bit akin to a meshing. The school has a Baroch posture of mass geometric shapes that undulate and at times continue in some postmodernistic, a bit futuristic sway.

Akram is a boy of about ten at this time; that’s how he is remembering it, for a “now” is actually when he is seventeen. His eyes are a bit honeyed, not fully black or brown or that terrestrial mixture. His hair is a wavy of both hellenic and middle-eastern origins. His skin is a facsimile of brown and white: fax for it seems as though someone expertly delved in wax and some caramel-chocolate. Of course as a child his eyes looked larger and his grin a bit cherub-like. Cherub-like grins in childhood do have a tendency of seeming a bit hesitant in adolescence or adulthood.

The boy is a bit quiet. Lips are pursed at times. His worse subjects are history and grammars (both English and his vernacular) and his bests are actually literature and mathematics and science. His mother was told that he excelled in geography but that his drawing was not so great. Art was another subject he despised because he did not understand colours that well or shading but just preferred to well make lines which were also crooked.

Like crooked smiles of either wickedness or hesitation Akram was caught by the older year five person and soon kissed. It wasn’t a girl. Not that he would be not pissed if it was a girl. He didn’t like girls. Not most girls. Girls his age giggled and teased and then at times looked and stared a bit more fiercely at boys or made faces like them. The twelve year old boy who kissed him was not so rowdy though he had a reputation of getting in some fights that happened with certain classmates of other sections.

It was not so lingering but it was hard and a bit amateurish but the emotions were real. Very real. And he didn’t know what they were. To that young boy love was effervescent but not rushed intense. The older boy’s name was Fazi and he looked him straight in the eye after the kiss. It was a bit too intentional as though he didn’t want to look afraid.

“I like you.”
“You do?”
“Yes.”
“Like a girl.” Akram tried to make sense. To him girls can like girls and boys but boys only liked other boys to fight and liked girls for only kissing. At that time he thought that.
“I guess, but I can like you like that.”
“But I don’t have a pussy.” Akram did not know the proper term was “vagina” he thought the name meant that something whiskers as cat-face was something girls got when they were older.
“I don’t think that’s an issue.”
“Will you kiss me again?”
“Can I?”
“I don’t know.”
“Was it a bad kiss?”
“Is there a bad and good kiss?”
“Well, you shouldn’t let grown-up strangers kiss you that’s bad.”
“Oh, yeah.”

Akram nodding encouraged Fazi a bit so he kissed him again. Then looked at Akram. Akram seemed not too fazed by it anymore and nodded. Fazi kissed him again in that almost empty corridor. A janitor was lazily drowsy and didn’t care at all.

Seventeen year old Akram looks as Fazi as a friend. An older, cool friend. Fazi doesn’t therein lies a problem. When Akram allows Fazi to makeout with him it is mostly because he is bored and because he feels frustrated. Fazi knows their thing is not a relationship but he wants it badly to be one. He isn’t crazy about anyone as he is with Akram. As a kid he has been. Akram had gently tried to sever ties with them a couple of times. It has backfired a bit. Fazi was a bit more persistent and a bit too emotional prone to tantrums and outbursts but also that sly logic methodology of saying “let’s just be you got no one else” or “come on it’s not that much of a bad feeling right?” and Akram doesn’t know how to answer. At times he just says that he likes girls and wants to have a girlfriend to which Fazi laughs.

There was a time he was trying and Fazi had successfully sabotaged him getting a girlfriend. Akram was a bit timid. Was a bit introverted and at times too complacent so he didn’t always complain. Some of those girls were more people he thought he could bond with but realizing maybe she shouldn’t. But Mira was a different case. The young woman was four years older than Akram and two years older than Fazi. Mira was one of the reasons the so-called timid guy took on an older male (same-height) with more defined muscles at the time. Akram was a bit chubby at seventeen. Fazi had kissed Mira and had at one point successfully made her his girlfriend. It was, in his eyes, a test to show how “dubious” Mira was. Yet the case was that Mira had though Fazi was growing to like her and Akram had stayed quiet for he was shy.

It was that time that Akram took  a stand to ignore Fazi. Fazi was adamant to stay with him but after some scuffles (which Fazi tried to alleviate sometimes by kissing) it was apparent that Akram and he were through.

Seeing Akram after all these years made Fazi’s heart leap. What was it that leaped really at times he could not tell…as in his heart leaped but something else. He had never really explained to Akram why he had loved him and ironically Akram had accepted that love without much probing or question. They have never had sex. They had however done some other things (mostly insinuated by Fazi). Akram was getting married to Mira. He was thirty-two years old and Fazi was thirty-four. Fazi has had only casual sex with people these days: both sexes. Yet, he had recently started seriously dating a person called Nibhay, who was the a year younger than him and had moved out to stay in the city with Fazi because he preferred him and loved him (stating that he exclusively loved males).

Seeing Akram Fazi could not resist but kiss him. Amateurish and awkward. Like that first time. That is when Fazi shamefully admitted to himself how wonderfully unrequited this was, without redamancy. It did not censure affection, maybe allowed sexuality but it was not the love he had wanted. Akram allowed that kiss; participated in it. As a liberation. All those years ago he participated to understand the same wave encaptured it now. For Fazi it was a good goodbye to a something that had no working or destiny. For Akram it was an end of an age of confused wanting and frustrations and feeling his wishes neglected. It was a complacency coming to an end. Both were cleansing out a selfish knot that was binding them.

Soon they raised their cups of lassi for a toast. Lingering on lips was the coyness of foams gone and foams to come.▬

 *Authors note: When I write fictional pieces I will label them as “fictionic” from now on 🙂

isolation in quotes

what do “I” call myself? — a labyrinthine thinker, late bloomer prodigy,
a colloquial slut, a porn actor/actrice, a menagerie of moods, a glass fountain,
a granite slab of boredom, an equanimous person, likely to succeed/fail, tagger of
facebook slogans or pages, popular only in staying unpopular, a blood cycle, a sperm
cycle, a gestation of uneasy testosterones or a nest of comfy oestrogen — what am I?

asking is imperative; you cannot be classes you have to be a class, not a binomial variant,
but a simultaneous crack-whore who can easily be cancelled linear-wise and not charted
in graphs — and the graphs all mounted highs and lows like some floppy or quick erectile tissue
bounded by some bondage mechanism easily quacking or nervously fretting — yeah our so-called
civilized world transcribes to the sexual all too quickly yet will not transcribe to intimacy or a
reproduction of kisses because to the mythical layman fucking is as easy than typing 2+2=1

we are isolated by so much wave and wires — first by seas and mountains now the technical metaphors
of technology; it;s easy to build walls you just need crude, undisciplined yet disciplined, refined geometry:
we learn math in isolation was not Alice there telling the Queen that for to her a jabberwocky is a parable
not a persistent lover of existence. We learn languages in isolation, fruit of needs are supposedly tasted and
tested in a bedroom — when have we so easily conquered all human instincts and personality checks and put
them airtight into a bottle as though everything and anything was masturbation. If I am vulgar you were vulgar
by lacking vulgarity by never breaching or broaching subjects that could make me spill my coffee but be grateful
I had sipped and dined with you in a natural state — and by natural state I do not easily picture you in your
birthday suit happily playing the flute of your clitoral-erection or playing drums with your bosom-chest…yet
you want me to easily think that — when I am flawed will you not know my flaw and tell me so why wither
it as a flaccid beam of self-denial — yeah, I talked all innuendo-like; it’s a language we all easily adopt too
though I think millions never adapt nor else we wouldn’t cry in tissue papers hoping it was the tender skin of
a lover…

why are all our information and acts and knowledges isolated; even with modern precepts of civilization
we love playing colonial pipes, steal the lands of many, decrepit the food and bones of the different,
make outsiders more than insiders and treat wealth the money as though it was a concubine that gave us
all the frenzies our heart desired — we are training ourselves to think heights are step-ladders and all binaries
are trusted celebrities though we all aspire some balance in ourselves. When did we become consumers?  Merely
eaters? Not inventors or hunters or gatherers or builders? — Is only the daft eating the way f the world? Are we only
engineers of a time-stinking buffet or rather a potpourri of so many essences and open to the architecture of the many?
Should we not rinse our tongues and teeth to the palpable instead of the vacuous? I ask myself questions, even dumb stupid
ones that are trivial and exhaustive but only because I think I was born to be hunter not predator or prey. But a gatherer
of immutable gems parasailing in a mutable universe… the scents and dotages of those exquisite structures with their
non-structure and flexible narrations have made me both weep and be teem with adrenalin. I do not think the deforestation
of the mind with conformed categories can easily help. Core beliefs are beautiful but they inhabit more ample space than we
give them credit for; our bones are calcium arranged as leaves of variables…how lovely was this trail of stones and bread…

and because I have these thoughts I may be isolated called mad by peers and hated by equals in class, birth, jobs, counter tables
for I did not drink coffee with cream and sugar but wanted to try a honeyed mix and that made a different in the tongue-nectare
made me mongrel to the refined and I do not know what more I could do — did I not also taste that coffee republic, nod to a placebo,
in the world of narcotics and so much medicinal shots. When I meet others who liked coffee and tea like me would we recognize
each other skins, meats and marrows or has the narrow cubicles sealed that kiss? Wonder if isolation is the new economy of trade…▬

No Apology | Mehreen Kasana

This was such a great article I decided to  quote some of its intense yet true parts. I truly thank Mehreen Kasana from my soul to do this as a person for both equality and a social voice for those people who cannot do so, so easily:

By the time I have figured my criminal-by-default status out, we are on the Manhattan Bridge headed toward Canal Street, which means there is mobile reception. My old white friend is on his iPhone telling his friend something about ISIS. He looks at me every single time he says ISIS or Islamic State. I take it lightly; I don’t want to yell at a guy who looks like his joints would fall out of place if I raised my voice. But it’s insulting and several people look in our direction, at my keffiyeh and at him enunciating ISIS while talking to his friend on the phone. That’s when I debate engagement or flipping him off. I decide on neither but I reach into my bag, which alerts him, and pull out a bomb in the form of a plastic bottle containing tap water.

I drink the water, man. I’m tired.

In this binary, the Bad Muslim is the constant malefactor. Since s/he is fed up with attempting (in distressing futility) to show his/her legitimacy as a human being – forget the title of American as it becomes unavailing in this case – s/he refuses to apologize for Islam. The Bad Muslim is the exhausted Muslim. A Muslim whose morale has been drained by perpetual anxiety, hostility and social marginalization for being seen as a criminal for acts of violence he or she has never committed. The Bad Muslim is the Muslim who makes the mistake of thinking he or she is as human as the next person and should be given a modicum of respect as anyone else would receive, such as the random white American who is never harangued to apologize for what KKK did or modern day Neo Nazis do. The Bad Muslim is unhappy with being profiled “randomly” at the airport, for being rejected employment because his or her name sounds a little too Muslim ergo a little too Al Qaeda or ISIS or Taliban or what-have-you. Unless he or she is rich, a Bad Muslim – who is often a working classindividual, a mere wage earner – cannot afford the temporary getaway financial stability provides from this interminable environment of contempt and xenophobia. The Bad Muslim is often aware of RAND-constructed typologies that identify ideological tendencies in Muslim communities and exploit inter-sect divides to promote US strategic interests

No amount of polls of Muslims denouncing ISIS will authenticate our humanity to the average Westerner who trusts propagated tropes from a culture industry more than anything else. It does not matter to the average bigot whether 126 senior Islamic scholars hailing from various parts of the Middle East, Europe, South Asia, North Africa and beyond theologically make clear in an open 24-bullet letter that the deeds of ISIS are entirely un-Islamic because to the average bigot, Islam is beyond redemption and its followers deserve to be punished by virtue of the faith they follow. It does not matter if one explains, as Alireza Doostdar does meticulously in this essay, that ISIS is not a religious problem but a political exacerbation that necessitates a contextual understanding of its chronological development and proliferation. This hostility is not innate. One is not born with vengeance for a specific group of people. It is instilled and socialized through social and institutional production of ideology from the State, media outlets, academia and everyday social exchange. It is manufactured by ever escalating dosages of premeditated images, sound bites and seductive rhetoric that lures one into regurgitating falsities about a people. It reaches to a point, as we see today, where simply appearing to be Muslim (as if there is a specific aesthetic embodied by us) elicits some of the most unwarranted suspicion, invasive questions and in many cases, outright violence.

Take it this way: In 2011, white men constituted over 69% of those arrested for urban violence and yet black men made up for the majority of the prison population thanks to the American prison industrial complex. The majority of school shooters and mass murderers in the United States are white men (97% of them being male and 79% being white) from upper-middle class backgrounds. But for some curious reason, Twitter or Facebook or even your favorite news channels have not seen a flood of apologies from white men under the hashtag #NotInMyName. I already expect indignant comments to tell me that these men were lone cases who had mental disorders and no friends because it’s the go-to reason when a white man decides to shoot schools up. Unfortunately, brown and black men cannot use the same excuse. 

 

Any country with a majority acts like this. Even in my country indigenous people are always mistreated, murdered, harassed and also denied jobs because who they are. Religion at times make no point but when it does I say the same thing. For example, it is also how you look. The fair skinned or even brown Nepali looking man is not as trusted as a brown skinned or even fair skinned majority or, get this, foreigner. Then my country also has a bad reputation of gender discrimination as in not female or male but to the transgender/transvestite community known as Hijra. The Hijras are always being ostracization and due to this ban of their proper recognition they do  act more flamboyantly and do deeds that otherwise they wouldn’t care to do. Social impregnation of values of acceptability or colouring of class, race, gender, sex and religion do have repercussions. Please be attentive.

Thank you for reading.

No Apology | Mehreen Kasana.

What I am doing?

I think maybe to many my blog is confusing. It is not a chronology of memoirs; nor is it an intellectual repertoire on things, nor is it a well-written non-fiction blog or a fiction/poetry blog. I am pretty sure that one must be wanting to know why do I blog because I am not sure as in not fixed on a subject matter. I mean most prolific, most famous blogs are always “genre” or rather “subject” oriented — even if it is trolling (a subject in a way) the most prestigious blogs are all about that. I am not insincere about the blog as it mixed medium, buffet blog that is a mixology of many mixes and stuff. I do prioritize on show reviews or opinions on another blog knowing that not everybody would love knowing which anime needs a gear repair or what new show is what.

Yet this blog is all the weird discontinuous-continuity, mixed platter of sum and something is me. I am not someone so aimless but I guess I go through extremes, middles and ambivalence all the time. And I am happy I guess. Though I do not if that discourages anyone from reading my blog or make them think it’s not for them.

For my readers and non-readers what do you think I am doing? Feel free to tell me 🙂

If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

If you haven’t known I have joined “writing 101” I  think I would also love to join blogging 101 too. But at the moment I am doing this. Getting inspired from nicholeq I decided to also write my entry on a memoir though obviously it is not really as heartwarming as hers.

I was pondering when I saw the question that maybe if there was a space to zoom into, maybe, an absolute zero in some outer space nebula I might choose that. I am strange as that. This may evoke an analysis, probably truly, that I am unsatisfied with the world. I am not really, at times I am, it’s just I feel that as time exists in fragments in space probably I could as light bends and time bends have a weird little intraconnected universe all to myself if I had done something of the sort.

Yet as I read the post twist I was wondering that presumably I won’t be able to describe such a place which is an inkling of mortality and a personally constructed, as in mental, nirvana.

Today’s twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.

So, I decided to vividly go back into a time when I was I think six or seven years old. I had taken a nap in a semi-dark room. The room was partly lit due to small square windows on top of the room. The larger window was curtained as not to interrupt a child’s nap. I was woken by my mother to eat. My eyes blurry I went into the dining room. The windows, large and unclosed, were sparkling with life. There outside Allah Almighty had ordained the sun to be warm and gold and it engulfed my little soul. The smell was warm. The food was inviting. The trees was bathed in warm and their green was on fire but not burning or hurt. They were the earthly angels and I was their companion. I think the feeling made me feel I reached a slice of paradise and made me love nature and the world so obviously I would love to go back to that blessed blaze and the clear blueness of sky and all that. The world felt a quiet yet alive and buzzing, paradoxical but true, haven and we were allowed to be part of it. No one was excluded. Even if we were all asymmetrical in sizes our symmetry completed and complimented life. My young soul was filled with that joy, unhampered, unperverse, of knowing love and life can so easily intermix and synchronize and be one, without artificiality, just organic and a wholeness that is a satiation to all laws implemented on the universe…Allah knows that is my space, my moment…my fossilized amber…a mirth in a moment that is both kaleidoscope and a harvest for my heart…

Roxane Gay: Not Such a ‘Bad Feminist’ After All – The Daily Beast

Roxane Gay: Not Such a ‘Bad Feminist’ After All – The Daily Beast.

Gay argues strenuously against the need for “likeable” characters in literature, because women aren’t so two-dimensional in real life. It’s a standard that applies too frequently to women in politics and positions of power.

I really liked those lines. Those lines really matter. It is remarkable to see men be anti-heroic but if a woman is non-feminine does it make her less female? She is written off as a bad excuse most of the time. Her “hysteria” is as the movie said a “a catch all term for everything that is wrong with her”. Have you ever dared to question what is right about her? Her screams, shouts, tantrums and crying into oblivion? To be put on a throne of privelage or a shoddy tent to service as a sex worker yet still feel the stings of the same criticism is a harrowing and a very deep rooted cadaver making, gut wrenching, heart plastering pain.

No one said a woman needs to be the perfect “feminine” for there is no such thing.