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As a writer / critic / philosopher !

[Random thoughts on what I feel must be guideposts for writers (mainly bloggers) who write on social broad ranged topics usually excluding personal lives unless it adds to the narrative. Its pathetically long, but I needed the space to elaborate.]

“A writer is an engineer of soul” – Joseph Stalin

No good style or bad – it’s my style

There are many guide styles available throughout the web which emphasize on a particular style of writing. Among the ones are Chetan Bhagat/ Thomas Friedman kinds who over-simplify and have a curious use of metaphors. On the other side of spectrum are writers who write as though they would like the readers to break their heads to understand them and take creative pride in the fact that few usually do that.

Either way, to each his own! But what I would like to say is that while one must always be open to improvise his writing, one never needs to copy others blatantly. Obviously each writer has their own role model and is creatively inspired by a select few writers and imbibes their style.

One must bear in mind whatever one writes must be comprehensible to others. However this does not mean that one writes for the sake for others. NO. One writes to express. While expression doesn’t entail the way it is interpreted by others, communication does involve efforts to guide the reader into understanding it the way writer does. That blogger makes his work public is testimony to fact that he writes not only to express but also to communicate.

Not that the writer doesn’t derive delight in praise. “You great star, what would your happiness be had you not those for whom you shine?” *.

Here I am reminded of an essay by George Orwell on the attack of Leo Tolstoy on Shakespeare. In summary, Tolstoy feels that of Shakespeare’s works lack “aesthetic sense” and goes to cite various other literary deficiencies. Orwell feels that literary works can hardly be categorized into such terms and “longevity” is the only true test of any work where Shakespeare scores beyond measure.

PS: Though an avid fan of Nietzsche, my inspiration for writing style (and most of my thinking) is from Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer is clear, precise and most understandable of all philosophers. I specially recommend his essays which are pure pleasure for any layman.

Ideology! What Ideology?

Despite the wide range of topics that a writer chooses, it remains a fact that they come from the same perspective. Hence, one will find a remarkable pattern in all the works despite the variety.

See Dan Brown, and forget the setting of his novels – one would observe perceivable similarity in plots all over. Compare the works of your favorite director/writer…you would notice the consistency.

Read “The Fountainhead” and you have the main theory of Ayn Rand. Her other works are but commentaries and variants of the same idea expressed. [I intend to write a critique on her someday].

So even unconsciously a writer is in chains! Why bother to further imprison through an ideology?
The categorization of a writer as liberal/right wing/conservative/leftist etc are all for others to demarcate him! A writer owes no allegiance to anyone or any ideology except what he considers truth.
In this connection it’s noteworthy to include the identity aspect of the writer. Writers as does any other man belong to a nation, state, religion, region, caste, etc. It does give him a sense of belongingness and meaning to associate with these identities. A classic example is that an atheistic Khuswant Singh returning Padma Bhushan in protest against siege of Golden Temple by Indian army.

So people must forgive if I claim Hyderabad to be a better city than others despite a horrendous scale of pollution and total lack of traffic sense. (and many other reasons ofcourse). That India is a great nation with rich heritage and huge potential despite distracters claiming the opposite. That Telugu is a really sweet language...

Off the topic for a moment – Schopenhauer says “Will power is to the mind like a strong blind man who carries on his shoulders a lame man who can see.” He famously defines genius to be someone in whom intellect predominates over "will" much more than within the average person. I extrapolate this statement to imply that every serious blogger should rise above his partisan concerns in a similar vein.

Writing for whom?

He who thinks a great deal is not suited to be a party man: he thinks his way through the party and out the other side too soon. - Nietzsche

Somehow I am not comfortable with people who write for a living. To elaborate, Sakshi, a telugu TV news channel, is a totally unreliable source to me. For me a single point – just one – that Sakshi media will never ever be able to criticize Jagan come what may is a big letdown. What’s the point in calling yourself a “news” channel when it’s clear that they are interested only in transforming them into “views”. Not those other channels are impartial – but they do it subtly and atleast sometimes the criticism is all-around.

Few US newspapers were criticized for bias in favor of Israel as they constitute a significant business-community and their contribution to the revenue of the newspapers is considerable.

Media houses should create a business model that enables sustainable revenue while ensuring that no one can influence its functioning. Reuters, the famous news agency, earlier had a rule that prevented any single party from gaining shares beyond a limit that could influence its independent functioning.

Thankfully, blogging is still a hobby with many. It doesn’t create much business despite Google adwords etc. Hence, the source of income of bloggers is no way influenced by their opinions. That’s a real brownie point for bloggers. This is also the reason why media repeatedly portrays blogs are amateurs; because they enter their basion of “educating people” which was their sole preserve previously.

[I link Telangana’s rapid intellectual case-building with rise of blogs. Ten years back, the intellectual agenda would not have penetrated this way; the media could surely curb contrary opinions and nothing could have come out. More in next…..]

A person who writes for pleasing a set of people ends up justifying their every action. Philosopher Hegel was a professor at a German university and therefore a government employee. He had to become “loyal” to the government thus twisting his earlier philosophy to suit present needs.

Finally, a critic must always act as a check for the prevailing government and forever be a rebel.

PS: I had many more ideas when I started, most have evaporated by now. Shall add to part2 if need be.


All-time Hits

The Controversial Caste System of Hinduism

Imagine concepts like feudal system, slavery, capitalistic exploitation and anti-Semitism being used to define the core of Christianity! Christians will be outraged at this inappropriate mixing of the core universal values of Christians and societal & historical aspects which merely existed in a Christian world.
Now this raises the question – why is caste system defined as the core of Hinduism? Especially as “caste” itself is a western construct. Sounds irrelevant?
Okay. Now imagine concepts like slave-trade, war on infidels, brutal subjugation of masses, temple destruction, and forceful conversions marking the core of Islam.
It is considered sensible to first understand what the core scriptures speak about the religion and its universal values. The ills of the community & its societal aspects are differentiated from its core philosophy.
Now, this brings us to the most interesting question – why is Caste System (caste based on birth) propagated to be the defining feature of Hindu…

Chetan Bhagat : His Literary Style and Criticism

Chetan Bhagat’s (CB) recent column created a furore, chiefly because of his audacity to speak for Muslim community and what many people conflate with his support for Narendra Modi’s Prime Ministerial ambitions.  
But what interested me most - and what this post would focus on - is questioning of his literary merit (or lack of it). Many journalists ridicule CB’s style of writing and his oversimplistic portrayals of characters sans nuance or sophistication. But I suspect this has more to do with the fact that his readers alone far outnumber the combined readers of many journalists - a point that many don’t appear capable of digesting.
No takers for layman’s language!
When Tulsidas rewrote Ramayana in Avadhi (a local contemporary dialect then), many conservative sections of society came down heavily upon him for defiling the sanctity of a much revered epic (originally written in Sanskrit). When Quran was first translated in Urdu (by Shah Abdul Qadir in 1798), it faced intense opposition by …

The concept of Dharma in Ramayana

The concept of Dharma is not adequately understood by Hindus themselves, not to mention others. Dharma is not a set of do’s and don’t’s or a simplistic evaluation of good and bad. It requires considerable intellectual exertion to even begin understanding Dharma, let alone mastering its use.

Is Dharma Translatable?
Few words of a language cannot be faithfully translated into another without injuring its meaning, context & spirit. English translations of Dharma are blurred and yield words like religion, sense of righteousness, discrimination between good and bad, morals and ethics or that which is lawful. All these fall short of fully grasping the essence of Dharma.
Every language has an ecosystem of words, categories and grammar which allow a user to stitch words together to maximum effect such that meaning permeates the text without necessarily being explicitly explained at each point. Sanskrit words such dharma, karma, sloka, mantra, guru etc., now incorporated in English, lose thei…

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