conan the librarian

February 17, 2011 § 13 Comments

listen, i just realised – lying is just like securitisation fraud! it follows the same process and has exactly the same pitfalls. just the correct mix of fact with fiction, the endorsement of the mix by a friend, the layering of additional lies on the first, the re-endorsement; when the first smidge of doubt crystallises, the inability to prove worth, the rollback of trust, the beautiful, inevitable, ignoble descent.

yes ok, ‘fraud’ usually implies lying etc., but i really like this analogy. so please don’t be killjoy.

somehow it doesn’t seem possible, but i find myself becoming rapidly more aware that i am on my last leg of college. a very long leg, as legs go, but – how do you finish this sentence? – er, the last of such legs. i haven’t mentioned thisĀ  because i am feeling sad or happy, i have mentioned this because i am surprised that i have noticed this at all.

i re-read a confederacy of dunces; it’s been a few years. it is only as wonderful as it was before. i wish i could say it was better on second read or that i unearthed some incredible new insight this time round, but no such luck. in that sense it was a bit of a disappointment.

to make up for that, however, i found a new author! except that he’s been around for a while already (understatement) and is presently somewhat… senior citizen-ey. i felt terrible for not having ‘found’ him earlier, but i did buy (with some trepidation) a slightly overpriced collection of short stories from a legit book shop (tent) at the jaipur literature festival to make up for that. as it so happens, i needn’t have worried. now that i am impressed, i am offended that i can’t claim him as my ‘discovery before the cool kids found him’. i am, oh cruel fate! a johnny(jenny?)-come-lately on the martin amis scene.

so heavy water is good, ok. what’s important to remember, however, is that amis’ strength does not lie in the dramatic denouement or the subtle twist , so i think comparisons with saki and de maupassant are pointless. what he does have, however, is this incredible ability to describe with effortless effortlessness, small moments that are otherwise indescribable. ya, i am so articulate no? ya i know.

read the fucking book.

language log readers will note with appreciation that he often takes the more difficult route to this end; he tends to rely on fact-based description (red apple) rather than evaluatory description (tasty apple) – which latter is easier. i mean, i just found that commendable.

the endings – often the plots themselves – are no big deal.

i watched him talk on stage at the jaipur festival. he was sitting in a chair, wearing a shapeless white shirt, slouching with his spectacles at the end of his nose, mediating a discussion – and within ten minutes of listening to him talk i had decided that i would buy one of his books. so that either means i am your average sucker for a BBC accent (yes), or that i have a highly developed literary sense.

speaking of well-developed literary senses, i have decided that my next contribution to the college newsletter will be the analysis of carrie bradshaw‘s contributions as a modern existentialist philosopher. this will serve to annoy all the resident nietzsche groupies. it will be like a swift kick in their collective weltenschauung. very long overdue, as far as i am concerned.

me, i don’t think i’ve been more surefooted or full o’ beans at any other time in my life as i am now. a few days back i was sitting on the lawn wearing my large, fuzzy blue sweater, sitting with my feet up, reading the ramblings of an old friend on a satisfactorily scratchy PDF, looking up occasionally, watching the basketball team futz around, watching the football team slow dance in the distance, people cheering, the clouds in the sky all pink and set up for a phenomenal sunset.

one sip of chai, watching the doggies yawn and nip lazily at the flies tickling their noses, and one part of me is thinking, well, this is pretty good. this is pretty damn good. is this happiness?

a philosophical heavyweight once said what makes you happy is for you to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

42 is for sissies.

(yeah that was a cheap shot. i would say ‘sue me’, but some of you would probably do a fine job of that.)

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picture this.

February 5, 2011 § 24 Comments

it’s easy to believe that this room will always hold you back, this view will always close you in, these grills will always be between you and the great beyond.

that your feet will dry and age and fossilise in these very shoes, that the thrum of the faulty airconditioning will seep into your ears and that your eyes will never look at anything but this flat cloudless sky. in the mornings we congregate, we laugh, we know these people, we are collusive in our kindness to their tics and their vanities, their soft white underbellies. in the daytime we tolerate, we are filled with the liquid camaraderie of a shared life, of this one amorphous, unwieldy Inside Joke we have created together. but some evenings, the gloss wears off.

some evenings, these jokes are old, these people stale, their friends shrill, their values ragged, their love jaded, their bottles empty and their cigarettes put out. your tea is cold, what now?

picture this!

a home somewhere! yes, a flat. a job? maybe even that job? crowded roads, Virar-Churchgate? maybe a car. a bike? could i ride a bike? a suncatcher in the balcony, moneyplant leaves trailing over my walls. i will buy a swing! i will have a sofa, a bright blue three seater sofa, and if i am very lucky, one or the other happily drunk friend fast asleep on it every weekend.

she will get married, that one, and have many bratty children. that other one is sure to have a house infested with dogs. for me i see roads and pictures, trains, oceans, countries! i see hatchbacks on cobbled roads with parisian women crooking elbows out of the driver’s side window, i see fishing villages, i see cliffs, i see myself leaping off those cliffs with a cord tied around my ankle. i see books bought on footpaths in three different continents, i see that keychain i will have made with one pebble from the grounds of the tower of london where they killed anne boleyn. if i stretch a little, i see college, lectures by the greats… the ones whose best work is always oneĀ  paid-subscription website away from our reach. i see libraries and theses, and that curious, amusing admixture of humility and conceit in academia.

i see a job that i will love-hate with the confusing emotion of a south american soap opera without subtitles. i will love it because it will be clever and nuanced and witty and unpredictable. it will also sometimes be disappointing, but that just makes for contrast, i refuse to believe otherwise.

i see summers in mysore, i vaguely remember the gulmohars flowering in may.. maybe it was april.

i see roads and roads and roads carpeted in fire.

the best part of all, however, may be seeing nothing. seeing nothing, in a rejection of the idea of a predictable future. luxuriating in the intoxicating thoughts of perhaps quitting my job one day on a whim and buying a llama or a restaurant. i want to construct a heisenberg analogy here but my physics is too shitty to trust.

anyway, you can’t dream too much or overreach like a toddler because your insulating pessimism will kick in. so you will make your project, you will write your test, you allow yourself to be read and watched and marked and ranked and sliced along every axis they can slice you, that they may attempt to fit the vast, drunkenly joyous uncertainty of your Future into little boxes labeled things like where do you see yourself in five years?

and so you will see yourself in numbers and qualifications and permanent mailing addresses because you have to.

but picture this!

large metal gates creaking open, a watchman’s wrinkles smiling at you under the sun, waving to you, goodbye, the world is waiting! ten steps away, one last look back, one last rush of uncertain emotions condensing quickly, sickly in your lungs before you turn and start walking.

you, twenty two years old, hoping love and sweating sex, fifty one kilograms of Someone Famous One Day, picture this.

picture this.

my butt may be in class, but my eyes are on the gates… and i feel lucky to be alive. :)

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