Word of the Day: metonym

According to Wikipedia, metonym is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is replaced by another that has a similar meaning. That is to say, you don’t want to call a thing by it’s name and you use another name in it’s stead. That is to say, you use it’s synonym instead. Essentially, metonym means instead. Now, where would you find such a convoluted word for such a simple meaning? Why, in The Hindu’s Editorial, of course! Specifically, this is how it is used in an OpEd piece I was reading today –Continue reading “Word of the Day: metonym”

On the Absurdity of Subconscious Thought

As I stood there in the hall, waiting for the pizza delivery woman to figure out down which path lay apartment 219, I felt the overpowering urge to rip out my beard from my face. My beard was itchy and irritating, having not grown fully as it has now and I just felt like tearing it out, along with the skin just below it, leaving behind the same smooth skin that I get after every shave. I covered the hair with my hands and imagined doing just so, knowing full well the impossibility of the task. Yet I imagined it away and just imagining it made me feel better.Continue reading “On the Absurdity of Subconscious Thought”

The Death of the Author

there is, however, someone who understands each word in its duplicity and who, in addition, hears the very deafness of the characters speaking in front of him-this someone being precisely the reader.

via The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes Full Text, Downloads, Cliff Notes, and Essays.

 

This text, pointed to me by Dan on ADN (which was in response to this article posted there by Matthew) reflects what I believe about writing today – that in as much as we want to give meaning to the text in terms of the context of the author, the real meaning can only be derived by the reader himself. The same is true, in my book, about any art – paintings, sculptures etc, where it is not the artist’s life, times, societal pressures or addictions, that define the true meaning of the work, but the impressions it makes upon the viewer that truly reflect the value of the art.Continue reading “The Death of the Author”

On Writing

Recently, while on a plane, I was talking to the person next to me and in his inebriated drool, he gave me an idea that can be a major plot point for a story I’m working on. That spurred me into thinking that of all the things that we as writers do to get ideas flowing. Most certainly, on the top of the list is taking inspiration from around us. There’s plenty of inspiration hidden all around and we just need to reach out and allow it into our lives. It may be by talking to strangers or reading new things or just carefully observing something commonplace.

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Vast

I start my car and pull on to the road. The sky is hung quietly above me. There’s a single cloud towards the west, meandering, with a pinkish hue that bursts in my mind like cotton candy. It looks soft but tomorrow it’ll have jagged edges where the wind will have tugged at it. The day after, it’ll dissipate. The Sun is low in the sky and so it’s late in the evening. Not the time to be going home, but the time to be at home. I notice a bird dive in front of the car. It maneuvers to the right quickly and flies past me. There are two planes leaving marks high up in the sky, slowly gathering distance between them, like galaxies floating away from each other.Continue reading “Vast”

How the Common Man will pay for the Internet soon

If there’s one buzz word that’s promised to solve all the monetary problems of every Internet-based startup in the past two years, its “Big Data”. Everyone’s collecting it, everyone’s recording it and everyone’s saving it for tomorrow. From Twitter’s Billions(of tweets) to your Netflix queue and even your Google Search history, everyone’s looking to figure out how to sell you more stuff based on your habits.

But no one’s actually selling the data. The data in itself is useless, no matter how much of it you have. It’s the connections that are formed from it that are important and that’s what everyone is hankering to sell – information. However, all that these companies are trying to do is sell information to advertising sources and point of sales organizations like Amazon because that’s where they can easily get a large paycheck in exchange for a much larger database of customer information.Continue reading “How the Common Man will pay for the Internet soon”

The guy in the rain

http://www.colorado.edu/ecenter/transportation/bike
Image Courtesy CU Boulder

About two years ago, when not one month had passed since I had entered the US, I once got a free bike from CU Boulder’s Bike Station. It’s a great service where any student or faculty member can rent a bike for forty-eight hours, for free. Since it was time to return it, I cycled up to the UMC, near which the bike station sits under a large tree. As I was returning the bike, it started to rain. Afraid for the newly bought iPhone in my pocket, I went into the shed and hid from the rain. Two guys were working at the station that day. The one on the inside showed me a Lenovo laptop that was basically everything proof – shock, water and temperature. It was given to the bike station specifically because it faces all the elements on nature all the time.Continue reading “The guy in the rain”

The Decreasing Value of Physical Goods

Today, most of us are spending so much time online and on our smart devices that I feel that the value of physical items in our lives has decreased a lot. A few days ago, a friend took me to a store in the 29th street mall. It was a toy store that opened just for the holidays and on that day, everything in the store was 50% off. Needless to say, most of the store was empty, toys and funny calendars having been bought by people taking advantage of the sale. I bought a nice glass chess set on the cheap and then had a chat with the store owner. Apparently, this was a seasonal store that was closing today. She told me that about eleven hundred such stores open across the country during the holiday season and this one was closing that day. Everything that was left today was going back to the factories. I looked around the store for a while. Most of the good stuff that I’d seen in the shop a few days ago was already gone, but a lot of really interesting games and toys were still there.

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Reading about the past

It’s a cold, windy morning. I am waiting for the bus, sitting on a frozen bench. My face is burning with the gushes of wind that are blowing at me from every direction. My mind is burning with the words in front of me. I am reading a LongRead about the MacDonald murders that happened in 1970 and have haunted the annals of law since the past 40 years. The story is incredulous but something I’ve read and heard many times over. The length to which judicial process allows a person to go to prove their innocence is amazing. I cannot say whether Jeffrey MacDonald is guilty or not, except for the fact that everything in the article points towards it. But what matters is the strength of human resolve.Continue reading “Reading about the past”

Who am I?

Oftentimes, I ask myself- Am I really a person? Do I really have what qualifies as a personality? Do I have a fixed set of identifiers which a person can describe me as?

Then I ask myself why I am asking myself this. I ask because at times I feel that I am no more than a chameleon’s skin. Not only do I adapt according to my surroundings but also adopt the personality of those around me. I start acting like those people, with no real original thought or action when I am surrounded by people. Perhaps original thought is not the correct term. When I sit down to write, I can write well. But when we talk, that is when I am at a loss of words. It is strange for me to come up with any bit of original or funny or sarcastic comment when amongst friends. I am more comfortable with copying their funny comments and using them over and over.

Of course I want to get over this habit. I assume that I too was born with the funny bone, just that it’s not as big as Chandler’s. I want to us it. I want to be able to think up funny comments. I too want to be liked. Or perhaps I am wrong in assuming that being funny is what being liked is all about. Maybe the characteristics I associate with myself- being polite, accommodating and chivalrous to some level are what can classify me as a likable person. Perhaps my friends do not just tolerate me but accept me for who I am and like me for who I am. Which is when I ask myself once again – Who am I?

Am I the same person who copies others’ personalities because he’s insecure about his own? Am I putting this post as private because I am afraid that this emotional outburst will only make me more vulnerable to jokes and hurt me more if it becomes public? Is this emotional outburst associated to my coming to this new place and settling in with new friends, which seems to be an activity I’ve been doing since birth but have never been comfortable with? Or is this outburst related to my realization that I do not have a funny comic side which I think is essential for people to like me?

Will I have enough courage to press the Publish button at the end of writing this down instead of saving it as a draft?

Who am I?