Tuesday, February 23, 2010

age of self-conscious living

Watching some of the talk shows here, there was a time when I was sure I wouldn't be caught dead in those. No matter what, I wouldn't be able to appear before millions -- which included strangers, and worse, family and friends -- and air my dirty linen, so to speak. But now, I am not that sure.

Look at me airing my private thoughts and conversations online! In scraps, on say, an Orkut, myspace, or on the Wall of a facebook, in applications, in inbox messages to strangers who at the same time aren't strangers any more, in a way! I draw graffiti on walls. I do things which I haven't done in my other life. What is happening? We type up updates of our activities, our thoughts, our relationships, as if in a private journal. The one difference being that it is being read (and forgotten) by many -- strangers, friends, stranger-friends. The age of self-conscious living. We are all actors in a movie or many movies. We all want drama in our live and want to be seen and heard by many, appreciated and loved by many. Wannabe celebrities. No more happy being the voyeurs. Not at all satisfied with vicarious living. We are the center. The heroes. But we need others to validate it. Legitimiztion of our existence on this planet. If people in books and movies, be it on the big screen or on TV or on youtube, are another facet of reality, if that means they are real in the same way, then we are just another aspect of that reality or unreality. My magpie and another's Greenov are all real. Or unreal. Globalized democratization of the media surely leads to not just reality TV, but to self-conscious living, and more.

What I would also like to see is where this will lead to? Will the distinction between reality and virtual reality be blurred? What will these cyber relationships be called? I am not talking of old friends meeting online and continuing their friendships. It is important, of course, this newer convenience of keeping in touch, taking up from where they had stopped, getting a chance for some, to go back to the past and relive, rebuild or demolish old relationship structures, .... But I am interested in stangers who meet online. Some people who stick in your head or mind, somehow more than others. People who have never met each other, who will never meet. Like penpals. But different. This is more immediate, more in touch. Some do drop off on the wayside. But, say, 10 years from now -- I wonder how many of my stranger-friends will still be in my list? What will I call those friends? Of course, there is "facebook friend' or "orkut friend" or some other friend. But there are varying degrees in that too. Of the depth of my feelings for a particular person(s). Or the kind of feelings for another. How will I define that relationship? How will it evolve? Obviously, a new terminology,a new set of theories are needed.

age of self-conscious living 2

One of my all-time favorite movies is Before Sunrise. Those who have seen it will know what I mean when I say it embodies almost all those concepts of building, prolonging, maintaining the initial excitement of a relationship.

In my last note, I made some observations which I gather was not agreeable to some 'stranger-friends' whom I respect very much. Is there a certain way one is supposed to think? Is theorizing about certain subjects, taboo? The spirit of what I said was lost, I fear. Probably, my fault. But the ideas are still amorphous in my own mind. I am thinking aloud. Having fun in my own humble, idle, laid back way, respected friends. But I think I understand the reason you took umbrage or whatever it is that one takes in these occasions [that umbrage partfrom P.G.Wodehouse, btw ;)] . Recently I had an argument with a guy who is quite nice, and free in many ways, very smart and well read but has all the arrogance and rigidity of youth. He looked down upon my supepokes :( . I wanted to ask him to lighten up. That was what years ago, one of my teachers told me. And I was the clown of the classroom too! I am not as learned as my young friend. But I guess my friends here are asking me to do the same . :) But I do see a contradiction here -- I am being blamed for not enjoying life as it is, and also for wasting time in "idle wondering"!

The second part of my note was a natural extention of my appreciation for the movie, "Before Sunrise". Not necessarily, just the movie, of course. Strangers who meet online. If they meet, and enjoy life, it will be just another relationship. What we see around us everyday. It will not have the "fictional reality" that a FB stranger-friend relationship has. That is what gives it the edge. I am not saying that this is the ideal, or even that this is the best. But this could be a new form of reality, of relationship. It could be one way of making the "golden Ideal' tangible, in an intangible way.

linkings -- overlapping realities

reading, watching movies, tv, -- the media world -- has changed us. duh! but the extent to which it has -- once we stop to think, it is quite interesting, to say the least. we find how it has colored our perspectives. helped our minds evolve-- as human beings, for better or worse. for instance, we see a place, and we are reminded of a movie we have seen or a book we have read. sometimes it hits us like a ton of bricks. at other times like the touch of a feather, a half-remembered song.(Books had a great role in romanticizing the English countryside for me, and for many others. Same goes with movies in the case of  England, and Britishness,  Paris, Tuscany. Cuisine  attains a compeletely different aura.) our conversations are colored by the characters we hear and see -- in real life, or in the world of books or movies. we see a person, and all these ideas or notions swirl in our brains, most of the time, in the subconscious -- about the character of the person. we may be wrong completely, but we already have a notion -- prejudiced or not-- about him or her. types. genres. from books, movies, tv. since i watch mysteries and crime dramas mostly, my notions are colored by those. at the airport, i see this man wearing a University logoed sweatshirt -- middle- aged, good looking ,athletic single guy, and in my mind he is this lothario type professor in mysteries. selfish, brilliant (maybe) using others esp women, not above murdering his wife... . Watching Criminal Minds made me afraid of the average man. In the realm of romance and courting, after all these revelations in the media, fictional or real,   feminine wiles and masculine whatnots have lost their punch -- unless they live in the twelfth century like my nazranis.

Harold Bloom's theory of anxiety of influence in the case of writers becomes relevant in the case of ordinary men and women. similes and metaphors and usages which were once looked upon with awe are now cliches. we want edgier, racier words and phrases and ideas. again overlapping genres of life. watch CSI, or the Bourne movies,even the new Bond movies -- mainstream cinema has adopted the edgy, racy mind-boggling collage-like capturing of images of an art film. like an abstract painting which talks. and makes sense. poets try to capture that broken, fast, urban graffiti that is life now.the rule breaking mural by outlaws. the soul searing fragmented cries of the underground musicians. the scars, the scorings ,the deep lines of colors that run like veins. that connect roots to branches, and to clouds and to the ocean.

people wanting to transcend time and place and minds. virtual reality, parallel reality, time travel, thought travel.... pushing the boundaries, blurring, images travelling with the speed of thought, again, overlapping realities. one of my favorite movies that has captured this age's need and craving for virtual reality, where the mind hurries forward before the body, is a short film I saw on a Facebook page.  fascinating. it is like a postmodern poem in motion. locomotion. visions of a future where thoughts and airplanes will display tracks in the skies, came to my mind when i saw it. i will be able to capture it in words in a poem, i hope. genres overlap --the music that fuels the images is apt -- "staying alive". that is the main thing -- staying alive -- men and women wanting to feel alive. become a part of the more obvious, conspicuous realities.