Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ennui

Tentatively, sparingly, I move towards my second post of the year, willing it to be substantial, lest it turn out like Kejriwal's tenure. And I will write about the wrenching quality of the question, a question, many questions.

The year is not yielding any answers. Even list-making has lost its fervour. And nostalgia has been squeezed of all import. Writing is vapid.

We have ennui. And what is ennui but a temporary hiatus from the world? Too much stimuli, too many loves, too many hates.

I need a skill. I feel an invisible Anait pressing down my back. For those not in the know, Anait is the heroine of one of those old Armenian stories in Russian storybooks that we of pre-1991 India devoured. King Vachagan meets Anait when out in the countryside and is impressed with her intelligence. He wants to marry Anait but she will not have him unless he learns a skill. After all, how long will kingship last? Perhaps she of a feudal Russia was prescient. So Vachagan learns to weave carpets. And when in trouble, he sends word to Anait by weaving her a carpet that she recognises. He is rescued, and she vindicated. I, therefore need a skill. Rescue notwithstanding, I need to be apprenticed. Perhaps I will learn how to develop film. Or blow glass. Or weave baskets. And not talk so much.

Is it me, or skilfulness both disappearing from the world and rapidly being fetishised? This winter, on a visit to Jaipur, we watched a craftsman make a block printing woodcut in minutes. He ran a practices hand over chisel and wood and turned to us with a crooked smile and handed it over. In the next room, another craftsman dyed alternating portions of the cloth. When my father asked him if he enjoyed his work, he unequivocally declared its boredom. We are all bored. Of skill as much as lack thereof.

Only theory makes sense. And helps make sense. Of love, and loss, and desire, and impossibility.

Yesterday, I spent all day reading Girard and understanding triangular desire. The holy trinity of mediator,  subject, and object. Simply put, it means this. A likes C because B likes C. You see, A actually likes B and therefore must like all that B likes. But because in many cases, there is only one C in the world, A will eventually end up fighting with B over C. Or in Chandler's words, the messer becomes the messee. Actually, no, that doesn't apply. But you get the drift.

Also, yesterday, my friend and I tried indulging in intellectual activites at the haughtiest colonial establishment in town. We were summarily told, "No writing in the bar madam." Clearly, this city will not a Hemingway produce. 

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