5 days

On sunday, I had planned to write more about Career of Evil, but it is now 3 days since I finished that one, and I have forgotten the things I wanted to say about it. Or more accurately, I have gotten bored of them.

So I will talk about Antifragile. Someone at work recommended the Black Swan, that’s how I finally decided to read Taleb. And, as an aside, I cannot believe that I am now working at a place where people recommend books like the Black Swan, and Sapiens, to each other. When I first entered college, I had this dream that college will be this intelligent place where I will meet like-minded people who carried out interesting conversations. But no. College was full of teenagers and those just out of their teens, and their main concern was girls, and how to get to America. It was, in other words, full of people like Career of Evil’s Matthew. I still remember crying through my first week in college; not out of homesickness- I was excited and happy to leave home- but heartbroken at how prosaic the place turned out to be. Since then, I learnt my lesson, and have never expected to have intelligent conversations anywhere, except with my parents.

Then there is this workplace. People talk about books in the breakroom! People argue about the Lord of the Rings! One can have intelligent and funny conversations. I am allowed to be intelligent and funny. I am new at this job, but my heart will break when I leave it and go back to the Matthews of this world. (By the way, Rowling is trying to prove a point with this series, though she hasn’t got to it yet. Real and lasting success requires that you love your job, treat it as a vocation rather than a way of making money. Being intelligent, well read and devoted to their jobs, the people I am talking about are far more successful than the Matthews of the world tend to be.)

Why would I leave a job I love so much? Same reason Robin is finding it so difficult to work with Strike.

Oh God! I was planning to talk about Antifragile! Now that will have to wait for another day. *annoyed face* That’s what happens when you write unplanned stream of consciousness stuff. Mind you, everything that I have thought about since reading Antifragile, including the post you are reading, has been influenced by that book. It is nice to have a word for the way my parents think life should be lived. It is nice to have the confirmation that time is same as volatility, that time tells the difference between the fragile and the antifragile. Between people like Matthew and people like Robin. That it is worth the effort to aspire to robustness, if not antifragility, not just because disorder is commoner than we think it is, but also because time is volatility. Time rewards antifragility. The false robustness of the fragile which we see and despair of everyday (we being me and my mother, and no, my mother has no idea this book exists), is actually false. We are not mistaken in choosing to be what we are.

To be continued. Hopefully.

 

5 days

I am reading Robert Galbraith’s Career of Evil. I have just started, am at 15%, according to my Kindle, so this post isn’t really about that book.

The story is about private investigator Cormoran Strike (there is nobody who can do names as well as Rowling can) and his assistant, Robin. 15% into the story, I am noticing that this is as much Robin’s story as Strike’s, this is more in the way of Peggy and Don Draper than Della Street and Perry Mason.

Which reminds me of Lockwood and Co. Have you read those books? Please, please do. (This link goes to amazon rather than Wikipedia, to persuade you, and I don’t make any money of this blog.)

Lucy and Lockwood have a relationship which echoes Robin’s with Strike. In the Bartemius series, The heroine ( I think her name was Kate) had to have power in an entirely different way than the hero. Inspite of being the more interesting character, she was never allowed to eclipse the hero. Just like Hermione could not be the main character even though she was by far the most competent one, and just like Pratchett’s witches had to have their own books because they could not be a part of the wizard books.

Fiction reflects the real world in more ways than we think it does. Both Harry Potter and Bartemius were books of the turn of the millennium, and granted their women the place they thought women belonged in at that time. Since then, Twilight, and the Hunger Games have changed publishing and the real world has changed to the place where Shonda Rimes can make this speech.

And so we have the stories of our times. There is lots of loves me/loves me not, but the relationship between the male and female leads has evolved into a kind of mentor/apprentice one. The female leads get the chance to upstage the men in charge, and do so. By authorial fiat when Sussane Collins does it, but by their own skills and personality in the books of Rowling and Stroud, who are both great writers.

10 days

Hi!

10 days since we saw each other last. There was a terrorist attack in Paris.

First thought: Should we not hold religions to the same standards by which we judge people? We judge people by what they do, rather than what they say. It is our choices which define what we are, as Dumbledore put it. And the collection of ideas that is modern Islam has made the choices that brought it here.

Second thought: This is kind of like World War 3 has sneaked up on us, isn’t it? The Middle East is getting consumed by this war, one country after another. A Russian airliner is brought down, a European city is attacked twice in the same year. Its weird how Russia and the West end upon the same side, everytime a global war escalates.  In India, we do know how to fight this shadow war. Hopefully.

Third thought: The world needs to reduce its dependence on oil, fast. Not to “save the earth”, but to save humanity from itself. It is oil which is funding this nihilism, oil which is the last bastion of the old world, where land was more important than the humans which lived on it.

In Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, he talks about California. Once, it was El Dorado, where adventurers went to mine gold and get rich. It still is one of the richest parts of the world, but its wealth is all in the minds of the people who live and work there. No invader can win its immense wealth, it will simply flee somewhere else. Maybe moving away from oil will force the Arab world to either become like California or become poor.

Final thought: Guns cannot kill ideas. We cannot bomb shadows. US fought 2 wars after 9/11, and this Hydra headed monster has only become stronger.

Diary- day 1

Hi everyone!

It seems that this is all I am good at writing, diaries. This is also the one regret I have in life, that I stopped writing. Something, anything. I used to examine life, look at my decisions from so many angles, to ask myself questions like, why do I do this? Because I am lazy? or because this is what I want to do? Is this courage? To walk a path not everyone agrees is the best way forward? Or is it stubbornness?

But can one examine one’s life in public? Even when anonymous? Can it make any sense? No one will ever read this, but does that justify my wasting public space with discussions on events I cannot fully disclose? On the other hand, why should I continue to live an unexamined life? Once you write down something, there is always a chance that someone, somewhere might read it. So why not make it public in the first place?

What seems like a long time ago, as an undergraduate, I learnt one rule of survival. If you do not want to be talked about, do not do anything which can become gossip. Live a life without skeletons. Always behave as if you are in public. At that time, it seemed important, to never be a center of gossip. At that time, to blend in seemed important, it seemed like a good idea. I was a child of my time, my place. I lacked both confidence and social skills. It took me years to learn those things. The mannerisms of beautiful women, the confidence with which they face the world. Charm.

The price I paid for charm is the reason this truly great skill has lost its’ importance in the modern world. One must be lovable. Non-threatening. Easy to be around. A pleasure to be around. But to be non-threatening, one must sheath one’s claws, in fact, forget to use them. Never challenge, never rock the boat. Win friends. This sounds dangerous, once I put it this way, doesn’t it?