18 days

I was going to talk about other things, important things. About how institutions get destroyed and the consequences of that, and how a nation may not necessarily recover from the consequences, but then I watched today’s Game of Thrones episode.

It drives everything else from the mind, doesn’t it? Also reminded me of a blogpost I read many years ago- I can’t find it now- when the show hadn’t yet reached the Red Wedding and the books were famed for subverting expectations and how “anyone could die”. The author pointed out that Jon and Dany were the only heros, and they did have plot armor. Now of course it is obvious. Last week on LARB Dear Television Sarah Mesle and Aaron Brady wondered if there could even be spoilers anymore. There weren’t. No unexpected notes in this awesome episode. It was unspoilerable. Even next weeks burning of King’s Landing is inevitable. This is now high fantasy, and the laws of narrative will rule. Dumb heroic decisions no longer make you lose, they make you a hero. An orphan must be a lost prince, the cavalry will arrive in time.

As a aside, Jon Snow is so much like Corporal Carrot. A lost king, honorable, boring, with an interesting kick-ass girlfriend and memorable hair. But Pratchett was a truly great writer and understood the laws of narrative in ways GRRM never could (and the showwriters can’t write any plots- that is for sure). Carrot subverted expectations in ways Jon Snow could never know.

In fact that is an interesting thought experiment. How would Pratchett write this? Lets recap, Arya is Tiffany Aching, Tyrion could have been Vetinari in the hands of an intelligent writer- but Vetinari would deal with White Walkers in about 10 minutes, there would be no suspense. Jon is Carrot, Ned Stark is Vimes. Oleanna Tyrell is a watered down Nanny Ogg (not cool enough to be Granny). Dany has no analogue, you can be charitable and put that down to originality, or you can be logical and point out that Dany and her Weapons of Mass Destruction need to exist because Westeros does not have Vetinari/Vimes. A Lannister-Stark alliance could have dealt with the long winter and White-Walkers. They wouldn’t have needed dragons. Dragons can be the cute fire-breathing pets Lady Vimes keeps. Maybe Lady Vimes is Dany!

Pratchett’s characters deal with problems greater than Zombies vs Dragons. They speak and act against xenophobia because Vetinari understands the need to unite his people, and Vimes is a nice person. They work for a free press. They fight against religious fundamentalism. Vetinari commits to liberal values not because he is a liberal- he isn’t- but because they make a nation-state powerful. He finds Vimes in a gutter and hangs on to him. To stay away from allegory and go back to Westeros, the Lannisters would have poisoned Dany and her baby dragons -keeping the raping Dothraki away from Westeros, and the Starks would have defended the wall against the White Walkers. Tywin or Tyrion would find a way to get Joffery out and manipulate Tommen for the rest of his life. Sounds too easy, doesn’t it?

3 days

I am back!

I wasn’t feeling well, some of it was simple exhaustion, and some was sunstroke, but I couldn’t go to work and have slept the whole day. So it is 11 pm and I am wide awake.

This is going to be a bit disjointed because my thoughts are a bit disjointed right now. Reading is a bit like a drug, it keeps you from dwelling on your problems. However, unlike alcohol and drugs, which trap you in your own mind, books trap you in other people’s. One gains perspective*.

And ultimately, one gets to leave the dance floor and look at things from the balcony of other peoples thoughts. I have done that, over the past week or so. (Chiefly because of an annoying habit of forgetting my spectacles at home, which means that I can’t read without getting an headache.) As a result of which, after 30 years of being successful at exams, I have come to think of myself as a failure. I love my profession, but I can’t see myself doing this for the rest of my life, maybe just for the next 5 years. Which is so antithetical to the tenets of my childhood, and my education. After 30 years of perfect life, right decisions (I can defend everyone of them, even the ones which turned out to be not so great- they were right when and where I had to take them) I find that I do not know what I want to do next. Which is perhaps a great thing. Admitting that we do not know something is the first step towards finding out the answer. (Insert the story of Amerigo Vespucci, who got 2 continents named after him because he admitted that no one knew what was there.)

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From: http://blogs.cornell.edu/olinuris/2012/03/20/map-exhibition-marks-500th-anniversary-of-amerigo-vespuccis-death/comment-page-1/

So. Anyways. Somedays I do not know who I am and what I want. Somedays I know. I look back at the life I have led, and its simple A to B to C nature. And I think of that maxim- I don’t remember who said this and where I read this, but I will look up- if another person can get the same education and same experiences and can do the same job you do, your job can be done by a machine. My first instinct was to say, most other people do not do my job very well. But that is simply not adequate. I am so much more than my degree and work experience. I can do so much more.

I want this crisis of confidence. This time, I want to take my time. This time, I do not want the straight line and the checked boxes. This time I want to take a complex path, not so easily definable. I know India is a terrible country, full of terrible people with terrible work ethic, but out of the crooked timber of humanity, what straight thing was ever made? I will make it work. I will find a way. I will change things. Just you wait.

*Ever since I read Love in a Cold Climate, and saw the TV movie, I can’t help think of the gay heir to the earldom everytime I type One. So I do it quite a lot, deliberately. I know it is annoying, poor reader.