Saturday, December 11, 2010

ich bin ein auslander

This blog title is taken from this song. It seemed appropriate because it's apparently in German and German is exciting and we live in very exciting times. ExcitingExciting things have happened. The hero of teh internetz Julian Assange was charged with sexual assault and while many people who hate both wikileaks and women found it very difficult to decide which side to take, the majority seemed to agree that this was just another example of how women ruin everything. Which sort of proves what I said once before- women ruin everything because they have uteruses and uteruses ruin everything. So it’s really the uteruses that are killing wikileaks and freedom and everything. Stupid uteruses. Anyhoo, child abuse was completely eradicated everywhere forever because some people on Facebook put cartoons in their profile pics. I originally thought all these people were doing this in support of child abuse. But apparently people don’t do that kind of thing on Facebook.

On a much sadder note, RIP Cami Park, a writer whose work I admired veryveryvery much. You can read some of her work here.

I understand that it is customary for people who consider themselves writers and who are having blogs to talk about inspiring writing quotes that have inspired them to be inspired about inspiring writing and be inspiring also. I thought I should do this. But I could only think of the writing advice I have received over the years that I felt was complete crapnonsense that made me want to take vomit. So I thought I would write about that instead because as one person very kindly pointed out to me, I am only capable of writing about vomit and nothing else.

I wanted to say some other things also. All the advices I am putting forth here are advices that enamored, ensnared, enslaved and then embittered me. So it is not like I am casually hating. It’s like I am having intense love failure with these advices. So this brings me to the second thing I want to say. These verysame advices have worked wonders and miracles for others and that is fabulous and I am so happy for that also. I hope it’s ok that they were crapnonsense for me. If it’s not ok I don’t care also. So this brings me to one another thing I want to say. I feel that at some level, writing is something that is very personal, you need to do what is best for you and that might not be what everyone else says is the best and also people will get all judgy and in your face about how you’re doing it rong. I wish these people all the blessings raining down from a God. I actually read that somewhere ‘All the blessings raining down from a God’. I don’t know what it means but it seems appropriate to use here.

CrapNonsense #1

‘Writing Is.’

Some of the crapnonsense writing advice I have read is so vague and minimalist that it ceases to be advice altogether and becomes art. Like all good art, it also makes you think you have the superpowers necessary to give advice for things without knowing anything about these things. You find yourself telling people that Astrophysics Is. Synthetic Poly-cotton Is. Tuvan Throat Singing Is. Open-heart Surgery Is. A Chair Is. I mean, it's easy to say so why not say it and spread that good advice all around, no? Anyhoo, it’s bad enough if someone says ‘writing is’ to you for no reason and I am surprised at how many people will actually do this and think you will care. But I think it would probably suck even more if you invest time or money or both just so someone could tell you that ‘writing is.’

CrapNonsense #2

‘You’ll never make it as a writer if you don’t write every single day’.

Sometimes this is written as

‘You’ll never make it as a writer if you write every single day’

I slavishly and desperately followed both of these and then came to the understanding that they are actually the same thing. I tried writing everyday and it was a crapnonsense and I thought I was writer phail. Then I tried not writing everyday and that also was crapnonsense and again I thought I was writer phail. Today, I can look back on my writing routine and say with a tremendous amount of conviction that I write when I can and when I can’t write, I don’t write and it’s no big deal. And when I don’t write, my heart doesn’t fall out of my body and I don’t writhe in creative agony with my eyeballs dissolving into waterfalls of sadness because I can’t write. This absolutely and totally means I am writer phail because real writers get very emo about not being able to write and you never, NEVER say it’s not a big deal. NEVER!!!

CrapNonsense #3

‘Do not read work outside your specified genre as that will pollute the originality of your voice’

Sometimes this is written as

‘Literary fiction writers should only read literary fiction’

In any other area of life, I think this kind of mindset would be called bigotry but here, it’s writing advice. No doubt, there is a good reason behind this which I can’t understand, just like there are good reasons behind the rule that you should only marry people of your own caste and keep all that wholesome in-breeding in the family. I’m not saying that’s bad or anything. I know people have had happy and awesome lives by only associating with people of their own caste and I know people have had successful writing careers by only reading certain kinds of writing. I feel if you want to follow reading bigotry, that is great for you and I hope you win at life. I do have a problem with advocating this kind of reading bigotry to others, coupled with threats that your voice will get corrupted and polluted if you read a comic book. Like many things in life, I don't think reading bigotry works well for everyone. I also don’t understand why you would limit yourself in reading, particularly when one is a writer or likes to say they are. I’m sure that my own wide and varied reading is the reason why I am only capable of writing about vomit and nothing else. 

CrapNonsense #4

‘Writing needs to make you bleed and cry and break off your head and put it back on again and it needs to feel like you are puking razor blades. You also need to be raped by your own words because word rape is so important.”

This kind of writing advice is often very attractive, especially if the word ‘rape’ is thrown in there for effect. In my old age, I have come to believe that this is one of those things that if you look at it one way, it’s like wow. But if you look at it another way, it’s like LOLOLOLO like

I think the older and more cynical you get, the more you start to lean towards the LOLOLOLO perspective, especially when rape references are thrown in like chocolate sprinkles. This kind of writing advice really reminds me of this one time, when I was witness to a scene where two very stoned young gentlemans sat and watched a group of people who couldn’t really play guitar put scene by trying to play guitar. I think maybe you can understand how that must have sounded. So anyway, these stoned gentlemans got progressively more stoned until they started to find it very difficult to sit in their plastic chairs. It got to a point where people were simply playing open strings and the stoned gentlemen were moved to tears, loudly proclaiming that it was the best fucking guitar playing they had ever witnessed and the world was fucked up because this great fucking guitar playing was not signed under a massive recording contract because of the fucking Man, yo.

When I think of how I was in shock and awe about overly dramatic writing advice which seemed to focus more on massive internal bleeding, decapitation and sexual violence, I feel like I was one of the stoned gentlemans who couldn’t sit in their plastic chairs. I think of how wantingly people played all the open strings at once just so we could watch the stoned dudes become so overwhelmed with the awesomeness that they fell off their chairs and possibly broke their faces. I don’t think they broke their faces. Well, maybe they did a little. I don’t think they felt anything anyway because they were stoned and it’s ok to watch stoned people hurt themselves because they are stoned so it doesn’t matter. I am now wondering if they made it home at all. Oh whale.

CrapNonsense #5

‘Good writing is universal’

I need to make two things clear here. One, my problem isn’t with the ‘good writing’ or even with the word ‘is’. It’s with the word ‘universal’ because when it comes to the English writing universe, ‘universal’ tends to mean ‘stuff written by white dudes’. Two, I love the English writing universe in the way you love and feel you belong to a universe that doesn’t think you belong to it but you love it anyway. Of course we must never say things like that because art knows no color or something so if all the universally good writing in English just happens to be by white dudes, it’s probably because all the other folk just can’t write as good and shame on you for noticing the color or gender etc, etc of the person who did the writing anyway, you bigot.

I don’t know any other writing universes but I honestly feel that the universe of English writing has lots of nice things going for it. But this is also a universe that has a term called ‘The Other’ which lumps all sorts of things together like people of color and the differently-challenged because they are all freaks so that makes them all the same- I guess this makes it easier to write fiction about them or something, I don’t know. It’s all a bit of a bummer but people get bummed when you tell them it’s a bummer and there’s nothing more bumming than angry colored people who keep whining. This is a universe that believes you are writing in a language that really belongs to them, and you are simply borrowing it from them. This is a universe where your fiction needs to function like a guidebook when you’ve decided to be ‘difficult’ or ‘inaccessible’ by writing about a place that doesn’t have a Taco Bell. This is a universe that firmly believes you can write anything you want about anything and nobody should be a meanie and say anything about it, thus explaining the phenomenon of the dusty Indian villager morphing into a Supernatural Oracle of High Prophecy as well as a baby-eating alien at the same time and we are to believe this is ‘realism’. This is a universe that loves to say that it 'actively seeks out diverse and international writing' because I think you get in big trouble if you don't say that. Sometimes it proves its internationality by telling you it has read Indian authors like Jhumpa Lahiri even though Jhumpa Lahiri is American which is not Indian. Really, it's not. I also find this is a universe that really likes it when Indians write about the immigrant experience, slum dwellers and and bigfatIndianArranged weddings but it has absolutely no idea what to do with you when you write about other stuff.

I love this universe very much. It’s the only universe I know. But it is also fucked up. So with all due respect, I don’t think you can say ‘good writing is universal’ until you fix your definition of universal.

I thought maybe I should also write about writing advices that I am appreciating but I think I’ll do that later because this blog post is starting to bore me.



Anonymous said...

Hey maybe you'd like to know that when I fixed 'all writing is universal', in hued colours such as our it comes down to this -- not an exact translation from English but I try -- 'all writing can be provincial, specific, vague and local at the same time'. Great post :)

kuzhali manickavel said...

thank you for reading i say! also i like this writing advice verymuch. it reminds me of some of the most important tenets of Tarvuism,

except that this writing advice does not teach you how to talk to an octopus.

ina bak said...

well, i think you should have followed the advice of 'write everyday' so that wrote more books and posts etc so make some people vomit, me buy book..and quote more..(ya i quote a paragraph from in one of my video i use music without asking to Nitin Sawney, sorry- )
happy you are back from whatever smuggle thing :)

R.I.P Cami Park

kuzhali manickavel said...

i am glad i am back from the smuggling also, it didn't work so well for me. i am also sohonored that you quoted one of my stories in that clip :) i thought it was really nice and im not just saying that because you quoted my story in it

Sharanya said...

"So it is not like I am casually hating. It’s like I am having intense love failure with these advices."

:) So good.

Intense love phailures are usually the source of all great artyness. (Is that also a bad advice? Or a good one?)

Also, Kuzhali, please stop inspiring me to plot a trip to your temple town/secret cave/harem of vice and smuggling. Because I am doing it again.

kuzhali manickavel said...

ohai :) i feel your advice is a true. i understand that intense love phailures are also the source of ulcers, which is like great artyness in some ways but not really.

Mar Dezie said...

I liked what you said about Irom Shamila and Manipur. There are 1.3 billion Indians and 2.5 million Manipuris. I wouldn't care if I hadn't got to know her. I tend to hassle Western Officials because I figured if they say they care, and they'd don't have your freedom then India will repeal AF(SP)A fuddy duddy politics thing, but then she gets freed we get married and I can stop caring about the big stuff for a while, which is what you are doing and I wanna do. But I then worked out, the best way to get movement is not to go directly to the Yanks to get the Indians to act. The best way is to get the Chinese, the Burmese and the North Koreans to condemn India's oppressive laws. How can I explain this in terms that you might understand. Say you fancy Kuldeep, you wear a hipster saree with a backless choli and flirt with his best friend. I am doing that only with politics same reason sort of. Good luck with your book. But yeah you have the problem in a nutsack.

kuzhali manickavel said...

Thanks for your comment, I appreciate you taking the time and sharing your thoughts. Just a couple things-

-I tend to hassle Western Officials because I figured if they say they care, and they'd don't have your freedom then India will repeal AF(SP)A fuddy duddy politics thing, but then she gets freed we get married and I can stop caring about the big stuff for a while, which is what you are doing and I wanna do.-

Not sure what you meant here but just thought I’d clarify, I am not doing anything here. I mentioned Irom Sharmila on my blog but that does not mean I am ‘doing’ something. Assuming that does a disservice to the people who are out there and actually doing something tangible, no?

-How can I explain this in terms that you might understand. Say you fancy Kuldeep, you wear a hipster saree with a backless choli and flirt with his best friend.-

I’m going to assume this statement was, at some level, well-intentioned. But I'm also going to point out that some of us wimminz don't need things presented in terms of flirting, backless cholis and dudes called Kuldeep for us to understand them.

Mar Dezie said...

Hey you published that's cool. I think the kuldeep choli was really some kind of attempt at humour suggesting that if you were an airhead who wasn't really that interested in politics then it was an attempt to reify politics as human relationship and humour always has a victim, with self-deprecating humour it's the self, it was the image of your lying there with both arms in the air and then both legs up in the air because you didn't know or care who Irom Sharmila is or where Manipur is but that was humour too yes. For me if I get to talk to someone who doesn't know or care about Irom Sharmila Chanu and maybe you or your friends get to know that I have come to care very deeply about her, and if she were free, if AF(SP)A were repealed then I would be able to live my life with her and I wouldn't be hassling you. She writes poetry, it's not grand stuff. I think you are technically a more skilled writer.

Oh the point about the choli thing is my interpretation of skilful means so it's why I write again. I really don't want to flirt with you I am too old and I'll just sound creepy. The best thing I can do for her is go on long noble silent meditation retreats which I have no analogy to explain. The next thing I do is talk about her to raise consciousness.

And I take your phrase wimminz don't need things presented... for us to understand as post-modernist post-eironic reclaiming of the language medium but without using big words because that just plays into another kind of patriarchy. Fuck yeah girl way to go.

I definitely do have a problem in communication for now because why am I hassling someone who writes a whimsical book like Insects are Just like you and me, and that could involve a whole new systemic philosophical feminist thing or it might be have really interesting caricature type cartoons. But I am sure you are fun person. So why am I hassling you about Irom Sharmila.

Hey I know you just mentioned her as throw away line tomorrow you might say Rimksi Korsakov and some Russian nutter will hassle you about him. That's the internet for you.

You and 1.3 billion other Indians are not doing anything and unfortunately I need you people to do one thing for me repeal AF(SP)A let Irom Sharmila go free.

Hey and I didn't know about you and Kuldeep, he didn't put me up to this, I just pulled out a name that anyway. Happy Xmas.

kuzhali manickavel said...

it's all good- as i said, i had a feeling the kuldeep-choli thing was well-intentioned but since, as you pointed out, this is the internet i like to call certain things out on my little corner of it because this is my corner and i can do that whereas i can't do it in other areas. and you're right, i just made a comment about Irom Sharmila, just as i've made comments on a lot of things. i don't mind being hassled about it but i also wanted to clarify that i really don't think comments like that can in any way constitute 'doing something'- this blog is guilty of a lot of things but i'm really hoping that slacktivism isn't one of them.

i'd like to say that i can imagine what it must be like for you but i honestly can't, just like i can't remotely fathom what it must take for her to do what she is doing. anyway, you're free to hassle here. who knows, maybe someone will read and try and figure out where manipur is, which i think you'll agree is at least one step in the right direction ;) happy xmas to you too :)

Mar Dezie said...

I was gonna give you the last word but there is this line from Flash Gordon in the 25th century which you are far too young ever to have seen and it doesn't age well, the final episode series II i think, the finale with the last of the Birdmen, the Birdman shouts out across the Ravine, "Flash in anuzzer vurld, anuzzer life, ve might even af been frrrrends"

kuzhali manickavel said...

i was going to give you the last word but then i made this comment and ruined everything. oh whale.

Mar Dezie said...

I have to talk to someone, and it's not that no one reads this stuff but it's safer here. So this is the thing. Two leaks one that PAP will be lifted, I need a separate stamped form to show at the border of Manipur to enter legally. Hey I look injun enough not to be checked and apparently they have nearly a million illegals in Manipur and only 2.5 million legal but if I get deported then it's going to be hard work getting the permission to stay once we are married. There may be conditions attached to the lifting of PAP so who knows what they mean. The other thing is they have leaked that they will by pass the Army and reform AF(SP)A quite detailed proposals to be put to cabinet within a week. So now all her supporters are shouting not enough and I get that time to press for full repeal. And what's all this about I have to be strong, that's really B movie bad script writing. She needs to be free. We need to be living ordinary lives. Problem is there are a few people who have invested everything in her being in prison and they don't necessarily want her freed. Which makes me revise my previous opinion. Having 1.3 billion indians not caring about what we do, that may be better for us in phase 2. Phase two is enter into marriage negotiations with her brother, she has sort of said not to worry, bit like you need to be strong for me what does not worry mean, it doesn't mean there is nothing to worry about. So yeah my plans are go on noble silent retreat for 3 weeks, let everyone shout and scream and see what if anything has been announced on my return. I sort of feel a little better I really was just trying to find that haven that Kiptin Picard found in the episode when he learnt to play the flute the one place on the Enterprize where the computer cannot register his presence but it turns out in a later film everyone knows about that place they just don't usually bug him if he wants to be that much alone. I don't want to piss of her brother any more than he is with me, and yes actually if AF(SP)A is repealed reformed or no longer an issue then it really is just about me and her. In fact from then thank you for looking after her so well all these years, I'll be taking care of her for now, but not sure if the Dirty Dancing thing will be understood in Manipur. Anyway the beauty of many words is even if I did say something who would find the tree in the wood. I am not sure if i feel better but the free floating anxiety is more tangible like a myst which I think is better. Anyway nothing to be done for 3 weeks at least

kuzhali manickavel said...

not sure if this is the best place to talk to but we like the idea of being analogous to teh Enterprize

JP said...

This is great! I shall have to read it again.

kuzhali manickavel said...

thanks and thanks for reading again also :)

Minal Hajratwala said...

Happy to discover this excellent blog. I find that googling "Indian vampire" every so often always leads to awesome results. Incidentally, I would recommend random googling as a writing strategy.

Wish I had had these writing advices years ago, would have saved me a lot of time. Oh well.

In case you or your Tarvuist friends like to keep up with octopus news:

kuzhali manickavel said...

i am happy you discovered this blog also :) i also thank you for the link, i believe that is the most adorable octopus i have ever seen in my life and now i can talk to it, thanks to Tarvu! Hebbo!


kuzhali manickavel Design by Insight © 2009