End the debates


Maybe there must have been a grand era of debating in public, but I have not experienced a mind-changing debate in my life.

I think all of us have become better at understanding the structure of an argument, and can pick out facts to prove whatever you believe in. What is the debate meant to achieve in a “post-truth” world? How do you argue about gender or oppression in the woke political climate? There are so many facts to prove a bigoted point, and such a leftist “bias” to reality. You can’t convince them; they can’t convince me.

I feel bad and even cautious about making this statement, because as a teacher, I really understand the importance of scrutinising your beliefs. Debates seem like a good arena to do that. But, I feel discussions are a better space which can lead to changing minds. I really want everybody in the classroom to feel safe enough to be loudly stupid. Most people do learn from discussions more than they do from textbooks. Only if you have some prior knowledge/experience does a subject pique your interest.

Debates come with the connotation of a winner and a loser. Whenever I have an online debate, there is a sense of “wanting to have the last word” on the matter. So mostly, my tactic has been to let the person have the last word, but let it be obviously stupid exposing their assumptions.

In the classroom, I avoid having the last word but encourage students to summarize the thoughts that were brought up, or end with something sane that we could all agree on. If I have an opportunity for longer after-hours conversation with a curious student, this “Socratic questioning” tool helps me direct them.

No photo description available.
Source: “Socratic Question Sheet” tes.com

I would rather discuss deeply, than indulge in debates to change minds. I am very loud about what my stance is, and it is a joke amongst my students how predictable my positions can be. I have thought about how I cannot be neutral, because there is no apolitical education, just transparent political education. I am not trying to convert anyone. You can dismiss what I say and I will not waste my energy to prove to your how right I am. However, I am sure that if you give it a serious thought with empathy, your conclusions will be similar if not as radical. When you think about issues, and are not alienated to the stakes, you know where you stand.

I know this is a passive, non-urgent stance. Like, education is urgent because if you don’t speak fiercely, a Nazi would do it for you. Sometimes, I feel like I should be invested in winning the argument. The truth is I have been more apathetic about entering a reactionary maze than ever. Debates simply mirror the beats of an intelligent conversation. It is an ego-high.

I think that true learning happens over time. Very few get an aha-moment in a debate and take a 180 degree turn. The aha-moment indicates the tipping point, not the journey of conversations, doubts and reflections. So, I would rather provoke with a good question or a compelling story than dump statistics to win. [Statistics are important, of course. Facts are important. It just seems that they are not compelling anymore, and I have never been a resourceful trivia person. I don’t have a list of talking points to counter the other talking points, because I don’t read talking points.] If you are a good listener and can spot the thought leap, and ask the right question, you can make the unapparent bias apparent.

However, sometimes I do succumb to telling people off by telling them to read more social theory. But most times, I wish people had more empathy and self-awareness.

Basically, an whole essay to tell you: don’t try to start a debate with me. I may come off as a stubborn person. You can ask me my opinion, and I will give it to you in beautiful prose. Ask. Joke. Share. Discuss, instead of debate. Otherwise I will only wait for your last word to ring stupid…

Won’t rule; Won’t be ruled,
tame shewolf.

PS: Waiting for the day when everybody knows the labour theory of value as a talking point.

Fear of missing out


There are so many habits I am articulating and unlearning in this lockdown. All the creative reflection and reading has given me some perspective.

If you would ask me whether I had the fear of missing out or FOMO, I would say— no! I don’t. I am an introvert. I anyway avoid obligatory social dates or even office meetings if I can skip them. Obviously, it hurts me in the long run maybe. But I am genuinely not curious about what they talk in the first place. I know the socializing is important, and I do it if I must. But I would always rather waste my own time in a way I choose. Even if it is sleeping or singing my heart out or play a dumb game.

Recently, I have realised I had a different kind of FOMO. It is about missing out on the thoughts of people, or their growth. I could not let myself unfollow painful people because I respected them. I could not let myself cut off people who thought that I was not as smart, or too emotional and demonstrated their patronising behaviour towards me. I would be beholden to them and wanted to learn so much from them. Even if it was just their out-of-context status or retweets or recommendations. I felt that their thoughts, speech and writing helped me grow. If I let them go, I would be stagnant. I truly believed that.

I used to cow down to arguments of you should experience it first and then argue. Obviously, the imposter syndrome also prevails where I always think I don’t know as much and should not speak authoritatively. I found myself stupid in comparison to their genius and courage. I found my courage and genius reckless and trite.

There have been some instances where I was forced to cut people off. I have realised I have still grown! Despite them. It is possible! The instinct to learn has been with me with or without a personified teacher or mentor or genius friend. Thank god for books and the internet. The kindness of authors and curators. I mean, there is more than enough in this world. I am enough too.

It took me some time but I’ve found “intelligent” people toxic and rigid and less playful. What’s the point of your genius, if you remain unhappy? I genuinely find myself indulging myself and my stupid parts without feeling ashamed of not being a person with perfect politics. I have internalised now that the purpose of revolutionary theory is not to invoke guilt, but empower and inspire change. It is not directed against individuals, but the structure. The will to change is of the community, and not the individual responsibility of the person. I find a lot of kindness and forgiveness in thinking this way. It helps me not rant out against a person, but a prevalent toxic concept.

I am still learning. But this feels healthier and happier. I can think aloud without feeling conscious of perfection. I can create without guilt. I am coming up with ways I can contribute to movements, instead of feeling out of place in them.

With love, one day, liberation,

tame shewolf.

PS: Again, I have one Pakistani Youtuber-Communist-Teacher-Singer Taimur Rahman to credit this radical shift within me. His lectures have helped me think of the politics of current times with the help of theory. He is also generous with his knowledge. His optimism even in dark times makes me feel that hope is the point of life, the centre of continued struggle. But I also don’t put him on a pedestal like I did before. He is inspired some form of independent thinking but I couldn’t tell you how. I guess, just by existing and doing and creating. I feel like I aspire to that now.  I feel he has embodied Amedkar’s “Educate-Agitate-Organize”  and it rings as a mantra in my head now.

Anyway, grateful to kind, light, great teachers! 🙂

“If not Modi, then who?”


There may be no right or wrong answers but there are definitely good and bad questions. This question is one of the bad ones, that keeps showing up to my dismay, essentially to dull an exciting debate. It is not new though, it follows a long history of similar tedious questioning like– Should we stop people from aspiring to be billionaires? Where were you when <insert scandal>? Are we expected to spend our taxes to keep a murderer alive?

These questions are meant to horrify, to silence or to force an admission that there is no other way. It is the devolution of the debate to the immediate pragmatics.

If not Modi, then who?‌”  What is sad is the blatant disrespect to the intelligence of all involved. You think that dissenters haven’t figured out what the election results would turn out to be? (We been knew!) But let’s pause to think about this question anyway and unravel its assumptions: First, a single politician is indispensable! Second, without a majority vote, we would not have a Prime Minister to lead the country and that we have only two options to choose from. ‌

When laid bare like this, you can see that no one politician is that crucial for politics. Coalitions are also not new to India. The problem is not who will win the elections! For the simple reason that if the answers available to you are set up in a binary, whoever wins, the people don’t. Democracy is not a zero-sum game. Lest I remind you, we live in a (multi-party parliamentary system of a) society.

What you should be asking instead is– H̶o̶w̶d̶y̶,̶ ̶M̶o̶d̶i̶?̶!̶  When Modi, what?‌ Why only Modi? The problem is if we don’t ask new and better questions, we must brace ourselves for yet another term of bad questions. As engaged citizens, we have to at least address – forget resolve– all the issues and changes that these kind of election cycles have brought about.

The strategy I offer you is this: Don’t engage a bad question; re-frame the problem with a better question.

Do people really change?


So, I have made quite a few observations recently, and my pessimism has found that no one really changes.

Belief: Reading makes you empathetic.

I find nowadays that people who identify themselves as readers, are too proud and vain about reading. They become “grammar Nazis”, getting pissed at people for not knowing what they know. There are so many popular memes making fun of common mistakes, and all the while being patronizing about it. There are also who identify with the hobby of reading so much, they take pride in their identity, and beat themselves up about not being able to read or not being able to control their book-buying/hoarding tendencies. I feel upset at this kind of elitism displayed. I sometimes also find that people are empathetic only to the characters in the fictional world, and in the real world, they switch back to their views. Actually, it could even be with non-fiction readers, really.

Reading has just become a passive activity. No more is reading an active back and forth with the book. It has just become passive consumption of knowledge.

Belief: Travel helps you grow

I never really understood of travel made people grow. I have never had a life changing travel experience because I am stressed while travelling. I stressed about how the bathrooms will be, if I lose anything, if I miss the train/bus/flight. Plus, I find it difficult to just loaf around in any place.

Out of curiosity and being the one completely disconnected to the allure of travel, I have always asked people who identify themselves as “travellers” and romanticize being a nomad- what is it that they gain from travel? They tell me: you get to experience culture of different place, you get to be in the rhythm of that place, and you get to rejuvenate and to reflect.

Fair enough, I say. But then, none of them return home with “experience”. The travel is so limited to being “touristy”. In terms of “change in world-view”,  there is a complete lack of empathy or even, awareness to the disparity of wealth one sees in smaller towns/larger cities, the privilege or lack of privilege you have while going to certain places.. Everything is just accepted at face value. Not to be mean, I also think after the travel is over, one just falls back into the same personal rut. I just don’t accept that travel changes everyone.

Since watching vloggers Damon and Jo on YouTube, I am vicariously living the travel experience through them, and again I have realized, like reading, travel has to be an active engagement with local culture, studying the history of the place and not just visiting the touristy places.

Belief: Persisting with people through rational discussions will change their minds

There is so much online discussion going on, about every issue there is. I like to read comments. That’s one of the time-wasting things I enjoy. But sometimes the comments are so ignorant and hateful, I really have to make an effort to stop myself from trolling old uncles or cursing at young people.

When in a discussion, I am open to what the other person if trying to tell me. But then, I have also realized it has become a game now;  a game where you win or lose, you convince or you give up. It really frustrates me that views have to be so polarizing. I have tried to argue rationally and tried to argue emotionally, but I have failed both times and many times. Not to say that, I am always right but I feel people are unncessarily staunch. Their beliefs are entangled to their identity. I have accepted that I don’t have answers many times. Once, in one such “discussion”, my “friend” argued that capital punishment was is right, even necessary, as convicted terrorist are a liability to the nation, and gave me some examples in defence, and I didn’t have an argument against that specific point, which I accepted. (I mention this because I am scouting for a good defense for this point.) But I feel disappointed that people don’t have the same sincerity and the debates continues with circular reasoning and bitterness.

Today, I saw John Oliver’s argument for “pro-choice” abortion laws, and there were still people in the comments being self-righteous. I mean, what else do you need? Someone just made a serious topic accessible, funny and informative and you’re still unwilling to even pause and reflect?!

People don’t change.

I am so bummed out.

Signing off,

Tame SheWolf

PS: I couldn’t find any quotes. Everyone famous believes that other people do change.

 

Pathologically bored


“I’m bored with it all. ”

 ~ Last words of Winston Churchill

It is scary to me how easily bored I get of people, things and activities. It is really worrying me nowadays.

I sign up to do something, and for the first few days I am happy learning something new. Soon, my over-thinking, pessimistic, critical brain just mucks stuff for me. I start seeing the work as easy, silly, and meaningless. After that, it is a struggle for me to stick with it. I complain. I seek validation for these thoughts in jokes, or people who think alike and then I completely hate it.

Even though I hate it, I can diligently see it through. But then, it makes me miserable while at it.

Right now, there are many things I have taken up voluntarily and I am really thankful for it. It gives me a source of income, or it fills my time. But I feel an inexplicable restlessness to escape. I feel that this is not what I wanted. I just get disillusioned so quickly. I feel I need to escape. Escape this apathy. Escape this indecisiveness. I can’t stretch myself to stick to a routine. Day in and day out, I feel this resistance to routine, and everyday I realize that routine is not just important but necessary. Routine keeps us sane and purposeful. But I don’t think I know what I want to feel purposeful, so it just seems oppressive. It seems like a false emergency to me.

There are so many things that I take up and lose interest which makes me panic about my future. What will become of me? It is seeping into the things that I used to do.

I read but nowadays I can’t read. I have become such a slow, distracted reader. Even a really nice book takes me months to complete. I read two-three books together so that I can switch if I get bored.

I like to write. But I write in bursts. I find it difficult to write as an occupation, because the available work is boring. Writing for other people or for brands (even worse) sucks! I get bored out of my mind. It doesn’t let me experiment with anything. I learn nothing meaningful. But I can’t even focus to make independent, creative writing my living. Nowadays, I don’t write down ideas. I can’t even maintain a daily blog. I come up with exercises to get over the creative block, but I abandon them in a week.

So, to counter this period of un-creativity, I took a poetry course in Coursera. (I have realized I am addicted to the fake goals it creates for me, and I also like that there is no one monitoring me all the time.) Again, yes, the poetry course is great. It is a really in-depth study of American poetry. But four weeks in, I am completely bored of how verbose the course is. I am irritated that even when the poem is obviously sexual, the course is describing it in a roundabout way. I find it hard to be completely off-the-charts subjective too! At forums and peer reviews, I get annoyed at some asinine comment being indulged. I am frustrated with it but I know I am going to see through this course till the end with all its assignments and complete it. What I don’t like is that I have already written them off. Why do I that? It only spoils my experience!

Do I get any form of perverse pleasure by being half-interested? No! Then, why does this behaviour persist, growing stronger with each day? It’s sheer torture. I don’t know how to “cheer up”.

I think that sometimes I reject things because I believe that there is no long term benefit attached to the activity. I chafe against things that don’t seem to have a direction, a utility in the long run. But the contradiction here is that I hate committing to a long-term plan because I know that as a person I am fickle. I passionately like something now, and then I don’t. Recently, it seems to me that my insides have flipped. I am not the same person I was three years back. I find existing with the current me such a bummer. This is not me. But then what is me? I am disconnected to everything. I am so lost. I try to keep finding solutions.

I have stopped having little notes of zillion ideas. I resign to doing ‘duties’ mindlessly or sign up for the conventional ‘safe routes’. However, it does not work out. I expected to have a serendipitous realization of what I wanted to do. Of course, that has not happened!

I am scared that I am sinking into depths of avoidable misery. It is scary how easily I get bored. How do I make meaning of my work? Why do I tend to be gloomy in the first place?

Everybody hates people who are bored. Bored people are privileged idiots. Maybe they are themselves too boring. Nobody ever romanticizes boredom. It is the quality of the lazy. It is inexcusable. But I think boredom is really misunderstood. There is a deeper problem to this empty, uninspired way of being. Many people won’t find this relatable.

I am personally tired of succumbing to boredom. Please help me think properly about this stupid condition I am in. I could really use some help!

A grumpy kid,

Tame SheWolf

Boredom: the desire for desires.

~ Leo Tolstoy

Appreciating violence


“I understand. That’s the trouble. I understand. I’ll understand all the time. All day and all night. Especially all night. I’ll understand. You don’t have to worry about that.”

– Ernest Hemingway

 

I don’t like violence. It completely disorients me for a long time when I am witness to one, when I watch it on TV, when I see abusive parents/couples or just someone agitated over the phone. I don’t understand how people can allow themselves to be so raw and animal-like in public. Not to say, I have never felt violent. Recently, while travelling (-of course-) I have realized I want to really badly hurt anyone who plays Candy Crush. I find that game so annoying, that it boils my blood that people waste their time in such dumb, mind-numbing games.  But all I do is, stand there, waste my energy trying to consciously ignore their phones. Sometimes, I think it is the traffic, the crowd, and the heat that is really driving my nuts. Candy crush just seems like the second last straw on my burdened back.

I don’t like violence. However..

I think I want one good fight. I really need to argue intensely with someone. I think, a therapist would be good. Right now, I can’t think of one bloody friend who would be an empathetic listener- who would just listen to me screaming like a fool, making existential jokes while crying now and then, but just hear me out for once without being uncomfortable. See, that’s the job of a therapist. You pay them to beat them with words. You don’t worry about how they are feeling. But right now, if I had to do that with a friend, I would also have to think of controlling the damage I’d do, worry about telling him/her I am okay, that I just wanted to vent and make sure that I’ll never be asked the question ‘How are you?’ the next time we meet.

Because really, I am always fine.

I really want to punch my sister and a few guys now and then because, they act so unreasonable, it evokes a helplessness in me and really I am convinced that a knock on the head would cure it all. But as soon as I am about to do it, my brain as already imagined it.. and then I don’t want to do it anymore. Does this count as suppression? Should I take up a sport?

 

Violence ties you into stupid, unhealthy relationships and cycles. That’s what I have observed many times. I used to be the kind of person who would immediately and self-righteously react against any form of violence. I would feel sad and dismiss it and wonder how could people do such a thing! I don’t know what has changed, but now I don’t feel surprised. I accept it. Like it doesn’t matter. It happens. People get over it, even like it, even bond due to it, as long as it is not too much. People pay for “recreational spanking”. Well, really whatever.

It makes me wonder if I am growing old. I feel resigned. Even I can’t believe I am too tired to rage.

 

I feel I am again restructuring how to think. I have been stagnant for a long time now. I am floating through life, and stupid work sucks all time, energy and emotion; and I don’t like it one bit. I don’t like changing without reflecting on what is changing. Living like this is  tiring. I hate this country. I am sorry, I am just going to offend all you patriots. I think this country is a big vortex where social service will never end. You will live and die working for the community, and do nothing for yourself and no one will really appreciate it. I hate that there is no space here. I hate that there are so many people. I hate that there are so many sad stories that you don’t even can’t even feel sad properly because you’ll feel guilty for feeling bad about your abstract problems when people are dealing with concrete ones. Existential problems are a luxury, really.

I’ve gone off-track. See, only when I write, I begin to realize I am angry. When I am with people, I have nothing to say. No contribution to make whatsoever. But writing is so selfish. I love it. But I hate that I have no time for it. And it will be like this for atleast a year now.

Coming back to violence, I really don’t like it. Even though I understand it, maybe. I know that I am not in the least fascinated by it. I find violence stemming out of impotence, a lack of control over the situation. You are lashing out to freeze everyone, to get some sympathy and to vent some helplessness. If someone is yelling at me, I walk away. If someone is passive aggressive, I counter it actively and walk away. I know that anger blinds you, and makes you stop thinking.. and I know that that’s an argument I don’t want to win. So really, there’s no sane option but to walk away. I find rage unattractive. It is not the same as passion.

Back to disappear again,

Signing off,

Tame SheWolf

 

Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.

~Aristotle.

Allow me to be stupid


“If you have any trouble sounding condescending, find a Unix user to show you how it’s done.”

–  Scott Adams

I hate patronizing bastards.

I have been a bully, and sometimes when I am really annoyed by some gregariously stupid person I still have the tendency to be mean. But for the most part, I have calmed down. My level of tolerance to different kinds of people is almost Zen-like. (Or maybe it is just my apathy. Whatever. I’ll introspect later.)

The point is I have been a  bully but I have never been a patronizing bastard.

If I know something, I’ll tell you without adding, “Oh! Hahaha.. you don’t know this yet! This is how it works..” or “Have you been living under a rock?”  If that ignorance shocks or saddens me, I will make an attempt to urgently clarify and explain it to you.

I am not the smartest person. My education degree doesn’t provide me with any “skill set”. So I am full of dumb questions and I am numb to embarrassment. So you can explain “tech stuff” – or finance or geography or anything really- to me by dumbing it down so much that it insults my intelligence, and I will humour you (but rest assured I will pay you back in full with interest). However, I absolutely hate it when Grammar Nazis cyber-bully or cliques in college make fun of other people they don’t relate to or you ridicule a particular kind of music because oh-what-you-listen-to is so much more cooler.

Any learning process requires one to make mistakes. A patronizing bastard in essence pretends automatic omniscience. If you do not allow people around you to make mistakes, to be curious and ask dumb questions, you hamper growth of everyone involved. Firstly and obviously, you are not helping the other person. Secondly, you are limiting your own understanding of what you know because you have set answers in your head, and you resist prodding questions that may refresh your thinking over that matter. Thirdly, you are not letting people express themselves freely around you, thus limiting the scope of the conversations you can have.

I am still to learn how to control the barrage of information that the internet throws at me. Social media is affecting my productivity for the worst. I already am a  good-for-nothing procrastinator, and now I fill my head with unprocessed crap I don’t need. Lately, I have been seeing so many posts and tweets that are unnecessarily condescending passing off as humourous to which all I do is ignore and let it go. But, I vehemently disapprove of this high-handed, pseudo-intellectual behavior. I immediately disconnect to this self-righteous bullshit people indulge in.

Everyone out there is trying to figure something out. If you can contribute to someone’s growth, chip in. Not like a patronizing bastard, full of advice and condescension, but like a friend who is part of the journey that learning is. A person first has to have the courage to have an opinion so that s/he can improve on it for the better. That’s the first step: To have an opinion and express it. Do not scare people from having the wrong opinion, or laugh on a stupid, emotional stand someone has taken or worse still, laugh at how someone chooses to express oneself. Yes, even if it is with wrong spellings and too many emoticons. Stop expecting people to be your idea of perfect from the get-go. You are denying them the opportunity to explore and grow. If you bully someone during discussions just because you’ve found a foolproof argument or a genius way of living your life, then you are more ignorant than the fucker you are trying to help. Atleast s/he is not pretending to be a know-it-all bastard.

I sometimes wonder how someone can forget their own past stupidity. I even wonder whether patronizing bastards have the tendency to hide their own mistakes. If you check out my blog’s archives – please don’t – you’ll see what kind of a bubbly, nonsensical, exclamation-using nutcase I was. I mean, there is clear proof that I have been an idiot. And I had to be that first, before I chose to be this person somewhere down the line. And maybe, the future-me would cringe at me using so many cuss words on my blog, but I need to be this person first.

I hate how ‘online distance’ makes people feel okay about making someone feel bad. How do you justify venting loudly or mocking someone on status updates? How?! And then you have your pseudo-intellectual friends giving you their sympathies. Aaaargh.

(Look, I wrote a whole blog-post ranting against y’all.)

For the anger they evoke in me, I hate patronizing bastards.

We shall overcome, someday.
Signing off,
Tame SheWolf.
“I don’t like intellectuals, or, at least, people who call themselves that way, because I am under the impression that there is always something condescending in their demeanour, and I don’t like condescending people.”

– Carine Roitfeld

The danger of a single story


“There will always be reservations, things one must leave out, events one can’t explain without handing over a full map of one’s life, unfolding it, making clear that all the lines and contours stand for long days and nights when things were bad or good, or when things were too small to be described at all: when things just were. This is a life.”

― Colm Tóibín, The South

It was my birthday. (Long back. In July. I simply take a long time to make it into a nice story.)

So… it was my birthday and even though I tend to complain a lot about how stupid people are, my friends are actually really sweet to me. One of my friends wrote an email to me to wish me, and remind me about how I should be thankful to have a friend like him. The letter was just a paragraph long, and majorly he wrote this:

“Not sure if you expect this from me, but if you do, you’re over expecting.  I’m not good at writing letters. This may be disastrous. You’re reading. You’re still reading. (…) Okay. Its your birthday, I should consider. Ohh yes! its your birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Alright I have no idea what to write but I wont give up.”

That’s not why I feel like ranting today. I appreciate his gesture anyway.

By the end of the letter, he wrote: “Its always great to talk to you, unless when you’re being pathetic.”

I thought: What. 😐

Obviously, he didn’t say ‘being pathetic’ but I can’t allow myself to really quote what he said. It was supposed to be a mean, funny joke.

I reflected on that a little.

I have a tendency to tell someone only how much I think the person can take. So, I have one friend to whom I tell all my socially awkward moments, because I like to hear her laugh. I have another who I just morbidly discuss death with, because I know he won’t think of me as a suicidal nutcase. I have friends with whom I only discuss their lives, and just squeeze in superficial updates of my life, because they’re living more dramatic lives than me. There are some friends you always end up discussing sex with, and with some you never ever ever crack a sex joke even!

I will never start talking about me, because my current narrative of life seems pretty glum to me. I don’t want to be boring either. So if you want to know about my life, you have to ask me specific questions- a necessary trick some of my friends have learned by now.

I brought to my mind all the possible conversations I could think of and I realized I was unabashedly pathetic in front of him. He is one of my friends, who understands the difference between when I say a joke, and when I really believe the joke to be true.

Luckily, we were meeting in the evening to celebrate, and I got the chance to scream at him clarify with him about what he wrote. I also told him a few more stories about me where I was not being pathetic; but being just plain stupid or really witty or insightful! He just smirked.

Anyway, that day, I made a mental-note of never talking about sad stuff without discussing the little happy stuff that do happen.

I also realized that there is a narrative of our own lives we repeat to ourselves. But we are more than just that one narrative too. My parents too have this one specific story they keep telling themselves, and if you prod a little, and ask them different questions, you realize (and hopefully, they too realize) that their lives have been more than just that. So many people affect you, so many incidences happen in unison, so many things are just blurred by time, so many things are brighter still by the constant revision of those memories. We are bound by habits.

We tell ourselves stories to forgive ourselves; to blame others; to forgive others; to excuse ourselves from the heroic narrative, and just be human.

The story of my life has changed so many times by now. With each passing phase, I look at it a bit differently. I know that when this stupid, glum phase passes, I am going to make a funny narrative about it to tell you and get it off my system. For now, I just have to live every sucky moment of it and hate it, and make energy-sapping efforts to count the little things I am grateful for.

There is a story of your life that you tell, and there is the story you actually live; and that has layers you tend to forget about.

That one single story, and much more.

Signing off,

Tame SheWolf

WORDLY WISE:

“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.”

― Joss Whedon

PS: The title is inspired by this TED talk that talks about prejudices. It’s a really nice one, not really related to what I spoke about. Here’s a link to that: Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story

God, no!


“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

-Douglas Adams

I am a South Indian with a house in which a wall is dedicated to an over-sized mini temple with the idol/picture of every god in the Hindu mythology (this is an exaggeration, of course); and the praying style complete with a tinkling bell and incense sticks. Get the picture? So, if mindlessly following your father through a crowded, oil-stained marble-floored temple does not make you an atheist, then… nothing will.

So my granduncle asked me the other day, “When was the last time you prayed?” I was taken aback by the question but I still joked, “I say ‘Oh god!’ too many times. Does that count?” He, being the chilled-out granduncle that he is, was amused, “Jab se hosh sambhala hai, you’ve left all this.” I just had to laugh at the Hindi phrase he used. It still rings in my head. It’s so true. From the time I’ve consciously thought of these ideas, I’ve always damned the idea of god- maybe not as vehemently as I do now.

Everyone knows I am not particularly religious, but I only scream ‘There is no god. Grow up, people! Be the miracle!’’ in front of my friends. It annoys them a little. They wince. I’ve even been politely scolded so many times for being blasphemous. With my relatives, I don’t try to act smart. I keep mumbling in my head: I have no point to prove. Do whatever gives you peace. Leave me out of it.

“Religions are, by definition, metaphors, after all: God is a dream, a hope, a woman, an ironist, a father, a city, a house of many rooms, a watchmaker who left his prize chronometer in the desert, someone who loves you—even, perhaps, against all evidence, a celestial being whose only interest is to make sure your football team, army, business, or marriage thrives, prospers, and triumphs over all opposition. Religions are places to stand and look and act, vantage points from which to view the world. So none of this is happening. Such things could not occur. Never a word of it is literally true.”

— Neil Gaiman

I just don’t like the idea of one single, all-powerful entity. It just doesn’t give me peace to know that someone not present here, is watching over us (-only humans; other organisms can live and die at peace, btw.) So now, I only call upon the holy powers residing in the infinite sky down, whenever I am irritated with human stupidity; exactly like some dissatisfied, rude customer, snapping my fingers to call the absent manager (not even the waiter, mind you; just directly to the person-in-charge) to clear the mess up.

The funny thing is I can totally accept that the universe is a fluke. Everything makes sense then, even the possibility of aliens.

(Read questions in italics in a patronizing tone.)

How do you explain miraculous things that god does?
Science, of course, and Math too! Miracles are statistical outliers that are result of permutations and combinations of all kinds of madness that this diverse universe has to offer.

What about souls and spirits, then?
Universal energy.
My web of life theory (yet to coherently write it down on paper) + Game of life theory.
Basically, it is: Us –> Distributed energy –> Spirits/Souls –> Different motivations affecting and reacting with everything else –> all this mapped down to a seemingly chaotic, but still patterned web.
I can’t explain it articulately yet. In due time with more reading and thinking, I shall.
Plus, I am convenient that way. For now, I realize I am more romantic about the idea of souls than I am logical.

It does not mean that atheists are irreligious, consider nothing sacred and do not value existence. Religiousness, devotion etc. are concepts that can exist without a god. It’s the same debate all over again. We let religion monopolize morality and the path to transcendence.

You know what, you can be grateful for just being alive without having to pray to a god. Any form of art can take you to a sharp, focused, peaceful meditative trance.. Enlightenment? Isn’t that just the self actualization theory?

There may not be heaven and hell, and the world may not be fair but I totally believe in Karma. The logic is simple: You reap what you sow. The evil that besets us is ours. If it is ours, it can be corrected. We need no savior (that maybe a line out of a song.)

I know god is the idea summarizing the unexplained. But giving a label to ambiguity and perfection doesn’t help me. I’d rather make a theory, work with it, even realize I was horribly wrong, correct it or abandon it then (also bear consequences, if any) than just damn it all as impossible and ambiguous at the very start.

Even my mom remarks, “For a person who doesn’t believe in god, you say ‘Oh, god’ too many times!” To that I say, “No one’s here yet. So, point proved too many times over.”

So anyway, here’s to the atheists, and the road of distrust and doubt we voluntarily choose, in the hope that one day, it’ll reach unshaken trust and surety.

I’ll be such an insufferable bitch then. Yeha!

God save you then!

Signing off,

Tame SheWolf

WORDLY WISE:

“What have I always believed?
That on the whole, and by and large, if a man lived properly, not according to what any priests said, but according to what seemed decent and honest inside, then it would, at the end, more or less, turn out all right.”

— Terry Pratchett

Radical of today


“The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them.”

~Mark Twain

I’ll start with what triggered this blog: How I met your mother (Season 3, Episode 5).
(You should watch the episode by the way. Hilarious!)

First time Ted meets Lily at a freshers’ party,
he approaches her by saying,
“Hey. You a freshwomen? I never use the word ‘freshmen’. It’s sexist.”

I laughed. Then I realized it is supposed to seem dorky. Do I talk like that?

(I am so sure I talk like that. Sometimes.)

Then again, last year I had read an article where Obama said, “Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up.”

(What. Did I only turn out to be a misunderstood teen when all I wanted to be was a radical?)

When I took up Arts, after my disastrous tryst with Science, I felt liberated by all the ideas being bombarded at me. I have memories of some crazy lectures where I’ve laughed, sat stunned or even be scandalized, but it always felt free.  If I were a little more insane, I’d have been running from class to class screaming, “Freeeedddom!!!”

In my first year, I was reading Ayn Rand. In the second year, literature taught me Marxism and Feminism. I understood the pain and logic of all kinds of philosophy. I was always conflicted in my head, trying to choose what works best. However, my philosophy teacher was torture. She was everything a philosophy teacher should not be. She encouraged no argument, so I was left to counter-argue all by myself inside my head. On the other hand, my psychology teachers were freaking awesome! After the end of these three years, I still can’t choose which one of them was my favorite, the one with the apathetic humor, the condescending humor, or the anecdotal humor? About them, I’ll tell you this, if I have seen the importance of honesty in people’s writing, I have realized that ideal in real life by listening to them.

Arts swept away all the cob-webs in my head. It broke my set ways of thinking. It has made me braver. In some of the lectures, there have been times when I have reacted: ‘What? Did she just say that? Did I hear right?’  It made me idealistic once again. I am ever-so grateful for that. I have been living in inspired times!

I will graduate in a few months (that is, if the teachers’ boycott finds some truce. I hope it does.) and leave college. I worry now that I will lose this madness, that life will become sober. I hate that thought because I get the necessity of extremes!

Imagine if you never had someone pulling you towards an extreme! Then you wouldn’t have run all the way to the opposite direction. You wouldn’t even have found yourself loafing around in the middle ground trying to make sense of both sides.

I am an atheist. I think that’s because my father overdoes religion.
I am a feminist. I think that’s because I have known more dumb guys than great guys. Plus, I live in India- it’s a patriarchal party, here. Frankly, I am scared of being a feminist because sometimes, it does get a little unbalanced.
I have sat through literature seminars thinking, ‘Oh my god, am I doomed to be so bitter?’ or ‘Will I always over-analyze simple texts unnecessarily?’

See, I can feel conservatism creeping in. But I love being mad. How can I let it go?

Then I rationalize that I just need to pursue what I love and I will find people my own kind in an awesome workplace. Yes, I’m still idealistic about workplaces. Don’t burst that bubble.

So when Obama damns Ayn Rand to be for misunderstood teens, and people damn feminism to be for upset women, and when anyone damns any philosophy as frustrated, I would still like to believe that it is more than that.

Conservative of tomorrow?

Signing off,

Tame SheWolf

WORDLY WISE:

“The soul that is within me no man can degrade.”

~Frederick Douglass