It’s time to come out, now.

My writing desk has faced some neglect of late, for which I would like to apologise. Societal obligations have kept me both busy and uninspired, leading to a sorrowful lack in any literary endeavours I may have chosen to undertake. Indeed, even as I write this, I have a plethora of books and documents open on my computer, which is adamant to drag me to the bottom of the endless ocean that is the mainstream education system. The world, it would seem, has taken a grave disliking to my episodes of deep thinking and subsequent contributions (and here, I do take the liberty to assume that my ramblings are a contribution) that follow.

Society, as though under the obligation to maintain the karmic balance, has provided me with very many things to write about for the past few weeks. One of those fleeting moments of literary inspiration is the progenitor of this post. The conceptualisation of this post had taken place many months ago, but the actualisation is almost entirely due to a post which came out (no allusions to the title), written by my extremely talented friend. The post, cleverly titled “Closets are Claustrophobic” (the post is a great read, do check it out by clicking on the title and letting technology control your every move from there on out), spoke about much the same issue I wish to discuss here, but in what I opine as a much more refined manner.

I’ve always had trouble with the phrase “coming out”. It always seemed unfair to me that people of a certain sexual orientation were deemed living “in the closet” until such time as they chose to reveal their sexuality while their heterosexual counterparts could go about daily life in a decidedly un-Narnian fashion. It sickens me to my core to say this, but having been a homophobe for a large part of my life, I didn’t give much thought to this phrasing, something which I now sorely regret. Far more than the phrase, the actual discrimination which exists on the basis of something as deep-rooted and involuntary as sexual orientation is a cause for concern.

I have been fortunate enough to have very accepting friends (family is beautifully ignorant until this point) when it came to my sexual orientation. However, I’ve had a fair few encounters with woefully misguided people, who have been left scandalised at my “revelation”, visibly cringing away from me at times and changing the way they talked and behaved around me.  Then there are those who treat sexuality like an alien, fascinating phenomenon, mixing together their sense of wonderment and prevalent stereotypes in the crudest of ways. But of all the different reactions that people have, I find the worst ones always fall into the category of “it’s not your fault; it’s not something you choose or have any control over”.

Even though I have had quite a lot of practice dealing with these varied responses, it still takes me a few moments to calm myself down before I explain that it’s no one’s “fault”, and that there is nothing at fault in this case. Between the throng of people who pretend to be understanding of the “situation” or the “condition” and the cold-shoulder-turners, it’s very understandable why such a great number of people wish to remain “in the closet”. This is a scenario which is exceedingly seen in India, which is ironic considering that the country boasts of its diversity to anyone who can stop taking pictures of the slums for even a second, and refuses to be accepting of a whole social demographic.

It’s not that the country is vehemently homophobic, even though it may seem like it, but the people are shamefully unaware of the nature of sexuality. Yes, India has very many issues with acceptance, and that predicament is only heightened due to the lack of awareness. To many Indians, and certainly to the government, homosexuality is still a disease, something “unnatural” which must be stamped out of the population and criminalised. In many circles of India, homosexuality is an affliction which can be treated by religion, brute force, shaming, or, ironically in the more educated circles, therapy. One of the times when I have been the most taken aback in my life was when a junior resident of psychiatry at one of the most renowned hospitals in the country insisted that “reverting” to heterosexuality was better for the mental health of patients.

What bothers me the most about all of this, though, is the hypocritical nature of the Indian society. Having spent my final two years of high school in an all boys residential school, I, unfortunately, have first-hand knowledge of what usually transpires in sexually starved communities. Four classes of people seemed to exist at my school: the vehemently heterosexual, for whom any kind of homosexual contact was both unfathomable and repulsive; the ones who were exploring their sexuality and who would make sure that news of their experimentation never leaked; the ones who had been so starved of sexual contact that flesh was all they needed, be it of man or woman, but who would never let this side of their identity be seen; and the homosexuals. All these classes, however, had one thing in common: they were all very outspoken and wore their distaste for homosexuality proudly on their sleeve.

The post which I have linked covers a lot of the things that I wanted to talk about, but there is one point which I feel can never be stressed enough. Ridicule of homosexuals and the LGBT has been a long-standing cultural norm in modern society, from way before the time of “Gay Related Immune Disorder”. It is good to see how many people have undergone the political reforms which prevent them from mocking people of specific sexual orientations, but at the same time, it is disheartening to see how much abuse is still prevalent. Using words like “gay” in a derogatory context remains to this day a common practice, and it baffles me how a progress civilisation can think that this is at all acceptable. The freight-train doesn’t even remotely stop here, though. Psychological and emotional abuse, if not physical, is constantly doled out in buckets, not only to individuals of a non-heterosexual orientation but to anyone who “seems gay”.

People will spend hours of their time watching crude homosexual pornography, and then turn their faces towards the world and comment on how gross and unnatural homosexuality is, making it a point to equate everything even remotely displeasing with a non-heterosexual orientation. Yes, it was inspiring to see countless Indian take to the streets when the Supreme Court recriminalized homosexual sex in India, but if it takes gross injustice to raise a voice against such discrimination and to show solidarity for the LGBT, then it isn’t hard to understand why so many people choose to hide their identities for their entire lives.

India has a history of teaching its children to not be proud of themselves and making them understand that unless they conform to a manner that is acceptable to society, they are not worth it. As gut-wrenchingly sick as that is, it’s even more wrong in the case of sexuality. Countries across the globe place so much importance on “fitting in”, that members of the LGBT have no choice but to prevent their identities from ever being revealed, lest the predominantly heterosexual society consider them as outcasts. And no one, absolutely no one, should have to live with that kind of psychological trauma or stress.

I realise that I have made any generalisations here, and I would like to apologise for any feelings that may have been hurt. It is not my intention to cause discord, but to make sure that society acknowledges the LGBT as on of them, and doesn’t make it their mission to create a rift between two halves of humanity.

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Kill it with Kindness

This post is long overdue. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a symposium on “Remembering Charles Darwin”, during which the concept of Parent-Offspring conflict was extensively discussed. One aspect of the Parent-Offspring conflict was the constant attention-seeking tactics of the child, which caused the parents to devote their attention to the offspring, thereby preventing them from having the time to create more progeny. The parents, of course, cannot blame their young one for this particular phenomenon, and so the unconceived sibling is effectively “killed” by the kindness that the parents show towards the child.

This concept sent me a long way back to when I had read “The Taming of the Shrew”, where Petruchio alleges that he is killing Kate’s spirit, but he is doing it with kindness. His definition of kindness is rather crooked, for he categorises starving his wife and depriving her of sleep as kindness. In his defense, brutality at that time was physical abuse, so this kind of psychological trauma could be seen as kindness, if only in a very screwed up way.

But the phrase has evolved considerably since the Bard used it, and today it has taken on a different meaning entirely, one which is much closer to the one referenced in the case of the Parent-Offspring conflict. Today, to kill with kindness is to shower the subject of your affections with so much kindness and love, that they (figuratively) choke on the intensity of the emotion. We see it more commonly that we assume, with couples constantly asking for “space” from each other, or children needing “time” away from their parents, or any other of the myriad of examples available.

Even literature has reflected this change. The expression of affection has become more and more superficial over the years, be it the teary-eyed romance of The Fault In Our Stars or the pseud-passionate love affair of *shudder* The Fifty Shades of Grey. Art forms, in general, seem to have taken it upon themselves to be proponents of this new form of kindness genocide, with increasing amounts of pop music reflecting sickly sweet ideas which are not only gag-worthy but also completely ineffective.

The popular song by Florence and the Machine entitled “Dog Days Are Over” inevitably comes to mind when discussing this concept. To those who may not have heard this song, there is a line in it which goes: “she killed it with kisses”, and that line, for me, is a perfect representation of this idea.

We have, in my humble opinion, lost the subtle art of expressing ourselves and our emotions effectively, without making unnecessarily overt gestures. Only the other day, I was reading something written by an acquaintance of mine, and couldn’t help but notice that a very simple (and very overused) concept had been presented with gross overuse of words and an unflattering amount of literary elements. Everything stated in that page long passage could have been better expressed in a simple paragraph by a competent writer, and, of course, got me thinking.

Is it simply an unprecedented extrapolation of the age old adage “the more the merrier” which has landed us here today, at a stage where we feel it necessary to pile things on to such an extent that we eventually end up crushing our object itself?  If so, proverbialism has done us a great disservice.

In keeping with the theme of this post, I shall stop writing here, with deep hope in my heart that the mass murder of things by kindness will cease shortly.

The life of an If-You-Can-Type-In-Full-Sentences-Sexual

Sapiosexuality, it would seem, is a sin in this day and age. Apparently, to covet a beau (yes, I dare to use that word) who is able to hold a conversation for longer than ten minutes without talking about the specifications of your fun bits is a ghastly mistake. With a population that is growing exponentially and a world that is growing smaller by none too small a rate, this lack of intellectually stimulating partners is frustrating, to say the least. The Age of Idiotic bedmates is upon us, gender irrespective.

There have been numerous occasions when someone of interest has had all the necessary physical charms, is the right age and the right distance away, and is otherwise ideal for casual merry-making, but have lost their appeal the moment they spoke. Words, which so often “seal the deal” where other factors simply cannot, seem to be the downfall of these circumstances, leaving me deeply disheartened and thoroughly deprived of a good evening. Individuals with increasingly lucrative prospects have driven me to the edge of sanity in awe of their charisma, before rudely pushing me back into the heartless reality which gleefully blares that: “no one has it all”.

And so, it seems, no one does. Indeed, the time has now come when I cannot even remember the last time I was associated with a person whom I found stimulating, in the only way that really counts. Not that I devoutly search for physical attributes when looking for possible courters (not that I would ever admit to it here for fear of appearing shallow) but it would be nice if, once in a while, a pretty face were blessed with a shadow of aesthetic common sense. In fact, the physical traits may be entirely ignored in the case of a person who, as the title of this rather an age inappropriate post proudly proclaims, can type in full sentences.

Nothing, in my opinion, is a bigger turnoff than dreaming of chatting up a beautiful specimen of mankind, coming up with a witty introduction to yourself and receiving the words: “lol. hw r u” in response. There are days, however, when those not quite Adonis-like respond to messages in language to impress, but the rarity of those events compared to the frequency of the former makes the overall issue a rather solemn one. One good chat does not a satisfied teenager make.

I wish I could give mankind the benefit of the doubt and say that only the gender which I have approached with less than sandbox-playmate intentions has presented me with such sorrowful results; alas, it is not so. Adamant to find myself the perfect blend of charm and humour, of beauty and wit, of intellect and goof, and basically any other balance there is, I expanded my horizons beyond the boundaries of gender discrimination. Finally, after years of having society define me as heterosexual, and me defining myself as bisexual, I was forced to conclude that I was, in fact, a sapiosexual and that there was nothing that I could do about it.

Of course, the fact that I am distinctly unable to maintain good relations with people is one which I have conveniently overlooked more times than is healthy. Only recently, I found myself thoroughly immersed in an individual who seems to have been formulated out of the concoction of characteristics I mentioned above, with a face to put Narcissus to shame. I would like to tell you the tale of how well we resonate, and how you are all invited to our wedding, and to the high school graduation parties of our daughters Clarisse and Daniela, but then I would have to lie, and I feel we know each other too well for that by now. And so no, there has been none of that, and I am more or less to blame.

You see, I have become so unequipped with coming across a person with whom I can connect intellectually, that I have forgotten how to deal with the situation when it does arise. I find myself trying to squeeze in too many seconds into the one minute, too many minutes into the one hour, too many hours into the one day and so on in a futile attempt of getting as much out of that person as possible. Somewhere in a very deep, dark, unfriendly and decidedly asexual corner of my mind lurks a little voice which convinces me that if I don’t soak up this individual thoroughly at every chance, I shall be left to die in a miserable corner of my one-bedroom-apartment, overdosing on Class A drugs.

I don’t claim that I am superiorly intellectual (as I would like to believe) but just that it is very rare for me to find people who stand where I stand, on the Kinsey and other scales. Over time, I have come to accept that even when I am presented with such miracles of nature, I am bound to drive them away, and so the need to have an abundant supply of them in my vicinity has greatly increased, leading to my becoming more flustered and unbearable. And so the vicious cycle entraps me within its iron hold.

Just before I conclude this completely unnecessary piece of Internet space, I would like to acknowledge that this is, in fact, my first official “coming out” post of sorts, and to all those who receive great shocks at the revelation of my sexuality, I’d like to say just this: really, you should have known.

To those of you who are cursed with sapiosexual friends/relatives/children/siblings/cats: please excuse the narcissism, it’s not really our fault.

On the illusion of being well-informed

Once again, I find myself indebted to the mainstream system of education for presenting me with the opportunity, and to some extent the content, of yet another post. Instead, it is better said that the academic ordeal of which I speak wasn’t a direct contributor to this occurrence, but merely the dreaded path through which it was achieved.

Earlier this week, I was faced with the horrendous task known as “journal writing”. The task, which is a regular atrocity, entails copying content from one piece of paper mindlessly onto the other, for what I assume is the sadistic amusement of the examination board. It is, in my opinion, the most dreadful of all assignments conferred upon the students by the Indian education system, and I feel confident in stating that the Indian student body would unanimously benefit from its exclusion.

However, the extent of my displeasure with this particular catastrophe isn’t the subject of this post. No, today I wish to talk about how painstakingly putting myself through that displeasure led me to a profound realisation, albeit one which the world has made many times over already.

In a wildly desperate, yet wildly successful attempt to bring an end to the monotony of mindless copying, I put on some music from my playlist, which, by common consent, is quite distasteful. It was when one particular song was playing that my epiphany made itself apparent, and thus gave rise to this post.

The song of which I speak has now come to be one of my favourites, yet there was a time when I would very contemptuously skip that song whenever it had the audacity to play. When I’d first heard that song, and indeed for a few times after, I’d convinced myself that the lyrics of the song were not possible to be deciphered, on account of the singer’s poor enunciation. Recently, frustrated by my inability to make sense of what is an insanely popular song, and crippled by my all consuming obsession with song lyrics, I gave in and “Googled” the words.

As though a dense fog had been lifted off my mind the moment I read the words upon the screen. What’s more, whenever I had heard the song hence, including on the fateful evening of which I speak, I found myself clearly understanding the lyrics which had so far been nothing but elusive. And so while I was mechanically scribbling away into my notebook and this song played, I found myself humming along with it, whispering the words into the air, completely unaware that I now knew the lyrics well enough to sing along.

It was then that I had to pause the gruelling task which was engaging me, and think back upon the days when I had thought the song incomprehensible. The epiphany ran thus: our knowledge, all our knowledge, is an illusion, brought about by incidences of learning which we do not give due credit to. To make this rather cryptic statement clearer, I’ll take the example of what I have been talking about thus far. It is now impossible for me to think of a time when I did not know the lyrics of this particular song, because they seem so obvious in the light of the new knowledge I have acquired.

How is it possible that something which is so thoroughly apparent to me now, was so utterly elusive then? How has the simple acquisition of knowledge made me forget the sensation of being ignorant? And so I extrapolated this particular theory, if you will, onto other aspects of life and existence. I came to the rather startling realisation that a lot of the information we take for granted is actually a compilation of things we never knew, and things which we thought we never would be able to understand, until such time as we found them out.

The favourite colour of your best friend, perhaps, may serve as an example. Your favourite dish, another. A third could be the knowledge of the grammar of your first language. There is so much knowledge within us which we assume is a given, or which we take for granted, not realising that we are born with nothing in our heads, and that even things which seem like they’ve always been there, haven’t.

Of course, shortly after realising this, I saw the bulk of content before me still waiting to be written, and I left the realisation of this epiphany for another day. At this point, I’d like to end this very vague post with one question: does it count as an epiphany if it’s merely reflection upon something you’ve always known?

Food for thought, I guess, or something to distract yourself with this Valentine’s Day. Happy Loving, everyone.

Love to the linguistically challenged

First of all, I would like to apologise to my readers and, indeed, to my little corner of the Internet, for being away so long. The tides of life were rough, and I had found myself once again clamouring to hold on to the edges of the boat we call sanity as I ventured into the choppy waters of the unknown. Realising, however, that there was nothing to be gained at the end of a long, sane life, however, I decided to leap from my safeguard turned slave ship, and dove further into the waters of questioning depth than I had thought possible, with no reason to resurface for the air which now seemed poisoned.

But rest assured, I am back for good. There can, of course, be no guarantee as to that statement, but I implore you to put a little faith in the same person you have invested your time in, for armed with the support of strangers I know nothing about, what can’t I do? I do not claim to have gotten rid of the malady which rendered me incapacitated for the rather large period of time in which I was away, but I can promise to you, as my faithful supporters, to try my best to overcome it for the brief period of time that it requires me to post something.

Today, I am here to speak to you about a conversation which I had not a day ago, and which, indeed, I was forced to leave midway, for the other party to the conversation decided that there was work to be done; and, as people who have engaged in the noble art of conversing with tell you, it takes two. It was a most interesting conversation, with a most interesting individual, not least because I am deeply interested in the individual of whom I speak. It was a conversation about a topic which is very personal to me, and a topic on which I welcome debate wholeheartedly. I talk, of course, about language.

It was the opinion of my dear friend that language was not the worthwhile creation that I made it out to be. My friend maintained that language was imperfect, and that it was rendered worthless by the blatant attempts of men and women throughout the centuries trying to attest to its perfection. The conversation naturally drew into the confines of art, which my companion seemed to think the better form of expression, because, as was so eloquently put to me, “at least people don’t pretend it to be perfect communication. It’s known to be imperfect, and for once that is right.”

But forever the champion of language, and an aspiring word-smith at heart, this bashing of language was not something I was able to tolerate. Indeed, tempers often run high in opinionated debates such as these, but I was determined to deem language victorious in this battle, or die trying. And so I argued my case, and what should be my first argument, other than the perfect imperfections of language?

Language is imperfect, that is true. Every form of communication is imperfect. The attempt to join ideas of the mind, so infinite in their proportions, by the limitations of man-made communication is a foolish errand, yet one we must undertake. The power of words does not lie in their flawless existence, but in their effectiveness despite their flaws. And most of all, the success of language lies in poetry, which communicates not thoughts and ideas, but feelings; a singularly astonishing feat.

How, then, in the face of millennia of evidence, can one deny the effectiveness of language? How can one claim it to be any less than art, or music, or any other form of communication. The flaws, the imperfections of language, they are what make it flawless and perfect. It is true that those who pretend that language is perfect are deluded and in the dark, but all those who know where the fallacies of language lie, they are masters of this elusive creation of mankind.

Language is not just a means of communication to one another. Its only purpose is not the relaying of ideas of one mind for the complete comprehension of another. Were that the case, language would not need to evolve; merely the creation of a few means of delivery of messages would suffice. No, language is meant to express, to show what is felt as well as thought. Were language a perfect creation, how would there be any room of difference of opinion, for personal interpretation, and, indeed, for growth as we know it?

It is best that language exists for us in its broken and imperfect form. It allows us to grow as a species, as a civilisation, and allows for the preservation of centuries of ideas, which we may never have the original gist of, but which we can appreciate all the same.

And to those who pretend that language is perfect, know this: you only seek to damage the beauty of language by doing so. Perfection is an illusion and, far worse than this, it is a sinful delusion, the likes of which have razed many great entities to the ground. It is my request, as a firm devotee of the flaws of language, to let this singular entity be free of the shackles of perfection.

Horses not Zebras

Only the other day, under the strong influence of nostalgia and a rush of inexplicable feelings, I found myself scrolling through some of the prior contributions I had made to this small corner of the Internet. Unfortunately, I saw that I hadn’t launched into one of my characteristic explanations of something bizarre for quite some months now, and today, seeing an opportunity fit for it, I decided to pull out my dusty thesaurus.

Earlier today, a few weeks ago actually if I’m being honest, I played host to a conversation which escalated at a pace which was far too remarkable to be sensible. Greatly drawn to anything with even the remotest possibility of being senseless, I naturally took a deeper interest in the conversation than was healthy, and emerged with this little post.

It would seem from the discussion that half the reason behind the unprecedented escalations of emotions was a tacit conversation taking place completely independently of the verbal one. And what was more, the unspoken discussion seemed to be taking on two different planes altogether, depending upon the whim and fancy of the person! What great confusion!

And then sweet inspiration struck me as it never had before, and I realised that the conversation mishap which was unfolding so seamlessly before me was the story of this world. Almost all problems in our homely surroundings could be explained by this very inefficient but rather rampant mode of communication, which made use of misunderstandings to deliver messages.

So how could anyone expect anything to take place successfully, when nothing at all happened in the way that it was meant to happen? The root cause of this rather disturbing social issue, I discovered, was our tendency to assume. Sometimes assumption of the worst would lead to catastrophic fight over issues which hadn’t even materialised yet, and other times assumption of the worst would lead to squabble over unreasonable expectations. Who, then, is responsible for this very prevalent issue of social construct?

Time, of course, can be blamed. However, the only reason time stands to be blamed is because that’s the way it has been for so many years. We have found a foe in time ever since we began to fear death, and so we seek to blame the innocent bystander for things to which blame cannot even be assigned. This is a stellar example of one such case. Our innate reaction of assumption is one which has developed over time to allow us to be effective in our communication: imagine how tedious it would be if people had to always spell everything out for everyone.

The title of this post is an allusion to a phrase I once heard a long time ago: “if you hear hooves, think horses and not zebras”. This phrase, I think, very efficiently captures the sentiment which I have tried so feebly to express above. The tendency to expect zebras, which are gross unrealities, where one should expect horses, which are little more than your everyday stray dog, is the reason we don’t quite manage to stay in phase with out fellows.

As is customary, I must pretend to ask you, while actually asking myself, what this post was about anyway. Was it necessary to make you read through line after line about something which fits in one sentence anyway? Why did I repeat the very same point so many times, that you eventually forgot why you were reading this anyway?

Perhaps it was to get you on the same plane as me. Or maybe, I was just bored and had nothing better to do. Either way, I think the most fitting reason I wrote this post is simply because, well, I could.