Now and Then.

Who the...?

Harendra Kapur.
Kyra Mathews.
Tejas Menon.

Sigh! Why art thou so?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Yesterday was a bad day.
A surreal experience for me, since I had one of those moments where Art somewhat saved me. A bit. It was a perfect marriage of the emotions I had, and the emotions I felt after experiencing the art.
I lost my phone yesterday.
This is the second time in 9 months, I think. I have recently lost my kickass iPod that my sister gifted me, which had tremendous sentimental value, my nephew's mp3 player and my mom's flash drive. Yes, I'm an idiot and no this is not for sympathy. This is about the connection of art and how it manages to dig in to you, through all the clutter and crap you may have inside you and still carve a small nichè for itself amongst all the baggage you carry.

Yesterday I re-read a series that I had stopped through halfway a while ago, and had not managed to complete it. It happened like this. I lost my phone in the morning, moped for a while, then went to landmark by 1 pm and sat there reading for a good 7 hours. There is something liberating about being cut-off from the rest of the world. In my state of mind, it almost felt good, that I could escape having to tell people how dumb I felt because I lost my phone, ironically because there was no way to tell them. I did not even have the strength to feel sorry for myself or just plainly ask 'Why?'

Thus I sat and read Y: The Last Man.

Y is about Yorick Brown (and his capuchin Ampersand) the only man to survive a plague that strikes all the Y-chromosome carrying mammals(namely all males) around the world simultaneously, killing them instantly. Whats left is broken infrastructres, plane crashes, food shortages, and a whole lot of women. How Yorick survives these conditions plus a bunch of crazy chicks who are either trying to sleep with him or kill him forms the rest of the story. Needless to say a story as epic as this, has to be thought out well and thought out well is exactly what it is. In 60 issues Brian K. Vaughn manages to tell the story at a decent pace, progressing with the plot while still holding the attention of the reader. Obviously it is filled with great allegory, and social commentary but is undoubtedly and ironically going to be viewed as masogynistic and yes, chauvinistic. However Vaughn bypasses all that and continues with his story about the last man trying to reunite with his girlfriend in Australia.

But Yorick- the average everyman, still seeking his true love not knowing whether she's alive or dead, and a huge responsibility on his shoulder is someone I could definitely identify with at that moment. No, I am not the last man on earth, but at that point of shame, I wished I could just be alone, or run away. It probably sounds highly dramatic, but that my friends, is the power of art! In 7 hours I immersed myself in Y and questioned myself as he did, that is reclusiveness what we really want? or is it really the complete opposite? Maybe we just want to be accepted no matter what we do, and while that would be great, it is not fair at all to shy away from the responsibilities that each of us possess. Alas, Poor Yorick, I knew him!

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! - (Hamlet, V.i)

I keep giving this one example of how I always listen to Billy Joel before an audition, or before facing any 'music'. Why? Because for some reason hearing his voice is the equivalent of having someone older or someone I trust saying to me "It's alright Tejas. Just get in there and do your best and know I'm right behind you". Very Uncle Ben.
Uncle Ben, why do I miss him so much?

Comic back to the point. The marriage of art and the person who experiences it, is a very personal moment. It's like family, literally. Because every person has their own experience when they are in contact with the art. I cannot expect anyone to have the same feelings or emotions I did when I read it, it is probably not going to happen. But maybe you will have it with something else, maybe a great album, or a great painting, when you are at another emotional level. And it'll cause you so much pain or joy or emotions you can't even describe. It's truly awesome.

That my friends is the power of art!

Goodbye, Jennifer Crusie.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I’m a sucker for chick lit, as Ive mentioned before. But there is one author, who deserves far more than the slightly condescending tag of “Oh her? She just writes chick-lit.” Jennifer Crusie is one of the smarter, and funnier authors on my bookshelves. And well, I have a lot of books on a lot of bookshelves, so you really have to believe me.

The first Crusie book I picked up was “Faking it”, and to my eternal shame, the only reason I bought it was because the cover was incredible. I read it much later, and couldn’t believe I’d let this book simmer on my shelves untouched. Its been 6-7 years since I first read it, and it is still one of the most influential books in my life. It taught me more about relationships, about music and about art than most of the “serious fiction” on my shelves. I adopted many theories put forth in the book as my own, and one idea especially, I repeat in my head on a regular basis, especially when I know I'm going to be doing something I really shouldn’t be doing : "If you can’t be a good example, you’ll just have to be a horrible warning." So before I do anything terrible, I always ask myself if I really want to be a horrible warning. So yes, Gwen Goodnight, one of the books many protagonists, really did give me more sense than I give myself credit for.

After that, my search for Crusie has never ceased. For some reason, she isn’t readily available in most mainstream bookstores, and most people have to resort to Amazon to get her into their lives. I am not an Amazon fan myself, and instead, happily settle for the great and irreplaceable high you get when you find a much-loved author in random places i.e the last few times I found her was in the Cochin airport bookshop hidden behind Orhan Pamuk and in a cardboard carton on a Dubai street.

The best part about Crusie, is that none of her heroines are very physically attractive. So, you relate to them, and you love them unconditionally, instead of being slightly in awe and a little resentful. Some of them are overweight, some have mad hair and glasses, and they like to eat, they like to drink, they have bad tempers and are blessedly human and as far from perfect as you can get. They become your best friends and you actually listen to what they have to say. Instead of having incredible bodies, swishy hair and perfect skin, they have a sense of humour and intelligence that is approachable, not overwhelming.

The second best thing about Crusie will only be visible to the loyalists who have read more than one of her books. She hides symbols, signs and messages, (cherries, dove bars and I'm not going to reveal anymore) in almost all her books that make you feel connected to her and her mind. You’ll read it and you’ll know instantly that it’s a Crusie book and you like you’re part of a closely knit circle of warmth and humour; like you’re part of a secret club where everyone understands and knows you.

I have recently waded my way through all of Crusie’s books, and “Faking it” is still my favourite, followed closely by its prequel (yes, I read it backwards, I didn’t know at the time), “Welcome to Temptation.” The best thing about finally going through all of Crusie, is the blissful yayness she provided. The worst thing about finally going through all of her, is that now I’m done. I’ll never again feel that almost unbearable joy finding her in strange places, and I’ll never again feel that agonizing restlessness to open a Crusie book I haven’t read before. I lingered over the last book, reading the same page twice or thrice, knowing painfully, that this was it, and once I finished this, there’d be no more – especially since Crusie has publicly announced that she’s stopping her romances, and she’s only doing collaborations now. I’ve read one of her collaboration, and its lacking the Crusie spark, diluted as it is by someone else’s words alongside hers.

It’s a strange sort of grief, knowing that my relationship with a person Ive never met has reached its end. She always made me laugh when I thought I never would again, she was the woman who introduced me to Dusty Springfield oh-so many years ago, the one who taught me the difference between muffins, donuts and men, who proved over and over again that personality trumps the physical any day, and how important it is to be able to laugh at life, and at yourself.

Goodbye, Jennifer Crusie. My bookshelves and my life are more memorable and far more worthwhile, having known you.

“When Eve ate the apple/Her knowledge increased/But God liked dumb women/So Paradise ceased” – Jennifer Crusie/Gwen Goodnight in Faking it.
Note: WeTheWriters would like to apologise muchly for the lack of updates on this blog. We have been very busy being very busy, and while I'm sure that's not a good enough excuse, we'd like to think it is. And we are mostest and muchlest sorry and all that.

The All of us.

The All of us.