Sunday, December 31, 2017

Visions of Gideon

A lot of this year, my 2017, was in the company of people who played spoilsports and killjoys. To use Sara Ahmed's terms and words, it takes a lot of effort and courage to be a killjoy, to have a problem and to not take it lying down. Especially when those you have to oppose are your loved ones, colleagues, friends and people who are apparent allies, meaning that they come from and want to be in a position of consensus with you. They want to and have built bridges, they form very important parts of your memories and personhood. I am extrapolating from Ahmed but I think for a lot of us it was a year of being torn and learning to dissent. And, dissenting can be tiring, it feels bitter and violent. I mean who doesn't tire of someone who always has a problem, right? Why does she always have a problem? Why can't she let this go? Why do you have to overthink everything? I am still not sure if constant killjoying will change the world or whether there are more pleasant ways of being a killjoy or what might happen if those leading the way will change their minds. Several things happened that I think all coalesce at this fundamental tug.
My personal year started with such troubles when my parents visited and I have/had strong views on how I want labor to be divided, what I expect of my parents on vacation, how I am not okay with everyone being on auto pilot. It led to a fair amount of bitterness and my conclusion was that I should not forget that parents as people change too, what we otherwise call age but is a combination of patience, interest, wanting space etc. I also realized to some extent that bitterness can be fatal, chronic unhappiness, even if it is maintained as one's refusal to budge against the obstinate unfair world, is enacted in real time upon individuals or groups. Meaning that even if you are raging against the world's toxic masculinity, your first dialog is going to be with your father who in his own right is a complex person, way more than a patriarch. It is tough to gently rally then, without inducing fatal bitterness. So I stepped back and mended some bridges because after all, I am learning too.

I think everything suffers from such 'awkward scales'. You vs the world's macho men, returning to a home full of loved ones shaped by the same world. Not to mention, you, as a fickle, fallible bungler in the world. Reconciling with awkward scales of the university and academia and department and colleagues and family and friends and individual units, no theory could prepare us for what might be an appropriate response when things don't match. What to do?

As the year progressed, there were more strange moments, again a little bit of both, the context and the event. Both change each other. Overall, I realized that I am willing to let go of friends and lovers, with less drama but there are certain things that I just can't stomach. And, I kept holding on to them. My discomfort with ultimatums, my refusal to fall in line so that we could imagine a future. I am not even saying it is radical, I think one has to listen to the gut and then bear the consequences. I also briefly experienced strong feelings again and it was wonderful. Really hard to get over but also a part of me I had forgotten.

Keeping with the title of the post, my favorite film of the year was 'Call me by your name'. And this song by Sufijan Stevens, the way it is filmed, the father's speech in the film, it's all beautiful. It made me appreciate actors a bit more. I still don't understand how films as organizational work produce such brilliant emotive experiences. I guess as I write, I also have more respect for organizational work that makes events happen, anything organizational in the service of sensorial experiences is quite the feat. The film also felt nice because it aligned with my own bittersweet encounter.

I read more than I usually do, this year. I am very proud of it. I am patiently waiting for the reading to filter through me and make home in my words. I am personally grateful to the works of Sara Ahmed, Anna Tsing, Lauren Berlant, Kathi Weeks for their fantastic charged prose. Like it was written from the heart, written in conversation and it felt like I was in dialog too. :)

Meanwhile the later part of the year with its sexual harassment revelations, again in the industry, in the university, elsewhere. I hope we will look back at this year as the year when things crumbled. And for those who took them to heart, like me, for those who felt these stories personally, were reminded of their own stories, very little trust remains in people (but mostly men) and their ability to hold back and nor harm when they can (power). I let all those associations crumble too. Like I said, it was my year of killjoy, dissensus, just refusing to play along. And I can tell you that it shocked many good boys, the ones who said their anger came out of their own hurt, the ones who wanted me to tolerate a bad mood, also those who thought they could be careless with their words and take them back. I just let them go and things went. So much went away, there is so much space.

Couple of days ago I met a childhood friend, my mother was there too. The friend and I were molested together as children for the first time. As soon as she said "do you remember", I said "the man in the sand?" but then she went on to narrate the episode differently from what I remember. For a weird reason in my story, I was the one who rescued us. I trust her story but it was this personal, minor history moment where we proceeded to excavate and re-inscribe everyone we knew in our childhood. We collectively built new memories of these people, so many of them were abusers. We spoke of how the roads of our "safe city" had maps of harassers, going on which road at what time could make people follow you. Lastly, she said how her parents refused to give her a scooter till she was an adult. My parents took the same stand and they are so proud of it, till today. I guess it is a good thing. But then she told her parents how they don't know anything, how riding a cycle means inviting teasing and if they were okay with that, she would bear it. I think she got a scooter finally. My mum just listened in silence. I don't really know what she has to say about this.

So, that was my year. My 27. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Third Year Ending

I don't have words of my own but only some words that I keep coming back to.

Atoms for Peace - The Eraser

Massive Attack - Paradise Circus

Portishead - Wandering Star

On my plate currently: writing to people who won't give me money, there's only so many ways in which I can beg and grovel, I've run out of them, two sets of revisions, one set of structuring editing revisions, a bunch of polite groveling for support letters and finally deep deep resentment that it's summer and I don't have an extra week to go to Ladakh, Burma, Arunachal or Kutch and I have to be back in time for some more politeness.

Onward to the fourth year.