a midnight ramble

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new year lights


A "happy" "new" year to you reader. Yes you. You, who somehow found this blog interesting enough to dive at least one hyperlink deeper amid a varied assortment of hastily constructed texts and images representing a less hastily constructed person. You, who has sought to establish a voyeuristic relationship of observation and limited contact which is flattering, somewhat strange and a newer form of relationship not accessible to our parents or ancestors. Voyeurs, readers and single sided talk have existed in varied forms since centuries but perhaps enmeshed in more elaborate social rituals and less elaborate mechanisms than the kind facilitated by the web through which we both communicate - or more specifically - I communicate with you. Surreptitiously almost. Unseen and unobserved by any other person who is peeking at this page, perhaps at this very instant as you, reading this exact same text and wondering, just like you are right now, who the other person might be. What sequence of events led them to this page and if they were similar to yours. What abstractions are at play that bind you, me and them (him? her?) through this unusually reflexively written text. Or maybe you weren't as curious about that until you read the previous statement. Did you come here to check if there's any recent development in my continued disillusionment with left theory? Or to quench a passing sense of boredom and emptiness on realizing that there's nobody nearby who you desire to instantly engage with. Or there might be people around you, but they're not quite the kind you want to talk to right now. This safe, nondescript act of you reading this text by me, without my knowledge in the comfort of your current environment (i assume you haven't opened up this blog to read while climbing a dangerous mountain or handling explosives) carries the veneer of perhaps a more painful and ultimately more complex relationship we might establish with each other by talking to each other vis-a-vis. But neither of us have quite figured out how to make that work in a fulfilling way stretched across time and space as we are at the moment. Both of us are likely making up our theory of contentment and desire from this relationship with each other through the internet as we go, somewhat on whim and somewhat on principle (although it's more of the former than we might care to admit publicly). I often ask myself (and maybe you do too) if such contact is preferable to none but the answer to this question eludes me still. The best approximation I can come up with is that it stems from a vague illusory hope that i can use this space to construct a representation that cannot be fully instantiated in reality and yet contains in it the ideas, attitudes and desires that remain in the liminal space between thought and actualization. You have your ideas about your work, academic interests, social life and personal obstacles too and surely many doubts about the degree to which you can realize them. Perhaps this motivates the kind of search that brings you to this page where you might hope to read about another person's experience of the new year's eve and assimilate into your notions of the event some added perspective that comes from a different history. I have bad news and I have good news. First the bad news. I don't have much to offer to you right now. When it comes to confronting such banality in the age of instant entertainment I shall resort to a ritual i've seen my family elders partake in with great enthusiasm - the pre-internet social creatures who haven't quite been inducted into the internet age yet - who share their daily life and the minute details about it and in their smaller more controlled world of family and work life they inexplicably find satisfaction and joy. They don't discuss grandiose recipes, career achievements, life goals or personal milestones but minor variations in their daily routine with great thrall. I'd find it hard to engage or take interest as a child because the world was rich and complex and filled with possibilities. However, when confronted with obsolescence as a figure whose company might not be preferable to the sort of vast entertainment and excitement accessible through video sharing platforms today, I now see some value in working in a smaller space of familiarity and security amid a more tightly knit community, the attachment of which to me is predicated not on my capacity to gratify it. Such a community is however vanishingly small. I wonder if visits to family have statistically reduced for everyone with the advent of long distance calling. Or if members of a nuclear family prefer to stay within their own rooms glued to their respective screens. I wouldn't be surprised if this were common. But despite this, I spot vestiges of relationships that function despite their apparent inutility to those involved. Recreating that might require the act of re-establishing some normality around discussing the banal. The good news is that I'll still tell you something banal about me and will do so under the comfort of an idea that banality, even during moments of perceived social significance is still something that can evoke security, comfort and ritualistic predictibility - all of which i personally find hard to come by due to their diminishing importance on the web. I spent new years listening to music i've liked over the years and listened to ritually - loveless and other albums by mbv, bowie's best, and the cure. I did not get inebriated as I usually do each new year's eve but I did make some tea. After which i proceeded to write this text down. Through the day I had baked some bread which turned out better than the day before and which suggested some improvements which I shall try out when I have access to an oven. I went for a walk and although i didn't find anything spectacular to document, I was glad to have found a thriving and detailed space in and around my neighborhood to walk through anyway. I talked to a close friend about a book neither of us liked and responded to texts from those close to me wishing me well. Should the idea of sharing banal details about yourself or your day appeal to you, you already know how to find me. This sounds like a swell excuse to be boring and unexciting. But in a web flooded with the transmission of cartoonish caricatures of every thought as the epitome of excited validation and fun, I take little issue with being boring and simple. This leads me to the some changes I'd like to see come to fruition in my relationship with the internet in the year ahead. - Using it as a tool, for discovery and help with interests that lie outside the screen. - USing email more often than instant messaging. - Working further on the website and possibly adding a feature that enables responses and annotation by you, the reader. - Living more rigorously by the principle of "when in rome". I'd like to not consume images of places, foods, people, cultures that are entirely inaccessible to me. This might be a hard line to walk considering consumption of alien images and ideas is vital for one to outgrow one's own provincial perspectives and use the vast amount of knowledge at hand made available to all through the web. However there is an order of magnititude of difference between looking up the internet for newer ideas to do something specific and to browse it as a cure for the estrangement and boredom one confronts in cities.

pulkit manocha