Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The last article on 'Writer's block'

"There is no story which has not been told before, or that has not been imagined by Vyasa in his epic Mahabharata. So whatever you write cannot be entirely your own. So said the old woman. So says Pamuk. So in essence, all our efforts at novelty can ultimately bear the brunt of being labeled as plagiarism only if some eccentric book devourer puts his mind to proving the point.

There is nothing novel worth talking about, given that the thousands of years of history of human existence has witnessed, has been almost pickled to a pungent perfection of knowledge mixed with scorn about all the possible combinations of human relationships and their fall-outs. And so, it is a tad discouraging to know what me and you are doing (i.e thinking to write and sometimes writing to think) is only redundant work. All that need be said has been said before.

We writers are merely here for we humans are a peculiar race, a majority of which needs to be told what to do, what not to do, and most often this majority derives a masochistic pleasure on being told things are not done the way they should be. We merely need to be told things a thousand times over in order to convert a truth to a lie and vice versa. Since ancient times, people in power got stories crafted to suit their own motive. Writers helped them meet their end by writing according to the briefs given to them. With a little skill, legends essentially remained the same to the prospective buyer who flips pages leisurely to taste what is in for platter, but once the copy was bought, once it was invested in, and then when it was read (at times grudgingly so for a book bought and not read seems unusually heavy on the pocket), the skillfully altered nuances of fact and fiction were successfully thrust in the mind of the engrossed, ignorant reader. Altering bits and pieces here and there, history changed. And when it had changed enough, when the new powers thought it right to invest in a re-run of facts, members of our clan were employed again to tell 'new stories'.

Writers often end up being dumb mediators of thought and idea they fool themselves in believing is their own. Thinking thoughts and raking up extinct ideologies versus the so-called new schools of thought is nothing but the mechanical pursuit of masking the present life with a sense of achievement. Most ideas that gain momentum do so not because they are worthy ideas, but because a few smart people decide it is profitable that the idea propagate. And so, old stories and revamped to be presented as a new and novel idea. So, my dear friends, this is reason enough for you and me to put an end to our writer's block".

Thus said the old man in the last article of his much-read column called Writer's block.

His fame was in part due to the attention attracted due to the many charges of defamation, libel and plagiarism that thronged his career and which he faced with dignity, wit. Till he died of a comfortable old age in a sprawling villa placed at a location conveniently cut-off from civilization, he wore a mischievous gleam that seemed to own up an acceptance of the accusations. But a gaze of aloof shrewdness (that often signifies wisdom acquired of an age of reading and age itself) immediately followed the momentary mischievous gleam and dismissed the enquirer instantly of any further questions, or doubts.