“We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them.”
Damn, I’ve been itching to use this title for a long time. Ever since I put down Julian Barnes’s Man Booker Prize winning novel that goes by the same name, in fact. Which wasn’t that long ago. Or was it? As Barnes puts it, “I know this much: that there is objective time, but also subjective time, the kind you wear on the inside of your wrist, next to where the pulse lies. And this personal time, which is the true time, is measured in your relationship to memory.” At 163 pages, it is barely long enough to be deemed a novel, but its brevity makes the amount of ‘knowledge’ that it manages to impart, all the more astounding. Truly one of the best books that I’ve ever laid my hands on.
Onto the last Game of Thrones review in the foreseeable future. I almost wrote a full-blown review, but like the poem and my ever imminent change in outlook towards the world, that didn’t materialize. Onto those lovely and predictable bullets. Or not. I just can’t gather the resolve or the wit to match my curly haired friend’s effort at deconstructing the episode. A bow to the brilliance of Ramin Djawadi, though. And RIP Margaery Tyrell and her sense.
The peculiar thing about this particular season was the palpable shift from shocking fans to pandering to their theories. Be it Benjen being ‘Coldhands’ or Daenerys and Cersei burning people or the ubiquitous R+L=J, the brilliant cinematography and bulging budgets could not hide the dismally predictable plot twists and the frequent patches of shoddy writing. Too many plot points have been left hanging (Hi, Gendry), some have been hastily resolved (Jaime’s time at Riverrun) and the HG Wells inspired modes of travel (Varys) are questionable, to put it mildly. There’s just a lack of clarity and coherence, a throwback to the glorious early seasons, but somehow unlike them, this time the chaos doesn’t seem intentional on the writers’ part. Maybe, it’s just familiarity breeding contempt. After all, D&D have themselves professed that they barely have enough material for 13 more episodes. I hope they are more like ‘The Door’ and nothing like ‘No one’. I hope Game of Thrones goes back to taking the Road Not Taken.
Nothing beats an ending at inevitability and the range of emotions that it is capable of inducing in the people affected by it. There are cliffhangers, drawn out charades, tame conclusions. And yes sometimes, Om Prakash Makhija’s ‘Happys Endings’. But almost never do you get actual closure, the one thing that you’d expect from an ending. Season 6’s end signified the end, albeit temporary, of the weekly contribution of Thrones to my increasingly tardy efforts at writing. With respect to the show however, it was more like the ‘beginning of the end’. Interesting phrase that. And versatile too. When Federer lost his number one ranking to Nadal, it was the beginning of the end for him. When Mike was arrested, it was the beginning of the end for him. You get the gist. Djokovic finally lost yesterday, and at the risk of being deemed vile, I hope that it heralds the beginning of the end of his dominance. Go Federer!
At some point in our monotonous existence, a sense of entitlement creeps in. You feel that you’ve done enough for life to function according to your expectations. That you’re entitled to a purpose in life. That everything’s contriving to pave a path towards your goal. I remember the days in school, when the beauty of the Indian education system made topping the grade seem like a real achievement. You were showered with praise and blessings, were asked for advice by your fellow sufferers’ parents, were snarkily eyed at by rivals who promised ‘vengeance’, while you basked in your glory, satisfied, if only for a short while. Your victory gave you purpose, something to fight for. That simply doesn’t happen anymore. It’s like those days in school were the promising trailer to a movie. And that movie turned out to be ‘Bombay Velvet’.
Ditto for people. You expect niceties and niceness to bring you your entitled share of niceties and niceness. But they don’t, expectedly. “If you expect things in return for being the nice guy, you are not the nice guy”, my Whatsapp display picture read, around two years ago. One of the few gems that I lifted from Instagram, I believe. The whole concept of the nice guy, thus seems Utopian. If you’re entitled to be nice to people, they are equally entitled to be oblivious to your existence. Aristotle had it all figured ages ago, and his advice holds equally true, today- “Say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
The dichotomy that persists today is frightening, and to a larger extent tiring. The hypocrisy, even more so. One has to either be right or wrong, good or bad. No one appreciates the grey area, that some of us find ourselves a part of. That abyss between winning and losing, or rather losing and choosing to hang in there, which is an unsolicited refuge from the monotony that life tends to entail. Life, I have realized, is not much different from the roads of the holy city: things come at you from all directions possible, there is no divider/filter, there’s no semblance of control and you usually won’t know what hit you.
“History isn’t the lies of the victors, I know that now. It’s more the memories of the survivors, most of whom are neither victorious nor defeated.”
Forgive the excessive use of quotes. I just really liked the book!