Thoughts and other trivia...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The play within the play!

There was a time when, in college, like many others before me and, without a doubt, like many who will follow, I was fascinated with reading about death, sadness and, for want of a better word, similarly morbid things. In fact, I have no doubt in my mind that I first felt motivated to read The Myth of Sisyphus because I discovered that, essentially, it was about the legality of suicide. In those days, I used to spend a lot of time in the libraries in college and at the American Centre. And, when I wasn't looking for reference material, which was quite rare, I would look for books (Malone Dies), plays ('Night Mother) and poems ('s not the river that runs but the water / it's not the time that passes but us...) that were, generally, about death, dying, sadness, depression, hardship and struggle.

This fascination with the darker aspects is best explained, I think, as a phase that a lot of people go through, almost as a rites of passage sort of thing. I'd love to say that my interest in this general area was purely academic but that would not be true and, if I said so, it would be only for effect :-) A little later in life, when passage of time had allowed me to view the phase more objectively, I realised that my pre-occupation with the subject owed itself entirely to a part I had been playing in real life at the time. Needless to say, at first, even I was not aware of what I was doing. It took a friend's friend to point it out to me and, amazingly, no one else, besides the two of us, ever knew or saw this. After so many years, I still remember how she took me aside and said what she said. What is funny is how everyone fell for the con I was dishing out and, even funnier, that, after some time, I started believing my own con! Believing it to the extent of actually living it out, from being an actor playing a part to becoming one with it. Man, Stanislavski would've been proud!

Hell, I even wrote a (very bad) poem at the time. Appropriately, it was called Black Dog. Actually, I wrote 2-3 other, really bad poems on this blog but...I swear...never again.

Anyway, this whole business started as a joke, which, unfortunately, my friends took seriously and believed...maybe because they wanted to believe it...and which I then kept building on. In the beginning, it was a joke for me too and, to be fair to myself, I said so to a few people but, like the indulgent parents of a child caught with his/her hands in the cookie jar, they dismissed my protestations as a definite sign of guilt. And, so, after a while, the con took on a life of its own and became real. Even for me.

For those who might be wondering about the nature of this con, it was nothing serious. No crime was committed, no law was broken, no malicious lies were told and, generally, nobody's life was adversely affected. :-)

I'd rather not mention the specifics here...after all, a man needs to save stuff for his autobiography, right? Or, at least, for a rainy day, when there's nothing else to fill this space :-)


Anonymous Tangential said...

Waiting for the 'rainy days' post.

5:39 pm  
Blogger Prerona said...

hmmm. this post underlined my mood for the day ... which is v aptly described by my first word in the comment :)

8:25 pm  
Anonymous DaMistress said...

i dont know why i read tangential as tangenital. anyway.

stranger, have you read veronika decides to die by paulo coelho? get it, its worth a read. your blog has a reference to coelho somewhere, so im hoping you like his work.

about the "con"..what did you hope to achieve by it? why would you need all that attention and misplaced sympathy? did i get it right? or am i still shooting in the dark?

6:56 am  
Anonymous DaMistress said...

by the way, why would you choose this handle for your blog, when a already exists? unless you wanted to make a point that you are THE one.

7:01 am  
Blogger Sonia said...

Is it raining yet?

11:17 am  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Tangential: Doesn't rain much where I live :-)

Prerona: Hmm :-)

DaMistress: Oh, that's a lot of shots in the dark :-) And, from what you've said, I've a good mind to try my own shot in the dark but I'll refrain :-)

Clearly, you've never heard of someone called Bruce Springsteen or the song called THE Ghost of Tom Joad.

My blog has a reference to Paulo Coelho? Unless I've clean forgotten, I don't think so. However, I have tweaked one of Coelho's crappy theories in one of my posts but, as far as I can tell, I don't think I've made a direct reference. No, never read Coelho.

Sonia: Like you, I also live in a desert :-)

12:09 pm  
Anonymous DaMistress said...

my my..someone surely is very sensitive. this is blogging my friend - takes all kinds, or do you only want those here who would blindly heap praises on you? and gimme a break.. jeez..i wasnt being cheeky when i asked you why you chose an url that already exists. ive been following your blog for a while and sometimes i end up in the other tom joads den. so take everything in the right spirit kid, no ones here to get you. have you ever asked yourself if you are here to vent your feelings or feel good about yourself?

2:44 pm  
Blogger sattva said...

ghost, i think many of us blithely con ourselves and the world...the really lucky ones, in this case you, see the con, even if only in hindsight. the rest of us simply go on conning, until the time comes and it's blown :)

3:21 pm  
Blogger Szerelem said...

oh sometimes I end up in the other tom joads den also, but i bookmarked you and dont anymore hehe. And Springsteen rocks.
Where I live it rains ALL the should shift here...we'd get a lot of stories out of you.

3:21 pm  
Blogger Arthur Quiller Couch said...

You're lucky it's only a con.

5:51 pm  
Anonymous driftwood said...

Been there, done that.

And methinks the usage of 'wont' is wrong. Shouldn't it be 'want'?

Pardon moi, it's the editor in me.

7:57 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

DaMistress: Far from it. Besides, if you've been visiting for some time, you should know that I get a lot of stick :-)

Sattva: I don't know about the lucky bit but, thankfully, I did see it when it was pointed out to me :-)

Szerlem: What, now you're trying to con me? :-)

AQC: You have no idea just how right you are!

Driftwood: mistake Shall fix it. Thanks! :-)

8:55 pm  
Blogger km said...

The color black, t-shirts with skulls on them, obsession with Black Sabbath, loud guitars and James Dean, reading and re-reading Camus - it's like a checklist for adolescence. I got a check-mark on each and every item on it too :D

But you are right, it is all a show (I don't call it a "con".) Though some kids really do go through a fascination with suicide, but that was never really my scene. Thank God for rock and roll, booze and pot - it saved my life.

10:01 pm  
Blogger zypsy said...

There are a lot of people who tried to do or talk about certain things coz they want to be accepted in a group or they want to appear cool.

We were this circle of friends who were heavily into books, rock music, guitars and some amount of drugs. These things were a part of our growing up years and they were something so natural to us.

Nothing to do about good or bad here but for most of the people who tried to be accepted in our group, they only ended up looking funny and stupid coz our world was so alien to them and they couldn't understand a single thing.

IMO, honesty and being true to yourself is the best and coolest thing. I've friends who doesn't touch alcohol/cigarrettes, who doesn't love books or the kinda music i adore. If you are true and passionate about something, that's good enough. Thats cool enough.

5:44 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

KM: Nah, I wasn't into that suicide sort of thing and, thank god, I didn't have to be saved from anything either.

However, I hope the government is listenig in on the merits of booze and pot :-)

Zypsy: Howdy! Actually, this isn't about being accepted by friends or doing cool things just to be with the 'in' crowd. It was just a joke that went too far and when I tried telling that to people, they didn't believe me. Everything else that I've described went well with the role that everybody saw me playing.

Thanks for visiting :-)

7:04 pm  
Blogger zypsy said...

the lines below actually made me think of all the people who pretend, lie or fool themselves...nothing personal, just a lot of things i saw when i was in college, when we were the outcasts/minority. damn, miss the good ol' days:-)

"What is funny is how everyone fell for the con I was dishing out and, even funnier, that, after some time, I started believing my own con!"

9:29 pm  
Blogger Essar said...

You know, I went through the same phase myself - only, it was very very specifically about Existensialism/Modernism. I just went absolutely crazy about Camus, Beckett, Sartre, Eliot - something about that kind of darkness is fascinating, yes.

But really, you can't leave us in the lurch with your secrecy. What what the nature of your con?

9:38 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Zypsy: You bet, those were the days! :-) But, in hindsight, although I wouldn't mind living those days again, I definitely wouldn't want the same people around :-)

Essar: Your phase seems infinitely preferable than mine :-) Sadly, I've hardly read any Sartre.

About the con, like I said, hopefully, it will constitute a post in itself one day :-)

1:14 pm  
Blogger Arthur Quiller Couch said...

Thought I should point you to Nick Hornby's "Long Way Down".
Of course, you've read it already. Literary, erudite, yadd yadda.

4:38 pm  
Blogger austere said...

Those poems were good? I'm not sure I quite like the way you've written them off. That's pretentious of me, yes.

8:55 pm  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

Nice post.
I guess that adolescents are preoccupied with thoughts of death and morbidity because they are stepping out of parental shelter for the first time and coming to terms with the grim realities of life.
As we grow up, we try to ignore these morbid truths because remembering that everything has an end would send you into a tailspin and demotivate you from ever doing anything with your life.
So in some ways, happy older people are simply more delusional.

12:45 am  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

AQC: Actually, I haven't read it. But, would you believe it, it's on my list of the six books that I have to buy the next time I enter a bookshop...which will be in Bombay next week. It's the only book on the list that I haven't read. I've been meaning to read it for very long but, as luck would have it, no one I know has a copy.

Thanks :-)

Austere: You're kind...but that's b'cos you still haven't read those poems :-)

MT: I guess you're right. But, my preoccupation with this whole business was more due to the role I said I was playing in real called for me to be sad all the time :-) I guess that had some influence on the kind of interests I developed at the time and the kind of books I read and songs that became my favourites :-)

Happy people = true :-)

12:16 pm  
Anonymous Anirudh said...

I seem to go through that phase all the time. Sad! But you've made me curious now (many others too, I am sure) so elaborate.

2:00 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Anirudh: I don't know which is worse, that you expect me to spill my guts here or that I'm willing to :-) Will write about it one day.

And, welcome! :-)

7:13 pm  
Anonymous Anirudh said...

To be honest, I don't really expect you to. But curious I am. :)

12:01 pm  
Blogger J said...

Ok three qs.

1. you think i'll be able to get back to reading with The Myth of Sisyphus?
2. Where IS all the 'bad' poetry?
3. There's an autobio coming up?

4:37 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

J: 1 - I don't see why not? But it may depend entirely on the mood you're in when you pick it up.

2 - You really think I'm going to axe my own foot and tell you where to look for it? :-) If you didn't read it the first time over...thank god! :-)

3 - A man's got to get famous first, no?

1:22 pm  
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