Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This is not exactly Schadenfreude, but is something similar

Recently, I saw an article about a bombing that led to 20 or so deaths and struggled to suppress a mild feeling of glee. I am afraid that there have been occasions like these in the past as well. Now, before you brand me as a sociopath, let me explain myself a little better.

The recent bombing was the one in Saudi Arabia that killed 20-odd people. Saudi had been insulated from this now-global phenomenon called 'terror', in spite of having played a role in spreading it for many decades now. Although the idea of people losing their lives is sad, there is a part of me that goes "You guys had it coming"

The idea of terror is kinda opposite to the idea of health, The old adage on health goes "We appreciate good health only when we lose it". Perhaps the one on terror should read "You appreciate terror only when you face it."

For many years, we in India have whined about the role played by our neighbour in festering terror within our borders, only to have the Americans say all the right things but not really take this seriously. Once 9/11 happened, apparently the American president called Pakistan and pretty much said "You are with us, or you are against us". The language does change when the terror strikes home. London had also been merrily insulated from acts of terrorism for a long time (barring IRA). Facing a terror attack at 'home', changes the way nations view these things.

Even if the old equations do not change overnight, at least the basis of discussion changes. More importantly, the focus and priorities change. US started worrying about attacks within their boundaries. And they were thirsting for vengeance in a way that was the polar opposite of how they had preached restraint to India on multiple occasions. They were so concerned about Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 that Pakistan had to necessarily put India on the backburner for the next 8-10 years.

In Saudi's case, things are not going to change dramatically. We are not going to witness Saudi renouncing Wahabbism. These kind of things mean too much to these people for them to completely suspend them. But with a war against Yemen, falling Oil Price, an emboldened Iran and terror attacks at home, Saudi might just not have the bandwidth to fund schools in far-flung places. And that has got to be a good thing.

A lot of the terror worldwide has been funded one way or other by 'petrodollars' with the world inventing newer and newer ways of looking the other way. May be a few terror attacks at home can rein in Saudi funding of terror in a way American diplomacy has not achieved in 2 decades.

The Kingdom has had a good run for more than 50 years now. Perhaps, some of the chickens are coming home to roost. 

Meta - What does this mean?

The Hindu has this movie reviewer by the name Bharadwaj Rangan, who along with the venerable Nirmal Shekar kind of embody what the Hindu is all about. Serious writing from people who take their jobs seriously, with the one fallout being that often they take themselves too seriously and end up reminding us of Clevinger (go on, look that up. An article about writers from the Hindu where I do not show off that I read a lot. Now that would just not be fitting, would it?)

Recently, Mr Rangan has been on a Meta-binge. Now I am not implying he has binge-ing on himself, but that he has been using the term Meta for every single movie review. May be he has a wager on or something. Mr. Rangan has called the following movies meta - Jigarthanda, Kallapadam, Utamma Villain, Kathai Thiraikadhai, Enakkul Oruvan.  About Enakkul Oruvan, he says

But in Enakkul Oruvan , which is about the blurring lines between Vicky and Vignesh, this portrayal results in some interesting (if inadvertent) meta-commentary. 

As much as the film is about Vicky and Vignesh, it also functions as a chronicle of Siddharth’s attempts to be seen as the actor who’s more than just the Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi guy, the Rang De Basanti guy. Make-believe spills into reality in more ways than one.

The movie is said to be meta because it is interpreted as a narrative on Siddharth's acting career by Siddarth. You could not make this up. It is a reasonable assumption that Siddarth or the movie director did not think along these lines. These are the times when one wishes that the writers at the Hindu felt a little less pressure to revel in the beauty of their own insights. 

Any and all self-references are not meta. Otherwise, every Rajnikant  movie would be Meta.

Anyway, this made me think about all the Meta related terms that we could coin. Have a go at these, let us see how much you can score

Let us start with a simple example - 
While having a cone icecream, your tongue accidentally touches your finger. Therefore you get a ___ taste. 
Answer - Metallic

Scroll down for answers

1. Labeling every digital footprint with your own name in the hope of being scrolled
2. Some dramatic change in the path to self-discovery
3. Using onself as a figure of speech to draw an analogy 
4. To grow as an individual by looking inwards
5. What do we call the process of speaking to oneself in Hindi throughout? 
6. If self-loathing reaches a point where one hits oneself, this would be?
7. What branch of engg does start to hate one self

1. Meta-tagging, 2. Metamorphosis 3. Metaphor 4. Metastasize 5. Meta-bol-ism 6. Meta-physical and 7. Met- allergy (although I cannot think of any branch of Engineering where one wouldn't hate oneself)

Jokes apart, I would rather have writers who take their jobs seriously, than those who dont. This is why I still subscribe to the Hindu. I just hope that the people at the Hindu read this quote from Thomas P O'Neill - "Take your job seriously, but dont take yourself seriously."