Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Writing, with sobriety

I am about to submit an MPhil dissertation in a week. The degree is so worthless that it is not even worth the space of a blog post. But futility and existential questions of the depressing sort have always attracted me. For long, I have written in ways where I have let my sentences go beyond the prescribed length for short sentences on MS Word. Long sentences are a thing, I always thought. I mean, why kill that one profound thought I had about that one random girl I stalked on Facebook two days ago with a buzzkill called punctuation? Profound thoughts have no pause. No Full-stop. Sentences flow, tumble, rumble, and always have a shady side affair with the next which it conveniently overflows into. Writings are messy, slimy reflections of characters rather than the prototype of a grand narrative that grammar text books have always asked you to adhere to. So, when Strunk and White dictates your grammar, you, Mr. Obscure-student-who-will-die-depressed-someday have the right to assert, that dear grammar books, Rihanna was better at explaining Capitalism by just saying work, than you and your privileged dictionary ever can.

When you are writing for a profession, you don't have the liberty of suddenly digressing to Rihanna. You digress only on to Hegel or Heidegger, or some white Western dude. You can throw in a Toni Morrison for diversity, but as far as I knew, Alfred Nobel was pretty a blast of a white dude. You bitch the hell about how some data reeks of male privilege, but you just can't ramble on with your hypotheses without being called a mad philosopher. You have to pause, every once in a while, because short sentences are cuter. You maintain sobriety and somberness. Your words are well thought out. You back it up with evidence, and if a word is not footnoted, you are anxious. If you want to crack a joke about your subject, you cannot footnote it. I mean, you can't say Churchill looks like Mad Eye Moody and get away with it. You just can't pull that off. Dissertation writing is a depressingly sobering experience, where you are grilled into the narrow, small sentences of academic privilege, till you lose your mad, unpunctuated, unpunctured, voice to collective edits.