Sunday, May 06, 2007

Dispatches Turns 2!

Yesterday was the second birthday of Dispatches from Zembla. Thank you all for coming here! Special thank you to those who read my amateurish posts and left comments!

I look back at last two years of the blog and I realize, not without a little despair, that nothing has really happened in my life, except that I have managed to read a few books, watch a few movies and write a few blog posts (actually quite a few!). People have stopped asking me on Fridays what I am going to do on weekends, because I always say, "Oh nothing much, just stay at home, read a few things. Cook. Sleep. And may be Blog." I feel like Ulrich in The Man Without Qualities, a man who is on "vacation from life," or even Hans Castorp (whose condition is slightly better than Ulrich) going about daily life as if vacationing on Der Zauberberg thinking about useless abstractions... I feel more at peace with myself now than when I started this blog but I am also more hopelessly stuck in inaction and passivity. Anyway, identifying with the heroes of two greatest German novels isn't too bad I guess :)

I don't know what people really think of this blog, specially the anonymous visitors. Is this blog too Eurocentric? Do I consciously choose "obscure" topics to write about? Why is there such a glaring mismatch between the "high-brow" subjects and my own comments which are often amateurish, rehashed and regurgitated? Regular readers of the blog must wonder about these things. To all these my only answer is that I treat blogging just as "learning in public." I am not an expert on any of these subjects, I am only a beginner, blogging just helps make this learning process a little more systematic than what it would be normally. And the best of all is you get to meet similar-minded people who often know more than you or at least have opinions which are different from yours, all of which make blogging an even more fruitful learning experience. So thank you again for visiting, reading and leaving comments.

17 comments:

Vidya said...

Happy second birthday! For one this blog renewed my reading life just at a time I'd almost given up on it.
-A regular reader :)

Mr. Waggish said...

Happy birthday! I wouldn't worry too much about any of it; it's enough to write on these things....

Jabberwock said...

Budday greetings, young Skywalker (or Castorp, if you prefer). Do continue being Eurocentric, "consciously obscure" and, most important, morbidly self-aware. It's a combination of these things that makes your blog so interesting. And yes, the effort to "learn in public" does come across in your approach to blogging.

nico said...

Hi Alok, congratulations and thanks for your honest reflections. I encountered your blog out of luck and it has been a very interesting discovery. Thanks! The Eurocentric thing does touch a nerve I must admit, especially when one like me, coming from South America, feels there's so many authors and cultural productions worth considering. But that's nothing that cannot be helped, it is only a new possibility of getting to know more things, don't you think? Thanks again!!

Szerelem said...

Happy blog anniversary Alok!!

You know, I have learnt a lot from your blog and for that I owe you a big thank you!

Space Bar said...

Happy Bloggiday! Great going.

Antonia said...

happy birthday, alok. your blog is cool. don't worry about everything. And low agency on the weekend is such a good thing for where would we be if you wouldn't stay at home and read and blog?

KUBLA KHAN said...

hi alok....
i admire your blog and the regularity with which you write your posts. in fact, you are quite prolific.
whether anything is of value must not be our concern.
considering the euro centric thing, perhaps you must try to read other literatures,languages that are warm, worlds that are as sad and as disorderly as europe itself.
i see you are reading German literature a lot, and holocaust lit. too. perhaps. you might want to try reading the nakba or catastrophic literature that informs middle eastern arab experiences after the holocaust and even now.
anyway, good work and keep blogging.

seherezada said...

Happy Birthday !

I keep your blog on my favorite list and never cease to feel amazed about ...
how come that everything I like, is liked here too ... (Nabokov, Musil, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, The Return, Monica Vitti etc etc etc)

As a birthday gift, I am presenting you with 2 artistic sites, that I ador:

Decameron Web ,

Bulgakov .

Enjoy clicking !!!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday! I like your blog. Hovering over life is not bad as you said, either possibility of new meaningful life or absurdity of exploring hopelessly.

Alok said...

vidya, mr. waggish, jabberwock, szerelem, space bar, anonymous: thank you all!

nico, kubla: About the Eurocentric thing, I am aware of it that's why i mentioned it in my post. It is just that I have reading books from Germany/Central Europe for the past one year or so... that's the only reason for why one might feel there is so much repetition. May be Europhile but Eurocentrist? Definitely not! :)

Seherezada: thanks, I knew the Bulgakov site but the other one is new for me. I am not even familair with Decameron yet. will definitely check it out.

antonia: special thank you to you for posting so many comments here, from all of which I have always learnt something :)

km said...

Hey, Alok,

You know people enjoy this blog because of its Euro-centricity and the fact that I know you won't be writing about Harry Potter anytime soon :))

BTW, we need to meet up the next time you are in the city.

anurag said...

Happy belated B'day ! Sorry for being too late to comment...

anyway, I must thank you that I have known and learnt so many things here, which , but for your blog, would have been alien to me.

and as Kubla Khan said, you are quite prolific... How many of us can write 4-5 good posts per week...

keep blogging !

Cheshire Cat said...

What's wrong with being stuck? Where would you want to go?

More of the same, please, more of the same, and more often.

Alok said...

km: thanks, drop me an email. i am generally available on saturdays for a trip. now anurag is also here, we can arrange a mini blog-meet.

anurag: special thank you to you, you were the original inspiration... :)

cat: that might be a reason, but not a consolation. i see so many "men of action" around me and i think how do they do it?

jyothsnay said...

Happy second bloggiday!
n I feel a bit terrible about my delayed response to Dispatches from Zembla....how is weather over there now?
If I turn back and watch the foot-prints, surprisingly, a few of them are still fresh n carry dew drops...the red box always seems to brim with news of wonderful tales that emerge from deep ravines of great minds succumb to
Whimsical shadows of imagination,
those whiffs of sea breeze and the ebullient waves singing an incredible story that they have witnessed a few moments ago...
I would say you feel proud of yourself for being able to read many authors of different hues, to lead a much richer life than most who seem to be leading "a scratch on the surface kind of lifestyle" and to be able to introduce your readers to varied wonderful renditions of thoughts, for being able to link us to how u felt while reading or watching that performance...your eyes would have sparkled at the fact just around the corner..I felt it sometimes!
Blogging, as I said at Ant’s, is about thinking, which is driven consistent and stubborn learning..I learnt a lot from you, and I am thankful to you that
u introduced me to Thomas Bernhard and many other legends of such stature...
I considered u as the expert on my space, ye, am gleeful that I found Fassbinder myself (self exertion) n I am glad that I made u as an integral part of my thinking on my space
I feel you are not blogging but you managed to create a community where familiar faces come in n have a wonderful time in the evenings, people like me come in n watch what movies were played, leave a few messages for you on the message board
I dnot believe in segmenting self as "too Eurocentric" etc etc..
I feel it's a gentle desire and a cocoon kinda sense to stay with a familiar ground but dig it deeper n deeper until you find a chest (a treasure chest) that takes you into some lands where there's a turning back, but you are renewed like none
it's sheer aesthetic pleasure of reading all the stories that are dispatched by you...One day, I would meet you, I will listen to you...am sure !

many more to come from you dear boy!
-Jyo

Alok said...

thank you for the super-comment. I don't know what else to say ;)