Thursday, November 13, 2008


The last few days I had been trying to write with a fountain pen. I got it as a gift this Diwali and had since been itching to write something with it. The gleaming pen itself looked very inviting – the nib glided effortlessly on paper, the ink flowed smoothly, and my own handwriting (dare I say) appeared likeable, if not exactly calligraphic.

Anyway, so, with pen in my hand I started scribbling everywhere – a signature here on the flyleaf of a book, a random line there between the newspaper columns, or even at the back of grocery bills. Well, basically, on anything that came close to the pen. Obviously, I was delighted with this new possession.

That was until I sat down to write something in a more disciplined way. Now I realized the trouble I had in my hand – I cannot do a Ctrl + z to undo what I just wrote, I have to strike out and leave an ugly mark; I cannot Ctrl + c and Ctrl + v a line, I have to write every single character; I cannot hyperlink, neither can I run a spellchecker. Probably, the only saving grace was that I was relieved from doing a Ctrl + s every time I wrote anything. But it was a small consolation. In the absence of an undo option, the page I was writing on resembled more like a cryptic puzzle with misbehaved words running randomly between the lines and making a complete mess.

Much though I tried writing with the pen, it was apparent how much I relied upon Microsoft Word. Usually, I am not the one who always laments giving up all old ways of doing things, but it was a bit unsettling to find that I could feel so uneasy when writing with a pen, which I once enjoyed much.

However, I am not giving up on writing with the pen yet. I still playfully scribble with it everywhere. And hopefully, one of these days, I shall write a blog post with the pen. Or, a letter maybe. Well, anything, as long as it gets written.

PS: One thing makes me wonder. Now that there are technologies assisting us to write and format better, it's odd that I find increasing instances of shoddy writing. And I don’t just mean the ubiquitous misspelled hoardings and signboards. I mean the emails, the SMSes, the chat messages, the documents you come across at workplaces. Everywhere.

Monday, November 03, 2008


This novel cannot even claim to have a redeeming social value. Although Hunger puts us in the jaws of misery, it offers no analysis of that misery, contains no call for political action. Hamsun, who turned a fascist in his old age during the Second World War, never concerned himself with the problems of class injustice, and his narrator – hero, like Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov, is not so much of an underdog as a monster of intellectual arrogance. Pity plays no part in Hunger. The hero suffers, but only because he has chosen to suffer. Hamsun's art is such that he rigorously prevents us from feeling any compassion for his character. From the very beginning, it is made clear that the hero need not starve. Solutions exist, if not in the city, then at least in departure. But buoyed by an obsessive, suicidal pride, the young man's action continually betray a scorn for his own best interests.
– Paul Auster, in an Introduction to Knut Hamsun's Hunger