I Follow Rivers. L vie d’Adele. fr. Blue is the Warmest Colour.
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
New books from yesterday. Saket, Delhi. The pavement stalls here are pure bibliophile paradise. The deal I struck here is far, far better than my Daryaganj sojourn, which was poor in diversity — only found a particular kind of book after a couple of strides in — and surprisingly steeply priced. (Or maybe I’m just bad at haggling Daryaganj-style.) Cannot read any of this until the two mammoth research papers due at the end of this semester are out of the way. Then, beautiful Bangalore and books!
Hugo was teasing me and among other things said that one could not spend all one’s time writing in diary. He little knows how near that phrase lies to the truth, which torments me. Why can I not do anything else? Why can I not find the class of writing that I am suited for? Am I like Amiel, only capable of this?
Anais Nin. Journal of a Wife.
Late for the DramSoc meeting, and I hurriedly tell the others that I can’t possibly get out now because I’ve vigorously maalish-ed my hair with (extra-virgin!) olive oil, and done it so late I’ve forgotten to take into account the consequences of lack of punctuality in a hostel situation. Koyna promptly runs out of water. I’m left with my hair dripping wonderfully nourishing abovementioned oil, and have to make up a potentially entertaining story strand involving oily hair and South Indian rituals to excuse self from missing the meeting third time in a row. But, of course, S calls me and ribs me about it, informs without mincing words it’s not at all a good excuse, that I’ll have to try harder, that if my hair is dripping oil I ought to wrap a towel around head and turn up anyway. Then he sends me this link, very pointedly, of course, and I’m left laughing my head off, and wondering wasn’t there a tel ka advertisement sometime in the 90s which used a very tinny version of this song as a jingle?
I made the conscious decision; I wanted to write about love, and I wanted to write about race, and I wanted to write about hair. So those are the things I wanted to write about. And there are certain sometimes unspoken rules about what literary fiction should be and should do, in the way that subjects are approached. So I think that the generally accepted way to write about race, for example, in the west, is that it has to be—you know, the more meditative the better. It has to be sort of lyrical, and it has to—you know, everybody has to be ambivalent, and everything has to be ambiguous. And you can’t have characters take very—and if you do have a character take a certain position at the end you have to complicate it so much that you’re not quite sure what the character thinks or feels, and at the end everybody’s watery and fuzzy and nobody knows what—and that’s the way—and I think because literary fiction has become a form that no longer challenges, in a socially conscious way, this is the way you’re supposed to do it.
And I mean, I could have done that—I know the tropes. I could have done that. But I didn’t want to because I felt that i wanted to write the book about race that I would like to read. And I also just wanted to write a book that felt true. So it was a conscious book to write it where it’s sort of—it’s unsubtle, very happily unsubtle.
…and race, I think, is also a conversation—and even the idea of the ‘conversation about race’ I find very strange—I mean, I think race is something we should acknowledge. There’s such a discomfort around the subject. When you talk about race or write about race in a way that doesn’t keep everybody comfortable, which really means it’s very watery and not really taking a position or saying anything—when you do that, the way to sort of evade engaging with it is to label the person talking about it ‘angry.’ So you know, you have to be an Angry Black Woman to be saying that.