Friday, September 1

What Do You Suppose Buber Thinks? 

It seems like such a terrible shame that innocent civilians have to get hurt in wars, otherwise combat would be such a wonderfully healthy way to rid the human race of unneeded trash.
~ Fred Woodworth

One may well adapt the connotation of combat in the above wise precept to cold wars, so to speak, in the light of some recent appalling occurrences. An online network of aspiring, extremely gifted writers that functions perfectly well, sparing the occasional hiccup (seldom, unfortunately, brought on by the creative, mad spark; and rather habitually, by basic human vices, like ego, jealousy, and insecurity), was contaminated with unnecessary flotsam and jetsam. Hence the allusion to combat, which, I’m happy to report, has successfully expunged it all away.

Shakespeare & Company is more of a religion to those who belong in it, and less of a ‘network.’ The fact that it is run by two highly qualified, and proficient Indians notwithstanding, we’ve come together as one, leaving our ethnicities and qualms behind, to read, write, experiment, take risks, break rules, make mistakes, learn from each other, and most of all, to have fun doing so. And I’m sure Mary Lou Cook would be happily perched atop our groupthink fence on this (and enjoying a tea too, perhaps, as art, unlike creativity, is to learn which mistakes to make, as well as keep, and can certainly be discussed and comprehended over a cuppa; ah well, don’t be bemused to see Scott Adams by her side). Some of us write for a living, some don’t; but we all share a common love for the English language. We write on specific themes, we offer and receive critiques (some helpful, some not-so-helpful), we revel in our own little puddles of glory and we take pride in our creations as a general rule. And given that we are first a group of humans, before we are wordsmiths, there’s bound to be a tiff here and a spat there. But we live, and we learn. (Of course, the callow, unmilled ones have taken the proverbial walk out, leaving much to be desired). And being a group of humans, first, as it were, we possess (we are not taught these things at a special school on the slickly scythed lawns of the Queen’s parlor) a basic idea of courteousness. And once we lose sense of that, we lose ourselves and everyone around us - no rocket scientist cipher this - you behave insolently and you’re damned - just a way of the world. For those of us that have been fortunate enough to be closely associated with our dear leaders, it is not untrue that we have, at one point or another, imbibed their values, and whetted our own. We all have our bad days, and we all wrestle with our writer’s blocks, and so forth. But, at the end of the day, we’re all just contented to have read something that touched us, stirred us, inspired us, amused us, or plain enlightened us. Some of us have real names, some acquired, and some taken on, but it hardly matters, given that we respect the written word and do not disrespect the pen that slings its ink. To create and fashion a work of (he)art is not to let the body or the soul suffer, nor let the hourglass define its bounds and beyond, but quite simply to let joyful labor orchestrate the path for it. (At least Gyorgy believed so, and he was super successful).

Well, before we take the high road [JJ - no, we’re not stooping to abominable levels, but I think a little snickering wouldn’t hurt, so let’s indulge a wee bit before we grapple with the kink :)] I would like to forewarn the unapprised about some mysterious, new-fangled facets of this group:

1) If you’re a student, a mother, or say, a banker, already in the USA, go to the nearest Starbucks and grab your Tazo Chais before logging on to the network. Also, leave a dime behind, which will eventually go towards funding a stealth Shakespearean pocket money scheme.
2) If you’re elsewhere, and have a keen interest in the workings of the American Embassy, google the term “Green Card,” for, google is what can turn you into an instant scholar of all things. Then write a pantoum, or say, a sestina about it. If you cannot, too bad -- so blame it on the complexities of composing such verse forms, and join the devil in a conga in the abyss of your idle mind.
3) For everyone else -- all poets, thinkers, readers, and writers of prose in general -- come and get free publicity for your work on the network -- the internet and its walls have ears, and well, eyes, a nose, and a mouth too.
4) If you’re any of the above, and are, for some queer reason, taking a jab at a quack Sherlockian expression, it is important that you gauge your proximity to the fire -- it could wuther and burn you down to a crisp.
5) Last, but not least, if you are even remotely aware of the meaning of the word literature and how it relates to civility, do not, under even the severest of conditions, heed the Zoetropes, or the wares they endorse.

Har har, har-de-har. Onwards now to the pair of what-nots, and many more fun, creative things to come. Here’s to Shakespeare & Company, and a jumbo group-hug awaits Pragya and JJ for conceptualizing, building, and nurturing it. Here's also, to new beginnings, and new successes.

That said, I believe that one is never too young, or too old, but can get by, and can indeed be glorious if one hasn’t unlearned how to begin. And I wonder what Buber thinks.

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