Nightfall of Blogging

Image Credit: Sylvain Reygaerts

As the nightfall of blogging closes in on me, I am more inclined to exhaling in private than gasping online, more willing to navigate through the bushes and backwaters than honking in the perpetual crescendo of the world wide web.

The Internet of Things has taken over, but I am the prodigal come home to fountain pen and paper. I began with fancy stuff like Moleskine notepads but soon switched to cheap, blank foolscaps before I broke into margins of the morning newspaper. Sometimes, I write haikus on recession in the intervening space to disgrace a tycoon. Sometimes I foist a caricature of a leader and cover the hollow in his head with hair. It is oftener that I mourn and thunder over women raped and murdered. I am a man repossessed with a skill that is inking its way to a miniature landfill.

Having run out of bureaus, I have been slipping sheets of prose under wardrobes and dewans, rolling them into props to support money plants who keep sagging nevertheless —I guess absence of money is the key there, and stacking the rest in half-open transoms where pigeons come to lay eggs. I split the pages at random before I do that, and tend to put them in a gunny bag and swing about in circles to let the laws of gravity and motion take control alongside destiny. I trust when they come upon the verbiage after a globally warmed century, assuming rogue nations didn’t nuke out this country, the puzzle alone will keep my place among the likes of Mitchell and Atwood. Yes, you read that right —the luminaries locking away their opera for a century have got, how does one put it, a bugbear on hand?

I have never cared for the genre of the confabulations I cook, or paused to measure the length of the sentence in meters, never counted the accents or words before they have hatched, never weighed the rise and fall of syllables, uttered and muttered. Words to me are like clouds —cirrus, stratus and cumulus. They appear out of nowhere like cobwebs in the mind and stay put, or stir ever so lightly, gentler than a zephyr; they boom and darken as they loom or vanish; they pause and precipitate, and they pour and stop abruptly. And since there is no control over what is conspiring in or tumbling out of my skull, the dough in charge of mathematics is in a welter of dyscalculia. No amount of provocation will induce me into counting the jumble of letters transferred to white spaces.

Indeed, that is where I lost the Da Vinci code of the web space. Blogging has morphed into a punishing science, far from being a consuming quest for scribblers. Quality has fallen off the bridge of evolution; numbers have grown limbs, organs and vertebrae. Words, keywords, links, backlinks, metadata, AdSense.

Hence the premature retreat from the deepening Matrix, implying there is a high chance you will never know what snippets and journals, stories and novels, poems and verses I might have leaked on pieces of wooden pulp. And that, there is a higher chance you will never know what I have proffered to the cumulative consciousness of termites, creepers and pigeons.

Nor will I.


  1. If quality has fallen off the bridge of evolution etcetera etcetera, then how come you can write of the demise, the vanishing, with such eloquent clarity and such elegance? I was about to call a hansom, but wait at the hansom stop, in the hope that your hansom has simply gone round the block and will reappear. At least give me a ride…

  2. Why? Are you giving up?………………No way….we cannot let that happen. There has always been the trash and the classic in every art form. So be it with blog. Let the sediments settle down and the water be as clean and clear as ever. Do not cap your pen or stop your pen from tapping on the keyboard………..please!

    1. I am writing a review of The Garlic Ballads right at this moment; I might post it at the blog rather than serving it to the pigeons. They say old habits die hard.

      I am indebted for your concern.

  3. At times mind does revolt against this so called science of creating content ie. posting some inane stuff everyday and then backscratching a selective coterie of other such journeymen. When I write a well researched article, people don’t even have the patience to read till the end. When I spend a major part of a year to create a film it gets less hits in youtube than a sensationalistic video which I had done in one hour. So I have given up on that. Now I only create films and articles which I want to. I create for myself. I am at peace. 🙂

    1. Sabyasachi, you have hit the bull’s eye of the malaise that has been killing blogging. The stadia are infested with recklessly footloose bots and vote-skimming machines who visit a dozen blogs a minute to plant links and mutual votes and hence themselves are both players and spectators. Together they constitute a mafia who feed on each other’s garbage. It is neither wise nor viable to bank on them to read your well researched article, or watch your film to which you dedicated a major part of a year creating. The Nirvana, then, is just as you have concluded.

  4. Beautifully written as always. Hopefully you will unplug yourself from the matrix and be a free bird in the process where thoughts will not be shackled by rules.

  5. From a writer like you we are ready and more than willing to receive—-

    snippets and journals, stories and novels, poems and verses on pieces of wooden pulp. And also that what you may proffer to the cumulative consciousness of termites, creepers and pigeons.

    So Umashankar ji please continue to blog your fans are there to greedily lap up any thing that your key board or pen dish out to us .

    Hoping to see more from you now and always

    1. Rajni ji, I am touched for the trust you repose in me. Yet, I might keep posting at intervals for the rare patrons like you. I quit the matrix of fake bloggers three years ago and a half —they don’t exist for me anyway.

  6. Umashanker, what a creatively active mind you have, writing haikus and doodling caricatures while reading the newspaper. About sheets of prose stored away under wardrobes and all over the place, I can relate because I have done that, most especially back in the days before I did so much on the computer. Every now and then, I’ll open a drawer and find prose I wrote many years ago and forgot about (sometimes I’ll think “this is pretty good” and other times I’ll think “boy, that sucked, glad I never posted that one” LOL!) About putting some pages where pigeons lay eggs and “after a globally warmed century…the puzzle alone will keep my place among the likes of Mitchell and Atwood,” that made me smile and would be excellent if it came to pass. 🙂

    I concur with you on what’s happened to blogging. Quality has too often fallen by the wayside and many I see blogging now are more concerned with ads, keywords, and simply pushing out content for the sake of content rather than caring about the quality of the written word or even organizing their thoughts. Oh, I find it maddening indeed! Sadly, it is the way of the times we live in. Keep writing, my friend, your blog is a cut above the rest, high quality and always interesting! But know that I share your rant.

    1. Wiggling the pen is a hamartia that will be the undoing of me. I have been caught red-handed in the act countless times in the school, even in the university, and once in my workplace by a big shark while I was supposed to be paying attention to the words of the orator… As for the wads of productivity stacked in impossible crevices of the house, I keep earning the wrath of the Housekeeping Ministry, more so when I insist on preserving the status quo. And I figure I too write like you in a frenzy which is why the pieces might “suck” when discovered later. Mark the words of Hemingway, my self appointed guru, “The things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist.” 🙂

      The less said about the decadence of blogging the better. I am indebted to you for the honour you keep bestowing on my humble scribbling.

      1. That Hemingway quote is perfect, and I can relate. You’re very welcome, my friend.

  7. You have hit the nail on the head (to coin a phrase) and the malaise seems to be spreading among my favorite bloggers. Is it possible to do the work seriously (I write with a pen before I ever type, edit, or post) and not take the sometimes cesspool which is the web seriously… to use it for whatever good can come? I offer one of my favorite quotations:

    “The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

    ― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

    1. Those are sobering words uttered by Italo Calvino, and now brought to me by you, Little Old Lady Who, like a breath of jasmine over the night wind. I am more than willing to give the flies of the marketplace the due space.

      I am sure there is a scientific explanation for this which will eventually be posited in some stiff-lipped research paper, that working with a keyboard somehow rewires the Wernicke’s area of the human grey matter. For wherever there is a keyboard, there is the Internet, and the festering ambitions of its dwellers. It drives one to pernicious behaviour; I think of Doctor Faustus.

      So the pen has come back as a shield unto the temptations and the harvests thereof.
      The rest is not yet silence, and I will keep whining once in a blue moon or two, or maybe much more. Who knows? I might be fatally smitten for all I care.

      “Buzz, quoth the blue fly,
      Hum, quoth the bee,
      Buzz and hum they cry,
      And so do we:
      In his ear, in his nose,
      Thus, do you see?
      He ate the dormouse,
      Else it was me.”

      Thank you for illuminating this nook with your kind words.

  8. Uma Shankar, while I understand what you have said here, I will tell you what was done in Sydney long before the world wide web….a few people who wrote on pieces of paper would get together on the evening of Kalidas Jayanti ( for obvious reason!) to read aloud……why don’t you consider your blog like this reading at Kalidas Jayanti? There are some of us who will miss your writing if you give up the blog and it is because of your blog that I found Bruce Goodman and Cynthia Jobin…and I am grateful to you for this….please keep at it. Shubha

    1. I am bowled over by the phenomenon of Kalidas Jayanti you have mentioned! I admit I stand entranced —I will remember those words when it gets too much. I am proud to have brought you to Bruce Goodman and Cynthia Jobin, which goes on to prove that for all its dark side, there are priceless sparks of beauty to be found on the Internet. Thank you!

  9. Don’t tell me it’s a good bye. It can’t be.
    You know, you and your writing will be missed.

    Believe me, you don’t need Search Engine Optimisation and Top blogger badges to get people to visit One Grain Amongst the Storm. People who are here are hear to read your rich writing.

    I often find myself skimming over links to your posts without ‘liking’ or ‘voting’ for them (but I make a mental of it) only to come back and read it when I can actually sit and savor it.

    Please don’t abandon this little corner of the web.

    1. Thank you for your concern and those words of encouragement, Divya. I guess the Grain is a bit tired, whirling around in the Storm. Going ahead, I might or might not lose myself in the sands of time. But you might find me around here once in a while when you pass by, like a blade of grass in the wasteland.

  10. I love the satire in the article. SEO, adsense, metatags et al on the world wide web is obviously for lesser mortals :). I wouldn’t say it is wrong, for various reasons, but quality certainly is key. Along the road I have given up reading several blogs, but this space cannot discontinue! I may not comment each time on your blog, but well, I know that isn’t what you always seek, but I do think I have come back and read your stories and articles twice over several times. How many blogs can really command a second reading! And for that reason, don’t discontinue your blogging journey!

    1. Richa, I’ve been trying hard to battle the smog of disillusionment of late.That satire may be fumes of the fire in my belly gone tepid. But when you say you come back to read my posts a second time, you send me to the cloud ninety nine! And I might keep writing for that thought alone… Thanks a quintillion!

  11. Whatever is conspiring or tumbling out of your head makes for compulsive reading. I am guilty of missing out on some posts. So, here I am, indulging myself.

  12. I feel you ! I discovered blogging 8 months back and the maddening/excruciating and sometimes unrealistic world of blogging made me realize that I had been foolish to try and be part of it, to keep pace, to be a blogger. No, I am not and cannot be. I am a Scribbler and that’s what I will always be. Blogging world does have it perks for I wouldn’t have known you and a couple of other brilliant writers 🙂

    Ps. Loved the review of The Garlic Ballads.

    1. O, it is another version of The Hunger Games, only sicker; I am definitely out. I am happy you realise it already. So let us just keep harping our tinny music in nondescript corners. Thank you for loving the review of The Garlic Ballads.

  13. I have never gone with the quantity over quality, and glad I went that way. Moreover, write for yourself…that’s all matters or would surely do one day!

    1. The trouble with quantity is we all have limited number of days under the sun, most of which we spend hunting for the needle in the haystacks anyway.

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