The I and the MY

asokamithran
[Source – Asokamithran caricature by Ananthapadmanaban in Vikatan]

This is MY Blog.

Vote MY Site.

This is MY Photoblog.

Go here to read MY REVIEW.

Go there to read MY THOUGHTS on that book.

I’ve blogged about it, Go here to read MY POST.

It sucks. Sorry to be so harsh but the moment I read such sentences, I’m terribly put-off. Now, before you dig deep into this blog and find out such an usage, I agree that it’s been done in this blog too. Long back but not anymore. Even if you don’t ask me why, here’s why.

It’s a sheer brag. Though it sounded like a normal usage to me, I’ve moved from that thinking, some time back. When ? That’s when I started reading Ashokamitran. Atleast three years back. To quote[not verbatim] Ashokamitran, To say something as my creation or my writing seems very egotistic and very violent. Violent ? While reading this sentence, I paused there for a moement, trying to make sense of what he said. Honestly, I’ve always felt bad when stars and writers and celebrities brag egotistically about themselves. When someone could define this brag as being violent, it stayed with me, deep within. I began to consciously avoid the such I – My brags. Even during pressing situations, I’ve tried and minimize it.

There’ a way to avoid such bragging posts. Lets say, there is this review that I penned on Shankar’s Sivaji and it got published in Hindu. How would I say that on the blog ? The usual way – I wrote a review on MY blog here and that got re-printed in Hindu. The Ashokamitran way – The review which was posted here was also published in Hindu here. The ‘I’ and the ‘My’ could be avoided and you would be humble in saying that. Personally, I have to say it has changed the way I look at things. I have to be stop here abruptly as this is not a self-development blog.

The reason to brag(!!) about this here is certainly not to detail on this quality of mine. It’s about Ashokamitran. His writings are far superior and much simpler than many Tamil writers. There are no word plays, no confusing language and no beating around the bush. His writing is so simple that even a long time Tamil literary reader would doubt if there is anything special about his writings. That’s his speciality. Such simplistic usage of language is also evident in Ashokamitran’s columns.

His protagonists aren’t heroes. They are common people like you and me. They don’t even stand out because they are common. Just common-common. To explain this better, let’s take another favorite writer, Sujatha. If Sujatha writes about a common man, by his genius descriptions, the common man loses his commonality and becomes special. Not with Ashokamitran. The common man from Ashokamitran’s pen is just common and there is nothing to much to describe his commonness. Nor he writes about some great hero from the history books. His characters live in this world and all that Ashokamitran does is to describe them with simple words and place them in a situation. This situation is never as critical as the kalinga war. Its just another common situation like drinking water or going to a movie. That’s where Ashokamitran pauses to throw light on this incident. He shows us the minds and the hearts and the lives of the people from such trivial situations. The result, truly astonishing and over-powering. He has touched the grey areas of the middle class lives that no one else has ever thought to write about. Ashokamitran is not to be confused with Aathavan who is on a slightly different league. Ashokamitran’s protagonists are usually the helpless and cowardish middle class. Imagine Kamal in Mahanadhi, who hopelessly losses his kids in the river of life. Think about Raj Kiran in Thavamai Thavamirindhu who is blinks dispiritedly for being unable buy new clothes for his kids on the Diwali eve. These are some of ideal backdrops in Ashokamitran’s shortstories.

Ashokamitran till date hasn’t had a magnum opus. Cause there can never a magnum opus for a simplistic writer like him. Even the most popular ones like Thanner and Pathinetavathu Atchakkodu are written for being common novels and not an epic.

Ashokamitran is such a funny speaker that he would come to stage as the last person and win over the bored crowd. The last time, I got a chance to meet Ashokamithran was during Uyirmmai Publishers’ function. He spoke in a hearty manner about trying to rope 500 copies of Kanaiyazhi together and posting it across the nation. Even during the Ashokamitran 50 function, he was very humorous. You could listen to that recording on Badri’s blog.

If you are starter in Tamil literature start with Ashokamitran for you will come back a full circle to Ashokamitran. This writer’s writer has something for all of us to learn and imbibe. Being simple.

45 thoughts on “The I and the MY

  1. i m reading it regularly, actually i bought athavan books after reading ur reviews..
    vl try ashokmitran too…

  2. Lazy, it was in Asokamithran 50 function he said. “Even asking some one to read my writing is a form of violence”. That line stayed with me for a long time.

    Don’t you think “Pathinettavathu Atchaya Kodu” is a magnum opus? Anyhow, English Translation of his novel “Ottran” (Mole) is being released tomorrow, 22nd March at a Madras Book Club function. Will update with details.

  3. Quite a few points “I” have to make about this blog…
    1. What i have always felt as the problem with AshokaMithran’s works is exactly what you have put in as his strength….the “style” of writing or the conscious absence of it……
    “His writings are far superior and much simpler than many Tamil writers”…I agree it is far simpler, but I don’t think “superior” is all that true.
    Maybe we have fundamental difference of opinion here but i believe that the very fact that he keeps it so simple is his undoing. You have given the example of a common man and how a common man was treated by both Sujatha and Ashokamitran. I would prefer to consider Jayakanthan here instead of Sujatha. In the hands of Jayakanthan a common man is no longer common and ordinary purely because he was not “common” to begin with. No man for that matter is all that ordinary and what runs even the most common and ordinary and supposedly uninteresting of us is actually very interesting.
    And it is in making this extraordinary man seem a bit ordianry and day-to-day is where lies Ashokamitran’s weakness..(but i am sure you would call it his strength..but as i said we may differ
    fundamentally there).

    Point two….I don’t think any creator (as long as he is not plagiarising) has to try to make a concious effort to be humble. If he is humble well and good..if he is not no problem…
    because as i guess Vaali said it in Nizhalgal
    “Puthu Raagam Padaipathalle Naanum Iraivane”
    or Vairamuthu said it Puthu Vasantham
    “Paddalgalia padaipathinal Brahman aagirom”

    Any honest creator can be and should be proud of himself….but not arrogant…A fine line between them though

  4. Well, there is a thin line between Egoism and Arrogance and it would be mere stupidity to confuse their meanings. And the concept of classifying ‘I’ and ‘My’ usage under boastful language is the funniest I had ever come across. Ridiculous,seriously.

  5. Well, there is a thin line between Egoism and Arrogance and it would be mere stupidity to confuse their meanings. And the concept of classifying ‘I’ and ‘My’ usage under boastful language is the funniest I had ever come across. Ridiculous,seriously.

  6. Im rephrasing it.. 🙂

    The Post that was posted here
    avyukta.blogspot.com/2006/02/ananda-vikatan-chee.html
    is very similar to what you have written.. 🙂

    Che.. ennellam thiruththave mudiyaadhu !

  7. Hi,

    The I said to MY friend…

    OFFTHE POST: HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!

    Note: Sila jenmagalai ethanai Ashokamithiran vanthalum thirutha mudiyathu?

    -Shiva

  8. If I said I had no intentions to nit-pick, it would be a blatant lie. The minute I saw the first few lines, I thought I must leave this comment. (Mainly because I have a personal stake at it. For more information, read the title of my blog – strongly egotistic you say?) This post of yours had 18 ‘I’s. Not counting ‘MY’ and ‘MINE’, that is strong bout of egoism as opposed to the previous post which had just 4 ‘I’s. I really shouldn’t hypothesize based on this, but I do not wish to do research in this area either.

    IMO, it is only a bother if you begin to notice and consider it seriously. What is wrong with merely claiming what you’ve done.

    Ego is not a wrong notion. It is often misunderstood. Self-esteem is not wrong. People who talk like these do have self-esteem and try and satisfy the ego, but do not acknowledge it in front of other people.

    P.S.

    I am not violent. Far from it.

  9. HAPPY BIRTHDAY !! HAPPY BIRTHDAY !! HAPPY BIRTHDAY !! HAPPY BIRTHDAY !! HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!.

    atleast inikaavathu indha commentsla sandai podama iruda raasa.

  10. Good post. The problem about blogs is almost everyone has a review. Bloggers review music and movies mostly but I think a review is professional work and not just a common mans opinion! If Ashokamitran’s style is snubbed off as being too old-fashioned or boringly ethical, there’s just another angle to it…Skill set to being a critic has come down to having access to Blogger.com.

  11. @ Jacky:

    “Bloggers review music and movies mostly but I think a review is professional work and not just a common mans opinion”

    On the contrary. Many film buffs do not get a chance to write about films. And many good films have gone unnoticed because the critic missed on it. And your argument that reviews are professional work, instead of trying to string sentences of my own, I’d just quote a cnversation from the film “Finding Neverland” which is relevant in this context:

    “You know what happened, James, they changed it.”
    “They changed what?”
    “The critics, they made it important… hm, what’s it called? What’s it called?”
    “Play.”
    “Play.”

  12. Jacky: I think your opinion of blogger reviews are way too derogatory. But I will leave it aside and try to reason with you.
    If a review should be definitively “professional”, then my understanding is that it should follow “norms”. But in that case, the whole point of a movie or for that matter a work of art, would be lost. Art is supposed to get spontaneous reactions out from within us. Whether that work of art is good or bad is subjective opinion and is already part of the definition (from the previous line). So now if you constrain a review into a narrow path called “professional” that means you are trying to supress any other feeling evoked in a reviewer.
    Which brings me to the point of a review. The point of a review is personal opinion and nothing more and this should not impose. Rather it should entice the reader to go out and see for himself. But most reviewers, who I think you would label professional, try to do just the opposite.
    Ebert who I consider to be a impartial reviewer, said this about the soundtrack from Shrek 2 – The movie has several songs, none of which I found very memorable, although of course I am the same person who said the Simon and Garfunkel songs in “The Graduate” were “instantly forgettable.”
    The message I get from these words is not the fact that the soundtrack is good or bad, but that I should go ahead and hear it to decide for myself. And thats the hallmark of a true reviewer. On the whole, a reviewer should be a billboard for movies and not a trailer. So according to me, a review whether it is from Ebert or from me, is common man’s opinion and nothing more. And am sure Ebert would agree!
    Kiki: Finding Neverland – Another from a long list of Johnny Depp movies that failed to rouse mainstream interest. I am waiting for Shantaram, btw. And oh, if you haven’t seen Ed Wood, check that out! I was once on a Depp retrospective (courtesy my univ library!), but stopped in between cos I graduated. Netflix, here I come.
    LG: Sorry for hijacking the comment thread, but did you get to watch V for Vendetta? And I left a message on your T-Mobile phone on Saturday :p

  13. //vl try ashokmitran too//

    Karthy, you should.

    //Don’t you think “Pathinettavathu Atchaya Kodu” is a magnum opus?//

    Chenthil, Pathinettavathu Atchaakkodu perfectly suits for being a shortstory. i am not sure if this is right but its fits the grammar of a shortstory.

  14. //In the hands of Jayakanthan a common man is no longer common and ordinary purely because he was not “common” to begin with. //

    Mutrupulli, I agree. More than Sujatha its with Jayakanthan the common man ceases to be common. Apt example.

    On the other point, nobody creates anything. i have to go back to gita and rehash what’s said there. everything we get and we do is from the world.

    whatever is being written/created is only from this wrold. we don’t actually create anything. afterall this world is a team work at its best. so where is the question of creating something.

  15. Inlive out,

    First off, its not egoism. Its egotism if you could check the post again. And there is a thin line of diff between egoism and egotism itself.

    Maybe the post wasn’t clear and that a due to MY stupid communication. the point of the post was to try and say, there are no creations by any single individual. being boastful or even citing it as a creation is an egotistic brag.

    ofcourse it may sound ridiculous but thinking more on it might make sense. who knows ?

  16. Kirthika,

    Many times its easy to be more expressive on the comments than on the post. I did knew someone would pick on the topic. you did.

    but the point is this, the post wasnt trying to say making a statement with I and MY was a mistake but it was on the thinking. as the reply for mutrupulli’s comment would state, i think(note the I) nobody is a creator of anything. its a metaphysical statement. all what we do is a something that have been existing in this world in some form or other.

    so bragging that some creation ME, MINE with lots of stress and pauses would only edge the god out of a person.

    ok, i’m failing here to communicate properly. here’s the bottom line. being humble is the most greatest virtue. if every creator would think think so humbly, reviews and criticisms would be the stepping stones for a better work.

    ofcourse you could say ME, Mine and Myself and all. the issue is how egotistically that statement is loaded. hope you got that. gotta go.

  17. Krithika, Can one call himself a painter just because he has the latest Paint rendering tool? I am not complaining about Bloggers writing reviews but it’s very rare to find a good review. To be honest some blog reviews are becoming like Kavidhais told on Sun Music. You know what i mean!

    Anti, The point was to extrapolate the ethical guideline cited by Lazy to another perspective. If you don’t take my comment personally there’s nothing to feel derogatory – after all I haven’t called names (good reviews, bad reviews).

    Why can’t some bloggers call their work My thoughts about XYZ film/ album instead of a review? Have all those unsuppressed emotions flowing, have no norms. And by the time one gains acceptance he/she can start calling it a review!

    If Lazy can accept and evolve from self-analysis, Why not others think about How they are writing?

  18. //I think a review is professional work and not just a common mans opinion! //

    Jacky, Even thoug you have appreciated the post, ‘I’ have to be on the opposite side here.

    A review is not a professional work. every one who gives a single penny to watch the movie has got all rights to talk about it. we can apply discretion whether to read it or not.

    but the point here is , if some one writes a review and goes one tom-toming about his WORK, that irritates. dont u think ?

  19. Yes it’s thoughts writtern in form of a review but for starters the word can reflect less self-assertiveness!

  20. Anti, Thanks. I did come running to pick up the phone before which there was your voice mail which said, ‘enn peru anatha. enakku inoru paerum irukku, Anti’.

    Good one. Will call you this weekend.

  21. to say ‘i am humble’ is probably not a humble act, because it seems to me when you are really humble, there is nothing more to say about the topic of humility.
    if you say you are consciously avoiding usage of ‘I’ then its merely a act. but atleast you are thinking about the issue.
    honestly most of the indian bloggers or should i say braggers are very conscious of their self-image. sorry that includes you and the kiruba as well.
    But then there is nothing wrong with bragging, its after all your blog.

    cheers,
    -madhan

  22. MMmm… sent me off on a philosophical tangent. “To say something as my creation or my writing seems very egotistic and very violent.” … it is ringing out loud in my head now. While I am tending to agree with many other commenters here that a creation is a monument of pride for the creator, humility of the person need not… mmm.. not really disown it… but kinda doing that. I look at some of the pics that I click, stare at them for a while, come back to look at those again and again… I feel pride. I feel joy in the beauty that shows in that pics. Not priding in the skill that I have. Nevertheless that statement is still ringing in my head.

  23. What is the answer to ‘I’s in ayn rand’s writings?
    There have been several things that have been and can be created by ‘I’s of the world’ alone.

    Surprised to see such a blog from you.

  24. Renu, Good point.

    ‘I’ have been an ardent follower of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. Even in this blog, there are remarks made on that, if you could search.

    But then, aren’t we given choices to move out of it.

  25. //if you say you are consciously avoiding usage of ‘I’ then its merely a act. //

    Madhan, Infact ‘I’ was consciously avoiding[note the past tense]. thats the correction ‘I’ wanted to make.

  26. //honestly most of the indian bloggers or should i say braggers are very conscious of their self-image.//

    Madhan,

    How sure are you ? Have you been in this position to think that I’m conscious of self image. Anyway, thanks for speaking out.

    Also you said //to say ‘i am humble’ is probably not a humble act//

    the author of this blog(notice that I didn’t say ‘I’) never said he is humble. He said such practices of disowning one’s creation after its done makes one humble automatically because there is nothing thats created. everything exists, we merely put them together. and its never by a single person, its always a group of people. so no one can individually achieve anything in this world.

  27. Hmm… my eyes played the tricks :-p.
    Actually Egoism and Egotism are far apart.

    But again, there are no creations by any single individual?! Yes, I agree that external forces play a role but inspite of what one borrows from others, basic contribution is the individual’s. Reading Ayn Rand and believing in objectivism is different from finding faults in her philosophy and having a philosophy of your own. Thats where the ‘I’ and ‘My’ matter. The creation would lose its essence, the moment you try to seperate it from its creator by refusing to acknowledge it.

    Being boastful is an egotistic brag. Accepted. Even citing it as a creation is an egotistic brag?! You want to know why I call it ridiculous?! Because its similar to a situation where my parents’ saying “She is my daughter” is an egotistic brag. It doesnt make sense. Period.

  28. ____ have been reading this blog for quite some time. When __ read this topic, ___ felt like there is a misunderstanding about the blog. (Please fill in “I” in the blanks)If I conciously avoided “I” that is how it will look. This is not what lazygeek meant by conciously avoiding the “I”. It is the “thought” or “feeling” behind we pronoucing the word “I”. When the “thought” or “Feeling” makes somebody think that he or she the creator then it is called ego “I” which you need to conciously avoid. Can the word “I” be pronounced without the “ego” is the tricky question. Yes, we can by proper understanding which is a yoga in itself. An example is if a person say I am a painter and I created the art, then he should be the one and only painter in this world but it is not the case, there are many painters in this world which itself is a proof of something already existing and you derive from it. It is just that the person is in tune with that “skill”

    -Srini

  29. //You want to know why I call it ridiculous?! Because its similar to a situation where my parents’ saying “She is my daughter” is an egotistic brag. //

    And don’t you think that its a brag !!

  30. aNTi: To each their own, I’m thriving (to put it mildly) on “F. Neverland” until his next movie becomes available in the local DVD rental. Check out “The Libertine” too. Much was written off about the film.

    And I did find the songs from Shrek 2 hummable et al. (more than Shrek 1) but I really must not talk about music since it is my Disaster Area.

  31. U KNOW WHAT…U DID IT ..U ADMITTED THAT YOU MOVED ON AND EVOLVED……HE JUS DIDN’T DO IT…U DONT HAVE TO CRITIZE..JUS COZ U NEED SOMETHING TO WRITE ABOUT. I DUN EVEN KNOW WHO ASHOKAMITRAN IS!!!

  32. lg,
    i am not putting myself in your position. i am not sure if i can. my observations are based on what i perceived. it is a judgement call, infact, i understand that in the process of judging you i maybe projecting my own image. i can see that we are all connected. but sometimes you can call it as it is. atleast i thought i did
    🙂

  33. Mere conversion of a sentence from active voice to passive voice does not make a person humble; same way the usage of I/My/Mine does not make him/her egotist. It is I(we) who make him egotist or humble.

    Somebody can not be somebody until somebody is perceived as somebody by me; when I do he is somebody for ME.

    Now, shall I(we) choose to perceive somebody as egotist or humble or shall I(we) just look at what somebody feels the ownership of and think how it could be used for a better living for every living being.

    Now, all that said is not mine. So, sorry for the repetition if the above truth hurt somebody for they have to read it again…

    Ramesh

  34. LG,

    Have been a passive reader for long time, now this topic made me sit up and comment.

    I know even though clarified your stance while commenting, i still felt like i should voice my humble opinion…

    Stating something is one’s work is not bragging ( am i allowed to use imho 😉 ? – jk)

    As much as answering a question “did you do this work” with a yes – saying “i did this work” (unasked for,) is OK too…

    It gets into the bragging mode, only when you exhibit the arrogance that goes with it i.e. you feel you are the only person who could have done it etc…

    Having said that, blog itself is an expression of opinion, idea – same applies to a novel, same applies to a lecture and so on- so are all these outlets of thoughts bragging ? are all the books ever written bragging (novels, philisophy, fiction) ? are all the marketging for books, poems, literature bragging ? then even AM is guilty of that.

    two cents that were written here…

  35. If you were really humble why would you write such a post. I think the essence of being humble also includes letting others be themselves. If some people like calling something as theirs using I, MY and MINE then it is their wish. Getting annoyed by it or terribly put-off by it and feeling that it sucks means that you are not really humble but want to use the premise as a dais to brag that you are humbler than others. Now that ain’t very humble, huh?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: