Brevity has no soul.

Today after many many months I visited a temple. Listening to the priest chanting the vedic hymns, it brought waves of serenity and calm with it. In the presence of a masterful priest a simple recitation can turn into a musical jugalbandi, his voice racing with his memory and bringing that old time musical charm to it. The vedic chants turn into words of magic and probably even attain an aura around them.

Pure, serene, forceful – its like a rush of great joy flooding you hitting in all the senses – washing away that morning blues – virtually bombarding the senses. The sense of sound is on a gluttonous stampede – enrapturing the complete sense of sound. The voice with its intonations, rising and falling with the precision of a masterful percussionist bombarding the ears with his talented thumps and those falling thuds, playing with the voice, voice piercing the silence, all ears, some trying to just listen and some just pretending. There are faint prizes of joy when the mind can understand some of the words – those Sanskrit classes coming to some great use. The happiness is short-lived but the joy is lasting.

And then it dawns on me the beauty, the beauty that I seem to be missing… lost in the sea of micro-information. Nuggets, small snippets masquerading as wit, humour and talent. Brevity is soul they say. But brevity now has become the norm. Every small sentence twisted in grammar virtually unrecognisable, becomes a witty sparking line of wisdom for the millions others priding selves as geniuses, philosophers. No soul shrouded, sinking in self-pity or self aggrandising pride; lost, direction-less breaking away to grow into a monologue through the channels the modern life provides – and interestingly a mutually admiring audience. Modern life at least guarantees us that. Audience of every shape and size for every tamasha or even the lack of it. At least Socrates was unhappily married.

I miss the long blog posts. Those long form of modern prose that had the writer write something… something that gave us some food for thought. Something which I used to look at in resigned disdain. But now it looks so profound and actually meaningfully engaging. Twitter, Facebook just seem to make every one look smarter, wittier and smugger than they actually are – well… brevity never brought our the smartness in anyone. Who ever heard of PhDs getting the doctorate by presenting their thesis in 140 characters or less??? I miss the verbosity, the inherent contradictions a long passage of text brought with it. The author contradicting themselves, doubting, the magic of thoughts a playful master of words can weave along, bring them to life. It was a veritable haven of fun thinking about it. And this is probably why I seem to have started disliking Twitter and Facebook. Everything, virtually everything condensed to 140 characters or less. Everything made effortless… a new birth with a photo, a new insight as few words of Yoda (grammarless meaningful banter), a sincere appreciation with the click of a ‘Like’ button. The fun in the thing that a few set of words could gather a sense of their own based on who read it, the reader became the interpreter, the author a second-guessing pseudo philosopher. Probably all of us do not have a lot to say. But the fact that we all want to be heard, thought of as special makes us love this medium more and more…? Probably that false sense of pride wants others to attribute more to us than we actually deserve or are even capable of? Probably its time to get off the desk and really start making a difference that’s actually discernible? Even writing but something perhaps that even has some meat on it.

Today, I feel like waking up early morning now on and come to the temple and only listen to the priest chant his hymns. His jugalbandi virtuoso performance drawing a joy from deeper recesses of the mind. Joyful. I saw a twinkle in his eye and a chuckle in his voice when I thought he stretched his performance too far, brought a little too much music in the hymns. It was somehow amusing thought and that even of pleasure – that a common pujari might actually be enjoying what he was doing, that he could recite the hymns he long memorised in his own voice, lending the hymns a part of his personality, making them his own. That was what I think was fulfilling of the experience today. That he made years old culture his own, brought his voice into them, bringing them alive. Filling the music into the hymns, me lost in them. Probably its time to bring this joy of verbosity back into our lives. And leave brevity to where they need be – in the long speeches and not in our thoughts and more importantly lives. Else too much silence might be devouring everything else in it.

Or its just that my obvious lack of sleep waking up so early is acting up…


4 thoughts on “Brevity has no soul.

  1. Earlier it was the blog-posts that ruined the joy of reading, now it is twitter that is ruining the joy of blog reading, and now I am wondering what next? Seems like a vicious chain.. 🙂

    • Lol. But frankly far from it. Its just that the microcontent is just losing its sheen for me – feels like a hamster on a treadmill. Well as we keep supplementing and surviving our ADD using this microncontent… there might be no end. But anyways the story with blogs and the twitter was apples to oranges, dont you think?

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