MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG # 31.

WHY DOESN’T A NOVELIST EVER STOP WRITING ?

               In my previous blog , I had discussed the difficulties that a novelist experiences in achieving an emotional closure while completing a novel. In this blog , I would discuss what prompts a novelist to start all over again. This question is closely related with the question why does someone write a novel begin with ? I can tell you from my own experience that when a novelist begins her /his first novel , there is an inarticulate urge to write. However , after having written and having finished one’s first novel , this urge is somewhat clearly defined and it is therefore more articulate. Therefore , when a novelist starts writing her /his second novel , she /he has a clearer picture of what prompts her /his creativity. It is this clarity that I would like to explore in this blog. Of course , now that I am about to finish my second novel , I am experiencing that bittersweet pangs of transition. Therefore , I think I am qualified to write about it.

                   I had mentioned in my previous blog that a novelist never really achieves an emotional closure even after a novel is complete. This results in two types of emotions in a novelist’s mind. Firstly , a novelist is tempted to refine and reinterpret her /his own emotions which were expressed in the completed novel. However , the trouble with this tendency is that the novel and characters created in that novel are no longer in the novelist’s control because they have acquired a life of their own. The only solution , and perhaps a profitable one in these days of franchise , is to write a sequel. However , my own feelings are ambivalent about writing a sequel. While it is easy to write a sequel because the universe of the prequel is already carved out and therefore it is easier and more productive for a novelist to enrich the emotional ecosystem of that fictional universe. However , there is a clear danger for a novelist of being stagnant. I think the core of fiction writing is not just  weaving of diverse emotions into a tapestry of narrative. The core also consists of narrative structure of novel. This narrative structure , if repeated , tends to lose its impact. Moreover , I think the city where the novel unfolds and the social milieu of the principle characters are equally important. In fact , I believe that they are separate characters of a novel. Therefore , when one writes a sequel , one needs to repeat these elements as well. This also leads to creative stagnancy.

                Incidentally , in my second novel , I was faced with a similar problem. My second novel is also based in Mumbai and also involves middle class Gujarati family. However , I have changed the geographical details and professional backgrounds of the principal characters. More importantly , the protagonist and his girlfriend  are required to travel to a different town in search of her reincarnation roots. Therefore , I could introduce a second city in the narrative.

        The second emotion that a novelist feels during the transition between novels is that of absence of reaffirmation of her / his self image. When a novel is being written , a novelist gets an opportunity to reflect on her/his self image because as the novel progresses , it reflects novelist’s internal thought processes which a novelist can observe from outside. Thus , during the writing of a novel , a novelist can constantly create her/his self image. Incidentally , I have developed a habit of writing daily. So, I can confirm that this continuous self cognition is beneficial. However , when a novel is complete , a novelist is prevented from this exercise. Therefore , it is natural for a novelist to pick up a pen and begin again. Of course , this process is not fixed. It depends on individual details of a novelist when she /he begins again. I began my second novel within a month of the publication of my first novel.

           This brings me to the last point of this blog. Does a novelist anytime feel that she /he can not write any more novels ? I am not sure about it. There are references to writer’s block in the literature. However  , that is only a temporary phenomenon. Most of the novelists that I have read and liked , wrote till their deaths. Of course , Hemingway is an exception. Ironically , he too wrote till he died , but he committed suicide because he felt that he could no longer write. Writing , to Hemingway , was not a profession but a reason to live. Therefore , his logic was simple , if he could not write , he had no right to live.

         Mercifully , it least from my selfish perspective , I have not reached that stage. I already have a vague outline of a plot for my next novel. However , the beginning of that novel is still some months away because I have yet to finish this novel and carry it tenderly through the stages of publication.

          In my next blog , I would unveil some details of my second novel.

               

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MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #30.

DOES AN END OF A NOVEL ALSO GIVE A NOVELIST AN EMOTIONAL CLOSURE ?

        In my previous blog , I had discussed the process of ending a novel. I had suggested that a climax and a twist in that climax are necessities. I had suggested that a novelist is bound to attempt to create a climax even when she/he knows that it is a difficult , if not an impossible task. In my last few blogs , I had described the structural and thematic compulsions for creating a climax in the narrative. While ending a novel is something that is preordained , it does not imply that a novelist is comfortable ending   a novel. Therefore , in this blog , I would discuss emotional problems that a novelist may feel while completing a novel.

        From a novelist point of view , this situation is poignant because she/he is torn between two conflicting emotions. On one hand , a novelist wants to end the novel because she/he wants to experience an emotional closure. On the other hand , a novelist doesn’t want to end a novel because , over a period of time , she /he has found a sense of identity with that novel and therefore would like the novel to go on. Therefore , in this blog , I would discuss my own experience while closing my two novels.

           The conflicting emotions that I mentioned above arises from the ambivalence that a novelist experiences towards the novel under preparation. On one hand , a novelist is observing the characters from outside. On the other hand , part of her/his own self gets indirectly reflected in these characters. It is this duality of frames of being an observer and a participant that gives rise to the conflicting emotions mentioned above. I recollect that when I began writing my first novel , I was hopeful of analysing my own creative instinct while writing that novel. As that novel progressed , I realized that the process of creative writing is far more complex than I had anticipated. Finding myself unequal to the task , I decided to focus on writing the novel. However , insights into my own creativity would surface in my mind now and again.

      As my first novel approached its climax , I experienced this duality of the frames for the first time. I was determined that I would not experience emotional closure as a novelist through the emotional closure of the protagonist. I wanted to arrive at my emotional closure through the plot itself. Since my first novel had two climaxes , one structural and one thematic  , it was easier for me to experience my emotional closure when the plot ended with the nervous breakdown of the protagonist. As a novelist , I felt satisfied that three different threads in the narrative converged into the climax. This convergence of three different threads required a creativity which I didn’t know I had. Therefore , when I could manage to bring about the convergence , I felt cathartic and cleansed as a novelist. Later on , when the protagonist found his own emotional closure by finding a new meaning of his life , I achieved my own emotional closure.

       In my second novel , I am nearing the end of the narrative. This time , I am trying to have a single climax having a structural momentum and a thematic depth. As I have mentioned in my previous blog , I wish to achieve this by introducing a twist in the climax. Therefore , my challenge is to make sure that the twist is already present in the backdrop of the novel but in a different context. Moreover , I want to surprise the protagonist and the readers as well. Therefore , I want to achieve my emotional closure as a novelist through the fine tuning of the twist in  such a way that it brings out tragedy of human life. This tragedy consists of our ability to delude ourselves with convenient explanations. The human mind is clever, but not clever enough to see through its own deception. The tragedy of human life is that our mind uses deception to make our life bearable , but in the process , our mind is itself deceived.

           There is another aspect of closure from the novelist’s point of view. It refers to the novelist’s own transformation during and after the writing of a novel. While ending a novel , a novelist may achieve an emotional closure , but that novel remains embedded in the novelist’s psyche. The true closure for a novelist happens when the plot , the characters and the theme of the completed novel are dissolved into the novelist’s subconscious mind. This process of dissolution takes a very long time. For instance , the details of my first novel and its narrative construction is very much present in my psyche. Of course , it helps me because every time I find an echo of my first novel in the second novel , I stop and make a conscious effort of not repeating myself. However , it does indicate that I have not achieved a complete closure in case of my first novel. While I make conscious effort of not repeating myself , I realize that , at a fundamental level , there is continuity between my two novels. This perhaps represent my inner self. In that sense , I don’t think a novelist can ever achieve complete emotional closure while ending a novel. That novel remains in the novelist’s sensibility forever. This continuity is inevitable because life itself goes on forever without achieving any such closure.

            In my next blog  , I would discuss why a novelist is inclined to continue writing novels. The question that bothers me is that is there any point in a novelist’s life , when She /he feels that she/he has nothing new to offer and therefore must stop writing novels ? Frankly speaking , I can’t think of myself ever reaching that saturation point. However , I want explore the motives and motivations of a novelist that prompts her/him to begin again. I would discuss these issues in my next blog. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #29.

               IS TWIST NECESSARY IN CLIMAX ?

       In my previous blogs , I had discussed relevance and importance of climax in a novel. I had suggested that there are two types of climax. I had suggested that every plot has its own momentum and that momentum  culminates into the climax of a novel. On the other hand , every novel has some specific theme which gives rise to the thematic climax. Ideally , in a good novel , both these climaxes occur simultaneously. In this blog , I would discuss the need and significance of a twist in the climax. Of course , everyone loves novelists like O. Henry who invariably introduce twists in the climax to allow readers to experience catharsis. Honestly , I  don’t think anyone else can come close to that exceptional calibre. The real problem with a novelist is that , in spite of being aware of one’s limitations , a novelist is still required to construct a climax in her /his novel.  Therefore , I would restrict myself to the idea of a twist in the climax from a novelist’s perspective and describe what problems a novelist faces while introducing a twist. I would try to describe my own experience while writing a climax and why I find it difficult to introduce a twist.

              Let me begin with the kind of twists that a novelist can introduce in the climax. There could be a twist that obviously results in the climax which is exactly opposite to what a reader is led to expect. This is de rigueur for crime and detective novels. However , there is another type of twist that is employed in a lesser number of novels. This type of twist consists of arriving at the anticipated climax but in a manner that is totally unexpected. This type of twist is rarer because it demands greater skills from a novelist. Just think of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies. In some of his  famous movies , the audience is told about the climax right in the beginning. However , a viewer is kept in suspense till the end about how the climax is brought about.

     The distinction between these two types of twists is based on two premises. The first type of twist , where a reader is misled into expecting particular climax , depends on the momentum of several subplots culminating into the climax. The description of these subplots is such that a reader starts expecting a certain climax. However, when there is a twist in the plot , an unexpected end occurs. This build up of expectations and its subsequent denouement brings about the desired catharsis. This kind of climax is essentially a structural in nature.

     In the second type of twist , the premise is not structural in nature because the climax results in accordance with the demands of the several subplots and is in tune with a reader’s expectations. However , the twist arises because of subtle changes in themes of the subplots. Since the climax is as anticipated , it brings about a sense of emotional  release. However ,  since the climax comes due to the unexpected reasons from the known details of the subplots , it results in different emotional experience. This leads to enlightenment and emotional closure.

            Thus there are two types of twists , structural and thematic. This requires different types skills from a novelist. Therefore , let me describe my own experiences while writing two novels. As I have mentioned in my previous blog that in my first novel , I was forced to employ two types of climaxes separately. This was because the novel is written by the protagonist in the form of recollections of his life in hospital. Therefore , the structural climax of the plot occurs before he is admitted to hospital after his nervous breakdown. However , the thematic climax , in the form of emotional closure , occurs when the protagonist achieves while reconstructing his past and narrating his nervous breakdown. 

        In the second novel  , which I am about to finish , I am trying to blend both , the thematic and the structural , climaxes into a single event. However , I am facing a different kind of problem. This is a problem of being faithful to readers as well as characters of my novel. Since this novel is in the first person narrative , the protagonist narrates his innermost thoughts to the readers. This results in the readers forming a very intimate view of the protagonist. Therefore , whatever the climax maybe , it has to arise naturally from the perception of the protagonist that a reader might form. However , this perception by the readers need not be same as the self perception of the protagonist himself. Therefore , I am trying to create a scenario wherein the climax would be a natural culmination of the expectations of the readers based on their perception of the protagonist. However , this natural culmination must come as a surprising twist from the protagonist’s perspective. This is because , there is a mismatch between the self perception of the protagonist and the perception of the protagonist by the readers. The readers already know how the protagonist is deceived by his own subconscious mind. However  , the protagonist is never aware of this deception. Therefore , what readers could anticipate clearly , becomes a surprising twist to the protagonist. His subconscious mind prevents him from detecting this deception. Though , I have not actually written this part , I am very clear about it.

             However , the real challenge , according to me , is to create a climax which not only surprises the protagonist but also surprises the readers. This would be possible only  when readers experience thematic twist. This is because readers would have clear idea of the momentum of the plot as well as a clear theme of the protagonist’s mind. Therefore , they can not be surprised by either structural or thematic twist. So , I am planning to introduce a thematic twist that would thematically surprise both ,the protagonist and the readers. If I can achieve this , then it would enable readers to realize that their own subconscious minds too had set up a deception. Therefore , the readers would experience catharsis from two sources, one by identifying themselves with the protagonist and the other by realising that they too were deceived by their own minds. Frankly speaking  , I have just a vague idea how to do that. In next few weeks , I hope to finish the novel.

        In my next blog , I would discuss how a novelist copes with the emotions  that she /he experiences while closing the novel. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #26.

MODERNITY AND IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS.

        In my previous blog , I had discussed the the role of emotions in shaping our beliefs. I had focused on the situation wherein a novelist could have different set of beliefs than that of one of the characters of created by that novelist. In this blog , I would discuss another problem faced by novelists. It has something to do with the kind of language employed by characters having diverse background. This problem is particularly important in case where the linguistic backgrounds of a character and a novelist who created character are totally different.

            In my second novel , I found this difficulty when I wanted to create a comparatively younger character. In my case , the problem is further compounded by the fact that this younger character is suspected to be a reincarnation of a character who has been described in great details in the first half of the novel. Therefore , my problem is how to keep emotions unchanged during reincarnation while creating a distinctively different persona. My initial idea was to use different idiomatic English to highlight these different incarnations. That is when I realised how deeply our personae and our expressions are connected to one another. Therefore , in this blog , I would discuss the relationship between the language and characterization. The focus would be on the changing idiomatic expressions with increasing modernity.

         In my first novel , I was more concerned about the distortion that our emotions cause in our understanding of the reality. In my second novel , the focus is on the characters as personifications of complex emotions. Therefore , the details of the characters in my second novel assume more significance. For a novelist , the challenge lies in creating characters whose behaviours are reflection on the emotions embedded in them. In addition , each character would have an identifiable manner of expressions that would be in harmony with her/his emotions, social background and the time in which that character is supposed to have existed. In this case , I was trying to create a younger character with the behaviour patterns and the idiomatic language that reflected the generation which went to college in last fifteen years. I realised that my own background could hardly provide any help. I had to , therefore , fall back to my own interactions with younger individuals , both within the family and within my social circle.

         When I did that , I realized that I was using their facial expressions  , hand gestures to understand what these individuals meant. Moreover , there usage of English was markedly different than the one I am comfortable with. Of course , I don’t speak as formally as I write. Still , I tend to use language with high vocabulary. I also tend speak complete sentences. This is totally missing from the younger individuals with whom I normally interact. These individuals use half sentences, phrases and very often , monosyllabic grunts to convey their views. I am not trying to look down upon their linguistic skills. On the contrary , they are very effective in communicating what they wish to. My problem , as a novelist  , is how does one portray such communication skills in the novel.

       My next strategy was to pick up idioms so popular with the youngsters and see whether that would help me to create a convincing characterization. While creating the earlier avatar of the character suspected to have been reborn , I had used one such idiom ‘ spot on ‘. It was used to imply that that person was absolutely right. I believe nobody uses that idiom anymore. In fact , there are large number of idioms and phrases which were in vogue  earlier and we don’t hear them these days. This is , in some sense , inevitable and even desirable. Our languages have resilience and flexibility to transform with changing times. However , a novelist is required to capture these nuances as she /he is duty bound to capture the social context in which the characters of her /his novel.

           Returning to my second novel , I have tried to use the idiomatic expressions of a girl who had graduated in the times of Internet. I have sought to employ different colloquial language for this girl. For instance  , that character , in her earlier avatar , would speak rather bookish English. This is because she was studied in a vernacular medium school. The same character , in her later avatar , is shown to be a convent educated. Therefore , her expressions are essentially half completed sentences or phrases and even monosyllabic expressions. Surprisingly , the situation is reversed when it comes to written English.That girl , in her earlier avatar  , would end up writing improper syntax. The same character , in her later avatar , would write flawless text. This is because the students from the vernacular medium pick up spoken language but rarely write the same. Therefore their spoken language is as formal as  spoken by their parents who have studied Victorian English taught a generation earlier. The character , her later avatar, has studied in a convent school . Therefore , she writes proper text , but speaks contemporary college lingo.

     I found it challenging to use two idioms while expressing same emotions. The readers , hopefully , would notice it. In my next blog , I would discuss how the pace of life has changed during a single  generation. The protagonist describes his past in slow paced narrative. However , the pace of narration picks up after the character supposed to have been reborn enters his life. I would describe how the narrative changes from one generation to the next. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #25.

THE ROLE OF BELIEF IN WRITING FICTION.

      In my previous blog , I had discussed the difficulty in creating two different avatars of a character being reborn. I had suggested that changes in the society in the interim would shape these different avatars differently. While some of the emotions would remain unchanged , some emotions , or at least their expressions , would change with the passage of time. The most visible source of these changes would be the technological advances. I had described in my previous blog how the current incarnation would have a different way of expressing her emotions. In this blog , I would focus on different aspects of emotions. Our emotional universe  defines the kind of beliefs that we have. This is the basic premise of characterization in fiction writing. However , in this blog , I would invert this paradigm and look at the role of a novelist’s own  beliefs in creating characters. If it is true that our emotions decide and define the kind of beliefs we have , then it must be true in case of a novelist also. The problem with this reasoning is that if the characters created by a novelist were to have different kinds of beliefs , then the novelist can not herself /himself have mutually contradictory beliefs of these characters. More importantly, what if the novelist’s own beliefs were to be contradictory to the beliefs of one of the characters present in the novel. This is the  point that I want to delve on in this blog. The question  is whether a novelist ought to share same set of beliefs that the characters in her/his novel have ?

     Let me begin with my own experience while writing my second novel. I am basically a rationalist leaning towards agnosticism. For instance , I don’t insist that science and logic can explain everything in this world. At the same time , I do not believe that the things that logic can’t explain are proof of divinity. I think that we , collectively as a species ,  are still learning about what the universe is really like. Therefore , when I decided to write a novel based on the theme of reincarnation , I was doubtful whether I would be able to do justice to the idea of reincarnation. I was afraid that my own rationalist upbringing would not allow me to appreciate the reasons why we believe in the idea of reincarnation. I was afraid that the intellectual arrogance that comes so easily to us , the educated Indians , would make me dismissive of this idea. I was torn between my own rationality and my respect for the collective wisdom of our culture. However , I knew in my heart that the correct approach is to use fiction as a way deconstructing not only our cultural ethos , but also my own internal contradictions. That is why I created a protagonist who at some level believes in the idea of reincarnation and yet , somewhere deep within himself , doubts this idea of reincarnation.

       Actually , I thought that this was very clever strategy. However, as the novel progressed , I realized the reason why everyone believes in reincarnation is not based on logic but on their emotions. The belief in the idea of reincarnation arises because our emotions dictate that we do. At the same time , I realized that just because we believe in the idea of reincarnation due to our emotional compulsions, does not imply that the idea of reincarnation is wrong. At that point , I rediscovered the fundamental nature of ourselves that has been known to some of our greatest novelists. It is fundamentally true that we , human beings , live our lives in trying to make sense of our own emotions. We don’t live for or live by reason. We live for and live by our emotions. Just because our emotions influence our reasoning and just because our emotions are hidden from our conscious self  that we make a mistake of looking for reasons of our beliefs rather than understanding the emotions that give rise to our beliefs.

       Therefore , a novelist’s job is not to justify beliefs, either her/his own or those of the characters in the novel. A novelist’s primary role is to describe the journey of the characters present in her/his novel from the emotional turmoil to the emotional resolution. It is possible that the characters in some cases would reach wrong conclusions in their lives and that too by a wrong reasoning. A novelist is not required to justify her/his  characters. A novelist is responsible for portraying the emotional journey of the characters as faithfully as possible. If , in the process , the contradictions were to surface in these characters , then it is inherently tragic. But then again, the life is tragic whether we like it or not. The tragedy of life is not because we eventually realize our own emotional contradictions , but it is tragic because we conjure up some convenient explanations for these contradictions

    The question that I have not resolved , so far in my novel , is how would the protagonist eventually reconcile his own belief and disbelief in the possibility that his girlfriend has come back to him in her next incarnation. Of course , I would write about it, when I finish my novel.

         In my next blog , I would discuss another aspect of my second novel. I would describe my own difficulties in trying to understand and give expressions to the mentality of younger generation. I have mentioned earlier that the protagonist suspects that his dead girl friend has come back in his life in her next birth. As a novelist, my main concern was how to create contemporary expressions for that character. In my next blog , I would describe my problems with idiomatic expressions of modern life. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #24

REINCARNATION AND EMOTIONAL CONTINUITY.

           In my previous blog , I had discussed the role of technological changes in shaping our emotional universe. I had suggested that though human emotions are absolute in some sense , their nuances would be different and be influenced by societal changes including technological changes. I had cited instant gratifications provided by communication technologies as a prime example of this type of changes. I had suggested that delayed gratification enriches our emotional development which is missing in the post Internet era.

          Purely from a novelist’s point of view , these different emotional stages are important because every character in a novel must have particular emotional depth depending on each character’s societal background , including the sophistication of technologies available in the society. While  this is a routine requirement for writing a novel , it needs to be fine tuned depending on the social backgrounds of the main characters of a novel. Normally , a novelist tries to differentiate between characters belonging to different age groups by detailing different emotional stages of these characters. While doing that , sometimes a novelist also incorporates the technological influences on these characters. In this blog , I would discuss my own experience in dealing with this aspect of characterization. In my second novel , this problem is slightly different because the character is supposed to be a reincarnation of a character present in the first half of the novel. Therefore , the reincarnated character has to be similar and dissimilar at the same time.  Moreover , since there is a time gap of around twenty five years between these two avatars , the emotional stages are different in each of these avatars. As the novel depicts the year 2016 , the present avatar had to be a tech savvy unlike her previous avatar. Therefore , I would discuss this aspect in this blog.

          As I have mentioned in earlier blogs , the key appeal of the theme of reincarnation in fiction lies in the emotional continuity of the character being born again. If the reincarnated character were not to have any memories of its past lives and emotions experienced earlier , the whole purpose of this literary device of reincarnation would be lost. Therefore  , it is vital that a reincarnated character must have such memories of the past lives and that these memories must guide the behaviour of this reincarnated character. However , I found that the problem with this reasoning is what should be carried forward from the previous birth and what should be new in this birth. On one hand , I wanted her to have identical emotions and morality , but on the other hand , she had to have different sensibility in tune with the modern times. This is where I became aware that how technology changes our emotional experiences.

        I realized while writing these different avatars , that beneath the notion of reincarnation , there lies a deeper understanding of what constitutes an individual person. I think  that when we refer to soul , we are actually referring to some aspects of an individual that do not change with each incarnation. In reincarnation , these immutable aspects of an individual must be taken as a soul of that individual which are transferred unchanged. As a novelist , I find it tempting to think that these immutable aspects are nothing but our emotions in their absolute form. In that case , the purpose of individual’s life ought to be to experience these absolute forms of emotions in their purest states. The fiction , therefore , plays an important role in enabling the readers to experience this emotional bliss.

       At present , I am detailing the second birth of the reincarnated character. This character happens to be a reincarnation of the girl friend of the protagonist. Or this is what the protagonist suspects. My problem is how to differentiate between these two avatars. It is important that these two avatars must have something in common and still be distinctly different. I am trying to use Internet access , and the information overload that comes with it , to create more forthright and open minded character which , at a deeper level , is the same woman with  whom the protagonist was in love. The novel is about whether the protagonist’s belief turns out to be true or not. More importantly , as a novelist , I am more concerned about how these changed , but still unchanged , emotions help the protagonist to find out the truth.

           In my next blog , I would discuss why a novelist should not prove or disprove any belief. A novelist’s task is to portray an emotional journey of the fictional characters that helps these characters to find their own versions of truth. A novelist can hope that this emotional journey would inspire the readers to undertake their own pilgrimage to find their own versions of truth. In my second novel , my focus is not on whether the notion of reincarnation is true or not. I am more concerned about how the protagonist travels through his various emotions to arrive at his version of truth of reincarnation. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #23

DO OUR EMOTIONS CHANGE WITH THE  TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGES ?

         In my previous two blogs , I had discussed the idea of generation gap and its relevance to fiction. I had suggested that it is not just the age difference but the different emotional stages of human beings that appears to us as a generation gap. However , the question of what influences our emotional development still remains to be answered. Our collective perception on this topic is that it is the social and family backgrounds that shape and control our emotional growth. By and large ,  this is also corroborated by the academic research. Though , there are different nuances of this perception between the popular belief and academic opinion , it seems reasonable to assume that this perception is valid. However , there is one aspect of our emotional development that has been missing from public perception. This aspect is increasingly being studied by psychologists but has yet to percolate down to our collective psyche. This is the aspect of the role of technology in influencing our emotional development.

        It seems intuitive to lay persons that due to technological advances ,  our way of thinking has changed. For instance , it is common for people from older generation to complain about lack of arithmetic skills in younger generation. With the advent of calculators and computers, the younger generation does not need to remember the tables by heart. Therefore , there is no denying the fact that mnemonic tricks of remembering large number of tables and tricks of fast calculations are altogether missing in the generations growing up in the days of these calculating devices. While this inability to calculate numbers mentally does not produce any handicap in the cognitive development of young children , the fact remains that the technology has deprived these children of certain mental agility. While this influence of technology on our thinking appears to be self evident , the question is whether similar influence of technology on our emotions happens or not ?

       In this blog , I would look at this aspect of technology. More importantly , I would discuss this aspect from a novelist’s point of view. It is one thing to say that our emotions are shaped by the technology and it is quite different thing to create characters personifying two different types of emotional responses. I became aware of this aspect of our emotional universe when creating a character who was supposed to have been reborn. The literary context of reincarnation is to show that basic emotional content of the reborn individual  remains unchanged.  However  , the fact that the technologies would change in the intervening period, would obviously mean that the emotional development in two generations would also be different. It was while trying to keep balance between the emotions carried forward to the next birth and the emotions that were new in the next birth ,  that I came across this realization.

        Therefore , let us see how the technology influences our emotional universe. At the outset , I would admit that I personally subscribe to the notion that human emotions are absolute in the sense that they do not change amongst different cultures and different times. I believe this to be true because we have all been able to enjoy great literary pieces irrespective of their vintage and their cultural origins. While reading Shakespeare  , we are able to identify with the characters and experience catharsis simply because the emotions brought out by Shakespeare are universal. Similarly, which reading Kalidasa , we experience same catharsis even though the characters belong to the distant past. Therefore , it seems reasonable to me that there is something absolute about human emotions that transcends the cultures and history. In fact , this absoluteness of human emotions justifies the appeal of reincarnation in popular literature.

        If this is true , then the problem is how could anything , let alone a technology , alter such universal nature of emotions. The answer lies in the fact that while our basic emotions are absolute , its nuances are not. What Shakespeare said about love being a many splendored thing , is true for all emotions. We experience same set of basic emotions in our lives again and again. However,  every time there is a different nuance of that basic emotional content. It is here that changes in emotions manifest. In that context , let me discuss the role of technology.

        I am sure most of you would agree that the most important change , that new technologies have brought about , is the way we communicate. The change consists of not only in the speed with which we can communicate but also of the content of our messages. Sometimes , our inability to communicate with persons close to us would result in a sense of restlessness and anxiety. This aspect of being separated from loved ones is universal and has  found its expressions in some of the greatest works of art. However , in the days Skype and instant messaging  , the sense of being separated from the loved ones doesn’t manifest. Obviously, the contemporary literature doesn’t have any such master pieces depicting the angst of separation.

        In fact , this is true of not just the deprivation the sensuous company of our beloved , but it is true of all sensory gratifications. The inherent merits of delayed gratification and its role in enriching our emotional universe are lost in modern times. The on demand supply of pleasures has atrophied our sensibilities. Therefore it would be fair to say that the technology ,  in its abstract sense ,  has blunted our emotions even while increasing our sensory pleasures. The technology has disconnected our emotions from our sensory pleasures. To that extent , the technology is indeed dehumanising. It deprives us of individual sensibilities and therefore of our individualities.

        In my next blog , I would discuss this aspect of changing technology in creating a changed sensibility of a person who was supposed to have been reborn. My focus would be on the problem of creating such characterizations rather than on validity of the concept of reincarnation.