019 - Inside a Silent Hour

The morning is quiet, less buzz, less grey, maybe the days are changing. I am early into it, things will change in a bit, maybe I have an hour at hand. And if I have to call this hour mine, how would I make it mine?

A song plays, it speaks of the other end of this day. While it lasts, this is Bombay Daak, and today we read about headlines, addictions.

This stuff follows the headlines

I was reading David Simon’s interview. The interviewer asks him about naming one of the corner drugs in The Wire as the Pandemic. David says that if some product on the street is getting people killed, the demand for it actually increases among addicts, and therefore -

“… So the idea that they wouldn’t name something after the most disturbing headline is less probable than that they would. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was something out there now called Pandemic or Corona. This stuff follows the headlines.

I think about today’s media and the daily news. Even now, as I write this in the silence of this hour I am tempted by news. A tab away, two tabs away, India, the world, disturbing headlines in a more literal sense.

It goes against the grain of media freedom, but I think news channels should have a regulator like how they have for food and pharmaceuticals.

The problem with any authority though is that it usually a golden gate for corruption and worse - abuse of power.[^1]

We will have to be our own regulator. Stop giving them eyeballs, stop with our own fix.

Elisa Gabbert’s essays

Constant news and headlines and attention distortions and media addiction aren’t new matters. I first read Elisa Gabbert when her piece on Compassion Fatigue. Though the history of compassion fatigue was researched and studied first with regards to caregivers and medical professionals who face a near constant stream of medial trauma, the essay delved into the relationship between media and our empathetic selves.

Gabbert is back on the literary radar this year with her fifth book - an essay collection The Unreality of Memory, that released in August. It expands on this idea of disaster coverage and our addiction to it. You can read it or you can read her interviews, one which looks at the disasters and the other on our reaction to and consumption of them. The interviews are actually quite illuminating and I’m certain you will leave wiser having read them.

Whether it’s piles of evidence or piles of news, you read it through the lens of whatever conclusion you’ve already come to.

Doug Curran’s In Advance of the Landing

The most interesting thing I saw all week was Doug Curran’s photo book In Advance of the Landing. It documents people making flying saucers and other splendid things in anticipation of extra terrestrial arrivals. It is around thirty years old, but the magic remains! 🧞‍♂️

Curran apparently got the name for the book in a dream and he carried it around for close to two years before deciding on the subject of the book. I love this fact!

Away from the news

I decided to go on a drive today morning.
The car was brought up to task yesterday.
But a call from the office came instead,

Signature on papers, sir.
I am expecting more tomorrow.

Maybe I will drive to work instead. [^2]

To the Light of September - W.S. Merwin

When you are already here 
you appear to be only 
a name that tells of you 
whether you are present or not 

and for now it seems as though 
you are still summer 
still the high familiar 
endless summer...

And that’s my feelings exactly with this month. In Bombay it already feels like a day out of October with the rains gone.

It’s not dark yet

As I read back on this letter now, I laugh at its irony. Interviews about show launches and book releases. I didn’t even spare a link to a news site. I also, read this at the other end of the day, far removed from that silent hour in the morning. Everything moving and making noise, making sure it exists in loud announcements. I go back to the song I heard early in the morning. [^3]


[1] And what’s better than the five golden seasons of The Wire to illustrate this. One of my absolute favourites.

[2] I really didn’t want to make that a poem but I wrote it and then couldn’t resist. I really wanted to go on a drive. Maybe by the time you read this I might actually be on one.

[3] Curious to know, what’s your favourite Bob Dylan song?