Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sitemeter, and the Anatomy of a Blogger

Now, this is a serious post. Where I lay bare my blogging soul. Given its profundity, I want no risk of alienating my readers. So, for you plebs who may not be as widely read as me, here's a glossary of terms up front.

Sitemeter: a tool that helps website owners understand their readers better. Logs the number of visits, the time spent by each visitor on the site, the number of pages viewed, the referring URL, the browsing history of the visitor for the previous week, credit-card numbers, and the last time (s)he took a shower.

Anatomy: of, or relating to, the structure of the body. Derived from the ancient Greek words "anus" and "tummy". Used by pretentious bloggers to appeal to the voyeurism of their readers, who, in turn, like to pretend they're reading something deeply philosophical.

Blogger: one who errs while blogging, chiefly by blogging.

,: a punctuation mark; useful for writers who, for one reason or the other - most likely the other, more than one - have not yet discovered full stops, or the virtues of conciseness.

and: 1) a conjunction; 2) a species of little things that can cause great discomfort if they bite you on the nuts.

the: the first word in the title of one of the greatest films ever made.

of: widely misunderstood as part of a phrase that describes democracies, when, in actual fact, as my history teacher was fond of repeating, it's "off the people, buy the people, and far from the people."

a: where the folks at b came from; or, most of them - some started from c and were stuck in reverse.

All right, that done with, let's poke about my anatomy...

For the 2-and-a-half years I've had this blog, I've learnt to cultivate an attitude of not caring whether anyone reads it or not. And no one really does read it. Most people come in on a google search for film-noir dialogue, find out that my post is not what they had in mind, and leave without so much as a "by your leave".

So when, a few days back, someone who stumbled upon my blog sent me an email saying how much she enjoyed it, I was over the moon. Ecstatic. I still don't care what anyone thinks of my blog, of course, but I couldn't help telling her how obviously discerning she is, compared to the vast hordes of morons out there.

Clicking her tongue, she replied, "Why do you blog? To get an enormous following, or simply to write?" What a question! Tchah! To write, of course. So why the complaints about the readership? To the crass mind, it might seem like I'm just an attention whore. But it's not that at all. Couldn't be. It's way deeper, subtler and existential (if I've managed to use the word right). It has to do with... Well, it's like this.

Ever seen "Before Sunrise"? Julie Delpy says, "Isn't everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?" Maybe. But it isn't quite that either. I put it in because it sounded nice.

My gripe is this. How can I go about not giving a shit about your opinion, when you have no opinion that I can not give a shit about? - when the pages visited reads 1, and the time spent on my blog reads 0? How can I scoff at the lowness of your intellect when you give me no hooks to get into you? How can I saunter about with an I-couldn't-give-a-damn smirk when you can't even be bothered to hate me? And how can you hate me, if you do not read me?

A shadow at my elbow interrupts my reverie.

"I tried reading your blog. Exhausting... And what's with the rationing of full stops? Do you foresee a shortage in the near future?"
"Tell that to Brian De Palma or Stanley Kubrick, my cinematic alter egos. Much as the poetry of their long takes cannot be achieved by quick cuts, full stops are an anathema to my style. Go to hell."

Quietly satisfied with the brilliant rejoinder, I go back to my thoughts with a smug smile.

So... I want you (yes you, facing the monitor) to pull your socks up and immediately go about worshipping me (let's skip the hate bit and go straight to the Julie Delpy version). I've given it some thought and have decided to be helpful. Here's a couple of suggestions:-

1) You're deeply impressed by the quality of the writing, and the depth of the intellect. You turn to me for profound insight. You know that by reading me, you're not one of the unwashed masses. Why, the unwashed masses wouldn't even get past the first paragraph! You're part of a select group. You go all Salieri, "I was staring through the cage of that meticulous HTML - at an absolute beauty." And why not? I have Kafka on my bookshelves; turn my nose up at commercial Hindi flicks; have a DVD collection with huge numbers of subtitled foreign flicks of various genres and decades; wear spectacles; have bad fashion sense; keep forgetting stuff; and - much like Newton, Einstein, Beethoven, Michelangelo and maybe Kimi Raikkonen - even had terrible grades as a kid.

2) You adore me for being one of the people; for disdaining the artsy-fartsy intellectual stuff. So far, I've read just one short story by Kafka, and the title of that piece, "Description of a Struggle" summarises perfectly what I went through to read the bloody thing. And while I was going through this collection of Robert Frost poems last week, I finally understood, after all these years, that my tears while watching "Amadeus" were not for Mozart and his squandered genius, but for Salieri and his desperate yearning for a mere fraction of that inspiration, to be the Voice of God for however brief an instant.

The films? Werner Herzog put it best with, "Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates." I remember a character from P.G. Wodehouse who, legend has it, could sit for hours on a fence watching a snail in a field, wondering what it was up to. If you look beneath all the pretension, that's what we movie lovers ultimately are. A snail or Wong Kar-wai? What difference does it make? Even then, when they try to rouse the brain a bit, like Alain Resnais did with "Hiroshima Mon Amour", or "Last Year at Marienbad", you can see our eyes glaze over... David Lynch is fine; so is Almodovar. We can watch them with our hearts open and our minds closed, but I get the sneaky feeling that Mr Resnais is trying to make us think.

I hate being preached to from the pulpit; hate having lofty artistic ideals crammed down my throat; hate having to work my mind, or stick my neck out, when it's so much easier to scoff. Why would my blog represent everything I hate? I'd rather be hip, be shallow but stylish,  merely reference others while creating nothing of my own - and reference them stripped of all higher thought. Why can't I be famous for that? Tarantino is. Great art, I'm not capable of; but great trash, why not?

Choose #1, or choose #2. Love me; or, if you must, hate me. Just so long as Sitemeter tells me you viewed more than 1 page, and that you spent at least 5 minutes on my blog - and so long as you let me disdain you.


Rishabh said...

Very rant-y, I like that.

Rohan said...

I have a hard-earned reputation to live up to, Rishabh. :)

Susan Deborah said...


Hmmmm. Let's think about worshiping you!

Joy always,

CarmenT said...

This is officially my second post read on your site and I'm sure I've spent 5 minutes here at least in total.

I've decided to love you, however it does come with conditions. I'm not much for unconditional love. So here's the deal...

You have to read and love my blog. And because I can't install sitemeter since I don't know how to copy and paste (I know, I know) will have to leave comments to show me that you read and stuck around awhile.

That's the deal. Are you up for it. If so you can find me at http://catstuff-carment.blogspot.com/

Rohan said...

I'm sure we can work something out, Carmen. I come very cheap. You will have to give me a few days to get back to you, though - work-life balance being what it is...

Anonymous said...

bro, good stuff.

Anonymous said...

but just one question before i leave this blog for ever - "have any one called you a wannabe?"

if not you need to find a good friend for yourself.

Just a thought.Nothing grave. :)