I lost my “Fiction”!

17

26/10/2013 by Siddiqui Fayesal

Talk about non fictional books versus fictional books and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a war of words and an end that doesn’t qualify a winner. This is a never ending battle that neither of the side will win. It’s like playing Tug of War with mathematically equated twins.

A victory is just not possible.

Now, if one was to ask me which side of the rocky boat I would lend my support to if I had to take a side, I would say that I lean more towards the former. Nothing wrong with the latter, I assure you, it’s just that I’ve read almost nothing in the category to give an unbiased opinion. I had, once, long back, tried picking up an autobiography. I think it was Gandhi’s; I couldn’t read more than 20 pages. Then, I wanted to try Mein Kampf. I still haven’t bought the book.

For some reason anything non-fiction is slow to get me. It is imperative that I give a giant sized disclaimer here since we’re on the subject. Politics is something that I can lap up with ease. Noam Chomsky and Edward Said are my favourite when I have to pick up a book on policies and politics. Apart from that any other form of non-fictional prose is not easy for me to digest.

Autobiographies, I’ve already mentioned, and the next in line are biographies. I had a run-in with a guy from my college one fine day in a train. He was in doing his Literature and was a year younger than I was. I was sitting across him and reading a book on democracy and how it is being misused (No, I am not a commie) and he was reading Plato. We started talking and he told me that it is important never to read any hardliners first person’s account of a theory! As he will try hard to brainwash me! That sounded weird to me but, later, I found that he did make sense. Albeit only if you took one look at a thing and decide how virtuous or evil it would be.

I guess his reasoning was based on the fact that communism (just one of the things we spoke about) was bad. It was proven. Now, just to see it from a tertiary POV it is important not to see only the propounder’s view but to hear what others have to say about it. It’s like picking up an account of someone who HATES Harry Potter only to find out the whats and the whys! So instead of picking up Lenin’s book, he says, pick up another authors who has researched enough on Lenin to give you an “honest” opinion.

I respect that, by the way. It’s not an opinion that one gets by CCPing (Cut-Copy-Pasting) views from the daily newspaper. It shows there was thought in what he was saying. What hit me was the fact that I never expected him to have a view (I have learnt since not to judge a person by his mannerisms)! He had dreadlocks and looked stoned most of the time. Perhaps he even did drugs. Perhaps he WAS stoned most of the time.

But see what he gives me!

Gawdammit! I wasn’t supposed to talk about this, now, was I?

I’ll segue into the theme of my article. Just wait.

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So! Non-fictions, right? Yeah, I don’t have any problems with them. I’m not counting “self-helps” here. Usually I can’t stand them. The Robin Sharmas and Robert Greens are not on my “1000 books to read before I die” list. Honestly. The only reason why I might pick one of them up is to trash them. You might say I’m judging a book by it’s cover. Well, I’m not. I’m judging a book by it’s genre.

I guess I can do that, isn’t it?

Siddiqui F.
(20.10.2013)

17 thoughts on “I lost my “Fiction”!

  1. I have read one biography and a semi autobiography. It had been an enriching experience. Having said that, I always steer clear of non fiction, especially the self-help kinds. I would like to make my mistakes and learn from them. I don’t necessarily trash non fic, but I cannot stand the pop psychology kinds, which try to integrate mysticism and psychology. But, that’s me. I read the entire blog 🙂

    • I share your take on those self help types :-p

      I don’t think they’re there to prevent us from making mistakes. I think they serve a very mediocre purpose that I cannot fathom yet!

      Thank for reading the whole thing 🙂

      • Rajiv says:

        The fact is most humans need help to either reassure themselves that their life is anything but insignificant or consequential, or to effect so-called personality transformation or attitudinal changes which will make them so-called more successful (read: conformist and pliable) men and women in the world. The fact also is that everybody neither has the time or inclination to help, or indeed no clue on what this so-called “help” is or how to deliver it. Society is least bothered in “helping” others. And hence, people resort to “self-help” by the millions and in droves. It’s an utterly lame genre, but one which is inevitable given the sheer number of bored-outta-my-mind people leading measly lives on this planet 😛

        Also about general fiction and non-fiction, I would actually balance out on both ends, with a slightly larger preference/skew for non-fiction. I think different people respond to different things in each genre. For a person who’s obsessed with well-reasoned and elucidated factual and logical arguments, full of rational inquiry and investigative journalism, non-fiction obviously rules. And for a person, who gets a greater kick by delving into nuanced literature and the human element (including thematic overtones, allegorical metaphors, emotional arcs of characters, etc.), obviously fiction would be much more appealing.

        • To prioritize is a given. Just yesterday I was being talked into reading 48 rules something by a guy called Greene. I gave in. Do you know why? I wanted him to read 1984. So it was like a give and take. It happens that Self Help “helps” but not in the way one anticipates. I’d not read one.

          Unless, it was a barter :-p

  2. Aamil says:

    “You might say I’m judging a book by it’s cover. Well, I’m not. I’m judging a book by it’s genre.”

    Once a friend asked me to read ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne (or something like that). I refused saying that I don’t like self help books. He insisted and kept saying that we should not judge a book by its cover. I now know how to reply to that. Thanks.

    I agree with your piece. Even I prefer fiction to non fiction and if I may go deeper, I would say that in fiction, I prefer Historical fiction the most. So in fiction also, I have a preference for non-fiction based fiction. Hah!

    • Hahahaha

      Yes, I was fooled into reading 3 sides from “The Secret”. The cover made me think of expeditions and travel and what not. It turned out to be banal crap fit for morons. Nothing, against the ones who do read such books, but don’t give me the condescending look.

      I can, however, do just that :-p

      • Aamil says:

        //It turned out to be banal crap fit for morons.//

        This. You should get a medal for this!

          • Aamil says:

            Why do I feel that this is a desperate attempt to get more comments and hence, more hit son your blog? 😛

            • You think this helps?

              Naaah. It’ll keep the momentum alive for a day or so. That is all.

              • Aamil says:

                Do that everyday and soon you’ll have a week. Do that every week and soon you’ll have a month. Do that every month and you’ll have a year. Do that every year and you’ll have a life time!

        • Rajiv says:

          Or equally a medal for elitist arrogance 😛
          (After all, one man’s banality is another man’s sage wisdom :P)
          (And that said, don’t worry, I am in your camp of elitist intellectual snobbery! :P)

          • I know i’m being mean and all. I don’t mean to sound like an obnoxious sack of crap… but, cmon! Who reads things like “Who will cry when you die”!!!

            • Rajiv says:

              Plenty of your fellow humans! 😛
              All art is ultimately subjective, whether we like it or not, although I myself would prefer that to not be the case, and to be given the opportunity to write a critique making mince-meat of such crap.

              But I get it, the elitist jibe wasn’t personal – I was kidding.
              As I responded to Aamil’s comment, we are all elitist snobs in some sense or the other.

          • Aamil says:

            Sometimes it depresses me a lot when I realize that in the grand scheme of things, we make no difference at all.

            While we may abhor elitism when we are at the receiving end, we never think twice before perpetrating it. This sort of behavior is also seen in people who suffer the most from it, like the untouchables of India who have a lower sub caste that they themselves consider untouchables! And so it continues. Everyone is infected by, everyone cries foul when it happens to them, but they will happily do the same to others.

            I have concluded from this that such behavior is an integral part of our psyche and to *not* do so will be an act of rebellion against ourselves. DFW would have asked to do just that, but I find that it is near impossible in this case.

            This snobbery is deeply linked with our choices and preferences that make us, ‘us’. Without them, we cease to exist. Without them, we would all be banal, ordinary people with not way to distinguish ourselves.

            In fact, the very idea of ‘distinguishing oneself in something’ has an air of elitism about it. But without that, we won’t feel a sense of any worth.

            Elitist arrogance is good.

            • Rajiv says:

              Agreed with most of it. It is indeed an intrinsic part of the human psyche. No doubt about it.
              But I wouldn’t term it as “good”, but rather a “necessary” and “ingrained” part of our condition. And that yes indeed it is deeply linked to our sense of self-worth, our sense of individualistic uniqueness, what separates “me” from “us”/”them”, etc.

              And about DFW, he advocates on rebelling against solipsism and self-centered nature of perception and sensation. And yes there’s a smaller emphasis on rebelling against exceptional personal pride or snobbish arrogance, and in favor of Zen-like calmness. But I doubt he wanted all of us to be a monochromatic scale of black or white. His intent was more in terms of evening out our ingrained narcissism and encouraging us to rebel against that which comes naturally and easily to us – the worship of self, and perceiving and sensing everything via this lens of self. And in that sense, his message was more towards becoming “well-adjusted” as he terms it, and not fall prey to the mind’s abilities to be an excellent servant (of our whims) but a terrible master (of our impulses).

              Also I was just kidding dude when I called Siddiqui an elitist. I am too. We all are. One man’s elitism is another man’s fodder for mass-pandering.

              • Aamil says:

                //But I wouldn’t term it as “good”, but rather a “necessary” and “ingrained” part of our condition.//

                🙂

                Such a big can of worms. Subjectivity and all.

                I call it good because according to me, if something helps me, it is good. Elitism helps us, ergo it must be good. But of course, we should refrain from using such words as they bring in morality and what not into the picture. Thanks for reminding me about that.

                Also agree with what you say about DFW and his message.

                //Also I was just kidding dude when I called Siddiqui an elitist.//

                I know, I was just looking for an excuse to hijack Siddiqui’s thread. That is why I started this 🙂

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