Dear Anupriy: Letter #21

(This letter is part of an epistolary series Speaking Our Souls and is a response to Letter #20. If you wish to start from the beginning, you can look at the list here)


I love your new avatar, the Mythematician. I picture you as old-timey Magellan, but with extra limbs that carry astrolabes, story sextants, the pre-history terrain balance, and the thesaurus of myths. You have always been a knowledge seeker, and now you get to share what you seek!
It amazes me that despite all that you see, hear and know, you feel the urge to break the grand pattern and present a narrative as fresh as possible.

It makes me wonder about the patterns of our letters. Our letters reflect patterns of our thoughts. And so while each letter blooms a new flower in our backyard, we are weathered gardeners using old tricks. There is a familiar ping-pong between us. Just take the example of ‘opinions’ that we touched upon in our previous round of letters.

It’s usual for me to talk about things that restrict me and it’s usual for you to talk about things that free you. I am not suggesting that we don’t process and discuss new things, but it’s the ‘how’ that feels scripted. There is a rhythm. What I would write. How you would respond. How a line of thought would end and be reborn.

Is it possible to break this rhythm? How should we go about doing that? Perhaps we switch places for a bit? An intonation that’s mine, but a perspective that’s yours. An inflection that’s yours, applied to a value-set that is mine. I don’t even know if this is possible or makes sense. Structuralism says that components are underlying any idea or a system of ideas. But such a deconstruction feels alienating because ‘parts’ by themselves can never represent the ‘whole’. They need a special sauce. Is our predictable rhythm our special sauce?

What does this say about the repetition of thoughts and ideas in the history of humankind? In so many ways, we are all ache-typical, predictive. There’s comfort in that. And in others, we are all mercurial, pulsating. There is excitement in that. And this duality itself is so familiar, yet catches me unawares. I think I heard it on an American news show once- ‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes’. I couldn’t agree more. Our Deja Vu’s are having their own Deja Vu’s, but we find ourselves in the middle of one of the most innovative decades of modern human history, with never-before discoveries and the world spinning at the speed of light.

Incidentally, mythologies often spend time in dogma dungeons and children’s books. Why? Because they offer the old and new at the same time. That is their rhythm. A line of discussion, at one of your Mythematical sessions, led us to think of mythological stories as parasitic ‘memes’ that desperately look for our cranium abodes. They don’t care about the internet or 21st-century space travel. After a reasonable epoch, they cause a ‘revival’, a ‘discovery’, a ‘Never seen before’. But they are never really out of sight. Death, betrayal, seduction, duty- the notions our storied mythology offers are what we survive on, and will continue to do so. That is our pattern.

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this. You are being thoroughly missed.

Yours rhythmically,

P.S. When I wrote the first draft of this letter, I was consuming Tom Nicholas’s brilliant videos on structuralism and post-structuralism. I highly recommend you watch them. I would also like you to become as obsessed with Gayatri Spivak, as I was about two months ago. Here’s an article to get you started.




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Rohina Thapar

Rohina Thapar

Art. History. Books.

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