Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Representativeness heuristic

Now I wanted to write something on "moral compass" or "dashed expectation" (the quotes are there for no particular reason), but decided on something "cognitive." I know its not a discovery, but I'm kind of saddened by the realisation that we are limited by our "perception" even though we are aware of such a limitation. I've been talking to M, A, P (not M's P, but my flatmate "P" whom I'll call "PA" from now on to avoid confusion) and found them disappointed with various people for the stuff in quotes in the first sentence, except for the last one. All of them agreed that it is something the last quoted word in the first sentence, but did not "seriously" consider that as a factor influencing anybody's first pair of words in quotes in the paragraph. "Representativeness heuristic is okay, but [insert the name you want] is wrong," is what they seemed to be saying, although nobody said as much.

Now "assuming commonality between objects of similar appearance" is the only way we can handle new objects/people/events along with some homework and an alert mind. But how alert can your mind be? Always? Never. I mean, come on, you cannot what is in quotes in the fourth sentence claim to understand this sentence at one go and we do not have even a total of 221 words till the end of this sentence. If 220 words with some quotes can be this much annoying/confusing/misleading, just think of all the things we have to deal with every day. Imagine how vulnerable we are to making biased judgements and what vitriol we may inadvertantly and deservingly provoke in people we wrong. There is some ingrained last quoted word in the first sentence bias in us, which we cannot do away with. I mean we can do away with ourselves but not with the bias. That's kinda Greek to know that we will all hurt people because there is something seriously wrong with human understanding. Inescapable moira! Unfortunately, the last sentence conjures up an image of K.C. Das, Bhim Nag and Nokur Chondro Nondi chasing me around College Square. Such is the power of perception and association!! I mean the association of dead confectioners. Sex, porn, more porn, deviant porn. That's my gratuitous reference to sex. I almost forgot. Whew! Such a tough task meeting your "expectations." Thank you.

And do not expect the last quoted word in this write up to mean anything special. As I said in the beginning, the quotes are there for the heck of it. Welcome!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Of Anal Shit, or killing your parents

Now that can be a perfectly normal Bengali name: Awenaul (meaning fire) Sheat (a rather uncommon Bengali surname). If you have a name like that, it means either your parents didn't know English or the urge to maul one's offsprings is not restricted to certain species of cats and lions. Against all faith in human goodness, I have to admit the second possibility because the story of the unfortunately named Anal was told to me by a friend who lives in the US. There he met a Bong couple who had named their only son Anal. I'm sure those parents knew what they were doing.

All this reminds of the shit humour, in every sense, I read in The Dilbert Blog yesterday. I am disgusted, but I'm sure I can stoop lower. I want you guys to create names that, in English transliteration, bring out the worst in humanity and instigate deeds that make Oedipous look like a saint.

I have done my bit in the title.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Fry my balls

I did two things with the title: removed the punctuation (from Fry, my balls!) and added irrelevant reference to sex (in this case a sexual organ) to make it sound more interesting. Up to you what you find interesting though.

This I thought would be a nice title for something on Stephen Fry, the admirable writer who taught me this rascally subterfuge for starting short prose pieces. Well, I must admit that Fry did not teach me in person. Also, I'm not imputing the stylistic bastardy of my prose to him. Moreover, I am also sure that in person he is not as horny a style rabbit, itching to impregnate everybody else's prose, as it appears from my previous sentence. Just that I like his prose and the liking is almost physical (ah! that must have done it).

Sometimes you rush through the pages of a book as if the last page has the address to the shop selling the perfect cure for your seven-year-old eczema. But, of course, you do it only because of your less curable disease of plot teleology. Prose assissts in the denoument of a plot. Stephen Fry's prose is autotellic. You may open up any page in a book and start reading without at all missing the pleasure. Somewhat like pornography or a manual of sex. Position 73 is as good as position 69 in the Kamasutra and starting there won't be in medias res at all. I know this analysis of his prose is grossly oversimplified. Someday I hope to write on all the perverse pleasures of his prose.

That said, I will not write a review of his books here. I am re-reading Paperweight now, and felt like trying out his title strategy. It goes well with my stated intention of including non sequitur references to sex in my post. Also, I wish my prose gets his prose's nose and eyes, I mean syntax and cadence. I'll be happy see my blog grow up to be a paperweight.

And as his alter ego, Donald Trefusis says, hugely to you all.

Update: I remembered that Fry has a novel called Stars' Tennis Balls (or Revenge in some editions, a clever remake of The Count of Montecristo. Must have been at the back of my mind when I wrote this. Turns out that my balls are not that irrelevant anymore.