Thursday, April 21, 2011

Word Terrorists

I am terrified that when they look back on our time, we will be called the Generation of Cynics. Or maybe that's just the world I inhabit.

Used to be that we chose a cause, believed in it, then acted on the belief. Used to be that idealism wasn't a dirty word.
Seems now that we choose someone else's cause because it delights us to ladle poison on it. We've become spectators, who've relinquished responsibility quite comfortably. We've bartered it away for the privilege of pontificating without leveraging anything.
We're expending our intelligence thinking of loopholes, always loopholes, until there's nothing left to pick and tear at.

The smartest minds I know are angry, blistering and explosive in their cynicism. Using words to a most powerful & terrifying effect. Questioning, not for the sake of acquiring answers, but simply to revel in the micro-second it takes for someone to answer. No one's interested in the answer. It takes too much time, too much effort and frankly we're all too pissed off. We're using words as weapons, play-acting some kind of 'rational' thinking when all we're really thinking is Kill, Kill, Kill.

And we say that cynicism saves. It keeps 'them' honest. It speaks the truth. Think again. Think of how your cynicism is a crutch, your lack of belief an excuse to crawl under the bed (or on top of the soapbox - you prefer). You build armies of cynics and then turn to your own 'god' in the hope that they don't turn on you. But they might. Hell, they will.

Or maybe that's just the world I inhabit.


A wonderful piece from The Guardian on someone who's often accused of being a word terrorist but is anything but: Amis on Hitchens: 'He's one of the most terrifying rhetoricians the world has seen'
(Link via Priya Singh)


  1. This one looks like one of the most relevant posts of our times. True. Dark. Cynical. When they look back at our century, they will find your blog, look closely at this post and mull over it for days. If there's any love left in them after an entire generation of cynics, they will go to other posts on your blog and rediscover passion, love, adventure, discovery, darkness and light. And probably rediscover that it is possible to save your tender heart and that spark it holds so dear, protect it from the world and win with your spirit by your side. Good morning Purni - my soul sis, the sun is looking at you :D

  2. A person I deeply respect quoted a person he deeply respects, "Irony is the song of a bird that has come to love its cage."


  3. @Vaani: Wow! That was a lot to take in :D I owe you money (not for the comment, lekin humarey coffee date se change bach gaya thha...)

    @neo: Thought a while about your comment...was not entirely sure I understood what you meant...perhaps a comment on the cynicism embedded in this post on cynicism?...

  4. Excellent.

    Anything else said would probably just ruin it. :)

  5. @Aquatic: The quote said the same thing to me as your post: irony has been reduced to a coward's defense against seeming sentimental; cynicism is the token resistance of the armchair rebel.


  6. @Niti: Thank you!

    @Neo: Ah, absolutely. Thank you for dropping by :)

  7. I am not sure belief is necessarily better than cynicism. Most of the world's problems are caused by excessive beliefs in "causes". The old way of solving the problem was to fight belief with belief (e.g. capitalism with communism, religious extremism with neoconservatism, terrorism with statism etc.). Maybe it is time to fight belief with indifference.

  8. @Ritesh: I think you hit the nail on the head with the term 'excessive belief'. The operative word being 'excessive'. I suppose what I was reacting to was the excessive cynicism I see around me. I absolutely think that cynicism is important - but not indifference. Questioning is imperative - but only if it is done in the spirit of finding a solution. Not for the sake of running the other guy down. Which is what I see around me, unfortunately.

  9. @Ritesh: Also, this 'indifference' is hardly a different approach to things. Corruption thrives on indifference & apathy and as far as I can tell, hasn't really done any good at all.

  10. Can we take it this way that the present generation is merely words and not action?
    We write anger, we condemn all vices out on social networking sites, on our blogs. But who goes into the system and cleans it?
    But on the positive side, words are how we begin a revolution!
    Well written indeed!

  11. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say that the present generation is 'merely words & not action'...I just wished to say that just being aggressively cynical all the time is not going to help matters. We need to go one step further. And I say 'we' very deliberately - it's something I push myself to do too.
    Thanks so much for reading Vikas! :)