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Ending 2020

My blogging took a hit this year – as did everything for everyone. I couldn’t publish nearly as much as I’d have liked. While the average post length was the highest it’s ever been – 989 words – and audience engagement was through the roof, I had to just forget many ideas for posts I’d had because I lacked the time and more importantly any creative energy to produce them. Since around May, I felt like writing only on the weekends, and only if an idea or an insight crossed a threshold of interestingness that for some reason kept climbing higher.

YearPostsWords
201211981,710
20139671,096
2014163117,302
2015209181,233
20166455,206
2017135114,737
2018184145,530
2019169136,241
2020113111,752

That said, I have two takeaways from blogging this year. The first is a minor one – that I’ve published 1,200 posts in all now. I don’t think of this number except at the end of every year; its bigness feels reassuring, and reminds me when I’m down that I haven’t entirely wasted my time.

The other takeaway is that it’s certainly becoming harder to get through to The Other Side, as their louder commentators clamber further down their rabbit hole, and further persist with argumentative tactics guided not by reason or even the pursuit of common ground but by the need to uphold Hindutva at all times. And as they’ve dug their heels in, I’ve found I’ve been doing the same thing, although not deliberately. I’ve used the first person to refer to positions and the provenance of argumentative tacks more in 2020 than in any other year, and I’ve also been less and less inclined to spell my position – as if I’ve become sub-consciously aware that I’m no longer speaking out to change minds as much as to harden the stances of those who have already expressed solidarity.

I’m not entirely happy with this shift, this closing of the gates – even if it sounds more productive, as the engagement data also attests – because I don’t know whether when all this tides over, and it will tide over, I will be capable of reopening the gates as swiftly as I might need to. Granted, keeping the gates open even a little bit now – i.e. attempting to reason every now and then with those who aren’t amenable to reason – could prove injurious, but I remain convinced for now that it’s the smaller price to pay. And this is why I think the continuously rising threshold of interestingness is a coping mechanism of sorts, an internally supplied resistance to the hardening of the exterior.

I’m excited to find out where blogging, writing, reporting, editing, publishing in 2021 will take me – will take us all, in fact.

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Fortitude

What’s the point of sweating to compose a good argument when the reader doesn’t exist who will rebut it instead of nosing around to figure out who penned it and going after them instead?

This is a question worth asking but the answer is even more important. When faced with an audience addicted to ad hominem and whatboutery, you rage against them, you surrender and lay down your weapons, you keep hammering your arguments out in the hope that one day you will be understood or you simply walk away, never to lift your finger over a keyboard again – at least not to compose anything that will eventually end up as some mouth-breather’s toilet paper.

Rage, it is commonly acknowledged, and the desire to exert control over things that cannot be controlled that underlies such passion is not tenable. Surrender and submission are equally misguided, not to mention privileged, positions. So what is left is your commitment to your intellect and your industry and the implication is that you must keep going on and on.

I think it’s hard to define some things that don’t simply embody a fixed definition as much as encompass a set of circumstances that together carry a certain quality. Fortitude is one such, and I don’t know what fortitude itself is considering what it represents can vary drastically depending on the circumstances.

But here, now, fortitude would seem to be this radioactive mix of persistence, a willingness to skirt the edge of insanity (according to Einstein’s definition), the constant belief that one is right at the risk of being wrong every now and then, and of course the mental clarity and determination to enter this fortress of conviction at the right moments and leave at others without inadvertently leaving parts of yourself behind on either side.

If only it were a drug.