Day 25: Searching for mot juste


Day 25

I spent the evening reading digital copies of newspapers of the previous two days. I have access to NYT and FT. I look forward to their weekend supplements, which have a diversity of reviews and recommendations on books, podcasts, movies and travel. Covid-19 related news and pandemic reportage seems to have moved into analysis mode now. It does have the usual situation reporting pieces also. But one finds opinions and comments on select aspects of economic, civic and political lives of stages, countries and regions will change in the post-Covid world. 

In chat groups of friends, the frequency of men posting photos of their lunches and dinners has increased. Cooking is how some are coping with life indoors. Some have taken to gardening with the same enthusiasm. Plants in several houses are feeling lucky. Men who I would have not imagined venturing into a kitchen except to find food to eat, are sharing pictures of dishes they’re making. Subtle social changes are happening which may not last long and reverse just as quickly. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how this change has come about for some men and its effects. It could be that this wave of cooking at home is driven by a Swiggy-less, Zomato-less world.

As this entry is written I am thinking of the process in these diary entries.  I assemble the day in bits. These bits are about activities, updates on the pandemic, household work and readings done through the day. When these are assembled together it makes a portrait of the day. Most of these lockdown diary entries were written in this manner.However, sometimes in the course of this assembly oriented process a grain of insight emerged. These insights required effort to articulate, to find that mot juste or the appropriate word. This is how these entries were written in the past twenty four days. A direction emerges through the assembled bits of a day and that’s the piece. Is it good? Is it the best way to write? I do not know. The only claim that the piece can possibly make is that this happened. The events and consequent thoughts happened.

These diary entries are somewhere in between events and thoughts. It is so because there is selection involved. Not all events are written about. Only a part of a day’s experience is making the material to write everyday. Maybe because these affect me in an immediate sense. I realize in the course of these days that one doesn’t probe the mind always about its intent in generating the text and form that it has. 

I see the necessity of structured writing. That is the word I am often looking for – structure. It is a verb for me. In these days of lockdown diary writing, which admittedly, is the longest continuous stretch of writing that I have done. The drift of this diary is towards structure. Mot juste is not just that. It is also about an appropriate direction.. 

The days of writing practice, when navigated well, can offer a sense of direction. I am beginning to see some new ones.

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