June 19, 2009

blog conversations

In Feb, this interview with Kinjal Dagli - which had then bemused me, and which already seems dated, what with twitter and other "social media" added to the fray (or I in the fray, adding and subtracting). The feature, written up by Kalindi Sheth, here.


KD: Your identity. Your name, age, profession, and where you live.

Monica Mody, writer, currently in the MFA program at the University of Notre Dame. I lived in Delhi from 2003-08.

KD: When did you start this blog? Why? What is it/does it aim to be about? Why such a title?

This is my second blog - I started posting on it in May 2008.

By Aug 2007 I had started to feel that "In Small Pieces", my first blog, did not reflect who I was any longer. I had started the latter in Sep 2004 when I was a very different person. Despite blogs being such eccentric, changeable creatures, I had somehow outgrown it.

Blogs for me are nets where I collect my writings, thoughts, observations - or such things as catch my eye. This is how I was using "In Small Pieces" - and funnily enough, I use "An Imperfect Blog" in a similar manner - as a multifarious net.

The blog, poor thing, has wanted to be about just this one thing or just that, at various points, but failed. So it has to be all and serve in many different capacities. It is the doppelganger of Monica the writer. Monica the queer feminist. Monica the movie-lover, the book-lover, the cat-lover. Monica the beyond labels. Etc.

It is an imperfect blog. I update it idiosyncratically. Often or not very often, depending on my moods/what is happening in my "real" life. Blogging is not my religion as it is for many people, and I used to feel quite upset with myself because of that. Peer pressure. But now finally, I own its imperfection.

KD: What does blogging do for/mean to you? Do you feel Indian women express themselves better on blogs; is it an outlet for just the modern, i-have-something-to-say woman, or can it be used as a tool for those hitherto unheard as well?

The connections one makes with other bloggers - this whole world of comments and communication - that is remarkable.

Is there a unified identity called "Indian women"? If you ever run into it, point me to it too. What do you mean by a "modern, i-have-something-to-say woman"? Are "less modern" women without things to say? Who is "modern" anyway? Please examine your categories.

Blogging is a tool. It is not messianic; it is not the solution to all troubles. Yes, it has allowed many adolescents, women, queer people, people with crazy/interesting hobbies, old women, right wing fundamentalists, you name it - to record their thoughts/observations and articulate them - and find sympathizers/allies out there - sometimes much more easily than in their immediate surroundings. Which means that blogging can be a progressive or regressive force depending on who is blogging.

These two processes of (a) articulating the self, and (b) finding a community have been/can be extremely powerful for certain women - women whose experiences of power might otherwise be limited. It does not matter whether these women are "modern" or "not modern" - as long as they understand the potential of this tool - as long as they blog.

Blogging should not be understood "as a tool for" but "as a tool by".

KD: Finally, is your online identity different from your offline persona? I notice that unlike several other blogs, you've put up your photograph and use your true name, right? Does it make you feel at all vulnerable that just about anybody can see/monitor you?

The self, interesting enough, does not need to be fully disclosed when blogging.

Is my online identity different from my "offline persona" (I love this!)? Of course. I monitor what goes on my blog - what I put on it - precisely because I am aware that it is a public realm. The lines I draw protect my personal life to the extent I want to keep it "private" from the "public eye". What else should I feel vulnerable about? Having certain beliefs and convictions, which might be unpopular/unacceptable in certain quarters? No. I don't worry about that because I know I have the resources to be relatively worry-free.

Many people don't have this privilege, my privileges. These could be people who, in their "offline" lives, are forced - because of gender/ sexuality/ caste/ class/ hetero-patriarchy/ other power structures - to be too nice too coy (too Indian). Who feel safer, in their virtual anonymous avatars, to express their real selves. That is sad and terrible. And yet, is it - entirely?

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