15 – 1

Focus is a particularly useful trait. Is it a trait? Maybe a property. It might be hard to classify, really. Let’s examine what it is.

Focus. A burst of concentration towards a goal. I can’t think of too many synonyms, considering how the word itself is used to describe other words and phrases. Zeroing in on something for a period of time. There we go. Sustaining interest and directing it at a point, for some given time. All of them seem to be appropriate definitions.

So, given the description, how do we describe focus? It’s not really a trait – it’s not genetic, or inherited. If anything, the trait would be the ability to focus. Focus itself, on the other hand? Completely different. We could think of it as an attribute in a video game. Increased XP/HP/Skills for a span of time.

So the issue with focus is is that it can be hard to harness. One may require a specific environment, or a favoured topic, or some form of incentive. As such, there’s no guarantee that fulfilling all of these conditions shall ensure that one will be able to focus. Even when focus is achieved, it can be lost. I don’t think that made sense. To me, let alone anybody else.

 

15

How do you start something.

You just do, I guess.

Even then, it’s hard to do something once started. Especially without any motivation to do it. Unless you get a decent flow going, maintenance of continuous action is no child’s play.

Actually, it is. Starting something and going somewhere with it for a moderate period of time is actually relatively easy.

The issue is with directing that flow into something productive. Anyone can stand on a street and spout on endlessly and aimlessly to no avail; the momentary entertainment provided to a passerby may even make it worth one’s time, but is that productive? Maybe it is, just monetize the system. However, for the greater number of cases, it isn’t. Or, it isn’t worth it. Or they won’t. Not too many people capable of turning such acts into an income stream are going to end up in such a situation in the first place. Those who do will probably migrate to a steadier economic base sooner or later.

That is to say, they do have direction. So what about those without any? You start, then start over, then do it again. Given the condition discussed, without changes, you’re most likely to fail every single time.

What then.

 

Thowing Shit at the Wall: I should be doing actual stuff right now

WordPress changed its layout for writing stuff.

And, so it seems, the fonts. Which really sucks, I was just getting used to the older format.

Ignore the fonts now. Let’s talk layout. Gone is the distinct box in which one would write. It’s been replaced – the whole screen is now a blank canvas (are they taking the metaphor too far? Perhaps), and the formatting option occupies the single distinct portion of this blank page. It sort of stands out now. Looks like it’s floating mid-air. Interesting. Was this the intention of the page designers? I’m guessing it was; after all, WordPress isn’t some small niche thing on the Internet, any minor change shall affect the workflow of thousands – and stuff like this? It’s a completely different experience for everyone who writes semi-regularly. This redesign is sure to have been a major event in the internal running of the company, spanning several months at the least. I had something more to say but I’m forgetting what it is. Not a good sign.

Next up: the fonts. You know, when I started typing this out I thought that the font had changed. After a decently sized block of text, I no longer think so. It’s definitely the same font I used before. It’s possible that I thought so because I was looking at some of my older posts. The first one, especially: it was done on another editor and later copy-pasted onto the box, so it’s no surprise that the font type and size are all different. Long story short, the font type for the editor hasn’t changed. The headline’s may have, though – I can’t really check, never really spent long enough staring at my headings to differentiate in between them (I’m 98% sure there’s a grammatical error in that sentence). Point is, nobody cares.

When I was talking about the layout, I completely forgot about the rest of the page. Silly me. Anyway, as I was saying, the writing area is not the only new thing. The sidebar has shifted to the left.

Yes, folks. The all-important sidebar (no sarcasm intended) has moved from the left of the screen to the right, and honestly, this is the biggest and most noticeable change for obvious reasons. Opening the publisher to this change was quite a disorienting experience. I don’t know what else to say about this, so, MOVING ON.

The sidebar appears to have some features added. Nobody cares it’s late gotta go bye.

Throwing shit at the Wall: Day 3

Or, how I consistently manage to screw up the simplest deadlines.

I was supposed to start working on this 50 minutes back. Post lunch drop is a real thing. I’ll have to come up with some fancy latin term for “post lunch drop” – makes for a better excuse when people ask me why I can’t schedule properly. I’d use Google Translate, but there’s no way for me to tell how accurate that’ll be; I still remember the mess it made of English-Bengali and English-Hindi translations. Does anybody know latin well enough to help? Preferably within the next week. Until then, I’ll try translate anyway.

Quick tests using phrases I know first. Let’s start with something simple, like “die for my country”. Should return Pro patria mori, or at least so say Wilfred Owen and Horace (ISC yay).

screenshot-from-2017-02-22-14-55-56

Great. Dulce et Decorum also returns “Sweet and befitting”, so that’s good. In a totally unrelated issue, could someone tell me why this is the same.

screenshot-from-2017-02-22-14-57-54

The english book says it should work out. Maybe it’s a contextual thing? Gotta try that out, but I’ll do it at the end. On to the point!

“Post lunch performance drop” isn’t working out. I mean, it is, but the translation is far too long. I need something easy to say like post meridian, I’m not some latin scholar. Let’s try Post lunch lethargy. Hm. Check that I’m using lethargy correctly. Yes, google says so. Great, now translate.

screenshot-from-2017-02-22-15-02-34

Perfect.

It’s a bit of a mouthful, but short enough for a 2 second limit and pretentious enough to qualify for something pretentious, I forget the exact nature of what I’m talking about. Either way (where’s the choice here?), it’s a usable phrase that was hopefully a decent translation. Maybe I shouldn’t have compared it to Bengali/Hindi. Different regions, different priorities, and what not. Then again, if it is wrong, could some latin-literate reader help (I know they’re non existent in my case but let me talk hypothetically dammit)?

I was supposed to consider contents of my discalimer but I’m already 7 minutes past my deadline.

About that contextual phrase translation idea – let’s try it out.

screenshot-from-2017-02-22-15-09-24

Uh huh.

The Romans used Fatherland? Didn’t know that. Hold on.

Wikipedia says it’s a long series of events and things. Never mind.

Also, this.

Throwing shit at the Wall : Day 2

As it turns out, people do read their mails. Weird. What truly surprises me here is not their apparent dedication to obsessively checking mail, but their willingness to venture beyond the reasonably well curated Primary inbox provided by GMail into the mess of the “Social” tab that is typically full to the brim with a variety of notifications from various Social Networking sites, and fishing out the ones sent by WordPress. There are a few inferences that can be made from these facts, but I’m too lazy to figure them out right now.

A major issue I’m facing right now is the question of what I should write. My current style works well enough for now – commenting on completely random shit all the time – but it won’t last. I can only fling shit at the wall for so long. Ideally, this should work for simulating the freefall stages in examination essay composition, but it’s not quite that. After all, even there there’s a structure, a certain goal I’m working towards, points I’ll eventually have to hit in my slow ramble forward to make for a coherent argument – and this is hardly a proper representation of that form. Sure, I’m rambling, but every point seemingly brought up comes out of the blue, there is no predetermined  structure forcing a specific path or writing style. The words I use have nothing to do with the point – for that matter, there is no point to make. Or is there?

Okay, so this is going to be significantly shorter as I just removed three paragraphs of pointless rambling. I’m overusing the word ramble. Point being, writing stuff with no set goal is annoying, possibly pointless, and terrible to read. I, will, overuse, the, comma, take, that. Got that out of the way. Even yesterday’s narrative had a basic plot/narrative – me talking to a bunch of (as I thought) non-existent strangers about conjunctions and google search and whatnot. However, I learnt that these people did exist. Quite annoying , and a major reason I’d considered turning this into a private post. But hell, let it be.

I’m regretting that decision already, but I’ll have to commit to it for at least today.

So to solve that issue of mindless talk, I’ve decided that I’ll start writing on specific topics a few days earlier than planned. The initial plan was to do the flingshit thing for a few days for the whole freefall issue, but it does get boring after a while. Either that, or I’m just having a bad stretch today – but that isn’t important. The question we must all ask ourselves is: do I make those private? I mean, if I don’t, it will start showing up when you look for very specific ISC essay topics – my ICSE ones already do; and this is decidedly not a good thing. The essays are/will be very obviously practice tasks, and not some googlden(notatypo) standard for board examinations. If you want that, go to Sparknotes. Wait, does sparknotes provide essays?

Actually, scratch the going to sparknotes bit. Their clickbait on the side can get really annoying. It’s designed  to destract. Although to be fair that is their target. Wait, what was I talking about again? Ah right, specific essays. Another issue with them is that they aren’t really an expression of how I feel about the topic – they may be, sometimes, but for the most part it’s whatever argument can be dressed up and presented the best. That being said, my class 10 essays are a national embarrassment.

Maybe I’ll include a disclaimer before each essay. Yeah, that might work. I’ll have to decide on the contents of it later – hey, maybe I’ll do another flingshit day so I can spend half an hour just talking about that. Why not make it private, you ask? Well, people who see them usually have some comments to make – helps. There’s also the bit where I kind of like seeing the page stats provided by WP. Yeah I know, shameless sellout.

Eh, it’s too short. Never mind. Also, listen to this.

Throwing shit at the Wall: Day 1

This is a warm up post. I’m testing some stuff before I actually start writing – for whatever reason. Decided to post to WordPress as pretty much nobody’s gonna read this, and I also need to keep this saved and accessible, if not private. Wait, can you do private posts?

Ah yes you can. I’ll decide on whether or not to enable that setting once I’m done writing the text – probably won’t need it, because, as I said, I don’t really think anybody will read it. Except that one person who gets email notifications. Or does everybody get email notifications? I can’t be sure. Let’s assume, then, that you did get a notification, so if you’re reading this that’s where you came from. In this respect I’m pretty sure nobody falls in that category – it would probably be fair to say people barely even check their emails. If they do it’s probably GMail. GMail should be sending the messages to the Social or Updates tab. Nobody checks any tab other than Primary, and that’s assuming they open their mail in the first place.

So that’s it, then – I’ll leave this post open for all to see. If anybody does get here through their email, they can tell me. It’ll become a survey, of sorts. If they got here through the website in general, or by accident – wow. I welcome you, and request you to comment on what appears to me to be an overuse of commas and hyphens by me. Comments on grammar wouldn’t hurt either, as that’s the reason I’m doing this anyway. I do think I’m using “I” a bit too much, along with oversimplified stuff I can’t put a name to, like that right there. Either way, it should be sufficient practice for the freefall stage in the examination – planned write-ups should commence in a week or less. Also, could somebody point out better ways to start a sentence loosely based on the tone of the previous one without starting with “Also”?

Or “so”, for that matter. If I remember correctly ISC penalises (penalizes?) sentences that start with conjunctions or “or”. Wait, so I can’t start with “And”, but what other conjunctions exist? What are conjunctions, again? Hold on, let me google it.

Google says conjunctions include “and”, “but”, and “if”. So we can start sentences with some conjunctions. If we couldn’t that’d be terrible. But doesn’t conjunction mean joining two sentences? If that’s so, I shouldn’t be able to start sentences with them – can’t join a null to a sentence here. But then again, English is quite weird as a language to start with, so at this point I’m not really sure – because I distinctly remember some words that we were taught back in primary – they joined sentences (wait that’s a conjunction right there), but you could add it to the beginning of a compound sentence. And I don’t really remember the words right now, hold on. It was something pertaining to causality, wasn’t it? I’ll use Google again, let us see what comes from it. Of it? Comes from it or comes of it? May as well Google that too. Hold on.

The first search term – it led to this website called gingersoftware. Ignoring the four different types of conjunctions that I just came (got?) to know of, it’s pretty elementary and doesn’t really tell me what I needed. The types and rules don’t help either. Ah, well. Onto the next search.

Search term “comes of it” leads to several dictionaries, leading me to believe that’s the correct one. However, “comes from it” doesn’t fare as badly as the first sentence led me to believe – you get something about context, a link pertaining to some law concept, and a word reference forum. Maybe, just maybe, clicking on the links instead of just glancing at them may help.

I’m basing my final decision based on Macmillan Dictionary’s definition of “come of”. Almost everything in the “comes from” search term turned out to be law related. Maybe if I were a lawyer, but I’m not. So, “Comes of”, I choose you. Allow me to add the actual definition here for a minute. Yes, I know I can’t do this in the paper but if you thought I’d write an essay in this format, then you need some lessons in – I don’t know, ISC marking? I can’t really see what I’m typing right now as editor’s in the corner and notifications keep popping up.

Okay, fixed all the typos that came of that notification mess. So as I was saying, you need lessons in ISC marking if you think this essay would be acceptable in an examination. Actually, if you do figure out the marking scheme, let me know. There’s no telling what actually constitutes a good write-up as per examiners; and if they accept endless tirades with no observable goal, that’d be interesting to know. Oh wait, I got off track. So as I was saying, here’s the picture of the definition:

screenshot-from-2017-02-20-13-39-14

Oh, dear. So it turns out you can’t just copy an image and paste it. Fiddling with the controls to add the image was a bit messy, as I forgot how to correlate obvious symbols to their intended meaning.  None of that really matters, as I have achieved my goal.

I think I’ll stop right here. Will read this later. It’ll give me an idea of how I write in between my planned sections, and, hopefully, how to fix my errors. If you did end up here and are still reading, I have two things to ask you: what are you doing?( x 2)

Bye for the moment.

Communication in Popular Media

 

The Star Wars series is famous for a number of things. One of them is the scroll of text that opens every movie. It tells the viewer the story so far, events that have happened off-screen, and sets the tone for the movie. While apparently a very successful method, just stating events isn’t always the best way to tell a story, or give a moral lesson, and artists know that. Real life is filled with examples of effective communication, but it is in art and advertisement that we see the various ways to convey the same idea, and this essay is an effort to analyze the theory behind it. No part of this essay claims to be sufficiently well defended and is, at best, a theory.

wikipedian_protester

In common parlance, the word “communication” is used as a synonym for transferring information. The information itself is varied – it could mean factual data, ideas, or emotions. When effectively used, the core sentiment or thought conveyed forms a distinct impression in the mind of the recipient which equals the intent of (the) content communicated. Thus, in a conversation or otherwise, effective communication manifests itself in clear, unambiguous transfer of information – usually through direct instructions, statements, or questions, with only as much circumlocution as absolutely necessary. Since effective use of communication as a tool encompasses not only the transmission of data but also the intended psychological impact on the receiving party, the delivery of the information, the medium of deliverance, and the context surrounding this delivery are all equally important to the process.

The first obvious application of this beyond the real world (where it is used in conversations, verbal or otherwise), is as a literary device. Be it in literature, art, cinema, video games, or music, communication is absolutely essential for effective storytelling. Since a major function of various artforms is to convey a specific emotion or range thereof, and considering their varied formats, mass media as an entity turns out to be the perfect canvas to portray the scope and extent of effective communication as a whole. Literature itself is primarily a text-only medium, comics use both text and art, Cinema utilises a combination of visuals and sound, while music focuses solely on sound. ‘Art’ is a bit hard to classify. While there are conflicts between these formats and occasional crossovers (like music videos and video games), the core of each is essentially the same – which is why, combined, it all makes for a presentation on the variety and lengths effective communication can be taken to. The “golden rule” to judge how effective it is is to see that it conveys something of purpose, in a manner effective enough to make the consumer feel the need for that something – which could be a story, a general emotion, a protest – it doesn’t really matter, as long as the consumer sees the need for it to be expressed.

In prose and poetry, storytelling is limited to text. While illustrations and other graphical methods are often used, for the majority of the time, the body of text is condemned to stand on its own. Alone, it has to comply with the golden rule, and both prose and poetry have found their own ways to do so. For instance, one could argue that the fundamental trick used by the former is that of perspective. A story changes depending on the person from whose perspective it is told. A first person narrative is very personal, and heavily biased in favour of the narrator. A third person story gives a more passive and neutral outlook; and one that follows the protagonist’s chain of thought and actions in third person tells a tale slightly more active than the passive nature of pure external narration. It doesn’t stop there – an author can choose to describe whatever is necessary for a scene, delve into the minds of characters for the readers’ benefit, and give their own views through whichever means they wish to. The choice of narration style, the pacing of the story, the narrative beats – it is all upto the creator, and has a marked effect on how the final product is received. If it all coalesces into a single, clear picture, identical or similar to how the author envisioned it, then it may be considered as an example of effective communication. Poetry is similar, yet different. Because of its formal structure, entire interpretations may be made based simply on the structure chosen. We have sonnets, limericks, haikus, ballads, epics,and the like – each form used to tell a different tale. Modifications to structure can be used to disorient; to introduce a sense of unfamiliarity. Rhythm and rhyme schemes are combined with grammatical devices such as alliteration, comparisons, irony, and so on and so forth – all of it is used to subliminally invoke the intended emotion(s). In addition to this poetry can share the same narrative devices used in prose: starting from perspective right upto the pacing and narrative style, so the communicative scope of poetry is absolutely massive, notwithstanding the constraints of its form.

When changing the medium of expression to art, different principal techniques are used to convey the same result. Point of view, art style, and detailing are still essential, but other methods more suited to a visual canvas are applied more often. Art doesn’t always tell a story – but when it does, every creative tool in existence can be used to accompany it. Negative space, framing, depth of detail, symmetry – a large number of techniques are brought into the fray to make up for the loss of explicit words describing everything important in a scene. Note, however, that a piece may use text as an accompaniment, which is why I’ll be using a comic strip to showcase what I just said. Oh, and to those of you questioning the inclusion of comics in such a hallowed field as art, I present to you this:

art

While the comic proves my point pertaining to art, it’s not what I want to showcase as an example of effective communication in art right now. A better example that communicates everything necessary using the various other techniques available to the artist would be this one:

reh8h7gh

This work of art exists for comedy; its primary purpose is to entertain. Yet, notice the way it is presented in order to attain its objective. From four panels the reader gets to know that the duo tried to go to sleep in a generally isolated locality, were unsuccessful, considered the possibility of the supernatural, and spent the rest of the night outside their tent, terrified. It opens at bedtime in a tent – it’s dark, and relatively isolated. There’s a pause – a panel with only the background and no speech bubbles – followed by the next panel where somebody asks if the other believes in ghosts. Both boxes together create the next part of the narrative, indicating the passage of time to boot. It serves to show that the question is raised after a while of inactivity, and not immediately afterwards as many might have drawn it. The penultimate panel sets up the punchline, and the next one delivers it in the form of a sudden change of lighting and the duo’s terrified, sleep-deprived expressions; and it is the absurdity of it all that induces laughter. Calvin and Hobbes have a comic on that too, but I digress.

As a field relying on both visuals and sound to convey a tale, cinema provides us with yet another avenue to observe the varied perceptions of communication as we know it. A golden rule in movies is “show, don’t tell”, and much is done to achieve that. Innovative directors who utilise the entire spectrum of sound and picture made available to them can tell much more in far less time when compared to others who aren’t of the same calibre. By a combination of camera movement, framing, aspect ratio choices, musical score, and general sound design, a scene can add up to more than just the sum of its parts when used correctly, which almost invariably furthers the plot just that bit further than usual. In fact, even text alone can be just as, if not more, effective – as evidenced by the iconic scrolls that open before every Star Wars movie till date (for reference, Rogue One is still two months out). Good screenwriting and direction cuts down on ham-fisted dialogue. Visual cues such as aspect ratio changes and set design can be applied to immerse the viewer and indicate a variety of locations and time periods without unnecessary title cards. Through camera movement one gets a sense of the style of narration, and even the pacing of the story. The score is often used as an indicator – for instance, the theme in Jaws before every attack. Sound design as a whole, along with every other component of film production amalgamate to give rise to an experience identical or very similar to its creator’s vision. Take for instance, The Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s fantastical, whimsical, and tells a tale that wouldn’t have worked any other way. Director Wes Anderson ensures that all of this is conveyed, not through dialogue alone, but in every frame in the form of camera movement, movement in general, sound, music, dialogue, and so on and so forth; and even if some scenes do not make sense without context, they’re beautiful in their own right. Besides, even these often tell a tale more effectively than many feature-length movies. Take the picture below, for instance. It tells us three things. One: It is set in a fancy building some time in the past. Two: the scene is slightly unsettling due to the near perfect symmetry, as it is meant to be. Three: it depicts a Mexican standoff with at least six participants in a very expensive building.

screenshot-from-2016-10-01-21-05-10

“Most of the time, communication gets confused with conversation. In fact, the two are distinctly different… It is very important to realise that communication is a two-party affair which aims at passing on or receiving a specific piece of information.” Dr Kalam’s views on the topic hold true, not only for the conversations he was referring to, but also to the vast and varied field of entertainment and art; and their creators know this. Every new movie, every book, every video game is an implementation of this theory, whether conscious or otherwise. It is why, after so many years of retelling the same story, they hold their significance. It is why the entirety of Star Wars isn’t a long body of text scrolling across the screen.