Hyperlinked Explorations

Sometimes I wish there were no hyperlinks in the texts I find during my cyber quests for knowledge, but only sometimes. For someone who is easily distracted and prone to frittering away the hours of the day in an offhand way, this is the worst sort of temptation. The information addiction is like a velvety shackle that can grip and trap completely while appearing like nothing more than a fashion accessory, an accessory you would never willingly give up.

What’s pleasantly terrifying (notice the adverb pleasantly) is how my real interactions and conversations are changing and morphing into my cyber activities. For instance, the day David, Priyanka, Jeff and I met at The Algonquin in New York City, a few weeks ago, our discussions went off on some interesting tangents. Unfortunately, I hadn’t taken any notes (Priyanka had – and we’re still waiting for her report) but some of the things we discussed were the works of Frederico Garcia Lorca, the concept of duende, coincidences, the prevalence of the letter S in the English language and fado music. This meeting was weeks ago but some of these topics were exactly like hyperlinks for me, if you will. Just like you could be reading something on a particular topic on Wikipedia or as a result of a Google search, our conversation was the main focus but Lorca, duende and fado were like the hyperlinks that seized control of my interest and imagination and refused to let go. Until that day I hadn’t heard of this poet, I had never come across the word duende and had no clue what fado music sounded like. Now I can’t stop reading Lorca’s work, or learning as much about duende as I can and am about to go and purchase my first Amalia Rodriguez album!

The shackles are tightening too because when you try to learn about Lorca you get into the Spanish Civil War, Andalusia, Falle, Romanos, cante jondo, siguiriya or Andalusian deep song which leads to a discussion on melody, harmony, rhythmic beats, and of course wherever there is a discussion of rhythmic beats my confusion about taals in Indian classical music comes to the forefront. Siguiriya, cante jondo and fado also tend to come together in having common elements of ancestry – Arabic or Moorish, perhaps Indian. And how could this little fact or conjecture not be of interest to an Indian?

Then learning more about fado takes me into Portugal. This soulful music is characterized by an elusive emotion defined as saudade. Saudade is apparently a national Portuguese trait. It is supposedly the most untranslatable word according to many translators. It is not quite longing, not quite sadness or despair and not quite nostalgia. It has elements of all these emotions. It is also described as a dreamily wistful quality and an interesting analogy I came across was that if nostalgia was a feeling associated with someone no longer alive, saudade would be associated with someone who is still alive but has disappeared from your life forever, saudade would indicate hope that perhaps you would encounter this person once again. How interesting is this? Makes me think how come the Portuguese were the only ones in the world who found this feeling profound enough to attribute a word to it? Don’t people from other cultures and nations ever feel something similar? Thoughts like this were, again, like hyperlinks that sent me in search of other untranslatable words…

And so went an entire weekend, the sun rose, the sun set, I wasn’t bored all day, I had traveled across Spain and Portugal and in and out of some of the great artistic and philosophical minds associated with these countries.

Could I have been doing anything else? Possibly. But I was bound and trapped and had loved every moment of my captivity.

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