Sunday, August 27, 2006

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Sherlock and SandC

Last night I did my best Sherlockian impression. I gazed into the fire and considered all the material and circumstantial evidence. It turned out to be a one and a half pipe problem!

First I considered the evidence:

1) A writing network run on Ryze by two Indian, American/Indian nationals--both of whom work in the financial sector: one in India and one in America.

2) Said two people (both business oriented) begin a writing network on Ryze (a business networking group!)—apparently for the love of writing (art for art's sake!).

3) Leader of network, Pragya, seems to have little interest in literature and issues pertaining to literature--though she is well able to write factual material and business reports.

4) Co-originator of network, JJ, is undoubtedly a fellow with a deep love of literature.

5) Many of network's members are students based in US.

6) Ethical and moral righteousness of Americans and American positions are never to be doubted.

Suddenly the solution came to me: SandC is actually a front for helping Indian nationals who want to become American citizens! Two bankers got together--one based in Bangalore and the other in NJ--to earn some pocket money by advising Indians how to go about completing the process that would lead to American citizenship. While their (mostly crummy) poetry is critiqued, the essential business goes on behind the scenes. A writer's network seemed a particularly good idea as it could provide some indication of to what extent the would-be Americans had already imbibed the cultural mores of the new society. There was also the point that one of the co-founders, JJ, had a genuine and deep love of literature written in the English language--a fact that could be used to good advantage!

In the end, I guess there is nothing very reprehensible in all this--except perhaps passing themselves off as people who were essentially interested in literature. For my part, however, (the happy and unsuspecting mummer), I feel like I have possibly been used as a character who could give extra credence to the "front". In these circumstances, I intend in the future to do no more than make the odd post on uncontentious issues--in the hope that this will be enough to maintain the free advertisement for my stories on the site. If not, no matter.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have observed SandC for a long time and I feel that what you say may well be true.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Sefi said...

This is very interesting concept!
Ma che c'entra il "business" con la passione per l'arte e la letteratura?
"ars gratia artis"
"l'art pour l'art"
"art for art's sake"
Parlate di questo, no?!

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I find it true.

3:40 AM  
Blogger Mahfuuz said...

Cant be said any better than how you have done, my friend. Have been trying to put these thoughts into words for long. Thanks.

4:01 AM  
Blogger gautami tripathy said...

What brought this up?

4:23 AM  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

although your sometime efforts in the direction of poetry have lately seemingly somewhat abated, one is hearted to note how you've made good on the creative invention impulse (howsoever amusingly irrational) in the form of Poe-esque (or possibly more like Phillip K. Dick-esque) short historical fiction. Congrats on the arresting (which is not to say arrested) development.

Your list of points is as factually sound as is a puddle oceanic. Your usual & familiar literary prejudices are rather insultingly couched in the form of points #3 and #4. (A woman [not a banker btw] whose estimable literary interests and talents hap to run in directions rather different from your own, is deemed aliterate; a man who happens to share some of your tastes, bents and biases, is deemed the epitome of the highbrow literatus.) Anglocentric Phillistinism as grist for the conspiratorial mill? Charming.

Inventive daring grows apace
(one needn't call it libel)
but what inspired this ediface?
perhaps the gift of babble

your most cordial

3:45 PM  
Blogger Ishqa said...

Maybe you should not even post the occasional comment Jon. You may know a lot but unfortunately none of it percolates down. You don't nurture anyone - simply talk down from a position of self-arrogated authority.

If you have a problem with the board, just leave.

Your attitude leaves everything to be desired. And please spare us. Don't bother to condescend to even the occasional remark.

Everyone all around will be truly happier.



8:46 PM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Ishqa..And by the way, who are you Ishqa?..I am not here to nurture anyone: that is not the reason I joined the board. I have no interest in second and third rate material (nor fourth and fifth rate). If you can learn something by reading pieces I have written, then fine. If not--too bad! By the way, how many really talented writers and critics contribute to the board?...errrm...none at all! Why do you think that is? I'll leave you to provide the answer.

By the way, you didn't refer to the "Sherlock and SandC" post on the board--that's what we're talking about here!

8:17 AM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Thanks for the positive remarks about the short fiction David. The poetic muse has, for the moment, hibernated but no doubt it will return at some time in the future. Even the short fiction was coming from archival material, so the posting has been far from chronological.

As for my prejudices, most writers/critics I kind of feel that an interest in literature should be backed up by a wide and deep background reading. Today, I was watching a program on TV concerning a famous director (forget his name: director of "Pleasantville" and "Sea Biscuit") and he spent most of the show paying tribute to his directing heroes. In other words, it seems natural that someone who goes into movie directing should know a lot about...well, movie directing! I would contend that the same is true of writing. I don't care if your heroes/models are English/Irish/American etc....but they should be there as inspirations to you. I would assume that JJ knows a lot about American lit. too. I never observed the same interest on the part of Pragya. Who may be her role models.

As for your determination to see the facts in a diverse way, of course that is your right. However, I give an explanation for a concatenation of circumstances...You don't agree..OK..that doesn't mean the idea is wrong.

Cheers, Jon.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like a good explanation for a strange concurrence of events to me. I don't think these two are running the board only for a love of literature.

8:32 AM  
Blogger pluto85 said...

For me Jon is right.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your powers of imagination sir sadly need a lot of honing... would reccommend you for the aforementioned s&c's poetry workshop run by the Professor Murthy...

2:39 PM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

I deleted a long and rambling post by "Sugardaddy" as it was mostly just throwing insults around. Also, he ("she"?) criticised some others for posting anonymously here--while obviously posting anonymously himself (herself?).

3:49 PM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

"Anonymous" try and learn English! One doesn't say "the Professor Murthy"--just "Professor Murthy". Oh yes...only one 'C' in "recommend" too!

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Zendo said...

Whatever the validity of the point of view expressed in the above article, "Sherlock and SandC", it is true that the level of posts on the aforementioned network is poor. It's reasonable to say that not a single very famous (or even quite famous!) writer or critic posts there. Therefore, if Mr. Aristides wishes to be taken seriously in literary circles that matter, "SandC" as they call it, may well be a step better omitted along the way.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Zendo said...

I would strongly advise him to leave anonymous.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

From this time on, all "anonymous" comments (including those attaching names like "Zendo" or "Sugardaddy") will be subject to immediate deletion. Anyone, who posts here, should have the courage of their convictions and use their own name (or Ryze name).

I might say that the "anonymous" comment I have just deleted seems to me to possibly have been in the style of a rather embittered James Joyce...could be wrong of course.

In any case, only posts with names attached will be countenanced in future--so don't waste your time posting as "anonymous".

5:22 PM  
Blogger Mahfuuz said...


Dont you get mad, is not SandC full of people who wear the anonymous mask? Anonymity is the key to familiarity at SandC pehaps. There is more of an inward concentration than an intent to open up. In today's world, closed groups remain just that - closed groups!!!

How many of those, besides the so-called coterie posts or comments on the Board? How many of the Blogs listed on the main Board are active? Many more questions, my friend.

I had chosen not to speak about this and I had promised myself and some very dear friends who are also presently SandC members that I shall steer away from controversies, but I just saw that the moderator has made insinuations against me in a post on her board.

But, like her I cannot be indecent and cross the limits of propriety. That is not what my parents have taught me.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

"Anonymous" deleted as previously promised! Isn't it amazing how the hatred is almost palpable in some of these "anonymous" posts? (though actually, the individual "finger marks" are all over many of them and the writers may easily be guessed).

I am sorry that you should be harassed Vijay simply for stating your wise point of view.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Mahfuuz said...

Mohammad and all others who have been made to believe by the powers that be what you now believe to be true,

I left SandC because of the masks and pseudonyms as well as the coterie that was being actively encuraged by the Moderator and the co-moderator. Other than them, I had no issues with anyone, including Jon or you, Abdulla.

The co-moderator is a very learned person and for that I respect him still. However, a genius who develops arrogance is doomed and I shall be proved right. I was accused by him of having a hidden agenda as also being an instigator. I had always had only good intentions for SandC and my concern and outburst flowed from the same.

I wish Abdulla and you, ely, had posted under your original names and identities.

I have never spoken ill of the Board on any forum. My issue was always with the initial promise that the Board held out and the subsequent change in its stance to keep within its fold a select few.

Jon, you are free to delete all my posts here if you are so inclined. I have only written qua the topic of the post made by you. This particular one is because two of the members (actually masks) have asked some direct questions. I do not wish to "explain" myself to deaf ears anymore.

If anyone has a problem with me as an individual, they are welcome to address me directly and stop polluting Jon's blog.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Anonymous posts by the fictitious Christopher Douglas and Mohammed Abdulla deleted.

(Get a life, Alankrita!)

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Madhavan said...

I once lost about 30 rupees to a very skilful pickpocket on a Mumbai train and I said: "He (she?) deserves the money, for so much skill was employed!"
I should think that your words on Shakespeare and Co remind me of that pickpocket, for its founders certainly deserve all the pocket money if this is the literary flourish they have to display for such stuff as helping Indians get past the Atlantic.
Paranoia was never too far from the poetic imagination, and this post one such instance at work, and does so in a gloriously libellous manner. I think they would better off by suing defaming bloggers for compensation.
If only their motives were as good as your suspicion, the founders would have started a network named after a Britney, a Madonna, or at least an F.Scott Fitzgerald.
An Indian with Shakesepearean intent is hardly an easy subject for George W. Bush to lord over.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Alankrita said...

Jon, unlike a lot of people , I do have a life.. and I post under my own name.

Get a life yourself.
I resent the insinuation that I would be a low down and nefarious as not to take ownership for what I post.

Look closer, i think its the people around you who even while ostensibly agreeing with you are posting anonymous comments, one gentleman in particular who does not approve of pseudonyms unless they are his own.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Hmmmm, Alankrita you proclaim your innocence while going out of your way to try and smear others...Something that doesn't give me a lot of confidence in you! I can only say that it seems like your style. By its very nature anonymous posting is designed to hide the identity of, and spread uncertainty about, the person posting. I cannot say with 100% certainty that many of the sillier anonymous comments were yours--but they were undoubtedly the kind of perverse thing that you often do come up with--and I view your denial with a large pinch of salt!

In the end, I am not entering into a long debate about it. Let me repeat again: anonymous posts will be deleted--and also long protestations of innocence. You have now posted your refutation of the original accusation and that has been noted: don't bother elaborating any further unless you are ready to see subsequent posts immediately deleted.

8:20 AM  
Blogger junoesque said...

saddened and disappointed.
well democracy rules so you folks are free to hallucinate !!
wonder why you didnt say it upfront right there.
or may be you should now try your analysis on the other networks you inhabit. may be the cats there will not be so dignified in their responses.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Like I said, Juno, this is not the place for Alankrita or anyone else to protest their innocence in numerous posts--one is enough. I made the suggestion in one post and she said it wasn't true in one post. This is not a forum for Alankrita or anyone else to "pollute" (to quote an earlier poster here). OK, she says she didn't do it..She would say that wouldn't she? It proves nothing. In any case, whoever did make these posts is deliberately casting shadows of doubt over everyone else by remaining "anonymous" in the first place.

11:02 AM  
Blogger pluto85 said...

You are too stupid, Juno. You are not dignified at all. Furthermore, you don't seem to know that one must use a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence! Why should Jon let stupid people like you post whatever you want to post on his Blog?

11:08 AM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

I'm afraid that Alankrita is very obdurate and given a free rein, would spread her excrement over a large canvas. After posting lots of cowardly anonymous stuff she now wishes to spend 20 posts telling us how totally innocent she is.

Alankrita, SandC is the right place for your poop! BTW, the link to my blog has now been taken down by SandC (thank you so much! At last I am no longer associated with such a coterie of sycophantic losers!), so it would seem reasonable for me to stop providing a platform here for disgruntled SandC junkies.

11:28 AM  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

as can happen when people write at cross-purposes, there's much scope for various degrees of mutual misunderstanding. In the case of Alankrita's remark about << one gentleman in particular who does not approve of pseudonyms unless they are his own,>> I can confirm the underlying facts. That is, my friend Vijay is known (and appreciated for that matter) to occasionally post to Ryze forums under a constructed personality (seemingly, a Northern European gentleman). There is hardly any question of slander in noting this interesting, apparent inconsistency. The human nature is often constructed in a way that what we ask of others may differ from what we find suitable to practice ourselves. All of us no doubt demonstrate irrationality at many levels. Vijay in any case is a superb translator and poet, and I in no way begrudge his amusement with the occasional pseudo, neither do I consider him reprehensible if he bewails the pseudos floated by others. If he were merely consistent, he would be a less interesting fellow.

1:07 PM  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

But more importantly Jon, in case you are unaware of it, Pragya's particular and general response (i.e., both to your provocative item here, and also involving other disruptive incidents in the past) can be perused on her blog here: There's a Coterie!.

Regarding removal of the link to your blog on the featured blogs, I wasn't aware of it (and have not discussed it with anybody). But I would presume the ruminations (about mannerly behavior when a guest in someone's metaphorical living room) in the above-noted essay may bear some relationship with this.

best wishes,

2:12 PM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

All that's fine and dandy David. nevertheless, Alankrita remains my number one suspect as distributor of poop here due to her prolific tendency to write very poor imitations which only she believes to be funny.

I repeat that my Blog link has been taken down on SandC (thanks, Prags!:))and with it any vague obligation I may have felt to listen to "SandC junkies" belly aching here. In the future then, any further posts on this issue that fail to entertain, inform or delight me, will be summarily deleted.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Three comments deleted from SandC junkies that failed to either entertain, inform or delight me. I do hope that you will now try to get on with your lives as best you can without satisfying your addictive need to make further posts here. The world of literature is large and wide and I am quite sure that I can pass through it without ever hearing about any of you again (hehehe). Don't stop paying the Ryze dollars, Prags: without the sycophants around, you'll need to look into the abyss of your own talentlessness.

Of SandC denizens, only Arka seemed to possess some seeds of originality: naturally, he walked the path of all talented people on SandC and quickly disappeared. I have some respect for David due to his single minded devotion to the art of writing poetry and occasionally he seems to hit on something. JJ (what a grandiose name for a Bangalore banker, apparently stuck in the nineteen-fifties!)certainly has some ability with words: however, his "poetry" reads like his beloved poets of the 1950's Penguin series--and no one seems to have told him that nearly all the "poets" from those anthologies were as dry as dust and mostly (and quite rightly!) forgotten now. For JJ's "poetry", in the future, I predict the oblivion it presently enjoys.

Now let's agree to differ and get on with the rest of our lives!

1:22 AM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Another two deleted! Now, now, people--time you got yourselves some lives, rather than repeating yourselves here ad nauseam!

2:04 AM  
Anonymous Madhavan said...

My profuse apologies for a couple of typographical errors that might look like grammatical ones in my earlier post. Of course, the substance of what I wrote stands embellished by Jon's further comments. He does not know the difference between the subjective and the objective, or, that no one forced him to be a member anywhere.

2:52 AM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Don't apologise for your ineptitude, Madhavan--it's normal for SandCers!

*Should that last word (perchance) be "anyway"?

3:09 AM  
Blogger david raphael israel said...


analytically speaking, your "this must be what this network is about" fantasy seems an elaborate form of insult. It is a complicated way of saying a simple thing: that you don't get what makes Pragya in particular, and the bevy of writers in general, tick. Underlying this bewilderment that you profess seems to glimmer the literary equivalent of a "holier than thou" posture. Overall, then, the story of your musing and coming up with an explanatory theory, seems like a way of (ritually) washing your hands of a passing fascination that, apparently, you determined wasn't so fascinating after all. What is morally troubling in the exercise, is the sense of entitlement you demonstrate to run roughshod over the sensibilities (and self-respect) of others who at least overtly profess an interest in belles lettres. The impression is of one who has himself felt insulted, and therefore turns the tables. In other words, it gives the impression of an act of revenge -- though on what account, I can't make out. It leads one wo wonder: what was the insult you suffered? This mystery hides several layers deep, buried under the self-satisfied surface of Sherlock Holmes's study. It's something a counter-Sherlock Holmes might uncover, if aided by Sigmund Freud, perhaps. Or perhaps not. But evidently, in the moral universe you inhabit, there is no necessity to demonstrate basic, ordinary courtesy among writers. Which again leads one to sense that you fail to show rudimentary respect, because your sense of self-respect has apparently suffered some insult. Who did what wrong and when, I wonder? Or is it the preponderance of a mesh of personality traits that you suddenly found suffocating, rather like the nasuea of Sartre? Perhaps even in the virtual world, the nearness of other people can grow stifling, and one needs to draw a curtain and a limn a line and mark out one's difference. It was an effective act, though it gives the impression of basic mean-spiritedness, or does so at least to those who find no reason to dislike (let alone express fantasmic suspicions about) the amiable denizens of a very out-of-the-way literary cul-de-sac, one with modest aims and a happily inconsequential place in the order of Big Things.


6:57 AM  
Anonymous Madhavan said...

Oh, Jon! Thank you much, but it still is "anywhere"--as in "any society of your choice or literary (or other) orientation."
Sand C, and ergo, myself, do not own any copyright or error-free patents over the English language, and hence you are free to start a society yourself. Freedom has its virtues, and you may yet surpass Emperor Jean Bokassa of the Central African Republic in anointing yourself in any which way you choose.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Pragya said...

Interesting how you chose to delete the comment that informs the world that you and your various aliases have been dumped from the network you despise more than anything in this world. It wasn't anonymous and even if it didn't delight you, it did inform you.

Perhaps it was accidental.



7:49 AM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

I found David's speculations at least interesting--if not quite entertaining or delightful! Furthermore, he did develop a logical argument: something most posters here haven't bothered to do.

Of course, there are elements of truth in what you say, David. I guess that I am in one sense drawing a line in the sand--and anyone who had carefully examined my posts over the last month or so, might have seen from the content that I was less and less happy on SandC (though of course, this doesn't mean my Sherlockian speculation is wrong!)

Perhaps I have sacrificed a lot in the interests of developing an individual artistic voice and have little time for those who post poor quality stuff and seem unmindful (like a child perhaps)of the great sacrifices that must be made in terms of time and emotion to become even half good.

As for any perceived ill-manneredness, that perhaps stems from the need to deal with the posts of many junkies from SandC: one might just about stay civil for the first two or three posters--but after that the patience wears thin and one has recourse to an often cutting irony (insults beget insults--which is the reason for my present deletion policy here). In any case, the mistakes pointed out in the postings here are fairly indicative of a low level of writing skills and--yes, it's true--I don't really want to be associated with either them or the board anymore: so to that extent your reference to an existential nausea might in fact have some foundation. For me, art is something you must suffer for and dedicate long periods of time to: not a hobby to be learnt over a cup of tea!

*NB Previous delete policy IS still in place. Only those posts that either inform, entertain or delight me will be countenanced here.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Prags, I will leave up this one post from you. Your previous post while giving information, gave irrelevant and redundant information--and posts with irrelevant and redundant information will also be deleted.

I guess you have understood, Pragya, that you yourself are the element of SandC that I find most distasteful of all. The positive spin you try to put on everything and your stifling of real debate, accurately reflect your view of writing and literature as something that bored mothers and fathers might do on occasions to help overcome the ennui of the American Express office or school room. I'm afraid you never grew out of receiving the school prize as a 16 year old, for writing that highly praised essay on the subject of your pets and why they love you so much!

Don't bother posting here again, as any more of your nonsense will immediately be deleted.

8:26 AM  
Blogger pluto85 said...

Secondo me, hai ragione su tutto!

3:56 AM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Direi di si, Pluto. Grazie per la tua fiducia'!

4:07 AM  
Anonymous Madhavan said...

Very humbly, me thinks "logical argument" and "individual artistic voice" cannot quite co-exist, unless one describes that very expression as the latter than the former.
Sand C was itself born as an offshoot of a forum that was thought to be poor quality, without prejudice to the one perceived to be lesser. Further refinement is always welcome in the form of newer fora in an age where online presence is cheap (free, actually). However, I do not think personal attacks or paranoid rantings are warranted.
And, like David, I would prefer humour, rather than vitriol, to be a better defence against poor quality.

2:24 AM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

That's very enlightening, Madhavan--as always. If you check back, you will see that I used humor frequently on SandC to make a serious point (interesting that Mohammed Abdullah's first posts were ruthlessly deleted until it was discovered that the intention was essentially comic--or was it?)

BTW...previous deletion policy is still in place. Posters must either entertain, inform, or delight me in order to avoid immediate deletion (though I admit "compassion" is the essential reason why Madhavan's post has survived!)

4:54 AM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Sorry, Madhavan--you'd been warned! This one was deleted (in spite of the compliment in the last line).

8:35 AM  
Blogger pluto85 said...

Fai bene,Ari.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Lo so, Pluto.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Mohammed Abdullah said...

Me feel Arabs not too welcome on SandC.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Abdul Wahab said...

I definitely felt some alienation.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Jon Aristides said...

Never mind boys: you're free agents and will surely be able to find another more welcoming Forum.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous --4-4026389jksjd said...


3:28 AM  

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