Pre-thinking:

What would it be like to be isolated from the outside world because your electronic tether to the outside world is severed? Better yet, think about your reactions if your cell does not summon you at least once an hour! Are you so tied in that anxiety and even depression result if you are not in touch? It was only a relatively few years ago that a letter might take several days to be delivered and the daily news was summed up in the evening newspaper (actually it was old news by the time it was printed – but, who knew.

 

Why you should listen:

Abha Dawesar began her writing career as an attempt to understand herself — at age 7. It’s a goal that remains at the center of her work: Sensorium, her most recent novel, explores the nature of time, self, and uncertainty, using Hindu mythology and modern science as prisms. “At a very basic level, writing was always my way of apprehending the world,” she has said.

But the oversimplified genres of immigrant fiction or ethnic fiction do not appeal to her. “Those looking for a constant South Asian theme or Diaspora theme or immigrant theme will just be disappointed in the long run from my work”.

Who is she:

Dawesar moved from India to the United States to study at Harvard, and Delhi appears at the center of her novels Family Values and Babyji. She has said. “The only label I can put up with is that of a writer. And my ideas come from everywhere.”

Questions:

  1. What does she mean when she says that technology has altered the flow of time?
  1. Do a little study. Isolate yourself from ALL media for a given period of time (say 24 to 48 hours). Record your thoughts and emotions during this time frame. Did it get easier or more difficult as time past?
  1. It might be interesting to have a group of friends do this as well. Were some people able to handle the isolation more easily than others? Was there a gender difference?
  1. What is your answer to her question, “Just how can we prioritize in the landscape of the digital now?
  1. Is it really necessary for children (and older persons as well) to “know” things, when there is an app that is available to provide the necessary information? Why to you think so? What if the app disappeared, would that be a problem?
  1. She concludes her talk by saying, “We can slow down and we can tune into the ebb and flow of time. We can choose to take time back”. How would you go about doing this?

Life in the “digital now” with Abha Dawesar

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