“Bullshit is everywhere. There is very little that you will encounter in life that has not been, in some ways, infused with bullshit.” Those words formed the opening of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show exit monologue.
As breakup speeches go, Stewart’s was delightfully wry and provocative. In his trademark style, Stewart performed a rant about what’s wrong with the world.
When Margaret Sullivan quit her post as the public editor of the New York Times, she titled her last blog, “Five Things I Won’t Miss at the Times—and Seven I Will.” She was careful to put more on the positive side of the divide. Still, it read like a “This is why I’m leaving, and oh, by the way, I’ll miss you” diatribe.
Recently, there was the ingenious exit by Sree Sreenivasan, the former Chief Digital Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sreenivasan, ostensibly performing his digital duties, wrote a short piece, which he titled “Onward & Upward: Leaving The Met After Three Magical Years,” and published it on social media.
Sreenivasan placed a stunning picture of a hawk circling and “enjoying The Met” above his article and compared the hawk to himself, “I feel like this every day when I walk into the museum—and even when I just think about it.” He invited readers to contact him for coffee and drinks or to go on a walk and brainstorm ideas on what he should be doing next. Brilliant!
My own exit from India Currents and from page 3 of this magazine is going to be more of an “It’s Not You, It’s Me” version.
After much deliberation, I have decided to walk on the somewhat riskier road of full time writing and publishing. In the days ahead, I hope to give voice to the many essays that have, for some time, lived silently in my head; I hope to work on my half-finished novel; and I hope to read more.
When I arrived at my desk, over four years ago, I had a very clear personal objective: to learn as much as I could about the art of editing, in order to become a better writer. As the days flew by, I began to understand that it was really the art of reading that I had to re-learn. That revelation changed my relationship to words forever.
What I will miss dearly is the sheer thrill of receiving a submission that is so exquisitely stitched together that I’m forced to read it again and again. First, to re-experience the wonder of its words, and second, to critically examine its intricate layers.
Sure, there have been many challenges. While print is still very much germane for India Currents, digital platforms are increasingly providing volume and diversity to our readership and content. The most interesting, and perhaps obvious, detail is that these platforms react in wholly different ways to our content.
So, if an essay rife with novel ideas and clear thinking does not perform as well as I think it should on our website, I’ve immersed myself in a world of numbers and analytics to get a better sense of the pulse of our online readership—to understand and predict how readers read, where they read, when they read, and what they read.
And if an article does do well across platforms, the challenge lies in replicating that success consistently.
While these dilemmas have kept me up many a night, the exhilaration of bringing out an issue every month, one that is brimming with promise, prose, and personality, has always been the compelling force that woke me up every morning.
Several of you have sent me beautiful notes that I will treasure always—perhaps even pin up on my wall in my new office. As one reader wrote in an email, “It’s sad that you are leaving … However, I am sure The Show Will Go On.”
He is absolutely right. With new direction and fresh ideas, the magazine can only evolve into something even more vibrant.
As I bid adieu, I take with me the knowledge that this magazine will remain in good hands with Nirupama Vaidyanathan, our new editor.
Thank you, dear India Currents readers, writers and my colleagues. It’s been an incredible journey. Ciao!
Jaya Padmanabhan, Editor