Small is beautiful

From Microchip to Micro-fiction


“Small is beautiful” the phrase that took the tech world by storm seems to have made incursions even into the literary world. I will explain in the following paragraphs what I mean.

The word in point is the “micro” the very common prefix in the realm of science and technology. Microchip was invented in the middle of the last century and since then has shown rapid development with ever reducing size and increased functionalities. Synonymous to this is the microbiology which involves study of microorganisms that could in turn reveal the inner workings of human body and the diseases that afflict the human.

In either of the case whether it was microchip or microorganisms the details could be studied using tools and equipment that could magnify the structures of the chip and improve the understanding of the functions of the organisms under study.

Of course man resorted to shrinking the size of the chip and hence moved from micro dimensions to nano dimensions when he realized he could synthesize and engineer new materials which could revolutionize the way we lived or the products that we used. In tandem he improved upon the tools based on different scientific mechanisms which could not only better magnify the inner structures but also reveal the mechanics of the interplay between the materials.

Same principles apply when it comes to the study of human RNAs and DNAs wherein scientists have crossed the ethical lines and used synthesized materials of stem cells to produce cloned humans and recent reports even suggested designer babies.

“Small things beautiful” has fascinated me and tickled my imagination ever since my association with Electronics and its related subjects of semiconductors and material sciences.

Being a new entrant in the field of literature initially I found the world of fiction highly intriguing. The narrative prose and dialogues delivered by the characters in a novel transported me to an imaginary world created by the novelist but also made me realize the immense expressive power of words – a skill that a novelist had to nurture  in order to bring afore  the inner workings of a human mind, the emotions in all possible situations.

Therefore in this case words are the tools that reveal the structure of human mind. The more precise the word used better is the clarity; longer the sentences for the appropriate situations, better the way the stories could be told.

And so when I was playing around with the right mix of words, conscientiously trying to increase the word data base in my repertoire of writing, what caught my attention was the contest on “micro fiction” of a word length 80 in conjunction with Singapore festival of Writers. Launch of books on micro fiction further added to the excitement I felt initially with the word.

However “Micro” is not new in the art scene. Micro art encompasses the world of art wherein the artists draw and paint in micro dimensions. Writing on a grain of rice has been an age old art practiced from centuries and micro- artists have even created greeting cards on the grain. Writing on grain in micro dimensions needs high amount of concentration and mental focus. This art is being taught to school children to improve their ability to concentrate and results are astounding as advocated by a well known micro-artist.

Does it mean writing or drawing small has direct relationship with human brain? Possibly it has.

Scientists went a step further in this direction as recently as last month when they announced inscription of the entire Bible on a microchip to get students interested in nanotechnology.

Coming back to micro fiction , if we go by the definition of it, the entire story with its characters and their  emotions could be told in a few words as less as 80 words which means that the lengthy dialogues and the related circumstances could all be condensed  in just a few  words!!!

Now, what is my take on the whole idea of “small” or “Micro”?

With reducing size of a die, more and more functionalities are getting packed into one chip with corresponding increase in the speed of the processor. The demand of today’s world is multitasking at increased speeds and the price paid is the time, which means there is not much room for development of emotions or pondering or contemplating. It could mean many emotions are at play simultaneously and the net outcome is a synthesis

of all .So how about the words used by a fiction writer to express the synthesized emotions .The answer could be micro fiction.

As the world  continues to strive for reduced sizes; with coming of age of nano technology the day is not far when quantum computers become a reality with chip sizes going into atomic sizes. For the new age fiction writer does it mean he has to tighten his belt further and tell a story with even a fewer number of words. How about just a sentence long story?

Regarding my fiction writing, well, I will try to write short stories and not so lengthy novels using all the possible words to describe my characters, setting and their interactions and emotions. To satisfy my fascination about micro and micro fiction, for a start I’ll imagine a situation that I could put my characters into; a most perilous, a toughest conundrum, a high level of paradox and try to bring them out solving with all the right combination of intelligence, wit, emotion, rationale and to fit it all, find the right words in the lexicon. It could be a better idea to coin the words myself. What do you think? Experiments do give rise to new product. Hopefully in this case I’ll succeed too.


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