Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Idiot


It seems to take about a year to grapple with a Dostoyevsky novel. It took me a year to read 'Crime and Punishment' and today after a year and several gaps, I finished reading 'The Idiot'. It's probably an unavoidable part of destiny that I decide to read Dostoyevsky during the busiest and most unpredictable periods of my life. Therefore,I choose to blame circumstance and Dostoyevsky's over analysis for the long chronological periods I spend in reading his books.

I started reading 'The Idiot' last November. It starts off pensively, engulfing the consciousness of the reader, invoking every bit of guilt laden empathy that is humanly permissable. We are introduced to our protagonist Myshkin (the idiot), an epilleptic prince with a perceptive mind and a heart of gold. The story unfolds gradually and uncomfortably. Myshkin's gengerosity is almost nauseatingly beautiful, as he gives every other person the benefit of the doubt. The book lilts between the dubious schemes and innuendos of Russian society and Myshkin's simplicity. It is said that Dostoyevsky modelled Myshkin on the 'christian ideals' of goodness and 'his own afflictions'. Dostoyevsky , himself an epilleptic and a fugitive of some sorts, writes tenderly of this young prince and his trysts with a world that couldn't provide him enough room to breathe. The plot is deliriously complex. After about a hundred pages, one tends to lose count of the characters; all except Myshkin and a few others. The story twists around the flimsy yet controlled structure of the human condition, sprinkled here and there with Dostoyevsky's wisdom, and culminates in tragedy (much to the horror and discomfort of this particular reader).

On a personal note, I almost started to love Myshkin untill I realized he didn't exist. The dismissal of a simple man as a simpleton is unbearably excruciating, so is Dostoyevsky's evident genius. Dostoyevsky wasn't merely ahead of his time, he was and is timeless.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Out in the Cold

The cold war has probably left a bitter taste in everyone's mouth (at least it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth when I read about it in history). I was born in the 1980s; to a generation that didn't understand the implications of the Berlin wall being torn down, or of the USSR disintegrating. In the late 1980s and early 1990s all we cared about were school,games and cartoons. India theoretically maintained what was called 'a non-alignment policy', but it was known and understood that there was a mintue tilt in favour of the Russians.

My memories of the final days of the cold war didn't involve Gorbachev, East Germany, the 'black box with the red button' or political rhetoric. I recall eagerly waiting every week for a glossy childrens' magazine called 'Misha'. I would check the 'snail-mail box' almost everyday and jump with glee when I saw the familiar package that came all the way from the USSR. We paid a meagre INR 4.00 as subscription fee. I remember the touch of the smooth, thick,childproof pages of the magazine. I remember the vivid illustrations, the predominantly Russian theme, the pictures of Russian children, gymnasts, ballerinas, circus artists and plenty of stuff on art and craft. Misha magazine apart, I remember going to a Russian bookstore in Calcutta and buying an adorable book called 'Ragitty and the Cloud'. I remember turning to Ukranian folklore when I decided I had enough of Hans Christen Andersen and The Grimm Brothers.

Then one fine day, it stopped, abruptly. I didn't understand a thing when my parents told me that the USSR had disintegrated. I understood when I reached high school and read the almost 'sugar-coated' account of the cold war in history text books. The images of Misha and Ragitti came flooding back. I couldn't help wondering what happened to all those children whose pictures appeared in the magazine. Most of the countries that once formed the USSR are now impoverished, their people are literally left out in the cold. The cold war did leave a bitter taste; in the form of a faded yet vivid and intense memory.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Diva Likes : Part I

How on earth am I supposed to be a Diva without making unreasonable demands? In view of the impending dilemma I decided to compile a list of all the things I like.

I like it when footballers celebrate after making offside goals. A goal is a goal irrespective of whether there is someone to defend it.

I like blogs about Paris, especially the ones written by expats. They are honest and sometimes seem genuinely bemused.

I love to work, especially with my hands. I feel tremendous guilt if my hands are sitting idle (except when I've applied three coats of nail polish).

I love the way magazines conduct surveys on the education system; they are informative(duh?) and inconclusive.

I love the way the census board attempts to conduct a head count of the demographic.

I also love the way the population scales upward, exponentially, after the census board declares the outcome of the 'headcount'.

I love pseudo-intellectuals who put so much thought into the whole 'high-brow' attire (and so little into what they're actually saying). With the cigarettes, the coffee, the napkins to scribble on, the perennial 'bad hair day', loosely fitted clothes (draped around like hand-me-downs), the works and the quirks.


I love the way everyone on Oprah's show suddenly turns 'philosopher' and the audience starts to applaud (it's a pity we don't get to see that little board that spells 'a-p-p-l-a-u-s-e').

I personally enjoyed Tom Cruise's antics on Oprah. He's in great shape for someone who's 44.

I like the way certain catch phrases are attributed to people who never said them in the first place.(Like Sherlock Holmes never said, "Elementary dear Watson".)

I like the way I can go on writing till I sense that the human attention span doesn't extend beyond 20 minutes (I presume that 99% of my readers are human).

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Diva Defines....

Dictatorship: When a system of government aims to please an individual who embodies the state.

Communism: When a system of government aims to please a group of individuals who claim to 'represent the state'.

Democracy: When a system of government aims to please the majority of individuals that are a part of the state.

Anarchy: When a system of government aims to please every individual, irrespective of the logistics.

PrimaDonnaCracy : A system of government where the first lady/mistress gets more primping than the 'head of state' himself. (Remember Imelda Marcos and Marie Antoinette?)

ps: 1.What do you get from a system where no one is pleased? Neo-pseudo-political-waste-of-time.

2. I am yet to come across a system where the husband of a woman 'head of state' is more primped than his wife.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Legacy of Narcissus

It is accepted (as a fallout of popular conception/misconception) that bloggers must be closet narcissists. To stare, almost amourously, at the screen and type on endlessly without purpose must take either an undying love for digital technology or simply narcissism.

Come to think of it, narcissism is probably an underrated offence(the kind that lands folks in hell if overly done). Not severe enough to make it to the elite clique of 'deadly sins' and yet not charming enough to qualify in the list of 'quirks'. Narcissism reminds me of the story of Narcissus and Echo. The poor Greek lad who didn't understand why he was pursued till he came upon his own reflection and became obsessed with it. He would speak to his own reflection and hapless Echo would repeat whatever he said. (I adore any kind of Greek tragedy. Firstly, because it is tragic and secondly because it comes from the Mediterranean.)

If bloggers are indeed closet narcissists, then anonymous bloggers are 'encrypted closet narcissists' given the single level of encryption offered by a psuedonym. It's fascinating how several bloggers (including Yours Truly) love to shred the 'narcissist' tag to pieces so they might escape being mistaken as narcissists.

In defence of Narcissus and his condemned legacy I will say this much; you can't expect creatures that are intrinsicly narcissistic to stop gawking at their reflections like delusional fools. Stop blaming Narcissus, his actions were grossly misinterpreted. Reflections can be confusing at times....

A New Season of Faith

I came home in the rain, mud dripping from the ends of my clothes and shoes. It's supposed to be winter, but it rains incessantly. My steps fumbled, a truck whizzed past nearly running me over. A lone stray dog tried to climb on me, and moved away dejectedly, as though loathing the unusual anti-social streak I seemed to have developed. I came home to my pet dogs, who fled at the sight of the dripping umbrella. I look at this blog and see the advertisements blending with the rest. I see the counter, the statistics and all the other senseless numbers (they have never made sense and they never will). Nothing has changed, but it still seems novel and fresh; then I realize, it's a new season of faith (not particularly different from the old ones but nonetheless, chronologically different).

ps: An attempt at the 'stream of consciousness' style of writing. Not an attempt to emulate Britney Spears' blog.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Poem Without a Name

My life saunters from shadow to shadow
Stopping briefly at each sequence of existence.
My spirit sags; drooping, pale and sallow
Deviating from touch,feeling and sense.

My thoughts move like rays lacking direction
My gaze fails to see; it droops, as though with age.
My steps lack flight as they lack friction.
I'm like an actor lost on an empty stage.

I can't catch time; instead it catches me,
In the throes of youth thinning away.
I am entwined, I know not what entwines me,
So I might gauge the death of a new day.

ps: I should start a versioning system for all my 'nameless' poems.

The Four Fold Path to Linguistic Bliss

There are four simple steps to achieving linguistic nirvana. Everytime you learn a new language, follow these steps in strict order:

1. Start with the insults.
2. Move on to the cliches
3. Learn the script(if any) and sentence constructs
4. Get creative with what you have learnt

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Alpha Male

Never judge an entry by its title! Sorry girls, there's no drool quotient to this entry. The entry was prompted by some 'light reading' I did the other day. My source of brain fodder- magazines of the likes of 'Cosmopolitan'. A typical 'Cosmo' entry claims to have the ultimate ten Steps to :
-Snag a Man
-Dump a Man
and do practically everything else with the magic number 10! I started to wonder if women are really delusional enough to believe such stuff.(At least they are delusional enough to pour over such stuff in open defiance of rationality.)

I once mentioned that human beings have the innate ability to categorize. Historically, women have been quick enough to classify men into archetypes that have stood the test of time.(Ladies, please read on. Gentlemen, don't trouble yourselves unless you want to.)

Some of my favourite male archetypes, particularly from fiction and classical literature are :

The strong silent suffering type: To be found in the 'Mills and Boon' genre. This guy is ruggedly handsome(actually this is the default for most of the archetypes), walks slowly and deliberately, has one or several dark secrets and fights his demons as he tries to deny his affection for the heroine. At the end, he's the one on his knees, begging the heroine to be his wife.

The strong, not so silent, probably violent, suffering type: To be found in novels by the Bronte sisters. Read 'Wuthering Heights' or 'Jane Eyre'. I like to call this the 'Heathcliff archetype' after the male protagonist in 'Wuthering Heights'. This kind of guy is volatile yet placid(given the company of the heroine). He is tormented, boorish and lacks any trace of class. Still, as one little arrow from cupid conquers all, he ends up getting the girl (either in the present life or the next).

The stuffy Brit: To be found in any Jane Austen novel. This guy is an intellectual snob, with a dash of principle, prejudice and presentability. He wears long stuffy collars and speaks impeccably and almost affectedly. Thankfully, there's no love at first sight, but he gets the girl anyway.

The Boor/Jungle Boy: A rather generic archetype found in lone ranches and jungles. Probably raised by wolves or by a bunch of domestic cows. His instincts are impressive, so are his skills (all except the social ones). The girl teaches him a few social graces and they get hitched (after landing a lump sum of money of course).

The Knight in Shining Armour: Sir Lancelot and the likes; that run to save screeching damsels and their honour. Remember, the girl chose Lancelot over Arthur.

The Romantic : To be found in any Shakespeare play with the word 'love' in it. This guy wears tights, carries a sword, has a nice hairdo, a benefactor and he is the smoothest talker. He bursts into verse at the drop of a hat, a feather or an eyelash. He has the girls heart from the time they meet. He gets the girl (again, either in the present life or the next).

No wonder women are delusional! How objectivity pales in comparison to centuries of delusional eyewash! Till we let it sink in, let's just stay as we are and read 'Cosmo'. It's not our fault, literature is solely to blame!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I Am....

I am therefore I'm not.
I exist so I must cease.
I am the ground and the end
Of my own fated need;
The solitude in the din
Of my faithless creed.
I feel therefore I'm numb;
To the rotting seed
That nourishes the earth
On which I feed.
I seek therefore I'm lost;
In the oblivious comfort
Of unchecked disease.
I dream so I'm not real;
In the eyes that meet my reflection
Through a mirror's broken piece.
I stand only to fall;
Through hapless crumbs of caprice.
I am therefore I'm not.
I exist so I must cease.


ps: Amen!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Nitty Gritty Details

After a month of serious consideration, I have decided to enable Ad-Sense (Look to the bottom right hand corner.) It simply means that I have given blogger the instruction to retain my blog even if I don't update the blog till blogger shuts down.

I also set the font style to the layout default. I desperately want to write my own template, but I'm too much of a diva to do that (also read as 'too lazy'). The blog looks a little compact but I'm not complaining (yet). I thought of reverting back to the 'minima' template that the blog had in its nascency, but it makes the pictures look overly blinding, while the content appears inexistent. So untill I find a new template or decide to write one myself, I will have to make do with this one.

On a different note, I resent people who think that 'pink girlie blogs with poetry' add unnecessary clutter to blogosphere; as opposed to 'non-girlie blogs with pictures of girls in them' that give blogosphere a run for its unicode!

I also resent blogs that have a lot of pictures and videos(and nothing else), as if with the intent of forcing Webshots and Youtube into bankruptcy.

I did a survey of blogosphere, only to find it crawling with divas like 'yours truly'. So, don't hate divas, get used to them!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

'Art' Where art Thou?

When I think about Italian art. I imagine Michealangelo, Da Vinci, Rapheal, the Rosettis, Picasso and most recently the latest instance of 'Toilet artwork'! Before the high brow reader starts to imagine a restroom with impeccable design laden with Italian artistry, I will proclaim that 'art' is dead!

Fortunately for the sake of journalistic integrity, sensationalism and attention seeking aren't. I presume the much debated piece of 'art' shown at the Bolzano Museum of Modern Art intended to prove my point. It features a toilet that flushes to the strains of the Italian national anthem! The hapless 'loo' now finds itself at the centre of a quasi-political patriotic storm. A lot of people don't get that kind of attention in a century of existence.

As far as the death of art is concerned, it isn't too late to give art a befitting funeral. If art embodies originality and creativity, I'm afraid the 'Toilet' can boast of neither. From the picture, it looks like any other specimen of it's kind, therefore I can only scoff at anyone who wants to suggest that it was a patented original. The Italian national anthem was composed eons before the 'artist' came up with this display, so nothing original there either. As for creativity; to flush to the national anthem is as creative as an average Joe singing in the restroom. It reminds me of other things that folks have done in the name of 'modern art'. There was someone who stashed a mob of dead cockroaches on a tray and called it 'art'. I would have gladly obliged the 'artist's ' sense of humour, its lack thereof etc. if she had cared to arrange the dead insects in a morbid pattern. I can safely assume that she neither created the tray nor the cockroaches. Given the present state of affairs, I'm almost tempted to put one of my pets in a basket and call my exhibit, 'Dog Lost in Parallel realm'.

As a poignant rememberance of the paradoxical nature of art(its futility and its ability to inspire) I will quote Wilde, "All art is quite useless". Touche!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Evolve!

A speculative article on the future of human evolution states that in the year 3000, the disparity among human beings can widen enough to cause them to evolve into two distinct sub-species - dwarves and giants. It makes one ponder over two things. First, for the sake of technical accuracy, the subtlety of evolution is such that visible changes don't appear in one millenium. Unless the process of such diversification began well in advance, and we were blisfully oblivious to it. Second, and speaking metaphysically in contradiction to the first statement, we are disparate enough already. Evolution would only make it seem acceptable.

The article wasn't sufficient enough to specify further instances of diversity. People who know the story of 'The Time Machine' by H.G Wells, will remember the clear line between the folk that lived like early man, and the folk that made machines and ate the 'early folk' for lunch.In all fairness,existence as we know it is no different. Disparity starts at birth, the moment two people set eyes on each other. Disparity propagates through every stage in a life cycle. Humans are said to possess the innate ability to classify in order to learn. Apart from the science of taxonomy, we humans can boast endlessly of our adeptness at classifying fellow humans as well. How else could people have come up with concepts like religion,race,nationality etc. so as to say conceitedly to the creator 'you created, we updated'. Perhaps creation is at the failing end of its patience, and has decided to yield to the insatiable need of every human being to belong to a different species.

The only thing stopping us from climbing the evolution ladder this millenium is our unavoidable sense of political correctness. Political correctness can make one shy away from possessing an opinion, lest the others feel offended. It crushes the kind of individuality required to evolve, almost drastically, into another organism. Perhaps, the year 3000 is too soon for such alteration, or maybe I'm just being naive. Yet, on the other hand, is a thousand years enough to break the shackles of political correctness? Or is it just enough to make humans big headed, three fingered freaks? Who knows! Evolution was and is still the biggest accident ever.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Hello World!

'Hello World', the most overused cliche in the parlance of computer literature. Messers Kernighan and Ritchie (the guys who developed C language) unassumingly made printing 'hello world' to the screen, the first C program for everyone who ever read their book. Little did they know or expect, way back in the 1960s, that every other programming author would incorporate the catch phrase into instructional manuals time and again. In the past four years, I have acquired some insight into the constructs of several programming languages...but I'm still reeling from 'hello world'.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Quantify!!!

I generally take a neutral stand on the age old 'quality vs quantity' debate. This is one issue that has no right answer or opinion. When blogosphere was in its nascency in the good old days when one had to pay precious cash to host a blog; there was nothing to quantify and analyze statistically. Perhaps, only the number of hits per blog and the daily traffic to a blog, like in the case of any other website.

Over the years(imagine a couple of centuries cramped within less than a decade) blogosphere grew to a magnitude that is practically intangible. So a couple of nerds at Technoarti decided to represent blogosphere as a an abstract yet somehow tangible entity. At first the numbers seem overwhleming, especially to the novice blogger. (The first time I saw some of those numbers, I almost died of an inferiority complex.) So, I did a little calculation myself. I find that this blog gets an average of 10 hits per day. So that would amount to about 3650 hits in a year(Forgive the accuracy, I'm just your average Virgoan.). In order to get 100,000 hits I would need to preserve this blog for a tad more than a good 30 years!

I felt a surge in my self esteem; at least I possess some computational ability irrespective of the numerous complexes that possess me.

ps: Schools in the UK will allow kids to construct sentences the SMS way. 2 loathe or not 2 loath ? Change is always 2 good a thing 2 compromise.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Happiness

Happiness has nothing to do with a life of class; it has very little to do with self-actualization. It simply has everything to do with the few extra minutes of siesta that one can catch every morning after the alarm clock goes ballistic.