Saturday, June 30, 2007

Living to Read Ulysees

After I succesfully completed reading 'Living to Tell the Tale' by Marquez(in the future I intend to refer to Marquez as Gabito or Gabo as his loved ones call him); I decided to tackle something quite different-'Ulysees' by James Joyce. Gabito has said enough and more to regenerate any curiosity that I had lost in Joyce's most celebrated work.

I had purchased my copy of 'Ulysees' at a book fair three years ago. I was struck by Joyce's complete disregard for spelling and grammar. I was also alarmed by the infestation of Latin and French phrases in the book. (I have gotten over the French ones but I have decided to ignore the Latin ones.) If it weren't for Gabito I would never have attempted to read it and the book would have become yet another untouched relic for the bookshelf. One must appreciate the fact that Gabito read it in Spanish! (I cannot imagine what lengths the translator must have gone to.)

I treat 'Ulysees' as a sort of sequel to 'The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'. Stephen Dedalus is a character featured in both. I initially expected 'Ulysees' to be a lot like 'The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'; with a lucid narration, a stream of consciousness that wasn't haphazard and a less cynical Stephen Dedalus. 'Ulysees' is a challenge, quite a massive one. Joyce seems to have an antipathy towards punctuation and an affinity towards the abstruse. Nevertheless, after 44 pages of reading, 'Ulysees' has challenged every preconceived notion I held about structure and construction. It is surprisingly the most stimulating work I have read. I cannot wait to meet Leopold Bloom (the other protagonist). The novel switches abruptly between the author's narration and the thought process of its characters. I don't care how long I take to finish it!

I am guilty of a certain crime against literature though. I read a rather condensed and somewhat animated version of 'Ulysees' a few years back, namely 'Ulysees for Dummies'. Take a look at this one if Joyce gets on your nerves.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Agnostic Conscience

People often ask me if I'm an atheist. I don't bow my head in prayer at religious places, I don't endorse religion and I treat 'faith' and 'God' as abstract concepts. To clear any misconceptions that one might have about me; I am agnostic.I don't know what is responsible for creation and its purpose, and I am not willing to make any assumptions in that direction.

I cannot prove the existence or the inexistence of a 'superior being' that is responsible for creation. Therefore I am neither a theist nor an atheist.(This is as categorical as it gets. Faith aside, my agnosticism doesn't make me a communist.)

To explain agnosticism to those who don't understand its implication I have my own little quip:
A believer thinks he/she knows who is responsible for creation. An atheist will probably ask 'what is responsible for creation', instead of 'who'. One who is agnostic will simply say 'I don't know who or what is responsible'.

Faith and its many derivatives have always been a source of conflict and tribulation in my life. To an extent that, at present, I have decided to become obsessed with the superficial in order to field any questions pertaining to my origin and purpose. I will come up with an answer later! (In other words, I am content being your regular Diva.)

ps: The entries on art,wine and all things fine will resume after the 'pseudo-spiritual' crisis is resolved.

Living to Read the Tale- Part II

I am still reading 'Living to Tell the Tale' ! The book is nearly in tatters; after being stuffed hurriedly and mercilessly into different bags of various sizes, being doused with rain (twice), and after long hours spent flipping through pages of a fond recollection of an uncommon life. I am now reading the part where Marquez describes the affliction, the conflict and the satisfaction that comes from being a struggling writer. (I find it distressing that nearly every great writer has almost starved to death sometime or the other.) More to follow in part III.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Angels and Demons

I vowed, after reading 'The Da Vinci Code', that I would never pick up anything written by Dan Brown again. Unfortunately, as fate would have it,I read 'Angels and Demons' out of sheer boredom. Dan Brown exhibits an uncanny ability for picking new victims. In 'Angels and Demons' he picks on an ancient sect called 'The Illuminati', the Roman Catholic church(I don't know why Brown is so obsessed with the papal election) and this time he has made sure that even the CERN isn't left out. Other minor victims of Brown's 'craft' include artists like Raphael,astronomers like Galileo and of course the Freemasons.

The book exhibits all the typical qualities of a typical Dan Brown novel. A fast paced plot with plenty of hidden innuendos, Robert Langdon (whom we also met in 'The Da Vinci Code'), an enigmatic heroine with skeletons in her closet, lots of other enigmatic folks with skeletons in their respective closets, secret sects, works of art,flashbacks and above all a story with a predictable end. 'Angels and Demons' outdoes 'The Da Vinci Code' with its histrionics and overly dramatized orations.

The story starts with the ghastly murder of a scientist at the CERN. A group called the 'Illuminati' claims responsibility for it by (surprise surprise!) engraving the group logo on the corpse. This is clearly bad news for the Roman Catholic church because the Illuminati are supposed to possess power,clout and unbeatable intellect. All this on the day of the papal election! The lives of four cardinals are in danger. Can Robert Landgdon and the heroine save the day? Sounds all too familiar doesn't it?

It still amazes me how Dan Brown garners so much revenue by writing the most pathetically constructed books.There may be several factual inconsistencies but apparently, sensationalism suffices to quench the human need to interpret the truth.

On a more positive note, I find the logo of the Illuminati quite crafty. It spells 'Illuminati' even when held upside down.So as some consolation here's a picture of the 'Illuminati' logo(courtesy-Wikipedia).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Of Cyberspace Sorcery and Bytes of Nothing

Cyberspace can be cruel. At one instant there is sheer narcissistic pleasure from being the cynosure of a zillion bored eyeballs, and the next moment there is the sense of longing from hours of isolation. 'Cyberspace sorcery' , in my opinion, comprises all the necessary necromancy required to gain that daily dose of fame.(Its duration sometimes exceeds the 15 second threshold.)
I have indulged in my share of voodoo. I have tried numerous blog templates (at my desperate best I have changed the template thrice in a single day). I tried google adsense (till the advertisements made the blog look tacky), a creative commons license (I even updated from version 2.5 to version 3.0), links to blogs I like, a wikipedia link to the book I'm currently reading (and haven't finished) and other random additions. My blog is even listed in the directory of 'delightful blogs'!
At the end of it all, I feel as though my existence is now reduced to nothing but a sequence of bytes that I don't really consider 'significant'. I feel like a shallow exorcist who merely made the 'spookies' migrate to a more lucrative abode. So much for spicy site statistics!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

To Inspiration

Don't speak of higher existence
Or of infinite radiance.
Don't speak of ideas sublime
Or of ideals divine.
How you elude my senses,
You fiend in angel's dress.
How you scar every guess
With your intentional distress.
I stand at a cross road,
Hiding behind your open abode,
Waiting to catch you by surprise
When you strut in your garbled disguise.
Dear inspiration, come forth I beseech,
My reason is in a cloud,when you are far from common reach.