Sunday, August 26, 2007

Not All Rants Must Rhyme- Blank Rant 1.0

I dream of colour and form
I wait for them to merge.
I wait for them to merge
So I may seek comfort
In things that make sense,
In things that seem complete,
In things I know and comprehend.
When often I lie
In pensive state,
In restive mood,
Or in cerebral dread.
I seek my past to come forth
And fill my dream
With the light of familiarity.
Craven I must seem;
To them who crave uncertainty,
To them who torment danger
And to them who taunt death.
But it takes great strength
To bear what is trite
And to bask with blind glee
In the rays of familiar light.

Anarchy and why it isn't Practical

One can often hear me muttering to myself, 'this is not democracy it's anarchy'. After a few hours of introspection I generally realize the implications of anarchy. Here's why anarchy will never be a successful form of government (here's why it fails in Diva-Land).

Anarchy will enable the kind of apostrophe abuse that will leave literature junkies reeling with consternation and literature non-junkies on the brink of war.

With anarchy all subtlety will die. Insults and compliments alike will be reduced to mere platitude, the kind that I have been trying to eliminate since the conception of this blog.

Anarchy will kill creativity! If there is no censorship on apostrophe abuse and platitude, people will start to assume that they can construct sentences without even the slightest attempt at cerebration.

Without anarchy there will no longer be heated debates on 'the state versus the individual'. The two entities will become so blurred that no one will remember which is which.

Bookstore owners in Diva-Land will have to start handing out unpublished manuscripts for free owing to the excessive theft of published, bound and well edited material. They will have to resort to organized theft in order to survive.

Dinnertime will no longer be a time for relaxation and culinary reflection.

We at Diva-Land hereby do not support anarchy or its derivatives. The world is problematic enough the way it is!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

From the Epitaph of a Dying (or nearly dead) Art

"Here lies Poetry; born around the time the human race discovered the joy of mixing rhythm and syllable died when the human race discovered impatience. Lived as a fugitive, coveted by men and women alike, taken several shapes and forms only to be shun into obscurity with the advent of its gargantuan caricature, the novel. Was often taken for granted and misused. Sole refuge of lovers and musicians. Died from years of neglect in isolation. Will be sorely missed by the few that would rather spend a lifetime reading a single terse verse than spend a day reading a 500 page book. Poetry, thy life wasn't in vain. Resurrect thyself in due time."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Isolation Makes good Writing

It takes more than just valour and a misplaced sense of chivalry to write. It requires a sense of detachment, a complete distaste for convention and an impulsive need to express without necessarily making an impression. No wonder writers often starve!

They Don't Make 'em Like They Used To

'The Actor's Studio' revolutionized and redefined the actor's craft. The instructors and coaches promulgated 'the method' that required actors to empathize intensely with their respective characters in order to play them. Some the most celebrated actors who swear by 'the method' are Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman and Daniel Day Lewis. Method actors are known to have gone to great lengths to bring characters to the screen. For instance; Dustin Hoffman deprived himself of a night of sleep in order to appear convincing as a sleep deprived man running from the Nazis in 'Marathon Man'. Daniel Day Lewis is almost infamous for the extent to which the method is internalized in him. When he played Christy Brown, the Irish artist plagued by cerebral palsy, in 'My Left Foot'; he confined himself to a wheelchair all day, sitting in a contorted manner like those with cerebral palsy, and practiced painting with his left foot. Some of the crew members had to spoon-feed him, because he refused to leave his wheelchair. It is said that he didn't uncoil himself from his posture when one of Christy Brown's relatives came to meet him !

There was a time when 'the method' didn't exist. An entire generation of actors gave us stellar performances without its use. Lawrence Olivier is the most outstanding example. He played the Nazi in 'Marathon Man', opposite Dustin Hoffman, his craft indubitable. When Olivier came to know about Dustin Hoffman's sleep deprivation he only asked, 'Can't the boy just act ?'. Peter O'toole, the actor most blatantly insulted by the Academy of Arts and Motion Pictures, played T.E. Lawrence with the most incredible ease. David Lean, the director, said of O'toole, 'The boy is Lawrence'. O'toole had no use for the method. One must also mention Richard Burton, Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. Peter Sellers was almost chameleon-like. He slithered from being the intellectually challenged inspector in 'The Pink Panther' movies ,to the exaggerated Indian actor in 'The Party', to the alcoholic writer in 'Lolita'. I have lost count of the number of characters Sellers played in 'Doctor Strangelove or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb'.

Present day actors and actresses use 'the method' as the default actors' manual. We have actresses, like Charlize Theron and Renee Zellweger, piling on pounds and turning themselves ugly to fit a character. But can any of them stand up to Elizabeth Taylor in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'. Who can forget the guile of Betty Davis and the torment of Garbo. Acting is fundamentally all about make believe. It treads that fine, almost invisible, line between imagination and reality. Little wonder then, that several method actors struggle to do equal justice to characters that are both real and fictitious. Dear actors where is thy craft? They don't make 'em like they used to.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Clearing the Smog

A lot of people must think that I have utter disdain for mainstream fiction, so I have decided to come clean and say it as it really is. I am really no one to judge someone else's work, but at the same time I have the right to admit whether I loved or hated a book. I have nothing against people who love mainstream fiction and I don't think that books that fall outside the mainstream are necessarily 'high brow'. The only issue I have with mainstream fiction is the forgettable quality that can be attributed to most of the books churned out. I can sit through something by Sidney Sheldon or Jackie Collins, but not with the same enthusiasm and patience with which I can absorb Dostoyevsky or Marquez. Oscar Wilde said,'People are neither good nor bad, just boring or tedious'. I suppose one can say the same about books. Every reader has the right to his or her own expectations. I will only say this to all my readers; all comments and entries on this blog are meant to be taken with buckets of salt (common, rock and all the other varieties of salt). Its not like I get paid to write this stuff!

ps: I'd like to thank my readers for commenting on my blog on such a regular basis. It makes the diva very pleased and 'pimps' up site statistics. However,the diva is always right.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Yet Another Useless Apology

As a rule of thumb divas never apologize for anything, but since I'm not your average diva with an eye for anarchy here's an apology. There may be several inconsistencies in my blog. I may say one thing in an entry and revoke it in the next one, but isn't that what being a diva is all about? Asking for champagne and caviar one moment and then turning it down the next moment, threatening to throw a tantrum if there is no red wine and cheese. So in light of developments that are less anachronistic than they seem; I apologize sincerely and without humility for my half hearted attempt at being such a diva!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Living to Understand Hemmingway

Reading Hemmingway is like making conversation with a child. It seems so simple, but it is deceptive because you can't unravel the mind behind the facade. Hemmingway writes with painstaking simplicity. One doesn't need to be a walking lexicon or a doctorate in metaphysics to interpret his prose. But a reader is bound to give in to frustration when he or she tries to empathise with the writer himself.

I have been reading 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', a piece of fiction set in the background of the Spanish Civil war (in the time of Franco). Hemmingway sympathized with the left-leaning republicans who fought the Franco regime. Hemmingway's characters are more dark and complex when one starts to retrospect. The book is slow and ,as is often said about Hemmingway's writing style, 'understated'. I am often left wondering at the end of each chapter, 'Did I miss something? Did I read it too quickly?'; yet,strangely enough,I feel the urge to rummage through every page the man has ever written.

So here are a few statistics about the general reading pace.

Number of pages: 490
Number of pages read: 188
Number of pages left: 302
Estimated time of completion: Hopefully within this quarter assuming the availability of favourable circumstances.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Moment of Truth

You're Part Diva

You know that a girl's gotta work it to get her way in the world.
And while you aren't about to throw a tantrum at every turn...
You do amp up the drama when you know you need it.
You mix charm, honesty, and kindness to get ahead.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

To Oscar Wilde

Fair aesthete;
Born of Narcissus and pride.
I defy thy convention,
As this piece I write.
I wreak insult on thy craft;
I make it look weak and trite.
The only honour I bestow on thee,
Is the lie in the third line.

But how else, I ask in humility,
Do I leave thy genius unscathed
From the aspersions of naivety?
If I were to imitate thee,Blasphemy it would be!
I'd rather seek refuge in this quaint little skill,
The art of the insult; thy boots are not for me to fill!

Seasons of Mist and Melodrama

In diva-land the seasons are innumerable and highly repetitive.Seasons of mist and melodrama occur sporadically; without warning or hesitation. There is plenty of sulking and scowl-practice, the kind that puts Victoria Beckham to shame. It is that time of the year when the diva decides that her bookshelf could use a little, 'primping'. (I didn't say 'pimping' because it isn't feasible to pimp a bookshelf in any sense. Books are either well written or unbearable, not moral or perverse.) After a week of contemplation, the diva heads out,generally in the scorching sun, armed with an umbrella that is used only when it rains. It is officially the week of the book-prowl!

There is something about the larger bookshops that is very annoying in a rather satisfying way. It is always endearing to watch little children huddled near the 'Harry Potter' section, at least the younger generation is reading! It is amusing to watch wannabe bibliophiles who strut around the 'fiction' section browsing attentively through the likes of Sheldon, Brown and the rest with a 'faux' air of intellectualism. It is pitiful to watch tormented young students, brimming with ambition as they scourge the academic section. The staff at large bookstores love to stalk their customers, piping up occasionally with a chirpy 'may I help you?' . More often than not, the diva walks out of a large bookstore empty handed and muttering. Large bookstores tend to stir the need for caffeine in the diva, and thus she heads to the nearest coffee shop, sipping the coolest coffee till hell freezes over. Its been an hour and not a single book!

There are bookshops that are smaller and lesser known, but that is never a deterrent as far as the diva is concerned. They don't have a fancy database, but the staff are astute enough to know where a particular book can be found. One can sometimes find treasure, lying undiscovered on the dusty shelves of an insignificant 'mom and pop store'. (I found 'Love in the Time of Cholera' at such a place.)

All of the above is well and good if one knows what one wants (which is rarely the case with the Diva). The Diva then decides that she needs to do more research to make the pimping (err primping) more effective.After a week of research, the diva is back! If she is lucky enough to get herself the right merchandise, the season ends. If not, the season returns, generally after a hiatus of six months.