Macchars don’t wear sweaters

1984

Posted on: April 13, 2013

I finally got around to reading the novel after being adviced by a friend, and chancing upon the book in a thrift store. Although I was initially unimpressed, as Oceania started to come across more and more as a depiction of a communist state, and not any powerful state, as I had anticipated. The description of the mechanics of a dystopian world order and an all powerful state through “the book” also seemed rambling and lacking in unity.
 
But as I read on, the novel pulled me deeper and deeper, and I finished the latter part in a single sitting. The latter part seems to me to have been delivered in an epiphanic state of mind. I loved the fact that the final justification of an all powerful state was not a misplaced pursuit for utopia, but a raw lust for power – pure and simple. What was especially poignant to me was that deep inside him the protagonist was able to retain inner diginity in the face of the most horrible torture, and a belief in his truth even with the entire world pitted against him. But once he betrayed himself to himself, a belief his own basic diginity and inner worth as a human was forever gone. The final betrayal was not imposed from outside, but came from his own self – and then all was lost. You are forced to raise that question for yourself – in that moment of supreme anguish, would you betray that which inside yourself you hold dearest?
 
By the end of the novel, I can say it is one of the best books i’ve ever read. It is incredible that the same act of writing, which produces the most superflous products like an article on “5 ways to promote your blog traffic” can also produce something which can question human life in the deepest way.

Bad

Posted on: February 9, 2013

im a tsunami of baddity
you shall be swept away by my badness, pinned to the wall
my badness operates in mysterious ways
creeps upon you when you least expect it
that is the nature of my badness
my single handed badess outbads all of yalls collective badess
my towering badness dwarfs your little dwarfish badness
i make the sheep look at each other and go BAAAAAAd BAAAAAAAd
ive often been called the bad of avon
MJ made an album for me
my badness needs no validation
my badness is its own sole proof
noone has the authority to judge my badness
gods omipotence stops shorts of my badness
the devil pays tribute to my badness!!
once in court the judge asked me “guilty or not guilty”. i said “i find you guilty of trying to judge my badness!!”
once when the judge sentenced me to 5 consecutive deaths for being, pure and simply, bad, i said “you insult me, sir”
my badness never laughs
it never flinches
it is relentless

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Having long been interested in the politics of the middle east, I just finished reading a history of the middle east. With a new conquest or dynasty every sentence it was nearly impossible to keep up and retain much of what I read. It did however help me form a more accurate, although impressionistic view of that part of the world. 

One impression I left with was the futility of of revolution, and the difficulty of introducing real change in a society. The middle east’s story seems to be a long series of revolutions and counter revolutions – socialist, religious, pan-arabic, but they seem to all end up as tyrannies.

To be continued… 

Oliver Stone’s “Savages” is a love story. A story of Chon’s love for O (the rather abruptly named lead lady). And O’s love for Ben. And Ben’s love for Chon. Those of us not introduced to the joys of the movie yet, will immediately recognize it as a love triangle, especially those raised on Bollywood fare (like me). Chon’s beloved O likely fell for Ben, Chon’s best friend, while Chon was out serving in Iraq – we speculate. Or Chon secretly loved O, but stepped back when he saw the flowering of the love of O and Ben, his brother.

Wrong.

Savages is not your usual love triangle. Love in Savages is triangular, and simultaneous. Chon loves O loves Ben – all at the same time. It is about a redefinition of traditional relationships. Those of us used to the symmetry of 2 in a relationship will certainly protest. 3 way relationship? There must certainly be catfights, and punchups, and jealousy, and drama! Wrong again. It is a happy relationship of 3. Some of us would still try to reduce it to its physical aspects. That again would be false, because this relationship involves emotion, companionship, and a willingness to make the supreme sacrifice – the usual charter of relationships. There is drama, but in the backdrop. A plot of gangs, drugs and kidnapping forms the backdrop against which this relationship of 3 plays out. But to me the interesting part was the very idea.

Oliver Stone is certainly no shrinking violet when it comes to taking on bold themes. Natural Born Killers is one prime example. The movie is perhaps a reflection of society, where relationships are morphing. Such liaisons are still likely quite at the periphery, but Oliver Stone is not one shy of provoking.

For the life of me, I couldn’t find where I had read the following concept of Jung, though i am relatively certain it is Jung authored. The concepts are that of “expansion of personality” and “contraction of personality”. It sheds some light on the oft used cliche of “be yourself”. When we think of “the real me”, we prefer to see ourselves in the situations in which we thrive, while it is equally true that we are still our own person when in situations we recoil from. When our personality is “expanded” we assimilate contents of our environments into “me”. Everything that happens around us is a part of “me”, and reinforces our sense of “me”. On the other hand, when our personality is contracted, we tend to define ourselves in exclusion. Things in the environment threatens our sense of “me”, and we define ourselves in negative terms as a contrast. When you have a self esteem problem, the latter seems to be a strong force.

 

Posted on: October 2, 2011

I am currently reading “Culture and Imperialism” by Edward Said, about how culture – literature and art – create the context for imperialist practices. Said, in my reading, sees culture’s support for imperialism not so much a self conscious propaganda exercise, but a deep rooted and even subconscious bias that determines how the world is perceived. Hollywood is undoubtedly one of the main cultural forces that support american global practices. However, sometimes it seems to me to be blatant propaganda. For example, today i saw Contagion, which was very good by movie standards. The movie depicted the possibility of the world overrun by a highly infectious virus. But even in dealing with such a general subject, with critically acclaimed actors, the political messages seemed to me to be more than obvious, in the following ways:

- The virus originated in China (one might say that even in the real world, China is the most likely place for such a virus to be born)

- America created the antivirus. Once again america saves the world (again it might be said that america is most likely to create the vaccine)

- The government is the one most dedicatedly and sincerely looking to find the antivirus, while people who are off the grid, like bloggers, are trying to exploit the credulity of people

- The chinese  government refuses to make any exceptions and fools the villagers who are desperately trying to get vaccines

- The american government makes exceptions on human grounds

Posted on: August 20, 2011

In the bus yesterday, I saw a man who was talking to himself on and on, totally oblivious of people around him. Quite evidently he was mentally sick, but the contents of what he was saying were not disjointed blabber, or very far removed from reality. It was to an extent the same things one may talk about to oneself when one is alone, or inside the confines of ones head. And yet, the more he spoke, the more agitated he became – almost like an engine which couldn’t stop itself from running, and which became more and more overheated as it ran.

I, quite romantically evidently, mused that he was not mentally sick, but a lonely person. Someone, who in the lack of human company, had descended into their own self, into a world with it’s own logic, more and more disconnected from reality in the absence of the correcting, reality-checking presence of other people. Although it might be inaccurate in the case of this person, one can well envision this happening to someone who is subject to extreme deprivation of human company, say, a prisoner.

The strange thing to me is that solitude is the more natural state of man, or at least the path of less resistance, in that interaction with other humans and society always involves a certain pressure, and requires effort. But following this path of less resistance seems to lead to dissipation, as opposed to a state of well being. Or in other words, if a human is suddenly freed of all the obligations and pressures of social life, will not go towards a state of well being, but a state of dissipation. Making a further leap, it seems to me that there is a band of normal behavior in society, and there is always a temptation to, and possibility of  stepping out of this band. For example, when one sees a mad person babbling at the top of their voice in a mall, one is tempted to think – wont it be liberating to do that yourself? But ironically, this sudden liberation from constraints would seem to me to lead to inner suffering as opposed to a greater sense of wellness that one may expect to result from letting the self express itself unhindered. If this is true, it underlines the oddness of human life, and the importance of living life in “balance” – always keep between extremes.

This is a purely negative conclusion, and has some evident contradictions. There are some obvious examples of people consciously pursuing solitude, or a life totally outside normal “bands” and experience a state of extreme inner well being. These are ascetics who enter caves for years, or don’t talk to anyone for years and are able to experience a heightened and pleasurable “altered perception”.

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