Macchars don’t wear sweaters

Archive for May 2010

To write a review for a movie like Kites, is already giving it more credit than it deserves. And the longer the review gets, the greater disfavor you are doing to movie watchers with taste. So.

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The movie should have been called “Bhooton ki chupan chupai”. Here’s the plot – Ramu believes in keeping it short and simple. A ghost, and its right hand, a doll, lurk around in a house where a family has just shifted; swoop down on windows; appear when everyone is looking away; disappear when everyone turns to look in their direction; stalk everyone in turn, but decide not to eat that person just when Ramu has built the music to a pitch; rattle windows; remotely manipulate creaky doors, send gusts of wind towards curtains – and keep you guessing who has it coming first.

But why?

Does it matter?

If one has a feeling of emptiness inside, one attempts to fill it somehow, anyhow – with relentless talk, fitful action, immersing oneself in company. But the emptiness will not be driven away, it always lurks, and encompasses you as soon as you cease. But when one has a feeling of fullness inside, one lets life arrive at its own pace, there’s no anxiety ridden chasing, no panic of being too late.

I spoke to someone yesterday with amazing artwork, who had discovered a very interesting way to create. They did not set out with a definite subject in mind, but created patterns on their canvas, and discovered their subject in the intermingling of those patterns. The result was stunning and impressionistic work with giraffes, peacocks, mermaids.

Even in music i’ve heard of musicians speak of “discovering” tunes which already exist rather than inventing them. You set out with a certain sequence of notes with no definite objective in mind, and chase vagrant patterns which present themselves at every step, and end up with a beautiful melody.

A very interesting approach towards art. Like looking at clouds in the sky, and imagining intricate shapes – a galloping horse, an old man with a flowing beard, a yawning cat – shapes we could never hope to create on paper. Art seems to reveal itself when the vision is peripheral, and is elusive when the vision is direct, willful, conscious.

Thanks to Harmanjit, i came upon the wikipedia entry of Victor Frankl, psychologist and concentration camp prisoner for a few years. Some very hard hitting lines from him. But it says it all:-

… We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor’s arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory….”

Saw two “thoughtful” si-fi movies over the last couple of weeks. The thing about a great movie is that not only do you get great food for thought in the plot itself, it opens your mind to a myriad of new possibilities. Even while i watched both movies, my mind was in parallel imagining the possibilities that were opened on chasing the themes.

The first was “The Moon” is about a man just about to leave back for Earth after a three year solitary assignment on the Moon, only to realise he is a clone. All his memories, disappointments, hopes, loves just a memory implant from the human he is a copy of. This raises a myriad of questions about our being, and how our being relates to the being of others. Questions that humanity may have to face as it becomes easier to clone.

The second was the new version of the famous “Solaris”. It is the story of a a bizarre, seemingly willful planet which is able to create living beings from the memory of the team of explorers which orbit it.The dead wife of one man comes alive, the child of another. These “visitors” are as aware of the strangeness of their existence as the crew of explorers. But their being is limited in that it only mirrors the memories the crew members from which they were created. Doesn’t this raise interesting questions about how we relate to others?

A thought almost simultaneously struck me and my brother, that if randomness of the universe can have the fantastic, mind boggling capability to spurn living, conscious, self aware, intelligent beings; create the mind out of a rock; a mind which seems to have the ability to unlock the secrets of the Universe that created it, almost any possibility can be realized – thinking planets bathed in surreal pink light, planets with ghosts, goblins, even hell. If not in our Universe, these possibilities must be realized in some other universe. Clinging to belief in a benevolent God seems like a better proposition than living in such a bizarre Universe.

Another great quote from the movie “there are no answers, just choices”. We expect the Universe to yield answers, that too happy answers for humans. This also applies to our expectations from life.

One is suspect to get into an almost neurotic habit of looking for grand meanings in everything – “the ultimate truth”, “the true reality”, “the final law”. If one tries to write from such a vantage point, one finds that there isn’t really much to tell. But isn’t great writing, or even a great movie, about myriad fleeting impressions of the mind, a richness, a variety, which may not add up, where the “moral of the story” may be hard to pin down?  The details are perhaps the essence of existence.